Oct 8, 201301:00 PMPoint of View

Signgeist 2: A 30-Year Itch

Signgeist 2: A 30-Year Itch

An early publicity shot of the new kids in town.

Courtesy Richard Marin

(page 1 of 4)

The year was 1983. Ronald Reagan was president, Michael Jackson’s Thriller topped the Billboard charts, and Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi ruled the theaters. A gallon of gas cost $1.25, Tom O’Reilly’s bar was our Manhattan watering hole of choice, and our studio, Calori & Vanden-Eynden, was born.

New York was the design world’s epicenter in the ’80s, but our field of environmental graphic design (EGD) was still in its infancy. Few designers knew much about it or had an interest in it, but EGD was fascinating to me and to my partner Chris Calori. It represented an opportunity for us to have immense impact on people’s lives. Naïve enough, talented enough, and driven enough, we opened our design studio at the end of a recession. Thirty years on, we are still going strong. Feeling celebratory, we thought it would be fun to flash back through our long, strange, sobering, yet enjoyable, rewarding, and fulfilling history…and EGD’s evolution along the way.

Our goal out of school was to have our own design studio by the time we were 30. So, in 1980, we set our sights on Manhattan, targeted the best design firms in the city, and hit the ground running. Chris found a job at the landmark design firm of Chermayeff & Geismar Associates. I landed at the studio of Lance Wyman, designer of the groundbreaking 1968 Mexico City Olympics graphics program.

Fast forward to 1983.

Home sweet home—our living room studio in 1983. We don’t recommend this.


Like many design studios, ours started in our living room as a sideline to our day jobs. Coming from established firms, we were accustomed to big budgets and large projects—the cold-shower reality of being able to make a living as fledgling EGD designers came as a shock…we only had small projects with even smaller budgets. The big ’80s, however, were about to take off. We were in the right city at the right time, and our work had the right look.

A logo for Public Access Systems (PAS), a company that made computer directories for office buildings. The design was derived from the green-line screens of early computers. WOW!

Courtesy Calori & Vanden-Eynden Design Consultants

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