How Sagi Haviv collaborates to build iconic brands

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The Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv partner shares his key to effective collaboration, his logo design envy, his work mantra, and more.

3 min read

A headshot of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv partner Sagi Haviv on a gradient lime green and blue background.

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In a new series, we’re asking leading designers across the industry to share their work life advice, design do’s and don’ts, and secrets to effective collaboration. Consider it our design take on the Proustian questionnaire, with the aim to give you insight on how top designers work and think about design in a time unlike any other. (And they might just spill a few work-life secrets along the way.)


Sagi Haviv is a partner of nearly 20 years at the storied New York design firm Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv. If you've turned on the TV, filled up your gas tank, or walked down the street of any major city in the past 60 years or so (pretty likely), you've seen some of the iconic logos and graphic identities designed by CGH: the NBC peacock, Mobile gasoline wordmark with the red "O," and Chase Bank symbol among many others. In addition to designing visual brands at CGH (most recently for Discovery+ and Animal Planet), Haviv teaches visual identity design at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and is the co-author of Identity: Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv.

Here, Haviv shares his key to effective collaboration, his Dropbox logo design envy, and his two cents that design is ultimately about ideas, not pretty graphics (though you should still "make it perfect").


What's the key to effective collaboration?

Mutual respect.

What's the most surprising difference between in-office collaboration and remote?

We talk more, not less.

What's your advice for leading a design team?

Inspire.

What's your advice for making a design team more collaborative?

Listen.

Collaboration is most important to which part of the design process?

Everything is collaborative except the very beginning conceptualizations: We sketch apart, and then come together to judge, evaluate and revise.

What's the one quality you always look for in a designer?

Dedication.

What’s your proudest moment?

Landing an internship at Chermayeff & Geismar Inc.

What was your biggest learning moment?

Every moment with Tom Geismar.

What's your biggest realization from the past year and half of working amid a pandemic?

I love working from home. And I love working at the office.

What’s your work mantra?

Make it perfect.

What's a mistake you’re glad you made?

Spent a year at Lee Strasberg studying acting.

What's the best advice you’ve received? (From whom?)

“Don’t wait to be asked” from Laurie Anderson at college graduation.

Who is your dream client?

A client that knows who they are.

What's a design you wish you thought of yourself?

The Dropbox logo.

What's a design faux pas you’re secretly a fan of?

The Airbnb logo.

What's a design skill that’s overrated?

Flexible identities.

What's a design skill that’s underrated?

Silhouette.

What's the difference between a good designer and a great one?

A great one knows how to get the client to adopt the best design option.

What's your favorite question to ask during job interviews?

What are your aspirations for the future?

What's your favorite typeface?

This week, it’s Camphor.

How do you avoid team burnout?

Make sure everyone gets to sketch concepts.


What's the song you listen to when you’re the most productive?

"Ana" by The Pixies.

Which project from the past year that most excites you?

Discovery+.


What keeps you up at night?

Did I turn off the light in the kitchen.

What gets you up in the morning?

My bedroom faces east.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Chill.

Design is…?

ideas.


Design isn’t…?

pretty graphics.