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New Work: American Institute of Architects


A video manifesto for the repositioning of AIA reveals the “We” within the “I” of the organization’s acronym.

When the American Institute of Architects membership arrives at the 2014 AIA National Convention in Chicago this weekend, they’ll be greeted by a distinctive new look for the organization. Designed by Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and his team, the program features a new proprietary typeface, AIArchitype, and is part of a comprehensive repositioning of the organization.

The American Institute of Architects is this country’s largest professional association of design professionals. Nearing its 160th year and facing challenges familiar to many professional organizations (the global economic downturn, the revolutionary effect of technology, an ever-more-diverse potential membership base), the AIA undertook a sweeping repositioning process, intended to reinforce the relevance of the AIA for members and the general public alike. Pentagram was selected as design consultants to support the communications process.

New Work: Passe-Partout App


A video preview of Passe-Partout, an iPad app designed by Abbott Miller that enables users to build their own choreographic sequences.

The iPad offers a uniquely interactive stage for performance that creates new opportunities for how dance and choreography can be represented. Passe-Partout is a new app by Pentagram’s Abbott Miller that allows users to create a multi-layered performance from a series of dances, each with their own musical score. Users can select and edit from different dances to build their own choreographic sequences, which they can save and share with others via Facebook. The app is the latest project from Miller’s ongoing collaborations with the 2wice Arts Foundation and publisher Patsy Tarr.

Passe Partout dramatizes the patterning, repetition, and layering of ballet, qualities that are foregrounded in the work of Justin Peck, a choreographer and soloist with the New York City Ballet, who choreographed and performed the app’s dances with fellow New York City Ballet dancer Daniel Ulbricht. Each dance is set to a different piece of music—composed for the project by Aaron Severini—which can be layered to create a polyphonic soundtrack to the visual layering.

Users can view the dances as single, one-minute performances, or in multiple layers, constructing an increasingly complex ensemble of up to five image and sound layers. The app randomly selects five dances for any given session from a set of eight potential layers. The full set of eight dances yields 40,320 different combinations, yet the potential duration and sequences mean the results are even more diverse.

Passe-Partout is Miller’s third app for 2wice, following the previous apps Fifth Wall and DOT DOT DOT. Passe-Partout is now available for download from iTunes.

New Work: First Round Capital

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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.

Preview: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

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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 Opens at the Venice Architecture Biennale

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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.

New Work: Matter

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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.

New Work: John Lewis Wayfinding

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.

New Work: Penguin Random House


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.

New Work: Pecha Kucha Austin 20 Poster

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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.