I want my MTV: Manhattan Design & that moon landing logo that changed TV forever
On August 1, 1981, just one minute past midnight, tv changed forever.
MTV released its first spot ever with an Apollo 11 mission that defined pop culture as we live it.
In the clip the astronaut planted a flag on the rocky surface of our dearest moon spelling “M,” “T,” & “V.” The groundbreaking TV station that killed the radio star aka MTV was officially a thing and its visual identity, although changed over the course of the years, remains -almost- the same.
Designed by Manhattan Design, a graphic design collective in New York City from 1979 until 1991, in late 1980, while MTV was called "The Music Channel" after its sister network "The Movie Channel", the project was assigned to Pat Gorman, Frank Olinsky, and Patti Rogoff by MTV's first creative director Fred Seibert.
Seibert had known Olinsky since childhood, and Olinsky, one of the three partners who formed Manhattan Deisgn, had designed record covers for Seibert's company Oblivion Records in 1975.
Manhattan Design created hundreds of preliminary designs, but when the 'MTV' name was chosen, partner Gorman sketched out the now familiar "M" in a bold 3-d sans serif, a "new wave" style "TV" was added by Olinsky, and the design was presented to the network.
Seibert and partner Alan Goodman wanted the "TV" redesigned, and Olinsky took a large version of the "M" into the studio stairwell, spray painted a graffiti-style "TV" on it, and presented it, paint drips and all, to the network.
After the logo was approved, the partners were asked to come up with the "corporate colors" for the logo. A revolutionary decision was made: there wouldn't be any corporate colors. The "M" and the "TV" could be made of anything at all. The influence of the MTV logo's chameleon-like look can be seen today.
Pat Gorman, Frank Olinsky, and Patti Rogoff met at the Arica Institute, where they worked in the in-house design department. They founded Manhattan Design in 1979, opening their first office in a tiny room in the back of a t'ai chi studio, on the second floor above C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries, in Greenwich Village.
From there they created all sorts of "hip" design projects besides the logo that will forever bring music to our eyes as well as album packaging, posters, books, and magazines.
Manhattan Design also conceived the adaptation of the MTV "moon man" as the award for the MTV Video Music Awards, based on the original concept by MTV's first creative director, Fred Seibert, a video that played at the top of every hour of every day for almost four years (75,000 times) and have worked with The B-52s, The Cars, Billy Idol, Duran Duran, R.E.M., Sting, 10,000 Maniacs, Suzanne Vega, and others.
A decade later after the logo landed on the moon Manhattan Design closed up shop in 1991.
Patti Rogoff was hired to work in-house for the MTV Networks Creative Services group, Frank Olinsky went on to become a leading designer of album packages and Pat Gorman became an acupuncturist.
We will forever thank Manhattan Design for the music. All aboard!