Walter Landor and Me

The introduction and subsequent rescinding of The Gap Logo unleashed a series memories of my younger self and the visionary designer Walter Landor.

I was a freshman at UC Berkeley. Being the always drawing-painting-coloring-designing “creative-type” kid, my father thought I might enjoy a lecture at SFMOMA by the legendary designer Milton Glaser who was introduced by his West Coast Counterpart, Walter Landor of Landor Associates. I was raised in Mill Valley so my university, my hometown and the glittering lights of San Francisco were all only a bridge away.

Although I am an artist today, when I was eighteen, my path was not so clear. My first generation American father, was still in the chrysalis of his first career as a prominent surgeon (he would then go on to become a best-selling author). In middle and high school, I often attended Sunday morning rounds and an occasional operation with my him before he picked up bagels and lox for Sunday brunch. I received the book “The Makings of a Woman Surgeon” four Chanukas in a row. Whenever I brought home a report card in high school it was often met with “What?? A ‘B’ in Chemistry? How are you going to get into medical school with a B in Chemistry?!” During our talks about what I wanted to do with my life, he would stroke my hair and say “Honey, you can be anything you want as long as you’re a doctor first. Then worry about the rest.”

Hence, the prospect of enrolling in art school was as inconceivable as visiting on a distant galaxy via jet pack. So getting an internship at one of the premiere design firms in the world while in college seemed like a great way to expose myself to a creative field and one that my father might (*might*) take seriously enough to justify not going to medical school.

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This is how I found myself, at the tender age of eighteen, wearing panty hose, my mother’s silk blouse and fake pearls, smack in the middle of a boardroom on a Ferry Boat called The Klammath at Pier Five as Landor Associates was about to launch “New Coke”. Like the Gap Logo fiasco, the introduction of New Coke, which has now become a source of lore amidst business schools and popular culture, was also met with outrage by a public which was just fine with their existing coke, thank you very much.  Although it had nothing to do with the design itself, the logo, too, which had shed it’s seraphs from “Coca-Cola” and abbreviated itself with to “New Coke”, also seemed like a fraud. Phrases like “Brand Loyalty” and “Brand Equity” were coined shortly thereafter.

But that’s not the exciting part of the story.  The exciting part was… Read whole article >