13 November 2006
Firooz Shafei
Firooz Shafei

The above Iranian logos, from top right to bottom left, are: Book Translation and Publication Center (Mahmoud Javadipour); National Oil Company of Iran (Mahmoud Javadipour); Jibi Book Company (Houshang Kazemi); Niel Publication (Mohammad Bahrami); Shiraz Art Festival (Houshang Kazemi); Sharaf Nespaper (Abutorab Ghaffari); Tehran University; Ministry of Art and Culture (Sadegh Barirani); IranAir (Zahrabian); National Radio and Television of Iran (Mohammad Aslani); Tehran International Film Festival (Morteza Momayez); Reza Abbasi Museum (Moreza Momayez); Tourist Attraction Organization (Houshang Kazemi); National University of Iran.

Following the Constitutional movement and the increasing knowledge of the Iranian intellectuals on western culture, the need for expansion of commercial and cultural relations with other countries was felt in the society. Also, following the modernization of Reza Shah era, the establishment of factories and the publication of the public and government press, the establishment of print shops and printing of various books also become necessitated. The establishment of different industrial and financial organizations, in addition to financial investments, machinery and specialized forces, also required the exact knowledge of the individuals and their goals. It was here that signs became applicable for better communication and receipt of information, and found their modern day niche.

In 1190 the first print shop was opened in Tabriz, and in 1216 the first Iranian newspaper by the name of 'News and City Events' was printed. Following that, two newspapers, Vaghaye Etefaghiye in 1229 and 'Government against Iran' in 1239, were printed. All these papers bear the image of the lion and the sun, the sign of Iranian kingdom, and are regarded as the government's power and influence. The first Iranian stamp was printed in 1247, and also bears the same image. Afterwards, Sharaf newspaper was printed and its name is also designed with traditional patterns including the lion and the sun image on top. It is from this point in time that calligraphers along with painters start designing logos for the press using various methods of calligraphy to distinguish the identity of their papers.

In 1309 the first advertising agency was established by Sarvari brothers. The logo of this agency clearly expresses the thought system of the designers of that time. This logo contains the first letters of the names of the founders, the year established, the image of a book and a torch (symbols of knowledge), all line up together to create a solid image. Later, logos were designed by Fredric Tallburg for the railway, Sadegh Berirani for the Ministry of Culture and Art, Houshang Kazemi for Tourist Attraction Organization and Javadipour for the National Oil Company of Iran.

In 1319 the Faculty of Fine Arts was established to in turn become the role model for all Iranian art schools. The logo for the University of Tehran, which had nationalistic tendencies, was impressed by ancient Persian motifs and was later refined by Morteza Momayez. This outlook includes all visual logos of all the organizations and factories established at that time. The conception that finds the eras of the Achaemenid and Sassanid Imperial dynasties as the climax of Iranian art and civilization, desires logo designs representing symbols of these eras. The examples can be seen in Babol's municipal hall building, Sepah and Melli Banks. In these logos the Achaemenian soldier is the main element in the design.

Before a graphic design major was established in the faculty of fine arts, all of the logos were designed by painters and calligraphers and they possessed a painting structure, but upon the establishment of this program and the introduction of students to the principles and foundations of this new art, logo designs found a different exposure. In a very short period, designers used new forms in designing Persian calligraphy with regards to foreign examples. The logos of Nil Publication, Arj Industrial Companies, Ahang Music Company, Minoo Confectionary Company and Book Translation, and Publication Center were among this group.

Gradually, painters were replaced by trained designers and graphic design became independent. Logos were created that bore a more integral and completed Iranian quality and the use of Iranian elements were applied more consciously. In the logos of the National University, National Radio and Television, Jibi Book Company and Iran Air, Iranian elements were applied more plainly and consciously. The tendency towards the use of calligraphy ,along with knowledge and expertise of designers, led to innovative new forms of calligraphy.

Presently, the perception of a suitable logo for a good designer refers to a form that can reflect an organization's visual essence and its reputation in the simplest way. An Iranian graphic designer, by exact use of diverse and beautiful Iranian motifs, can grant a powerful cultural aspect and build a special reputation for an organization's identity.

While graphic design in the post-revolution years became hasty and behaved immaturely at times because it looked anew at Iranian identity and referred to Islamic motifs, in its long journey it has reached mental perfection and has gradually manifested its qualities through the intellect.

About the article:
This article was originally published in NESHAN Iranian Graphic Design Magazine, Number 8, Winter 2006. Reprinted with permission.