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New Work: Hazen and Sawyer

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Hazen and Sawyer is the world’s leading engineering firm devoted to water. Headquartered in New York, the company has 42 offices across the U.S., as well as in Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and Jordan, and focuses on developing safe water drinking systems, as well as controlling water pollution and its effects on the environment. Pentagram’s Paula Scher and her team have designed a new identity for the firm that reflects its stature in the field.

The work Hazen and Sawyer does is incredibly important, especially as access to fresh water becomes a critical issue around the globe. Staffed by a team that includes many of the world’s top environmental engineers and scientists, the firm addresses these growing challenges. The new identity integrates the company’s mission into its logotype, which features a ripple of water inspired by the free water surface symbol, a notation used in water system engineering.

Melissa: Making Plastic Glamorous

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Melissa is a shoe company based in Brazil that creates extraordinary plastic shoes. Over the past 36 years they have collaborated with Vivienne Westwood, Zaha Hadid, Karl Lagerfield and many others.

Their designs include a broad spectrum of shoes, from simple sandals to extravagant sculptural wedges. Consumed by a huge part of the population in Brazil, they have also found celebrity fans in Katy Perry, Anne Hathaway and Kate Moss.

Pentagram London’s resident Brazilian, Marina Willer and her team have created a summer campaign for the brand, here she explains her return to Rio.

New Work: ‘Green: A Field Guide to Marijuana’

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As the legalization of marijuana gains momentum across the U.S., there’s a growing need for practical information about cannabis that is not clouded in a haze of hippy nostalgia or stoner clichés. Pentagram’s Eddie Opara and his team have designed Green: A Field Guide to Marijuana, a new book from Chronicle that is an accessible and comprehensive manual for the occasional user and the dedicated connoisseur alike.

Green was written by Dan Michaels, the founder of the cannabis research group Sinsemedia, and features the striking photography of Eric Christiansen and his studio Nugshots, which specializes in detailed macro shots of various cannabis strains. The book demystifies its subject with a straightforward, almost clinical approach that balances useful information with gorgeous images that show the natural beauty of cannabis plants and their buds.

New Work: Knotty Objects


Title sequence for Knotty Objects, the inaugural MIT Media Lab Summit.

The first MIT Media Lab Summit devoted to design, Knotty Objects brought together designers, scientists, engineers, curators and scholars to celebrate the chimeric nature of contemporary design and how it defies a discipline-specific approach. Organized by Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at MoMA, and Neri Oxman and Kevin Slavin, professors at the MIT Media Lab, the conference explored the theme through four archetypal objects for which conception, design, manufacturing and use are non-linear, or “knotty”: the brick, the bitcoin, the steak, and the phone.

Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and Aron Fay designed an identity for Knotty Objects that plays off the Summit title and theme with twisting and turning typography that builds on their identity for the MIT Media Lab. The knotty-but-nice type was applied to a full program of event collateral, including a title sequence that played before the start of the conference and environmental graphics for the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the MIT Media Lab, where the Summit was held on July 15-16.

New Work: The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

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London is the greenest city in Europe, and a huge part of this greenery can be found in The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Founded in 1759 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, Kew is the world’s largest collection of living plants, a botanical research centre and one of London’s most popular visitor attractions.

Kew epitomises many aspect of what makes London unique, with its sprawling green space, its royal heritage and dedication to innovative research. Harry Pearce and team have created a new identity for the gardens, which brings all these qualities to the fore.

New Work: ‘30 Years of Emerging Voices’

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Every year since 1982, the Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices program has identified up-and-coming architects, landscape architects and urban designers who promise to make a lasting impact on the field. Considered one of the most important honors in American architecture, the annual lecture series and award is celebrated for its foresight in recognizing individuals and firms destined for worldwide influence. These have included Brad Cloepfil, James Corner, Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, SHoP and Jeanne Gang, among many others.

