Our current issue features CR’s top 20 logos of all time. The Woolmark is our number one, but mystery surrounds the identity of its designer
In 1963, the International Wool Secretariat, now called Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) announced a global design competition to create a graphic identity for wool “which would hold consumer confidence and represent quality standards”, to be used internationally. The resultant logo sits proudly at number one in our Top 20 logos, as featured in our April issue.
Seemingly inspired by a skein of wool, the winning design, known as the Woolmark, was launched in 1964 in Britain, US, Japan, Germany, Holland and Belgium, and is now recognised the world over. But who designed it?
Officially the Woolmark is credited to an Italian designer hailing from Milan called Francesco Saroglia. He won the competition, a fact documented by numerous sources. But we don’t know anything else about the man. There are no books featuring his work (at least none we or the leading Italian designers we contacted have been able to find), no record of any exhibitions, not even any web pages featuring any other work by Saroglia or, indeed, anything about him at all. How could the designer of one of the most famous logos of all time have left no trace of his wider practice?
Is this Francesco Saroglia?
Was the Woolmark’s designer not, in fact, Saroglia at all but Franco Grignani, a leading designer of the time whose body of work included many op art inspired images in black and white?
Ad by Grignani for Alfieri & Lacroix, a Milan-based typo-lithographers
In our April issue, Gavin Lucas examines the evidence and the competing claims regarding the logo’s authorship. Did Grignani enter it into the competition under an assumed name? Was his work stolen by another? The likes of Ben Bos, Massimo Vignelli and Leonardo Sonnoli all contribute their theories to a fascinating piece (which subscribers can read here).
The AWI credits Saroglia as the logo’s author and there is no suggestion of wrongdoing by them, but we may never know the whole truth. An image from Grignani’s diary with various sketches for the Woolmark including something very like the final version (featured in the issue) would appear to be the smoking gun, but we can’t be sure it is proof of his authorship. One thing is certain, however. The creator of the Woolmark not only left behind a cracking logo, but also a great graphic mystery.
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