A nice tribute by Steven Heller appeared in The New York Times’ T Magazine this week, honoring Don Ervin, a graphic designer and sculptor who was killed this year at the age of 85.
Ervin was known for the ads he created for Herman Miller, such as this one showing silhouettes of our classic furniture surrounding our logo mark in the center.
In addition to the logos he designed for Conoco, Met Life, Transamerica, Cargill, Abbott Laboratories, and TRW, he also created the title and poster for the 1961 film “The Misfits.”
With a bachelor’s of fine arts degree in industrial design from Carnegie Mellon University, Ervin’s career focused on corporate identity—from packaging to signage. Over the years, he worked for Architectural Record magazine, George Nelson & Company, Lippincott & Margulies, Sandgren & Murtha, Tempo Ltd., and Siegel & Gale.
Heller notes: “What stands out in Ervin’s oeuvre, and should be included in graphic design history books, exhibitions and courses (where there is nary a mention), are the logos and trademarks he created, like the Abbott Laboratories ‘a,’ which Ervin said was derived from the serpent wrapped around the staff of Aesculapius, the traditional medical symbol; the four ‘Ms’ of Metropolitan Life Insurance, designed to give the ‘gray lady of insurance companies’ a contemporary look; and Transamerica’s flowing, bifurcated ‘T.’”
Ervin had the talent to make his clients stand out. We’ll miss him for his keen eye and good ideas in graphic design.