Ask Sagi Haviv

Sagi Haviv, born June 1974 in Israel, is a partner and designer at Chermayeff & Geismar, the Manhattan-based studio that needs little introduction.

Sagi Haviv

Sagi has kindly agree to answer questions from Logo Design Love readers, so if there’s anything you want to ask, leave a comment or message.

Library of Congress logo

Among his projects for the firm are the logos and identity systems for the Library of Congress, National Parks of New York Harbor, Radio Free Europe, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the fashion brand Armani Exchange.

Armani Exchange logo

Sagi designed the award-winning animation Logomotion — a ten-minute tribute to the firm’s trademarks that introduced a new approach to showcasing the portfolio.

Other motion graphics work includes the opening sequence for the Emmy Award winning PBS documentary series Carrier.

Sagi joined Chermayeff & Geismar in 2003 after graduating from The Cooper Union School of Art in New York City, where he won several prestigious awards and fellowships including the 2002 Dan Friedman Prize, the 2003 Art Director’s Club Scholarship Prize, and the 2003 Lubalin Fellowship.

In 2008, he became the third principal partner at the firm, and the youngest in its history.

Leave your question in a comment or send a message.

Update: 28 October 2010
Interview now published.

45 responses

  1. Very interesting to hear from this young creative leader in one of the most important companies in the history of logo design… My question for Haviv: What is it like to work with Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar, two graphic design legends?

  2. Always Love to see this. They are so goood! Thanx!
    Loved your book by the way. Great inspiration for someone that’s just starting her own business….

  3. Oops, my mistake. First I have to read instead of just looking!
    My questions would be: do you have a suggestion for a designer that has lost (pre-digital era) everything she has ever made (apart from some meaningless drawings on the side) and has to start all over in this era? Make up clients and design my own portfolio? Work for nothing? Do you still remember being ‘small’ and uninfluential in the business or has it always been like this? Your thoughts and insight please.
    Too many questions I’m sorry.

  4. Sagi,
    What advice can you give for someone wanting to find work/secure a position in a distinguished studio such as Chermayeff & Geismar?

  5. I think it’s worthwhile adding questions from elsewhere to avoid repetition:

    Via email

    How important is a creative director’s role in the development of a junior designer in a studio? I’m working in a very small studio at the moment, where there is no creative director. I do good work, but get to a point where I need some constructive feedback to get the design just right.

    Do you think that it’s vital for a designer’s career to have guidance from good creative directors along the way? I learn from other designers and companies through blogs/books etc., but is this enough?

  6. Via Facebook

    Are there any types of logos you love to design more than others — any specific type, business, size of the brand etc.?

    What’s your favorite corporate logo of all time, and your favorite sports logo of all time?

  7. Via Facebook

    Sagi, many of history’s most successful logos are simple, so is it the simple design of the logo or the brand that makes it successful? Or is it the simple design execution of the message?

  8. Sagi – how do you find the inspiration to tap into your amazing creativity and come up with such unique design concepts? I am not very creative-minded and have always admired those that can tap into that – best of luck to you.

  9. I’ve noticed that Chermayeff & Geismar will often create a custom typeface for a logo design. If that’s the case, are you only creating the characters in use for the logo or are you designing the whole set and handing it over to the client for further use?

  10. Dear Sagi,
    Hope this email find you well & welcome back from Mexico hope you had some time to recover. I am very intrigue by the work that is done for the public projects and I am a big fan especially of some of the recent projects… so 2 thumps up!

    My question is related to “Print Production” and the boundary limitation it imposes on the work of the “Graphic Design Community”.

    Coming from the print production side I find out that some of my customers are frustrated by the work they receive for print stating that they need to correct various elements of the jobs and that some of the colors are just not going to come out the way the designer envisioned.

    The most common argument coming out from the Design School professors is that we should not limit the designer by the scope of current print production technology and that they should push for new boundaries hoping that the technology will catch up…

    In some cases the job becomes too expensive to correct or to match up and leaving the print buyer, the designer and the printer all but frustrated!

    I’d love to hear your thoughts and observation.

    Thanks and good luck, Itzhak Pearl.

  11. Sagi, What are the most cherished successes and failures you had in your design career? What are the lessons you learned from it?

  12. What should graphic designers be cognizant of now that much of visual media is being formatted for use on multiple platforms?

  13. Amazing eye.

    Reminscent of network and PBS interstats from the 60s and 70s. Great hand rendered / hand simulated quality. Great simplicity; minus the bevels, which I’m sure you guys probably fought against.

