News

Sep 1, 2016

This Just In: Identity Manual Collection

Thanks to a generous gift from Professor Dennis Y. Ichiyama, Letterform Archive is excited to add nearly 200 identity manuals to our collection.

Corporate identity manuals

Dennis Ichiyama is a designer and professor of visual communication design at Purdue University. As a student, he studied under Paul Rand at Yale, learning the importance of creating within limitations — a philosophy he carried with him into a long career as a designer and educator.

While many of his colleagues showed magazines in their classes, Ichiyama began collecting manuals to illustrate the real-world applications of these skills. Writing letters to corporations and organizations, he requested brand standards manuals that he could share with his students. The response to Ichiyama’s letters was overwhelming; he remembers how it “felt like Christmas” as the packages would arrive in the mail, covered in stamps from all over the world. He recounted in particular the generosity of Black & Decker, which provided a manual for each of the students in his class. He used them as textbooks from year to year, and they remain one of his favorite parts of the collection.

PTT Company Style Handbook, Studio Dumbar & Total Design, 1979
PTT Company Style Handbook, Studio Dumbar & Total Design, 1979

During a visit to Letterform Archive, Ichiyama told us that in some ways the identity manuals were like travel books — students would look through the Helsinki City Transit and PTT manuals and say they were going to see to those places someday.

The manuals themselves are beautiful and mark an important era in design history. We are grateful and proud to serve as their new home and look forward to making them accessible to the public. On learning that out-of-town visitors are already requesting to see them, Ichiyama expressed that he was “very, very pleased.” We hope this extensive collection of visual identity manuals continues to be a source of reference and inspiration to our visitors, as they once were in Ichiyama’s classroom.

— Kate Goad, Operations Associate

Download a hi-res sampler of images from the collection

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