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Corporate design may often look as though it were created by a machine, or a committee. But the most memorable and beautiful consumer products, packaging, and environments are the work of individuals with high standards and a unique vision. Profile Pentagram Design focuses on the personalities of the 19 partners who run the world-famous firm based in London, Berlin, New York, San Francisco, and Austin, Texas. Lively essays by 19 writers, including radio host Kurt Andersen, novelist Louis Begley, and author Alain de Botton, humanize the firm's serenely iconic status. Each partner's approach involves a personal blend of intuition and analysis. Kit Hinrichs, who has worked for companies from Crocker Bank to Dryer's Ice Cream, says he creates "time bridges" in his work with treasured objects from his suburban California youth, including Boy Scout merit badges, Popular Mechanics magazines, and an edition of the Bible in which key passages were printed in red type. Daniel Weil says his understated designs for plates, blankets and other cabin accessories for United Airlines were based on a study of purchasing systems and business customer expectations. While Pentagram is known for the elegance and clarity of its work, some of the partners push that classicism into unexpected places. Paula Sher's passion is letterforms. She views typography as a kind of illustration, with huge, bold letters staking out psychic territory on a poster or swarming over a building. Then there's DJ Stout, former art director at Texas Monthly magazine, who put a drawing of Ross Perot as Alfred E. Newman on the cover of the June 1992 issue. As a Pentagram partner, Stout's wit takes more subtle forms, including his canny remake of an early Land's End lighthouse symbol into a timeless emblem—-a stack of three white stripes topped with a triangular beacon. Elegantly designed (by Pentagram), with more than 200 illustrations, this book is a must for anyone interested in the look of contemporary objects, from books to buildings. —-Cathy Curtis

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