inheritance

maybe you’ve read this book, maybe not. i read it in the summer of 1988 when i was working at wolf olins in london. i was between my first and second years of grad school and as a second-year student one of my classes was to be with paul rand. since starting my blog, i have often been asked to share my memories and experiences as a student, especially those with mr. rand. before i started my second year, i decided that i should prepare for his class. the rumor (which turned out not to be true), was that he was a tough taskmaster. therefore, i decided to read through the footnotes from his books, a designers art and thoughts on design. this meant hunting down those books referenced and reading them before my classes started. i wanted to be sure that when he mentioned one of these books i could say, ‘yes, i’ ve read that.’ mr. rand’s class was pretty straightforward. we were given a text from le corbusier and ozenfant, sur la plastique,  and told to design a booklet around it. a problem for the grid, pacing, typography, book binding. the research was not particularly difficult per se, but i do remember sitting at my desk and thinking about where i should start. all the second-year students were housed on the second floor of 212 york street. the first-years in the basement. (surely on purpose?) to enter 212, you had to pass wolfs head, one of yale’s secret societies. i was endlessly fascinated by these amazing mausoleum-like structures, but what was particular about this secret society was the building. it was designed by bertram goodhue, the designer of cheltham typeface. cool, right? anyway, back to class. my experience there was rather uneventful, i thought i was judged as much by what i knew as by what i was doing, and was pretty much left alone. i think mr. rand’s criticism and toughness were reserved for those with less Levitra Online design experience and less understanding of the problem at hand. at that time, at yale, there were many students who came into the program with little to no knowledge of design. much to my surprise. throughout the semester, a few of us would make our way to weston, ct, to visit mr. rand at his home for a review of our assignment. often he would share the latest books he was reading, and would mention that we should be reading them too. on one occasion, i went to visit him alone and i was allowed to poke through his library. i pulled out one book. it was nothing special, but of course i recognized the spine. i was thrilled to see that mr. rand had marked and annotated throughout the book. it was rich with his thoughts and comments. i returned it to the shelf feeling as though i had just passed through his brain. i have always loved the idea of marginalia, and recently enjoyed reading a thoroughly academic book, ‘margins and marginalia’ by evelyn tribble. so the years went by, and i would make visit after visit to mr. rand. unfortunately they became less frequent, but whenever i called on him i was always welcomed. after he died i tried to visit mrs. rand when i could, and when she mentioned that she was going to sell his library, i couldn’t image it being dispersed. i asked mrs. rand if i could buy some of his books. she mentioned that yale’s sterling library was coming to make a selection for yale students to browse through at the art of the book room at the sterling, and once they had made their selections i could come see what was left. the first book i selected was the very one i had looked at years before. mr. rand’s copy of ‘art as experience.’ it’s one of my most treasured items, and i could never give it up. enjoy. i know i have.



3 Comments Leave us a comment

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  1. This blog is a treasured item; so happy you are here. With extreme gratitude, vt

    Comment by victoria thorne — 04/11/2010 LINK TO THIS COMMENT


  2. Wow…I did a study on him for my senior year project. He was very inspiring. Thank you for sharing your experience with Mr. Rand. I do wish you can scan in all of his notes so I can have a look too, but I know that’s impossible. Thanks for sharing what you can :)

    Comment by Maria Setiawan-Allen — 09/03/2011 LINK TO THIS COMMENT


  3. Intriguing! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book over the summer between my first and second years at Yale. I’ve been thinking about revisiting that flagged and annotated copy lately. It would be wonderful if you were able to share Paul Rand’s notes somehow, sometime.

    Comment by Zak — 27/03/2014 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

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