For while now, I’d been on the lookout for a color photo of these Steelcase paint cans by Vance Jonson (and also credited to Lancey Saunders.) Finally found one in a 1977 issue of Communication Arts magazine.
This corporate paint line is limited to Steelcase products only and is not for retail consumption. The primary communication requirement, therefore, was for easy color identification. This was achieved by affixing large color swatches to the lids (the variable factor) while subduing the label itself (the constant factor).
Cover ’75 / Catch the Eye
“… the Steelcase paint cans win my best of show award, as they are a sheer delight.”
(Jonson also designed the Steelcase logotype, shown after the fold…)
Top to bottom: black & white logo via: DC/AIGA; 1978 Steelcase truck graphic mock-up via: AIGA Design Archives; 1978 Steelcase “spectrum logo” via: Steelcase; Steelcase truck graphic on real truck from 2009 (photo by Ivan Corsa, 2009)
“Steelcase, the primary mark for all products and services, is registered in block form (unstylized) and in at least two logotype forms. Vance Jonson, a New York-based graphic designer, designed the current version, shown here, in the early 1970s. It was intended for use in one color, blind embossing, or in the spectrum of colors as seen on trucks today.”
“Mr. Jonson started this design with the Helvetica medium typeface; the modifications that make it unique are highlighted in the captions.”
–Steelcase Inc., Corporate Communications Standards and Guidelines, 1993
Curiously, there have also been licensed toy Steelcase trucks (manufactured by ERTL, Winross and others) that seem pretty close to Jonson’s original model truck mock-up. These toy Steelcase trucks can sometimes be found on eBay, and (in rare cases) with their original packaging.