Emerging Voices’ remarkable legacy is commemorated in a new book, 30 Years of Emerging Voices: Idea, Form, Resonance, out now from Princeton Architectural Press. Designed by Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and Laitsz Ho, the book is a richly illustrated compendium of almost 250 of the most innovative North American architects of the past three decades.

The League is launching 30 Years of Emerging Voices with a pair of events this week. The book was the focus of a special Oculus Book Talk at the Center for Architecture. This Saturday, July 11, the League and Open House New York will present OpenStudios: Emerging Voices, an opportunity to visit more than forty New York-based Emerging Voices firms. Pentagram’s office will serve as the check-in point for participants before they go on a self-guided walking tour of the studios. Copies of 30 Years of Emerging Voices will be available for purchase. Details here.

New Work: NLand Surf Park

Surfs up in Austin! Well, not quite yet, but a new surf park scheduled to open in 2016, the first inland surf destination in North America, does have a name and an identity courtesy of Pentagram’s Austin office. NLand Surf Park will be bringing the ocean to land-locked Central Texas in a lagoon roughly the size of nine football fields. The ambitious, Texas-sized development is the brainchild of engineer and surfer Doug Coors, who is a descendant of brewing legend Adolph Coors.

The park will feature 11 surfing areas with four different skill levels ranging from beginner to professional. NLand is partnering with Wavegarden, a Spanish engineering firm that invented a wave technology that creates one-foot, four-foot and perfectly tubing six-foot waves every 60 seconds. The waves never lose power or shape.

“We designed the park to tread lightly on the land and all its resources, especially water,” says Coors. “Even in the most challenging drought conditions, we will be capable of operating the lagoon with only rainwater. As an engineer, I am incredibly proud of what we will be creating in Austin, and as a surfer, I can’t wait to share the waves with my family and friends.”

Preview: Shooting Ai Weiwei

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Harry Pearce shares insights into a recent trip to Beijing where he photographed renowned artist Ai Weiwei as part of his upcoming exhibition at the Royal Academy. 

I could so easily have just used an existing shot of Ai Weiwei, or a piece of his work for the identity of the Royal Academy show this coming September.

But I wanted to honour him in a far greater way. His inability to leave China and be a part of the show itself meant, I believed, I should go to him. To make something with him and bring it back – so symbolically bringing him here.

New Work: ‘Opera’

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Considered the ultimate in musical and theatrical art, opera brings together sweeping scores, elaborate costumes and scenery, and a gripping sense of drama to take audiences on an emotional journey. Essential to the experience is the stunning architecture of the world-famous opera houses where the productions are presented.

Photographer David Leventi documents over 40 of these grand spaces in Opera, a new book designed by Pentagram’s Luke Hayman and team. Completed over a period of eight years, the project took Leventi to 19 countries to photograph landmark opera houses including The Metropolitan Opera in New York (the largest), the Real Teatro di San Carlo in Naples (the oldest), the Palais Garnier in Paris, La Scala in Milan, the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Teatro Amazonas in Manaus, Brazil. The publication of Opera, out now from Damiani, coincides with an exhibition of the large-scale photographs currently on view at Rick Wester Fine Art in New York.

In his artist statement about the project, Leventi says: “The actual performance is just a part of the overall awe-inspiring experience of going to the theater—I believe that the space itself can be the event.”

The American Way(s)

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Pentagram’s Michael Bierut contributes the cover illustration for this weekend’s edition of The New York Times Book Review. Timed to the July 4th holiday, the issue features a review by George Packer of two new books that look at how many Americans are discontent with U.S. government and the existing political system, and what it might take to incite another revolution. Charles Murray explores the issue from the right in By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission, while Chris Hedges takes a left-leaning view in Wages of Rebellion.

Bierut illustrates this bipartisan back and forth with two hand-painted drawings. The cover pictures a U.S. flag that replaces its stars and stripes with arrows that point right or left, and an interior image features a face-off between arrows in Republican red and Democrat blue. Bierut is, of course, no stranger to arrows and politics, or new takes on the U.S. flag.