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New Work: Rockaway Beach

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When Hurricane Sandy devastated New York in 2012, Rockaway Beach in Queens lost much of its iconic boardwalk. This summer, as part of the ongoing restoration of the area, the first sections of a new boardwalk have been completed and reopened to the public with a more resilient design that replaces the traditional wooden planks with steel-reinforced concrete. Pentagram’s Paula Scher and her team have created graphics for the new boardwalk that helps put Rockaway back on the map, literally: The typography announces the beach in letters that are each 100 to 150 feet wide and almost 50 feet tall, and together span nearly a mile.

New Work: Food Truck Nation at Expo Milano 2015

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Hand-crafted hamburgers made with organic grass-fed beef. Wood-oven pizza topped with handmade cheese and seasonal vegetables. Korean tacos stuffed with locally sourced ingredients. Some of the best and most sustainable American food is currently being served by the artisanal food trucks and street vendors that are sprouting up all over the U.S. The USA Pavilion at the food-themed Expo Milano 2015 pays tribute to this casual culinary revolution at “Food Truck Nation,” an installation of six food trucks that offers a rotating menu of regional favorites.

Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and his team have designed graphics for “Food Truck Nation” that build on the identity they developed for the USA Pavilion, designed by Biber Architects. Appearing in patriotic red, white and blue, the system of 160 custom icons works in tandem with the flag symbol to create a playful take on American iconography. The circular symbols are inspired by highway and roadside signs, as well as icons used in farming and agriculture, and graphically complement the massive billboard-size flag logo that anchors the Pavilion.

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: KIPP NYC College Prep High School

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This week KIPP NYC College Prep High School celebrates the graduation of the second class of seniors who have studied at its new state-of-the-art building in the South Bronx. Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and his team have designed the program of signage, wayfinding and environmental graphics for the school, which is the first high school in the KIPP NYC network of 11 public charter schools and serves over 900 students in grades 9 through 12.

KIPP stands for “Knowledge Is Power Program,” and KIPP NYC students regularly outperform their peers at other New York schools and boast higher graduation and college matriculation rates. (KIPP NYC College Prep sees an extraordinary 100 percent of its students go on to apply for college.) This mission of educational empowerment extends to the graphics of the new building, which encourage students to think, learn and problem-solve as they encounter a series of codes, puzzles and riddles that have been integrated into the school environment.

New Work: ‘Philadelphia Explained’

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In her typographic map paintings, Pentagram’s Paula Scher explores ideas of location and individual ways of seeing the world. Now, working in collaboration with students at her alma mater, the Tyler School of Art, Scher has expanded this unique point of view to an immersive environment. Philadelphia Explained is a large-scale installation that details the city and its surrounding areas in a hand-painted map created by Scher and 154 participants that covers the walls and floor of Temple Contemporary, the school’s 2,100 square-foot gallery.

USA Pavilion Opens at Expo Milano 2015

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This weekend Expo Milano 2015, the world’s fair, opened in Milan, Italy. Organized around the official theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” the Expo features exhibits and events from 147 participating countries—including 54 national pavilions—that explore ways to produce healthy, safe and sustainable food for the world. Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and his team have created the identity and environmental graphics for the USA Pavilion, which is designed by James Biber of Biber Architects.

Titled “American Food 2.0, United to Feed the Planet,” the USA Pavilion focuses on innovations in the farm-to-table food model and sustainable production. Biber’s striking design for the Pavilion reinterprets the architectural forms of the barn and other agricultural structures and includes a 7,200 square-foot, football-field-length vertical farm that has been planted with a variety of vegetables, grains and herbs. The harvestable crops are grown in hydroponic planters on louvers that open and close like shutters, giving the building a feeling of transparency. (In addition to “farmers” tending to the fields each day, there will be periodic performances by acrobats.)

New Work: ‘Mad Men’ Monument

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Over the course of seven seasons, the landmark series “Mad Men” has charted the rise of ad man Don Draper in the “Golden Age” of advertising in 1960s New York. Today AMC unveils a special installation that commemorates the show’s impact in the city. Designed by Pentagram’s Lorenzo Apicella, Michael Bierut and Emily Oberman, the monument takes the form of a sleek, elegant bench that features the iconic graphic of Draper from the show’s opening title sequence. Pentagram project coordinator Julia Lindpainter worked closely with AMC and the bench’s fabricator, DCL, to manage the design’s careful execution.

The bench is located outside the Time & Life Building, the fictional home of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (changed to Sterling Cooper & Partners in the sixth season), where Draper and fellow characters Roger Sterling, Peggy Olson, Joan Holloway and Peter Campbell work in the series. “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner and stars Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, January Jones, Christina Hendricks and John Slattery were on hand today for the sculpture’s unveiling.

The installation coincides with the show’s final seven episodes, which kick off on Sunday, April 5. The bench will be on display in the Time & Life Building Plaza at 1271 Avenue of the Americas (between 50th and 51st Streets) for fans and passersby to enjoy from March 23 through the summer.

Shake Shack: Branding a Better Burger

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As every Shackburger fan knows, Shake Shack serves some of the best burgers in the world. And now, with a recent IPO that has valued the company at a staggering $1.6 billion, more of the world will get to know the Shack: From its roots as a hot dog stand in New York’s Madison Square Park, the company has grown into a chain of 63 restaurants from Chicago to Dubai, and plans to use the additional funds to expand to over 400 locations in the next decade.

Tastiness of its burgers aside, no small part of Shake Shack’s success is due to its sophisticated sense of design, expressed in an iconic brand identity and environmental graphics by Pentagram’s Paula Scher and original restaurant architecture by James Wines and his firm SITE. (Shake Shack even noted its fantastic brand awareness as an asset in IPO prospectus.)

“The modernness of the identity is perfect in keeping with the quality of the food,” says Scher. “Shake Shack looks back to the classic burger stand but is a contemporary fast-food chain with a high-level product. It’s invented a whole new category.”