Robert Brownjohn

1925, New Jersey


Architectural Forum noted that he “may have been the most talented student ever to have graduated from Chicago's Institute of Design.” He personified the idea his teacher Laszlo Moholy-Nagy expressed in Vision in Motion, that art and life can be integrated: “The true artist is the grindstone of the sense; he sharpens his eye, mind and feeling; he interprets ideas and concepts through his own media.”

In 1957 Brownjohn opened Chermayeff + Geismar (with Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar) in New York City. The following year he designed the “Streetscape” display for the American pavilion at the World Exhibition in Brussels.

In 1960 Brownjohn left Chermayeff + Geismar to become the design director for McCann-Erickson Ltd. in London. While there, he designed the title sequences for numerous films, including the James Bond films Goldfinger and From Russia with Love. Brownjohn later returned to New York to teach at the Pratt Institute and the Cooper Union.

In his short but intense working life, Brownjohn left helped to redefine graphic design, to move it from a formal to a conceptual art. His projects exemplify every aspect of his relationship to design, including his emphasis on content over form and his preferences with ordinary and personal images. His spirit of invention and designs for living in the machine age were balanced with references to the aesthetic models that Moholy-Nagy admired.