Separated At Birth Redux, Reprised, Revisited

Back by popular demand! (Well, one email message asked me the name of my old PRINT magazine feature that exposed similar-looking designs.) In this space, I will occassionally feature “Separated at Birth,” which evolved into “Evolution,” currently a regular feature in PRINT’s F.O.B. section.

Granted, ideas are in the air, and often two or more designers conceive the same idea at the same time. But sometimes a coincidence is just too … coincidental. Such is the case with the Tate Museum’s “Families” logo on Tate Online (left) designed in 2006, which not only is suspiciously similar to Herb Lubalin’s 1980 logo for the Reader’s Digest “Families” newsletter (right), but is the same fundamental idea (although using a different typeface).

Lubalin was the master of smashed, conceptual, and illustrated typography, and “Families,” along with “Mother & Child”, were among his most memorable examples.

In the design world, good ideas are a commodity, and borrowers should at least pay something–even if it’s only homage.

(Thanks to Brian Burch of Burch Design Group)

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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