Walter Landor

1913, Munich, Germany
1995, San Francisco, California


Brand design legend and founder of Landor Associates.

A renowned packaging designer who had a natural talent for designing things with broad popular appeal, Walter Landor (1913–1995) is best remembered as a pioneer in the field of branding and in the use of consumer research. His legacy lives on in the work of Landor Associates, the company that he founded in 1941, and that today has integrated brand consulting and design offices all over the world.

Landor's conviction that, “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind,” led to some of such globally experienced visual identities as Del Monte (1965), Levi's (1968), Cotton Inc. (1973), Marlboro (1977), Tab (1979), Dole (1984), Coca-Cola (1985), and Fuji Film (1987). Landor also designed the corporate identities for many commercial airlines including Alitalia, British Airways, Japan Airlines, Delta Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, and Singapore Airlines.

Son of a prominent German architect, Landor was born in Munich in 1913. During his early art education he was exposed to the influence of the Bauhaus and Werkbund design movements. Landor left Munich in 1931 to complete his studies at London University's Goldsmith College School of Art. It was here that he changed his name from Landauer to the more English-sounding Landor. At the age of 22 he became a founding partner with Misha Black and Milner Gray in England's first industrial design consultancy, Industrial Design Partnership (IDP) and, at 23, he became the youngest fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

In 1939, Landor traveled to the U.S. as part of the design team for the British Pavilion at the New York World's Fair. Afterwards he continued west to San Francisco, a city that he saw as a perfect fusion of the cultural traditions of East and West. He decided to settle there. Two years later he established Walter Landor & Associates in his small Russian Hill apartment, with his wife Josephine as his first associate.

In 1964, Walter moved his firm to the retired ferryboat, Klamath, anchored at San Francisco's Pier 5. Although Landor Associates eventually outgrew the ferryboat in the late 1980s and moved to its present headquarters at 1001 Front Street, the Klamath remains the firm's corporate symbol.

Landor retired in 1989 and in 1994, a year before his death, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History assembled The Walter Landor Collections of Design Records and Packaging to document and permanently house the legacy of Landor's contributions to American design history in the 20th century