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  • Writer's pictureBertrand Mougel

P5 - Pentagram WHY SO GOOD?

Updated: May 19, 2020

Source: Yuri Suzuki - his Spotify Playlists

Since I started studying graphic design, I have been more than often invited by my tutor to look at Pentagram’s website. This is were the good design is. The reference. There is so much to learn from it that I still discover amazing projects while browsing randomly. What I wonder now is why, why is Pentagram the best? Apparently so.

It was funded in 1972 by five British designers in their attempt to find a way to get bigger project, bigger clients, but remain independent. Pentagram was built as a multidisciplinary collective, with founders representing disciplines like architecture, product design and graphic design. It has now been 48 years since this first step and the collective has grown. Pentagram is now including 25 partners over 5 cities ( Manhattan, Austin, San Francisco, London and Berlin). It is not one design team anymore, it is multiple design teams. They reach a global audience around the world for giant clients like Microsoft, Rockefeller Centre, Saturday Night Live, Citibank, you name it, etc. They also do localised design with the very same intensity and quality.

Their work goes way over graphics and brand identity, but also architecture and interiors design, products design and packaging, environmental design, exhibitions layout and signage, installations, websites and digital experiences (motion graphics and sound design!), innovative info-graphics, advertising and communications, and I probably forget some things.

Michael Bierut said that the studio’s unity comes from their differences. There is no defined aesthetic but a defined point of view.

What may be making Pentagram unique, besides the fact that they condense some of the best designers, is the way they work. There is no top-down, no CEO, no managing director, everybody is on the same level. Bierut says, “it is very casual”. They have a collective constitution that barely changed since Pentagram’s beginning, which spreads profits and decision-making power equally among partners, all designers, “irrespective of seniority or how much business they brought in during a given year”.

They are ”the only major design studio where the owners of the business are the creators of the work and serve as primary contact for every client,” according to their website. They can decide to collaborate between each other depending on each other experience or interest. They also have to decide unanimously who gets to be added as a partner to the team.

I thought the way the agency worked was already quite an interesting angle to look at Pentagram and see it’s structure better.

My understanding of the quality of the design is the amount of layers there is in each designed concepts, interwoven in rich typography, volatile logo, guts and playfulness, new experience and progressive messages. I have copied pictures from Pentagram's website but I will hand-draw them later.

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