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Artist Series is a series of videos, created by Hillman Curtis, that showcases leading designers and design firms. The series takes an in-depth look at the work and processes of the design firm Pentagram and the designers David Carson, Milton Glaser, Paula Scher, Stefan Sagmeister, and James Victore.
male speaker 1: I mean, this is-- Paula Scher: Okay, okay, okay. male speaker 2: Go ahead Ben, call it. male speaker 1: Go ahead. Paula: Okay, Pentagram, The family of men. In 1962, Alan Fletcher and Colin Forbes, two British people and Bob Gill, an American founded a firm and they called it Fletcher/Forbes/Gill. And 1964, Theo Crosby joined them and he was an architect and the notion was that if you coupled an architect with graphic designers, it would broaden their opportunity for work. But at that point, Bob Gill who was getting restless asked Theo Crosby how long it took to build a building and Theo Crosby said, it took about 4 years and Bob Gill said, well that was too long to wait for a proof, so he left.
So the business became called Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes. Then Mervyn Kurlansky, who I believe was Alan Fletcher's assistant, was elevated to a partner and the business was still called Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes. And then Kenneth Grange joined, and Kenneth Grange was a product designer and he wanted the business to be called Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes/Grange. But Mervyn Kurlansky--who as you can tell has a big long Jewish name--got pissed off and said, well you know I want my name on the firm if Kenneth Grange gets his name on the front. And they had some partner's weekend and they had a big fight and Alan Fletcher was reading a book on black magic and they named the firm Pentagram because there were five partners.
But that didn't work for very long because then John McConnell joined in 1974 and they were just named in 1972, and there were six partners, so Pentagram made no sense, but nobody cared and they kept the name. And then Ron Herron joined in 1977, and Colin Forbes moved off and founded New York. So the London office became Kenneth Grange, Theo Crosby, David Hillman joined, Howard Brown joined, David Pelham joined in 1982, and a guy named Ron Herron came and went away, David Pelham came and went, in the New York office Peter Harrison and Etan Manasse joined Colin Forbes, and then in 1986 there were three partners who became Pentagram San Francisco, who were in independent business, Neil Shakery, Linda Hinrichs and her husband Kit Hinrichs.
From 1990 to 1991 Peter Saville came and went, Daniel Weil came and stayed, David Pocknell came and went. Josh Rushworth became a partner, he was a formerly associate. Alan Fletcher left Pentagram in 1991 and went off on his own and Howard Brown came and went. In the New York office, Woody Pirtle joined in 1988, Michael Bierut 1990, Paula Scher 1991, Jim Biber 1991. In San Francisco Lowell Williams joined in 1991 after Linda Hinrichs left. Etan Manasse died in 1990. 1992 to 1993 Mervyn Kurlansky retired, Michael Gericke became a partner. Lowell Williams had a fight at San Francisco and went off and founded the Austin office.
In 1994 to 1996, Justus Oehler joined as a partner. Theo Crosby passed away, David Pocknell left the firm, Colin Forbes went off. Peter Harrison went off, Bob Brunner joined in the San Francisco office, and Neil Shakery went away. 1997 to 1999 Kenneth Grange retired, Lorenzo Apicella and Angus Hyland joined at London. In New York, Abbott Miller joined in 1999. Pentagram 2000, Fernando Gutierrez joined, Austin got DJ Stout, and April Greiman pretty much came and went. 2001-2005, William Russell joined, Justus Oehler formed Berlin, and Lisa Strausfold joined in New York.
2006 to 2007, Domenic Lippa and Harry Pearce joined in London, David Hillman left, Fernando Gutierrez left, and Lorenzo went off to San Francisco. New York was added to by Luke Hayman in 2006, and that's where we are at the moment to be continued and continued and continued. male speaker 2: There is a Hong Kong office. Paula: Oh I forgot about that. I didn't say anything about that. Yikes! I forgot about it. I should, it should be said there, because David went off and founded Hong Kong. male speaker 2: Who did? Paula: David, but he stayed in London at the same time-- male speaker 2: David Hillman? Paula: David Hillman. Should we go back and put that in? (music playing) Paula: I usually describe Pentagram as having a kind of Socialist/Capitalist model where partners manage their own teams and profit centers, and then we share profits equally.
male speaker 3: What's great about Pentagram is somehow the structure has fixed it so that the people really are important. I mean, if you look at our letterhead there are no slogans, it doesn't say, fine design since 1972, it doesn't say what our disciplines are, it doesn't say graphic design architecture, digital design, product design. The only thing it says outside of the name Pentagram and the address are the names of people. Paula: The Pentagram exists for the partners to do the work they want to make the way they want to make it. And that's what the platform is all about.
And you get to--you can use resources, you can collaborate, you can use the shared intelligence, you can ignore it all. male speaker: I'm running relatively small team, but I have this organization behind me that allows me to approach bigger clients, and that makes me visible to bigger clients, which is beautiful. male speaker 4: There's no managing partner, there's no home office and those are questions we get a lot, like what would the home office think about this or where is the head guy or something, and the answer is always no and none.
male speaker 5: Some, what is it, 5 offices and 18-19 partners? Partners retire, new partners come into the mix, and there is a constant process or renewal. male speaker 6: If anyone ever asks what's your 5-year plan or 10-year plan at Pentagram, well, the answer in my view is who is the next partner? That's worrying about who the next partner is is really what our business plan is about, because if you get that right, everything else follows.
male speaker 7: So I'm just working on the moment just trying to finish off, it is the--the actual poster for the Pentagram Talk at D&AD next month. And the idea behind it is I've taken the P from Pentagram logo, it's a modern 20 P, and I've chopped it up into 18 different pieces, each piece symbolically representing each of the partners. And the idea is they come together in a variety of forms and create a single piece by their movement and change. And but I hope to gather this central idea.
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