Ralph E. Eckerstrom, an internationally prominent designer for corporations and their products, was co-founder and president from 1963 to 1979 of Unimark International. He had been director of design, advertising and public relations for the Container Corp. of America and subsequently served as president of the Mobium design division of R.R. Donnelley and Sons.
Mr. Eckerstrom was an instructor and then associate professor of industrial design from 1946 to 1956 at the University of Illinois. He pioneered a style of design that helped improve the legibility and comprehension of printed material and signs.
In his various leadership positions, he had an extensive impact on American corporate design. He directed major design, communications and marketing programs for more than 300 companies worldwide. They included J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Ford Motor Co., American Airlines, Gillette, the Limited, Memorex, Target and International Harvester.
One such account was the Tribune. His company, Unimark International, helped the newspaper develop a design program that included a new logo, painting the newspaper trucks white and putting the logo on the tops of the vehicles so people looking out the windows of buildings could see it.
Another example of his work was the logo for Container Corp. It had been a map of the United States with a box in the center, but the company had gone international. His new design consisted of the letters "CCA" in a stylized box with two corners shaved off. It won an award as one of the 10 best logos in the country.
He served as past president and chairman of the International Design Conference in Aspen, Colorado.