The Designers’ Playground of the Century
The young profession of graphic design reached maturity during the 20th century. Within that new professional world, the sphere of work called ‘corporate identity’ became a true metropolis. There are a few classic examples of this development, and all historical surveys mention the visionary approach of AEG, the German pioneers in the realm of electricity, founded back in 1886.
AEG Berlin, conceptual pioneers
The concept of corporate identity can be claimed by Peter Behrens (1868–1940). Trained as a painter, he soon developed his skills as an architect and product designer. While director of the Düsseldorf School for Applied Arts, he was also active as a freelance packaging and publicity designer for AEG. In 1907 he joined the company as their aesthetic and architectural advisor. He built their turbine factory and designed numerous products at a new, high level of functionality and beauty. He designed a new, strong AEG logo and employed young talents who would soon become design stars: Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier. The whole quality cluster of AEG architecture, packaging, publicity and product design supports the recognition of Behrens as the Godfather of Corporate Identity. His motivation was purely idealistic: he was truly in search of ‘Making Things Better’.