The young profession of graphic design reached maturity during the 20th century. Within that new professional world, the sphere of work called ‘corporate identity’ became a true metropolis. There are a few classic examples of this development, and all historical surveys mention the visionary approach of AEG, the German pioneers in the realm of electricity, founded back in 1886.
We ought to ask the Guinness Book of Records for recognition. Olle Eksell (born in 1918) was invited to be an AGI member in 1952, along with five of his fellow countrymen, and is now our oldest, in terms of the duration of his membership. Walter Allner (USA), who died in 2006, was born in 1909 and was a member from 1963. In spite of such a long lifetime, dear old Walter never had a chance of beating Olle’s record.
Mendell & Oberer are vestiges of a particular era when both craftsmanship and visual aesthetics were still respected parts of the design profession at its highest level.
In the latter part of the 20th century, in the so-called industrialized societies, design played a vital role in helping business and commerce in the generation of wealth, in the development of the consumer society and in the spread of globalization.
There has been a design studio at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis for over 60 years. Its work has been exhibited and published worldwide and it has received numerous design awards. Andrew Blauvelt has been the studio's design director since 1998. Prior to his appointment, Blauvelt taught design at several universities including Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Matt Pyke is an example of a new breed of designer who works for major global corporations – as well as other smaller entities – yet has none of the trappings of a large studio with a smart metropolitan address. Instead he produces a fizzing cocktail of commercial and art-based work from his custom-made studio in his garden in Sheffield, in the north of England.
Rick Valicenti's work fizzes with a uniquely American energy. His work - and the work of his studio - is as American as the Chicago skyscrapers that distinguish the city where Valicenti is based. He says that his studio is dedicated to ‘art, with function and real human presence'.
Leonardo Sonnoli's work is remarkable for its graphic precision and visual dexterity. Born in Trieste, Italy, in 1962, he founded CODEsign with Paolo Tassinari and Pierpaolo Vetta in 2002. He is currently a partner in Tassinari/Vetta, where he works on the visual identity of private and public companies.
Tony Brook works at the coalface of modern visual communication, producing sharp, highly disciplined, zeitgeisty work in print and electronic media. Yet Brook is firmly rooted in the grand tradition of graphic design, with a profound respect for and knowledge of graphic design's history.
Lizá Ramalho and Artur Rebelo founded R2, a graphic design studio, while studying at Porto Fine Arts University. The studio works for a wide range of cultural organizations, curators, artists and architects. Projects include identity work, poster design, book design and exhibition design. They have won numerous international awards and regularly act as jurors for design competitions.