Ivan Chermeyeff was my friend and patient; I had some sense that he was an important person in the world of graphic design, but I had no idea that he was the Paul McCartney of his field when I timidly asked him to design a logo for a new charity we created to help elder abuse victims (and pro bono nonetheless!).
But like I said, he was my friend, and he said “yes” immediately. Then I did some internet digging and fell off my chair. Ivan was responsible for some of the most iconic logos in history. Recognize any of these?
So we went to his offices in downtown Manhattan, and met with his delightful partner Tom Geismar, lovely daughter Catherine, and many adoring younger artists who clearly felt blessed to work with these American Masters. They interviewed us about what we wanted to convey (as a physician who is used to dealing with pulse and blood pressure, the process was fascinating) and off they went to design something that explained our mission.
When we came back a few weeks later, I fell off my chair again. Ivan and his team expertly created three prototypes. Deciding among them was excruciating because we loved them all. Ultimately, we choose the one you see.
A simple purple font, which is a domestic violence color, with the word “abuse” rendered upside down.
“What in the world made you think of that Ivan?” I asked him. “It’s brilliant, although I can’t quite articulate why.” He explained that all the older people in his life were loving and treasured, and that the notion of elder abuse as I explained it to him “turned that loving notion upside down”. It was that simple; elder abuse turned his belief that older people are to be loved and treasured on its head. So he reflected that in the logo.
Read about Ivan’s amazing life on the internet; I especially loved the loving tribute in his New York Times Obituary. Rest in peace my dear friend. Your last act was as amazing as you.