Peter Oestrich never achieved the lionized status of design legends Paul Rand or Saul Bass, but his most famous design—the Kodak “K”—is as iconic as anything they ever produced. The company adopted the red-and-yellow camera-shutter logo in 1971, and for 35 years it was one of the most effective and widely recognized symbols in the world. Then, in 2006, Kodak replaced it with a plain red wordmark. But this week, the company returns to its roots: After a 10-year hiatus, the Kodak “K” is back.
Kodak asked New York design studio Work-Order to revive the logo, but it never even sent a brief. All the company specified was to go back to Oestrich’s “K.” “We said, ‘fantastic,’ because we would see no other way than to take it back to this symbol,” says Keira Alexandra, a partner at Work-Order. “It’s such a valuable asset, it would seem fruitless to begin again.” Alexandra says she preserved the original proportions of the “K” and its rounded-corner rectangle. The one thing the firm did change: The letters in “Kodak,” which are now set in a handsome set of bold, capital letters. Work-Order also stacked them vertically, evoking the sprocket holes on the edges of a roll of film.
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