One of my earliest childhood memories also happens to be a visual one. My father used to hang out at a local gas station to shoot the breeze with some of the mechanics that worked there, and on occasion he’d take me with him. I couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 years old, but I distinctly remember seeing a giant sign on an outside wall with a red flying horse in a circle. I assumed it was a sign for the gas station itself, and not a nationally recognized logo for the Mobil gas brand.
Obviously, I thought this was the coolest gas station ever. I loved visiting the station if only to gaze upon that wonderfully fantastic sign. Staring at it definitely sparked my interest for recognizing objects in a visually intricate way (as much as I could at that young age). My fascination with the logo is probably one of the many reasons I enjoyed working at Pegasus Design so much.
The logo that I’m referring to is the 1965 version that was revitalized by Chermayeff & Geismar (and from what I can understand, Eliot Noyes actually had the commission). Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar were both students of Paul Rand at Yale, and it’s possible that Paul Rand had a lot to do with Chermayeff & Geismar getting the commission to revitalize Mobil. Eliot Noyes was the Principal Industrial Designer for IBM and the Principal Designer for Westinghouse. Eliot Noyes hand-picked Paul Rand to handle the identity for both IBM and Westinghouse.
I attribute my early single memory of this vision as the first of many that set me on the path to drawing and reading comics as a kid, and then (re)discovering the graphic design world as my profession. The gas station, which was downtown Austin near the Capitol building, has been replaced by some other local business. The Mobile brand has been replaced by a merged EXXONMobil. The same EXXON logo that many think Saul Bass designed, yet he takes no credit for it. Raymond Loewy designed the EXXON logo in the 1960’s (identity rebrand from Standard Oil’s ESSO Petrol Stations) and in 1981 Saul Bass actually revitalizes every other aspect of EXXON which includes architecture design, packaging, lighting, and traffic flow. Although Bass streamlined the EXXON signage commencing work on the lettering and/or logotype, he never took credit for it. He could have easliy changed Raymond Loewy’s EXXON identity, but in having the ultimate respect for another designer’s milestone work, he instead had the stones to tell his client that the communication problem that existed for the company was not in the identiy itself but rather it was everything else that supported the identity. Finding this kind of character trait in a designer is hardly heard of these days.
* Much of this post wouldn’t be possible without the aid of DesignMaven’s input. Keep the names alive man!