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Seven Questions for Sagi Haviv, Principal of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv

As a student at Cooper Union, Sagi Haviv already had designs on a job at Chermayeff & Geismar. He landed an internship at the storied firm—the creative brains behind identities for the likes of National Geographic, the Smithsonian, NBC, and Chase—in 2003 (the year he graduated) and didn’t look back. Fast forward a decade: Haviv has been freshly elevated to principal, with his name accompanying that of Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar on the company masthead (the first addition in 56 years).

Haviv recently helmed the firm’s identity overhaul of Women’s World Banking, a global nonprofit that works with the world’s largest network of microfinance institutions to serve 19 million low-income entrepreneurs in 28 developing nations. Replacing the less-than-memorable “WWB”-beneath-a-rising sun logo is an identity (below) that can stand alongside those of the global financial heavyweights with which the organization partners. Read the abstract symbol as you will: an opening flower? a coin entering a purse? a globe? a winged figure? We paused in our Rohrshachian reverie to ask him about the project, his process, and memorable moments in his brief yet blindingly bright career thus far.

How did you approach the task of designing the new identity for Women’s World Banking and what did you design?
The approach was the same approach we always take when solving a client’s identity problem, which is to first understand the issues around the current identity, and then to consider what the organization is trying to accomplish. For Women’s World Banking, we felt that the mark they had been using needed to be replaced with a more modern identity that emphasizes the full name. We created a new symbol, a simple geometric form that can have many interpretations: a flower, an empowered figure, or a coin entering a purse.

Tell us about your decision to feature both the name of the organization and the symbol.
We felt from the get-go that the initials WWB weren’t an effective shorthand, especially since they are not actually shorter to say–seven syllables as opposed to the five syllables of the full name. The name is meaningful, with “women” as its first word, so why not feature it prominently?

What is your greatest graphic design pet peeve?
All form, no concept.

What is the most unusual thing currently on your desk?
An old Mobil circular sign face with the red pegasus that Tom Geismar redesigned in 1964. It looks like a cool Frisbee.

What’s on your summer reading list?
This Town by Mark Leibovich

What do you consider your best or most memorable design-related encounter?
The first time I opened a Matisse book.

Your proudest design moment?
Getting an internship at Chermayeff & Geismar in 2003.

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