The Visual Language of Herbert Matter

When Herbert Matter got the job to design a new logo for the New Haven Railroad he literally went through hundreds of sketches before arriving at the final logo.

NHRR logo development from Herbert Matter on Vimeo.

Can’t wait for this documentary on the influential swiss designer Herbert Matter to come out.

4 Comments leave a comment below

  1. What’s interesting is he wasn’t afraid to explore non-starters. Just iterate, iterate, iterate and THE idea will emerge.

  2. You gotta respect the process but I was expecting the final logo to be way better.

  3. It would be interesting to see what decisions was made by him and what was influenced by client reaction. Still, good lesson in this: no design springs forth from the first draft. Tenacity is your most valued asset!

  4. I was the source of the film clip presented above. It was originally created for a presentation that I gave to the New Haven Railroad Historical and Technical Association using material provided by the Stanford University library. It so happens that I wrote a book about the New Haven Railroad, “The New Haven Railroad in the McGinnis Era” (published by White River Productions – its still available last time I checked through their web site), which covers in great detail the corporate image design projects implemented on the New Haven and Boston & Maine railroads by Herbert Matter. In fact, my book features the only comprehensive coverage of this subject, which involved not only Herbert Matter but other design luminaries of the 50s including Florence Knoll, Minoru Yamasaki, Marcel Breuer, and Eero Saarinen. If you’d like to learn more about my book or would like to look at some New Haven Railroad artifacts in my collection, including many Matter designs, check out my web site at