Tibor Kalman

Tibor+banner+copyTibor Kalman – “Curiosity is a beautiful disease”

Tibor Kalman was born in 1949 in Budapest, Hungary.

In 1967 he enrolled at New York University where he worked on the student newspaper.  He dropped out and travelled to Cuba to cut sugar cane and learn about Cuban life.

He returned to New York in 1971 and went to work as creative director of a student book exchange owned by Leonard Riggio.

Kalman taught himself to design advertisements and for next 8 years worked for Riggio’s empire.  In 1979 he left to set up M&Co – his own graphic studio.


Kalman’s sense of funky and absurd started kicking it with goofy furnishings – the reception window was a hole smashed in the wall with a sledgehammer.

By 1989 he kalman1was arguing for social responsibility through toys, products, corporations and music.

“I see this as a business that affects people’s lives and affects people’s brains”.


He went on the road and argued with lectures, writings and visual essays about waste and the hypocrisy of designing for bad companies.  “Good design for good causes can improve the environment”.

Whilst M&Co flourished, it became a drain on his energy.  Escape came from “Colors” magazine – sponsored by Benetton, which he co-founded with Olivero Toscani.  Here he flourished and honed in on how design could be used as a tool in communication and propagation of his ideas.

He died of cancer in 1997 – a humanist who found a way to make commercial art serve society – the ultimate client.



New York Times Obituary





One Comment on “Tibor Kalman”

  1. clea1g says:

    Great post. I like the bit about him “serving society – the ultimate client”.
    He had a lot to communicate and managed to do so with great intelligence and restrained elegance. Check out his wife Maira Kalman (if you haven’t already) her illustrations are wonderfully quirky. Nice work!

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