The Story of the Squiggle Logo

The Story of the Squiggle Logo

Maxwell Ryan
Apr 9, 2012

Over the years a lot of people have asked "what the heck is that squiggly thing anyway?" so I thought I'd take a swipe at it and let you all in on the back story. Way back in 2001, I was sitting in my original office as the only employee of a new company that had almost no revenue, and I was looking for a logo to go with the name, Apartment Therapy (which had originally been an inside joke name laid on me by a friend because my father is a psychiatrist).

My first desk space/office on a floor in Tribeca, shared with some of the Gawker crew (background) and a number of artists.

As a budding designer I felt that logos were essential and having a visual image associated with what I was doing (interior design) was going to be important over time. I started sketching a few things on a piece of paper brought back from a hotel in Rome.

It wasn't working for me, so, the next day I asked my friend Vincenzo Amato, who is a great artist, to try a hand at it. This what he did.

There were great, but not quite right either. Everything was too literal.

Even my friend Brenda Bergen, who is a very talented graphic designer, took a shot at it.

I was looking outward for an answer and not finding anything.

Then, sitting at my desk again the following week, I realized that right behind me on the wall were a lot of simple form drawings that I'd been doing for awhile as a meditation/art project. On the spur of the moment, I pulled one off of the wall out of the dozen or so hanging there and scanned it. It was odd, but it was totally open, personal and meaningful, and it seemed right. In that instant the Apartment Therapy squiggle logo was born.

Yes, we didn't register it as a trademark until 2009.

While it started in black, became orange and has been slightly smoothed out and corrected over the past eleven years, it's pretty much unchanged. Over the years many people have asked about it, and I've noticed how early confusion and displeasure has slowly transformed into appreciation and wonder. I think this just speaks to sticking with something that you believe in through thick and thin. :-)

What Are the Squiggles About Anyway?

The squiggle logo represents healthy, beautiful energy flow. It was drawn in 2001 and taken from my ongoing ink drawings series of which there have been hundreds over the years.

Based on the Waldorf educational practice of Form Drawing, each shape is drawn slowly in one continuous motion with ink and gouache on paper. Each is a visual record of the flow of energy occurring in that particular moment. Each one is unique. Lately, I've been filling them in as well.

Want to see more squiggles? Click here to go to a 2008 project I called, A Squiggle A Day.

Good energy flow always carries a strong meandering motion, is one of my central tenants in interior design and can be found fully explained at the start of my first book, The Eight-Step Home Cure as well as in this great book by Theodore Schwenk, Sensitive Chaos: The Creation of Flowing Forms in Water and Air. It can be experienced in nature and designed for throughout the home, garden or even public places.


Digging a very smooth squiggle in the snow. Bondville, Vermont, 2008.

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