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Corporate image design is a form of visual communication, perhaps the oldest way of transmitting messages from one person to the other. The practice goes back in time way before there was any knowledge of a written language. Remember the Egyptian hieroglyphs? They date back from 3100 BC., and were a writing system based on logograms (signs that write out morphemes) and phonograms (signs that represent one or more sounds). In a similar way, in North America's Native Indian culture, we find petroglyphs from centuries before the European immigrants arrived.

Although the written languages have rapidly developed, the logo language has maintained its uniqueness through history. The Copts developed the Coptic language, the Greek the Greek alphabet, the Romans the Roman alphabet, not to mention the Chinese, the Japanese, the Russians, etc.... But in all these different cultures and regions, there always remained the need for visual communication. In the Roman army, ranks and legions were indicated by visual symbols, a tradition that still exists in modern day armed forces.

Recently, I talked to a group of (visual) artists: painters, photographers, sculptors and encaustic artists. When I introduced them to Raymond Loewy (1893-1986), the godfather of all industrial and graphic designers, to my surprise only one artist was familiar with the name Raymond Loewy.

However, when I told them that he designed the Studebaker Starliner, their mouths fell open from astonishment. Yes, they all knew the famous car but didn't know the name of its designer. The surprise grew even bigger when I mentioned that Raymond Loewy also designed the Shell logo. Of course, they were familiar with this emblem since they had seen it on all the highways and byways...

Having lived in the Boston area, I was in contact with a few MIT engineers who worked on the design for a permanent settlement on Mars. It made me think that, when mankind would live in space, there would eventually develop a need for art in space, and what kinds of opportunities would a non-gravity environment have to offer for the arts.

I designed a model that, in a non-gravitational environment, would employ various dimensions, going further than the three or four dimensions we are familiar with here on earth. I started with a three-dimensional design, comprised of three parts that are connected similar to a crank-shaft. Once in space, it would spin-rotate-and-tumble while constantly unfolding and closing. At this stage, we are talking about kinetic art or moving art. Over a period of time, the sculpture changes its position and so its appearance. Time becomes the fourth dimension. This is, by itself, not new. Alexander Calder already applied this principle in his mobiles.

When we were in art school in Europe, we learned how the Bauhaus had influenced today's architecture, graphic and industrial art. The founder and director, architect Walter Gropius emphasized functionality in architecture and consumer goods. The term 'Form and Function' became a mantra that is still applicable in today's market.

In 1933, the Bauhaus leadership closed the school under pressure from the Nazi regime. The Nazi government claimed that it was a center of communist intellectualism. Many of the leaders immigrated to the United States, among others Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius.

In today's consumers' world, we get constantly bombarded by visual messages, including a variety of corporate logos. Most of the time, they consist of a name in a particular typeface and some sort of illustration. But those types of images are not  the most powerful examples of what a strong logo should reflect.

Visual symbols are as old as the hills. In ancient times, the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans all used graphic icons to communicate royalty, rank and/or status. During the 1600's, homeless people in Paris developed their own secret visual code to indicate various messages such as 'safe place to sleep,' 'gentleman lives here,' 'potable water,' to mention only a few. But it is only after World War II that - partly due to the development of advertising - company logo design came into its full potential.