A new book by New York Times columnist Gail Collins, As Texas Goes…: How The Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda, hits bookstores this week with a cover designed by Pentagram’s DJ Stout. Collins, who’s been writing about national politics for nearly 40 years—17 of those at the Times—conceived of the book during Rick Perry’s quick burnout as a Republican presidential candidate. Perry’s anti big government stance and brief flirtation with the idea of secession prompted the witty East Coast columnist to write frequently about the state of Texas and its coyote-slaying governor during his short campaign and gave her the idea for her new book. In As Texas Goes… Collins explains her theory that the second largest state in the union, in both population and square footage, influences the American agenda in ways that are deeply rooted, important and not altogether positive—and she doesn’t hesitate to take a few swipes at the Lone Star state to get a few laughs along the way.
The book’s New York publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, commissioned Stout, a fifth generation Texan and the former Art Director of Texas Monthly magazine prior to becoming a partner in Pentagram’s Austin office 12 years ago, to design the book jacket. (Texas Monthly contributor James Henson pans the book in the magazine’s June issue.)
Stout welcomed the commission—and then found it hard to resist the state’s familiar visual associations. “When the contact from Norton first called me she made the case that because of my strong Texas connections, I was uniquely qualified to develop a fresh, authentic approach to the cover design,” says Stout. “But what ultimately got published was the most cliched Texas thing I could think of.” Stout, working with designer Stu Taylor, came up with the simple concept of placing a “big-as-Texas” cowboy hat on top of the Washington Monument. An antique postcard of the iconic symbol of our nation’s capital gives the jacket a distinctive, vintage look.
“I’ve always said if you want to make something Texan, just put a cowboy hat on it,” says Stout. “There are plenty of cowboy hats in other neighboring states, but for some reason the cowboy hat, as a symbol, has been co-opted as our own. I guess you could say, ‘Texas has hijacked the western-wear agenda!’”
Project Team: DJ Stout, partner-in-charge and designer; Stu Taylor, designer.
Presented this spring at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Shift: Projects/Perspectives/Directions is an exhibition of seven different installations that showcase work by individual artists and aspects of the museum’s collection. Pentagram’s Eddie Opara and team designed the invitation, catalogue and graphics for the exhibition, which wraps up this weekend after a successful run since March.
Organized as a kind of anthology, the autonomous installations in “Shift” include works by Nayland Blake, Jennie C. Jones, Lorraine O’Grady, John Outterbridge and Jacolby Satterwhite, as well as a the continuation of the museum’s “The Bearden Project” and a selection of highlights from the permanent collection. The work presented is wide-ranging, and to create a cohesive catalogue and graphics for the exhibition, Opara and designer Ken Deegan established an overarching concept that also highlights the individual groupings in the show.
The theme of the exhibition is a shift or change in perspective, and the designers devised an invitation for the show that playfully translates this concept into print. The invitation has been perforated into different segments that represent the various installations and artists within the spring 2012 lineup. Recipients are invited to interact with the design by literally shifting the segments apart. (The shapes are loosely inspired by the letterforms in the exhibition title.)
Working in different eras, the Italian designers Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada both subvert contemporary ideals of femininity, beauty and taste in their designs. Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations, the spring 2012 exhibition at The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, examines the affinities between the two iconic designers. Opening this week, the exhibition is timed to tonight’s 2012 Costume Institute Gala Benefit, the Met’s biggest event of the year. The show opens to the public on Thursday and remains on view through August 19, 2012.
Pentagram’s Abbott Miller has designed a catalogue for the exhibition that uniquely captures and extends the show’s juxtaposition of the two designers. The book presents over 200 archival and newly photographed images of the designers’ work, and includes a smaller “book within a book” that features the “impossible conversations” between the two women. Schiaparelli and Prada both share a love of Surrealism and surprise, and the book itself has been conceived as an unusual object that constructs a playful dialogue of images and commentary between two designers who never actually met.
Since its publication five years ago, Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design by Pentagram’s Michael Bierut has become a popular classic of design writing that The Atlantic has called “a graphic extravaganza” and Very Short List has said is “an excellent introduction to a world where almost everything can be seen in terms of design.” This spring the book has been reissued by Princeton Architectural Press in a new paperback edition. The volume collects 20 years of Bierut’s wide-ranging writings on subjects related to design, from Nabokov’s Pale Fire to paper architecture, from Stanley Kubrick to the vileness of ITC Garamond, from Twyla Tharp to falling off a treadmill. Many of the essays first appeared on Design Observer, the blog Bierut edits with Bill Drenttel and Jessica Helfand, as well as in other design publications.
The new paperback version preserves Abbott Miller’s original design for Seventy-nine Short Essays, with each essay set in a different typeface; the cover is now a cool blue that complements the marigold yellow of the hardcover. The book is also available for the first time as an e-book for Kindle and Nook.
“Why Designers Can’t Think,” an essay from the book, has recently been excerpted on Fast Company’s Co.Design blog.
Oscars, Emmys, Grammys… In our humble opinion, the best-designed—and named—award may be the Cube, the signature trophy of the Art Directors Club Annual Awards. Now in its 90th year, the ADC competition honors the best work of the year in design and advertising. For the 90th anniversary, the ADC invited Pentagram’s Paula Scher, a laureate of the ADC Hall of Fame, to design the Art Directors Club Annual 90, out now.
For the annual, Scher created playful illustrations of the iconic ADC Cube to introduce the various competition sections throughout the book’s standard format. Each section is opened by an interpretation of the category: rolling cubes for the lifetime achievement Hall of Fame award, a pattern for the Design section, a pixel-like network of cubes for Photography, monitor-like cubes for Advertising. A hand-drawn pattern of cubes appears as endpapers and debossed on the book’s cover. The annual also contains a portfolio of the 90th Cube Project, in which the ADC asked past award winners for their own interpretations of the Cube.
Terron Schaefer, group senior vice president for sales and marketing at Saks Fifth Avenue, approached Pentagram to design the holiday window displays at the store’s New York flagship. The idea needed to connect snowflakes and bubbles—motifs which had been used previously—and give the store a way to display its merchandise.
Pentagram’s Harry Pearce and Naresh Ramchandani and their teams came up with a concept that divided the Saks store into two worlds, the subterranean world of the bubble makers and the imaginary world of the snow makers who inhabit the roof of the building. Connecting the two is a curious little girl called Holly who whilst shopping in Saks on Christmas Eve with her parents finds a door which allows her into both worlds. First she visits the cave full of fantastic machines operated by ‘beautiful people in beautiful gowns’. She then rides a bubble produced by the machines, which takes her to the roof where she meets the yetis that make the snow.
The AIGA’s annual “50 Books/50 Covers” competition showcases the best-designed books of the year, Kindles be damned. Pentagram is pleased to announce three of our books made the cut in the “50 Books” half of this year’s competition: Water Matters: A Design Manual for Water Conservation in Buildings, designed by Eddie Opara and team for the New York City Department of Design and Construction; Team Michael Bierut’s Design Research: The Store That Brought Modern Living to American Homes; and Mah Jongg: Krak Bam Dot!, designed by Abbott Miller to accompany the exhibition “Project Mah Jongg at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.
The winning selections can be seen online in the AIGA Design Archives, and at an exhibition that opens today at the AIGA National Design Center in New York. (Check out the accompanying survey, What the Book.) The winning books will join the AIGA archives at the Denver Art Museum and Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Collection at the Butler Library.
Congratulations to our designers, teams and clients for all the great work!