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New Work: ‘No Problem: Cologne/New York 1984-1989’


In the 1980s, New York and Cologne were twin cities of the contemporary art world, a pair of visionary local art scenes who were engaged in an intercity cultural dialogue that helped produce many of the generation’s most influential artists and galleries. This remarkable era is explored in No Problem: Cologne/New York 1984-1989, a new publication from David Zwirner Books. Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and Laitsz Ho have created a design for the book that reflects the exuberant spirit of the period and its art.

The book follows the 2014 exhibition of the same name at David Zwirner, one of the first surveys to look at the connection between the two cities. In the 1980s, art being produced in and around Cologne started gaining international attention, and a growing gallery scene supported emerging work from the region and beyond. German artists such as Martin Kippenberger, Rosemarie Trockel and Albert Oehlen were exhibited along with the latest contemporary art from the U.S. by artists like Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Raymond Pettibon, Richard Prince and Christopher Wool. At the same time, New York galleries such as Metro Pictures and Barbara Gladstone were showing the works of German artists. This cross-fertilization helped shape the vibrant art and visual culture of the period and decades since.

New Work: Teach for America Headquarters

It’s back-to-school throughout New York City’s public schools this week, marking the start of the 25th academic year for Teach for America, the non-profit organization that recruits teachers for underserved communities throughout the United States. The organization, which has grown significantly since its conception in 1989, recently moved its headquarters from Midtown to 25 Broadway in the Financial District, located across from the famous “Charging Bull” statue. Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and his team have designed a program of environmental graphics for the new space that reflects and reinforces Teach for America’s educational mission and collaborative spirit.

Founded by Wendy Kopp, Teach for America recruits recent college graduates to teach in schools throughout the country. In 25 years, the organization has grown from serving 6 regions to impacting 52 regions across the continental United States, with nearly 6,000 teachers, or corps members, and over 28,000 alumni. Teach for America’s culture is founded on five core values—transformational change, team, leadership, respect and humility, diversity—which guide the actions and decisions of the corps members and alumni. Bierut and his team worked closely with Teach for America to incorporate these core values into the environment of their New York City headquarters.

New Work: Verizon

Currently ranked #15 on the Fortune 500 list, Verizon is one of the largest communication technology companies in the world and the largest wireless provider in the United States. The company was born in 2000, the result of a merger between Bell Atlantic and GTE. The new company adopted as its name a portmanteau of veritas and horizon, and a logo that today appears everywhere from big rig trucks to handheld devices.

The complexity of the original Verizon logo—it incorporates a modified italic typeface, two colors, a stylized letter “z,” a v-shaped form that sometimes appears above the name and sometimes next to it, and gradations in multiple locations—has made it difficult to reliably reproduce in different media. This inconsistency has only increased over time.

More importantly, over the last fifteen years the way we communicate has changed dramatically, and so has Verizon. Last week, the company introduced a dramatically simplified new logo designed by Pentagram that reflects those changes, and positions the company for the future.

The new logo, designed by Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and his team, retains the essence of the original logo’s DNA and realigns the mark with Verizon’s core values: simplicity, reliability, and dedication to its customers. The customized letterforms have been eliminated in favor of a straightforward treatment of the company name in Neue Haas Grotesk, fine tuned by Christian Schwartz of Commercial Type. The color red—long a salient feature of Verizon’s identity—serves as an accent, in a brighter, cleaner hue. Finally, the “v” symbol is now a checkmark, the universally understood symbol for getting things done. Placed at the end of the wordmark, the checkmark serves as a sign-off and endorsement to the Verizon name. Says Verizon’s chief marketing officer Diego Scotti, “It does what a great logo does best. It evokes both what we offer, and who we are.”

New Work: Rockaway Beach


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: Kikori Whiskey


Pentagram Austin partner DJ Stout and lead designer Barrett Fry have designed the identity, packaging and print collateral for a new Japanese whiskey called Kikori. The name Kikori, which was developed by the Pentagram team, means “woodsman” in Japanese and was inspired by the lush forests that surround the distillery in Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu in southern Japan, where the whiskey is made.

In addition to a spare, all-caps word mark, Stout and Fry created a traditional Japanese symbol for Kikori featuring an image of a woodsman with an axe slung over his shoulder and carrying a lantern. The mark references Visu the woodsman, the stubborn protagonist in a cautionary Japanese folk tale about life without balance. Working day and night, Visu forsakes his family and friends. When advised to seek his spirit, he abandons his work and drifts even further from his family. Eventually he loses everything.

New Work: Food Truck Nation at Expo Milano 2015


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: Theatre Under the Stars


Pentagram’s DJ Stout and his team in the Austin office have designed a new identity and website for Theatre Under The Stars, Houston’s acclaimed non-profit musical theater company known as “TUTS” to the locals. The completely overhauled website is a part of TUTS’ campaign to update and freshen the company’s brand, following the new logo reveal earlier this year.

Theatre Under The Stars, which offers a world-class musical theater experience ranging from full-scale Broadway productions to educational initiatives, literally got its start under the stars. Founded in 1968, TUTS began staging its mix of touring musicals and self-produced shows at the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park. What began as free summer shows, a beloved staple for the Houston public to this day, TUTS’ role in all facets of theater arts has flourished beyond its origins in the open air. To date, TUTS has produced more than 300 musicals including many local, national and world premiers and has made the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts its home.

New Work: Hazen and Sawyer


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.

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


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.