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  • Design Icon (and Icon Designer) Steff Geissbühler Still Wants Your Business

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    Logo for NBC (National Broadcasting Network) designed by Steff Geissbuhler, Chermayeff & Geismar Inc., 1979. Courtesy of Steff Geissbuhler

    For Centennial Voices, part of AIGA's Centennial celebration of the past, present and future of design, we've invited industry leaders to write short essays that spark conversations within the design community and beyond by sharing personal experiences, reflecting on design history, examining the practice today or imagining the role of designers in the years to come.

    To me, it’s all about making connections. We designers connect words and images, visual ideas and concepts. We use associations and our imaginations. We create and innovate. We often make the invisible visible. To us, a letter is an image of form and counter-form. We see it as a sculpture; it has character and expression, and yet it's just one of many to form a word, a headline, a text and a message.

    We make connections with symbols, colors, icons—and we invent new ones. We show the familiar in a new way. We aim our work at people and hope they see what we see. If we can teach our students, clients and audiences to see things differently, then we've made the world a better and richer place.

    I love to make connections. I’m very connected to design, designers and, yes, to AIGA. Neither AIGA nor I recall exactly when I became a member, but we recently settled on 1974. To me, that means 40 years of a great support group: like-minded people, competitors and best friends, vendors, conferences, events and board meetings. I’ve judged and been judged by my peers, fairly or not. I even received a lifetime achievement AIGA Medal.

    I imported myself to the United States from Switzerland with not much more to my name other than a great education, three years of experience and a will to succeed. I was given the chance to teach and work at the same time. After seven years of teaching and freelancing in Philadelphia, I moved to the Big Apple, where I've remained for the past 40 years. I’ve been employed, worked with partners and colleagues, even formed a new firm. Now I’m on my own again, just the way I started. I’ve been given a lot of opportunities to hone my craft (I still see it that way), make connections and work with, and for, extraordinary people.

    Some people think I’m famous because I designed the NBC peacock, the Time Warner eye/ear logo and other fairly visible icons. In fact, I was mostly lucky to have been in the right place with the right solution at the right time. I still get my biggest kicks from learning about my clients’ services, processes and know-how. I'd even venture to say that I got my professional education while doing what I like best.

    I’m passionate, I love what I do and I’m proud of what I’ve done. Although, I still want to do that most amazing thing. So call me.

    Steff Geissbühler

    Image: Logo for NBC (National Broadcasting Network) designed by Steff Geissbühler, Chermayeff & Geismar Inc., 1979. Courtesy of Steff Geissbühler

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