Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes

In 1965 Fletcher/Forbes/Gill became Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes, when Bob Gill left and the architect Theo Crosby arrived. The impetus for Crosby’s arrival was a design project for Shell, which Fletcher and Forbes hoped to extend from corporate identity into the structure of garage forecourt. Another multidisciplinary commission was a comprehensive design program for Reuters, the news agency, which ranged from its corporate logo to computer monitors. Inspired by the tickertape machines which were then used to transmit news internationally, Fletcher crafted an identity from the word ‘Reuters’ rendered in a basic grid of eighty-four dots to evoke the company’s trade. Simple and evocative, this logo survived until 1996 when it was ‘retired’ because the dots were barely visible on computer screens.

Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes

Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes

Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes

Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes

Other important clients in the mid-1960s included Penguin, where the art director Germano Facetti was introducing colour, illustration and photographic imagery to the covers of the books. Creating a house-style for each series, Facetti farmed out the design of individual covers to young graphic designers. Their collective aim was to design the most direct response to the contents of the text. Among Fletcher’s contributions to Penguin is a book about early 19th century printed communication dressed to look like a playbill from the period. Facetti’s great achievement was to allow the formerly sober Penguin list to compete with other paperbacks without losing its typographic integrity.

Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes

Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes

Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes continued to expand as the partners took on more ambitious, often multidisciplinary projects. Mervyn Kurlansky joined as a senior designer in the late 1960s and in the early 1970s, while working on the design of a petrol pump for BP, they enlisted the help of the product designer Kenneth Grange. Realizing that they could not continue to add surnames to the company’s name ad infinitum, in 1971 they cast around for a collective title to reflect their structure.

Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes

Fletcher hit upon the idea of a Pentagram, meaning a five-pointed star, one for each partner, after reading a book on witchcraft. Despite feeling slightly uneasy about the term’s associations with witchcraft, the partners went with it. Significantly it loosened the relationship between the company and the individuals, a strategy that has enabled Pentagram’s long-term survival.

2017 History of Graphic Design

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