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Pentagram Papers 44: Hear, All Ye People; Hearken, O Earth

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Do typefaces matter? In July 2012, the filmmaker and author Errol Morris published a short and rather enigmatic quiz on the website of The New York Times. Without really understanding its purpose, over 45,000 people responded to the quiz, which purported to address the question “Are You an Optimist or a Pessimist?” Morris’s real goal, however, was to determine whether the choice of typeface had any effect on a message’s believability. His answer: It does.

This experiment is the focus of Pentagram Papers 44: Hear, All Ye People: Hearken, O Earth. Designed by Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and Jessica Svendsen, the book republishes the two-part Times essay in which Morris revealed the results of his test, and is set almost entirely in the typeface that he determined to be most trustworthy: Baskerville.

‘Mad Men’: The End of an Era

This Sunday the landmark AMC television series “Mad Men” signs off with its final episode. But just because the show is over, that doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to Don Draper: he lives on in a custom one-of-a-kind bench installed for the summer in midtown Manattan.

Over the course of seven seasons, viewers have become obsessed with the meticulously detailed world of ad man Draper and his colleagues in the “Golden Age” of advertising in 1960s New York. We caught up with several fans who reflected on the show’s impact—and what just might happen in the last episode—as they visited the Mad Men bench. In the words of one fan, “Unfortunately all things come to an end, but we’ll always have reruns.”

Designed by Pentagram’s Lorenzo Apicella, Michael Bierut and Emily Oberman, this “monument to Mad Men” transforms the iconic graphic of Draper from the show’s opening title sequence into a sleek bench where fans can “drape” like their hero. As one visitor told us, “How often do you get to sit next to Donald Draper?”

The bench is on display outside the Time & Life Building, once the fictional home of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, at 1271 Avenue of the Americas (between 50th and 51st Streets) through the summer.

Project Team: Lorenzo Apicella, Michael Bierut and Emily Oberman, partners-in-charge and designers; Jonathan Correira, designer; Matthew Clare, associate and designer; Dragan Skuljevic, designer; Julia Lindpaintner, project coordinator.

Film by Drew Bierut and Tyler Weinberger, Superseed Productions. Music by Jacob Rosati.

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: Success Academy

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Success Academy is the largest and highest performing network of charter schools in New York City. Founded and led by former city councilwoman Eva S. Moskowitz, Success Academy’s growing group of publicly funded, privately operated schools includes 24 elementary schools, seven middle schools and one high school that provide education for nearly 9,500 students across the city. Primarily serving underprivileged children, SA consistently has the highest test scores of any schools in New York, regularly outperforming institutions in wealthier communities. Tonight Success Academy will celebrate its own continuing “success” at its Third Annual Spring Benefit.

Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and his team have designed a graphic identity for Success Academy that conveys the schools’ innovative educational mission. The system extends to environmental graphics that help motivate students and build school spirit at Success Academy locations, which share space with New York City public schools.