H&M x PaulRand

Website Design

I designed the site for "H&M x Rand" collection in my designer study and experiment, where I integrates H&M's branding with Paul Rand's modernism style, with the requirement for website usability in mind.


   Modern as P. R.
   Defamiliarize the ordinary
   excessive use of collage
   Contrast between image and type matter
   Serious Playfulness

Navigation Menu
Click to view my detailed notes and takeaways
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Design is so simple, that's why it is complicated.

- Paul Rand
My Designer Study &
Design Experiment

This is a the project where I studied one of the most influential graphic designers in the history, looking at their work, life and interviews and books and then creating a piece of design where I interpret this designer, taking what I learned that can be applied to today's design. This helps me reflect on modern design movements and trends doing it in the spirit of this designer.

Fall 2016

Paul Rand


Why he?

The immense impact that Paul Rand’s innovations and contributions to the style and production of the graphic design industry are simply impossible to calculate. His beggining stages of development brought the Swiss style of design to the forefront in what would be ths first of many impacts on the artistic community.

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy described Paul Rand as “an idealist and a realist using the language of the poet and the businessman. He thinks in terms of "need" and "function". He is able to analyze his problems, but his fantasy is boundless.” It is a beautiful quote accurately illustrating Rand's style and approach. It is this philosophy that makes Rand's art successful and endure.

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My Experiment

For my experiment, I designed for a imaginary special "H&M x Rand" collection for the Sweden-based fashion company H&M with Paul Rand since it boasts diversity and certain modern component in its clothes design.

Splash Page Design

Inspired by "defamilarize the ordinary" and modernists' massive use of collage, I explored the idea of collage with reprise, incorporation, scattering the letters of "RAND" on repeated triangles in bold saturated colors from Rand but also tinted colors. Furthermore, I wanted to make it less conservative which resulted in another ingredient added - a bunch of pixated flowers. I got the inspiration from "victorian" collage, which added a little "classical" flavor to the modern design.

My Sketch


Modern as P. R.

Rejection of Tradition,

Experiment with Form

Serious Playfulness


My Sketch
Website Design


Inspired by Paul Rand's naive art (playful but serious), I used the blinds effect of accessories - perfume and keychain, and made them interact with models in the lookbook in order to arouse the curiosity of audience to unveil what is behind. To resonate with that, a square of blinds are also added on to the lookbook image.


The collection of brands in H&M Group constitute another collage at the bottom of the page. Here, I used the triangle elements again and rotated them to compose the boat shape like tangram, which rejects its ordinary form.


The tilted navigation menu adds dynamic to the page, which make this collection give audience a young and modern feeling.

My Sketch

Navigation Open-up

My Sketch
Sweatshirt Design
My Sketch
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From Paul rand, I started to look at designers in the history with a more critical eyes. Each piece of art or design work is an altogether miniature of the time, the space, the culture and the character of people who created. By experimenting with the idea this great designer, I get a more deep understanding of what modernism means, and what graphic elements can be used. Paul Rand is one of the legend in 20 Century, though he's work is not one of my favourites, but his graphic design theory shed lights on the integrity as a designer, with most of which I cannot agree more. I have picked up other designers for the next. This process is like building a shelf of my design inventory, so that I can pick out a book and get inpiration for my future project.

To be continued.

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    Below are takeaways I learned from Paul Rand

Insight I
"Design" is to communicate
About Design

There’s a lot of art history, basic design, psychology, and mojo in these two little paragraphs. Rand’s core thesis was that visual design had to serve a purpose of communicating -- what he emphasized at the end of his first paragraph as: achieving relevance. It’s important to consider how Rand built his career in the 50s and 60s when the idea of professionally drawing pictures could have easily been (and is still often) confused with making art for art’s sake. Because when we consider how today there are many data-oriented approaches to design where the results, or relevance, can be generally proven through focus groups or A/B testing or the likes, Rand operated in an era where his strength of opinion had to count for something.

Insight II
Defamiliarize the ordinary
"What Cézanne did with apples, Picasso with guitars, Léger with machines, Schwitters with rubbish, and Duchamp with urinals makes it clear that revelation does not depend upon grandiose concepts. The problem of the artist is to Defamiliarize the Ordinary. "

As a pioneer of modernism, Paul Rand's work embraces the experiments of reprise, incorporation, recapitulation, revision, parody... It uses form, bold color and typefaces to create a composition which exists outside of visual reality.

Typographic and Expression

Pauls design, especially the ones he created for the cover of Cummins and Westinghouse annual reports, employs typeface, many of which are bold san-serif or stencil type, as figure itself or container for color and content. In his "Typographic Form and Expression", he pointed out the designer is unaware of the exciting possibilities inherent in the contrast of picture and type matter. "...To distort the letters of the alphabet ‘in the style of’ Chinese calligraphy (sometimes referred to as chop suey lettering)... To mimic a woodcut style of type to ‘go with’ a woodcut; to use bold type to ‘harmonize with’ heavy machinery, etc., is cliche-thinking."

Insight III
on "Simplicity"
About Simplicity About Simplicity About Simplicity
"Simplicity is not the goal. It is the by-product of a good idea and modest expectations."

His advertising was simpler looking and in turn more eye-catching that the typical ads. Rand brought ideas and intelligence to advertising, but kept in mind that whatever he was doing, should communicate, so the guy in the street knew what they were trying to sell. Every detail was meant to attract the eye. He often divided designs into two components; a large mass that drew the attention and a smaller mass that needed closer attention.

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The simpliest and hardest - logo design

Paul Rand, and Saul Bass, Milton Glaser are hailed as the holy trinity of 20th century logo design. I learned from Paul Rand that as a graphic design you bear the integrity and responsibility to deliver "the logo". The design may explain itself in the marketplace. These are two of his logo design principles.

1. A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around.
IBM Logo
2. The only mandate in logo design is that they be distinctive, memorable and clear.

Paul Rand thinks that the logo does not have to depict the subject matter of the company. This mere one-to-one relationship between a symbol and what it symbolized, is like a name of a person, is very often impossible to achieve. The logo of Westinghouse by Paul Rand is a perfect elaboration of the emphasis placed on distinctiveness and clearness.

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