The cover of IDEA Magazine no. 304: special issue Gelman, © IDEA Magazine, Tokyo
Alexander Gelman was born in Russia. In 1997 he founded the office Design Machine in New York together with partners. Photo: © Design Machine
The Gelman project presents works of the designer who has already done work for MTV, Apple and Sony. © IDEA Magazine, Tokyo
One of Gelman's most important publications: "Subtraction" about the reduction to the essential, published by Rotovision Verlag 2000. Cover: © Alexander Gelman


IDEA Magazine: Special Gelman Issue

An entire magazine is devoted to graphic designer Alexander Gelman in the special issue of IDEA Magazine, Tokyo. Comments from famous colleagues like Stefan Sagmeister and Naoto Fukusawa, who report about their experiences with Gelman, can be found alongside works of the designer.


Perhaps the fact that Alexander Gelman is only known as "Gelman" is due to the fact that he is one of the busiest designers (at least according to Stefan Sagmeister) and simply doesn't have time for more. But perhaps his creed for design, "subtraction", also plays a role.

Gelman was born in Russia. He is the president and co-founder of Design Machine, a design and consulting office in New York. Among its clients are MTV, Apple, Absolut Vodka, Sony, Swatch, Pepsi and United Airlines. As consultants, Gelman and Design Machine worked for BBDO, Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam and several others. The Museum of Modern Art described Gelman as "one of the most influential modern and contemporary media artists in the world" in 2001. He teaches at Parsons, School of Art, the Cooper Union School of Art and Yale University. He is a member of the board of the Art Directors Club; among his publications is the book "Subtraction: Aspects of Essential Design," which explains his design philosophy. With examples from architecture and design, film and fashion, working world and daily life, he illustrates how something can be gained by taking something away, i.e., by reduction.

Naoto Fukusawa finds many of his own convictions in this concept. In his comment about Gelman in the special issue, he writes about the perspective from which Gelman creates his consistent designs. John Maeda also recognizes contexts in his article, and not only those of Gelman's philosophy of "subtraction" and his hairdo reduced to nothingness. He also praises the fact that Gelman stands out because he mainly knows how to use his main tool: his brain. Issay Kitagawa describes him as a truly international designer, who senses the subtle nuances in the cultural differences. And Stefan Sagmeister, as mentioned above, is impressed with Gelman's ability to master several projects at the same time and to get into top shape especially during peak times.

IDEA Magazine no. 304, special issue Gelman. 148 pages, softcover, bilingual English/Japanese. You can order this and other issues of IDEA Magazine at

You can find more about Gelman and his work at