by Jon Dowling·
I always get excited when we have a new book on Counter-Print and doubly so when that book is a design classic that we have, thus far, overlooked.
We’ve sold plenty of books on its co-founders before, including Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda, but ‘Unimark International’ is the first book we have stocked on this influential company.
From the 1960s until the early 1970s, Unimark International was a design and communication agency with global reach. Its use of modern design approaches and latest marketing methods quickly made it famous and unrivalled. The clients were corporations like Gillette, Jaguar, Knoll International, Olivetti, Pirelli, Rank Xerox, Unilever, IBM, American Airlines and Ford. With their visual outlook, Unimark designers have had a defining influence on our brand environment and their practice and theory has left an enduring legacy.
A distinctive hallmark of Unimark design was the systematic use of the Helvetica typeface for the corporate identity of its clients. The firm was a leader in establishing a modernist philosophical direction for corporate design, that is still widely followed. Former Bauhaus designer Herbert Bayer was an early member of the firm's Board of Directors and the graphic style of Unimark's projects was decidedly modernist. Unimark rejected the idea of the designer-as-artist, embraced standardisation and systems and emphasising the use of the grid as an organisational tool for corporate communications.
Even today, the success of Unimark International, which is documented here for the first time, points the way for designers and the marketing sector.