First Round Capital is a leading venture capital firm that has backed more than 150 companies, including category innovators such as Square, Uber, Fab, Warby Parker, Hotel Tonight, Refinery29 and One Kings Lane. First Round does exactly what its name says, providing seed-stage funding for the first 18 months of a startup, the most critical period for a new business. At the same time, the firm builds a sense of camaraderie among the companies it supports, looking at them as a community rather than a portfolio.
Pentagram’s Natasha Jen and her team have designed a new identity for First Round that conveys the firm’s unique point of view. The logo eschews typical VC imagery like financial symbols and growing trees for something more modern and elemental: A simple line derived from the number “1,” inspired by the company’s name. The line suggests the diagram of a floor plan, with one side left open to convey a sense of possibility. The shape of the line also creates a profile, hinting at the personal, one-to-one connections valued by the First Round. The logo is balanced by the company’s name, set in the sans serif font Gibson.
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum today announces a new name and graphic identity, custom typeface and website to accompany the expansion of the museum, which will open to the public on December 12. Designed by Pentagram’s Eddie Opara and team, the bold identity establishes a flexible branding system for the museum. Opara’s customized characters for the wordmark have been fully developed into a new typeface, Cooper Hewitt, created by Chester Jenkins of Village in collaboration with Pentagram.
Opara and his team worked closely with Cooper Hewitt and Jenkins to develop the identity. Located in the historic Andrew Carnegie Mansion in New York, Cooper Hewitt is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the group of 19 museums and galleries administered by the U.S. government. In a first, the new Cooper Hewitt identity has been conceived as a design that truly belongs to the people: The identity also exists as a new typeface that will be made available free to the public, who are encouraged to utilize it in their own designs. The font has also been acquired for the museum’s permanent collection.
“We are spreading good design by making our elegant new typeface, Cooper Hewitt, available as a free download on cooperhewitt.org, as well as collecting it as an important example of the design process,” says Cooper Hewitt director Caroline Baumann. “We look forward to seeing how the public uses this new design tool in their lives.”
Opara also helped develop the museum’s new name. Formerly the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, the new name replaces “National” with “Smithsonian” and eliminates the hyphen, simplifying the brand while emphasizing its heritage.
OfficeUS, the U.S. Pavilion at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice, opened on June 7 with an identity, environmental graphics and publications designed by Pentagram’s Natasha Jen and team. Conceived as a working architecture office, the installation explores the ways in which U.S. architectural practice has influenced the discipline worldwide over the past 100 years. Jen’s identity for the Pavilion provides a dynamic visual language that is built out of the simple efficiency of office culture.
Jen worked on the project as part of a team organized by the Storefront for Art and Architecture in collaboration with PRAXIS Journal, and with research lead by the MIT Department of Architecture. The group was selected by the U.S. Department of State to represent the U.S. at the Biennale. The New York-based architecture firm Leong Leong developed the Pavilion design.
Matter is a digital magazine devoted to long-form journalism about everything from science and technology to politics and pop culture. Born out of a Kickstarter campaign in 2012, Matter relaunches this week as the flagship general-interest publication of Medium, the publishing platform established by Twitter co-founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone. Pentagram’s Luke Hayman and team have designed a new identity for Matter, introduced as part of the magazine’s revamp.
Hayman and his team worked closely with Matter editor-in-chief Mark Lotto and the in-house design team of Erich Nagler and Indhira Rojas to create an identity that establishes the publication as an unique editorial brand. Matter’s stories are wide-ranging and in-depth, written from a viewpoint that is both smart and subversive, and the magazine wanted an identity that was irreverent and had a sense of spontaneity.
Partners Harry Pearce and William Russell have designed a new in-store way-finding system for John Lewis’s newly opened store in York.
Pearce and his team developed a typographic structure for the signage, using shifting point sizes to denote floors, departments and services.
Gill is used throughout, from the oversized numbers to the smallest line of type. For the purpose of readability, the entire system is black and white, in contrast to the multitude of colours that fill the store environment.
Animation introducing the new Penguin Random House identity.
When the two publishing giants Penguin and Random House merged in 2013, the combined companies faced the challenge of merging two iconic graphic identities. Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and his team have created a flexible brand system for Penguin Random House that establishes a new identity for the corporate parent while also preserving and enhancing the individual identities of the group’s 250 imprints.
The identity introduces a new Penguin Random House wordmark that can be used in conjunction with the logo of any one of the 250 imprints, which include leading literary brands such as Alfred A. Knopf, Crown, DK, Fodor’s, Puffin, and more. The logotype may also appear on its own, framed by two rules that “bookend” the mark. (The orange color of the “bookends” is a subtle reference to Penguin’s brand heritage.) Set in the typeface Shift Light, which evokes a typewriter font, the new wordmark underscores the importance of the written word to the company’s culture and work.
The new system replaces an interim identity that paired the two symbols of Penguin and Random House. The identity will mainly be visible in corporate communications; the various imprints and brand symbols will continue to be used without the pairing—for instance, on the spines of books.
Pecha Kucha, which means “chit chat” in Japanese, is an evening of creative inspiration originally imported from Tokyo in 2003. Currently there are over 700 chapters in cities all over the world. The challenging Pecha Kucha format involves 10 local speakers chosen from a variety of disciplines who are allowed 20 slides a piece set on a timer of 20 seconds per slide. The fast-paced “20 x 20″ presentations, just over six minutes per person, make for a thoroughly entertaining night of insight, artistry and passion. The Austin chapter was founded by Herman Dyal and Carla Fraser, and Lana McGilvray and Pentagram partner DJ Stout took over as directors in 2011.
Stout and his colleague Stu Taylor at Pentagram’s Austin office started designing original posters for the events with Pecha Kucha volume 10, which was staged at a rock ‘n’ roll hot rod customizing garage called the Austin Speed Shop, and they have now completed the poster for Pecha Kucha 20, to be held on Wednesday, June 4 at 8:20 PM, on the rooftop of The Contemporary Austin. Over time the commemorative silk-screened posters, which always feature the names of the 10 guest presenters, have become collectors’ items in Austin.
Harry Pearce has donated 10 personal photographs from the streets of Naples to the ‘Made in Cloister’ project, for which he designed the identity in 2013.
The images were shot during Pearce’s research for ‘Made in Cloister’ and these photographs have been printed with the aquatint etching technique by Vittorio Avella’s artisan printing house. 10 signed images of each print, 750cm by 530cm in size are being exhibited within the ruins of Naples’ oldest cloister, Santa Caterina from the sixteenth century, close to the Aragonese Walls and Porta Capuana, and are being sold to support the project.
The works of William Shakespeare span from the lightest comedies to the darkest tragedies, a range celebrated in this year’s productions of Shakespeare in the Park, the annual free performances presented by The Public Theater at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. This summer’s program juxtaposes Much Ado About Nothing, one of Shakespeare’s most joyful works, with King Lear, one of his most devastating.
Paula Scher’s campaign for the 2014 festival sets the two plays against each other, with the lively green and yellow of Much Ado balanced by the shadowy black and gray of Lear. The contrasting points of view are paired in dramatically skewed typography, a first for the annual campaign. The type is set in Knockout, the font of the Public Theater identity.