This article was originally published on the Central Intelligence Agency News and Information blog.
Oliver Lincoln Lundquist, a talented architect and industrial designer, worked for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), CIA’s predecessor, during World War II and led the team that designed the official United Nations emblem.
In 1945, the US State Department asked the OSS to help create graphics for the UN Conference on International Organization in San Francisco, where the UN Charter was drafted. Lundquist’s team set out to create a lapel pin for the delegates that could serve as their official form of identification. It was initially designed by another OSS officer, Donal McLaughlin, who worked for Lundquist as the director of graphics for the conference. This became the prototype for the UN logo you see today.
The design consisted of a top-down view of the globe, centered on North America and showing all of the continents except Antarctica, with two olive branches on either side to symbolize peace. The design was in shades of blue, a purposeful choice to contract with red, a color traditionally associated with war.
The final emblem chosen by the UN was a slightly modified version of this design.
After his OSS service, Lundquist joined a private practice as an architect, working on hospitals, schools, private residences, and even the former Kodak Building in Manhattan. In 2008, Lundquist passed away at the age of 92.
The UN logo isn’t the only design of Lundquist’s around today. He also created one of the most recognizable product packages still found on store shelves: the blue-and-white Q-Tip box.
Want to learn more?
A fascinating history of the UN logo was written by former OSS officer Donal McLaughlin, called: “Origin of the Emblem and other Recollections of the 1945 UN Conference.”
This file was provided courtesy of the UN Archives and Records Management Section.