Philip Slater was a renowned sociologist, Harvard professor, Brandeis department head, best-selling author, playwrite, actor, and bonafide psychonaut.

His style was both eccentric and simple. We wanted to create a visual identity that expressed his intellectual flexibility and his forward-thinking mind.

His concerns were for the future—and he turned out to be quite right about them.

The Brief

  • Brand Design
  • Imaging
  • Web Design
  • Web Development

Philip E. Slater (May 15, 1927 — June 20, 2013) was the author of the influential 1970 best-seller The Pursuit of Loneliness (Beacon 1970), as well as nine other books of sociology and social commentary.

Though his books had done well in the 70’s, his later books were more precient but less widely recognized. Arguably his most seminal work, The Chrysalis Effect (2008) predicted many of the social and political issues we face today.

Visual Identity

Phil’s favorite color was always purple—regal, spiritual, and non-gendered. He wore the color often, donning the royal hue on t-shirts, backpacks and notebooks. That was our only given.

The logo had to encapsulate his initial (P.S.) and indicate his forward-thinking works. We wanted to create a mark that exemplified his timeless observations about society and the human condition. Though academic, Phil was also a routine psychonaut—taking LSD annually with a group of high-thinking scholars in an effort to expand perspective and find truth where it had not previously been found. This informed the fluid shape of his logomark, which swims from a P into an S, and back again.

The logotype was derived from a classic 1970’s novel style typeface, Albertus, inspired by the cover of his seminal book, "Wealth Addiction". The roman serif communicates wisdom and professionalism while retaining a bent of personality.

“A brilliant, sweeping and relevant critique … illumines each of the many aspects of American culture that it touches.”


Phil’s non-fiction topics include global culture, American culture, gender, business, addiction, Greek mythology, the supernatural, sexual tension and more. However, his non-fiction wasn’t his only work; he also excelled writing fiction and plays.

Slater believed fervently in democracy’s adaptive superiority, a theme that ran throughout his work. He and co-author Warren Bennis predicted the fall of the Soviet bloc and the rise of democracy, arguing, “Democracy… is the only system that can successfully cope with the changing demands of contemporary civilization.”

“The experience of losing everything and finding I was having a wonderful time opened me to experiences I otherwise would not have had. I would have protected myself from them if I had known.”


Read Phil’s obituary in the New York Times here, or visit his website here for more information on his life and works.

We recommend reading his non-fiction work, The Chrysalis Effect.

“Blacksmith Branding did an amazing job creating the brand and website for my father’s work. Their gorgeous design is both arresting and welcoming, and they managed to create a visual narrative that allowed for easy navigation through a complex and multifaceted career."