Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tracy: A Tale of Two Studios

Pentagram v A.Epstein and Sons.

These two design studios come from distinctly different viewpoints. Epstein is an 87 year old Chicago based architecture, engineering, construction, interior design and graphic design firm with three managing directors and a president who have ultimate control. Beneath these executives is an entire hierarchical system which incorporates several subsidiary departments, with neXt-the graphic design department at the end of the list. 

'neXt wayfinding + design - neXt is Epstein’s graphic communications group which provides efficient and visually stimulating environmental and print graphics. neXt has designed signage and collateral material, as well as developed wayfinding systems for museums, hospitals, educational facilities, office buildings, hotels, and developers' (, 2006 )

A.Epstein's credo is that from the Chicago headquarters and national satellite offices to central Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Epstein is poised to think globally and create locally. According to Henry Mintzberg's Five Configurations, A. Epstein and Sons fits into the Divisional Form. 

Pentagram on the other hand according to Mintzberg fits into the Adhocracy configuration. 'Project organisations: highly organic structure with little formalization; relies on mutual adjustment as the key coordinating mechanism within and between these project teams.' (, 2008)

'Pentagram is organized around nineteen partners with offices in London, New York, San Francisco, Austin and Berlin, employing a total of 220 people. The partners are all practicing designers, recognized in their particular fields. They work independently or collaboratively according to a client's needs, with a single lead partner always in overall control. Pentagram offers an efficient and broad range of design services to both local and international clients of all sizes. All clients, large and small, benefit equally from the full weight of Pentagram's experience and resources.' (, 2006)

Pentagram has at the top of it's list and as it's main concern-design with the partners always having hands-on imput on individual projects. This differs vastly from the A.Epstein and Sons International approach.

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