Born in London in 1932, the son of an architect, Ivan Chermayeff and his family emigrated to America during WWII when he was 8 years old. Constant moving because of his father’s career didn’t stop Chermayeff from studying at Harvard, the Chicago Institute of Design, and finishing with a B.A in Fine Art from Yale.
It was at Yale that he met Tom Geismar, and their shared passion for graphic design led them to founding the New York-based firm Chermayeff & Geismar (now Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv) in 1957. The firm has produced some of the most recognizable logos today including those of NBC, National Geographic, NYU, and Chase Bank. Chermayeff’s very own designs for the firm have notably been those of Showtime, HarperCollins, the MOMA, and the Smithsonian Institute.
His pioneering of using bold primary colors and abstraction as a means of conveying corporate identity has established Chermayeff as one of the most reputable graphic designers of his era. Just some of his designs include the National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2014, gold medals from the Society of Illustrators, and induction into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame. His work also encompasses sculpture as displayed by his number 9 at the Solow Building’s entrance on W 57th Street in Manhattan.
His work can be found in the Kellen Archives at the New School in New York, and in the archives of the Harvard Art Museum. His work has also been exhibited at the Pera Museum in Istanbul, the Garrison Art Center and the Pavel Zoubok Gallery in New York, the El Paso Museum of Art, and his father’s De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on Sea. His works have also been published in children’s books, namely; Sun, Moon, Star, and Feathery Facts, Furry Facts, and Scaly Facts.
Chermayeff worked until his recent death at age 85 in December of 2017.