    Also nice to see the discussion here focusing on motion for a change. Out of respect for your time, we’ll keep our questions pointed:

    – In this age of partially employed designers and diminishing respect for quality work, how do you find a client willing to fund this kind of man-hour expenditure?

    – When it comes to AE / framed motion projects, how long do you think is too long? As I’ve evolved from a designer to a developer and animator, I’ve often felt that what shows well to a captive audience can lose some of its power online; often feeling “tangential”. How do you keep this type if work relevant to the marketplace? Shorter edits?

    Awesome, awesome work!

  14. Via email

    What process do you use to select colours for identity work?

    I’m a recent graphic design graduate working as the in-house designer for a growing company. My overseer is the company’s marketing manager who I believe attempts to make personal choice decisions rather than marketing decisions when it comes to my designs. And by the time she is finished, the result is less than a shadow of its original self, and I’m no longer proud of the work.

    I know there has to have been a time in your prestigious career in which your ideas were devalued or tarnished. How did you handle these situations and what encouraged you to keep moving forward with confidence in the value of your talents and potential?

  15. Great to see such simple, powerful work. Thank you, David.
    My question for Sagi: How do you maintain your focus on simplicity in an age and in an environment that is dominated by busy, complex visuals and photoshop filters?

  16. Quite an impressive portfolio of identities, and kudos to the motion graphics video. A lot of clever transitions and definitely something to be proud of.

    My question is:

    I’m sure some of those logos/brands did not come easily; what is the best process of going about telling a client from a design standpoint that the identity options you have presented are the best options without seeming snide or abrasive?

    Sometimes I have trouble explaining my process to peers and clients alike, so it’s good to ask other professionals how they’d handle it.

    Thanks and good work!

  17. My question for you:

    Given that Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar are both from such a different generation, what is it like being from such a different background and working with them? Do you find yourself taking their spare Modernist abstract style for granted, or wanting to suggest more ironic, contemporary or Postmodern styles that they aren’t into?

  18. In this day and age of super loud, busy visuals, how do you convince a client to go with something of the Chermayeff & Geismar tradition?

  19. Do you think there is any subject you can’t brand? In other words, do people ever come to you and you think, “there’s no way I can solve this”?

  20. Hi Sagi,

    I’m a British born designer currently living and working in Tel Aviv, Israel.

    Israel is a fascinating country with many rich and varied cultural influences, my question for you is…. are there any specific elements of Israeli culture that you feel have effected you as a designer in any particular way? And also, when you look back over your catalogue of work, can you see any trend towards or away from any of those early influences?

  21. Mr. Haviv,

    I would like to know what you see as the difference between logo design and other graphic design disciplines. As a creative director for a large corporation, I have seen many design portfolios and, while they often have very good editorial and graphics work, great branding work seems to be rare. Would love to hear your thoughts on this matter.

  22. A few more reader questions so I can keep track in one place.

    Via email

    Is it possible to be prosperous in the graphic design field being mainly interested in brand identity (logo) design and not having any interest in most of the other areas, such as editorial design, for example? Is it reasonable to pursue a career in such case, and prosper as a brand identity designer?

    When you are creating a logo that will be mainly typographic, what is your process for finding the proper typography? Do you create your own font, or do you go through all the ones you have?

    Via Facebook

    What are your favourite type of projects to work on?

    What are the most cherished successes and failures you’ve had in your design career? What lessons did you learn from them?

  23. David, congratulations on this interview… clearly one of the current leaders in logo design. My question for Haviv: How do you decide if a client needs a wordmark or a symbol?

  24. Great idea David.

    Sagi, thank you for taking the time and offering such an impressive body of work.

    Thank you both for the inspiration ;)


    This could be broken down in many different ways, so the short version is:

    How would you suggest a designer land projects throughout different stages in his or her career?

    I graduated about a couple of years ago myself from Ind. Design and last year from Art, but am on the process of establishing myself as a freelancer and identity has been what I have liked the most, so your feedback is very valuable to me.

    much appreciated!

  25. There is some really inspirational work on Chermayeff & Geismar site, and the site works really well too.

    From recent research on blogs and journals it seems there has been a lot mentioned about current design graduates showing little knowledge in brand identities and logo design.

    Do you feel that it is essential to have a piece of logo design within your portfolio? Or just beneficial. Thanks

  26. Do you think a self taught designer can be as successful as a formally trained one and gain employment from great design firms like Chermayeff & Geismar?

  27. Hello Sagi!
    I’m from Russia and I want to know why do you became the designer?
    It’s very interesting for me because you have very creative thinking.

    I wish you good luck and creative successes.


  28. My second and third questions for Sagi:

    . What techniques do you use to come up with your ideas?
    . What motivated you to become a designer?

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