Paula Scher has designed a new identity for the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History and Material Culture. Founded in 1993 by Susan Weber, BGC’s director, the school is an important academic institution devoted to the study of the history of the material world, the objects that people make to transform their surroundings: architecture, craft and design. It is one of the only programs of its kind in the country and a top school for scholars and curators of the decorative arts. The center is affiliated with Bard College and is located in a pair of townhouses on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Scher designed BGC’s first logo when the center opened in 1993. The original logo was a monogram of three letters set in Baskerville with a decorated “G” and was applied to letterhead and the covers of brochures without any established format or system. It was pretty, and it communicated that the school was devoted to the decorative arts. But in the years since, BGC has grown in size and stature, and the logo began to seem precious and no longer conveyed the breadth of the center’s programs. The launch of the new identity is timed to a major renovation and expansion of the school by Polshek Partnership Architects. The center has also officially changed its name to the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, lengthening it slightly from the already long Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture. The school needed a new institutional identity that communicated its importance. A simple, static logotype was no longer enough for the institution; its identity must function as a flexible system that supports broad applications across multiple platforms.
A Homeland Security task force will soon review and possibly change the system of color-coded terrorism alerts implemented in the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks. For an Op-Art exercise in Sunday’s New York Times, four graphic designers were asked to develop a new, better system of alerts. Paula Scher created a two-letter system that uses C to stand for Caution and A for Alert. (The A gets an extra slash across its form for added emphasis.) Kurt Andersen provides online audio commentary and judges Scher’s submission to be the most effective because it acknowledges there are really only two states of warning when it comes to terrorism: Caution (“We will always need to be cautious,” says Scher) and full-on Alert.
The Geography of Design is a new two-part interview with Paula Scher directed by the filmmaker Nicolas Heller and produced by Brian Collins for the Art Directors Club. In the first part of the film, shot at Scher’s home and studio in Connecticut, Scher discusses the influence of New York City, its architecture, and especially its noise (the yelling!) on her design and typography. In part two, she talks about the development of her map paintings. In the film, Heller (son of Steven) takes viewers on a journey through Scher’s work, from her groundbreaking “Best of Jazz” poster to a new painting commission for the city’s Percent for Art program.
The Design Annual is due out at the end of the year in the November/December issue of Communication Arts. It is an honor to be recognized by CA and we are extremely proud of the brilliant work put forth by our teams.
Pentagram is featured throughout Graphic Design, Referenced, the new compendium/survey/ history/big essential design book by Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Pentagram alumnus Armin Vit. Subtitled “A Visual Guide to the Language, Applications, and History of Graphic Design,” the book covers pretty much everything you need for a working knowledge of graphic design, with sections on the various design disciplines, the major figures in the field, the landmark projects, and rundowns of industry resources, production techniques and typography. Included are entries on Pentagram and Fletcher/Forbes/Gill, the proto-Pentagram; our partners Paula Scher and Michael Bierut; and our work for the Pocket Canons, The Public Theater, Saks, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and many, many others, with countless images. Order your copy here. A few of the Penta-centric pages after the jump.
Paula Scher and her team designed the identity for Howcast, the popular how-to video site that was profiled in Sunday’s New York Times. Howcast hosts a library of over 100,000 short instructional videos—everything from how to type faster on your iPhone to how to survive a bear attack—and its videos received over 20 million plays in June alone.
So how do you design a logo for Howcast? Scher created an italicized “H” that became a directional arrow that could be used as a vehicle to begin the videos and would suggest taking the “next step.” The style of this “H” was used as a guide in designing all the other icons. The form of the “H” was adapted into a chevron that is used in the video graphics, where it indicates steps or appears behind titles. For its part, the unusual “H” also instructs viewers that they can expect a little irreverence in the videos, many of which are humorous and creatively use animation and props to convey useful information.
Scher also designed a series of icons for the various categories of videos: First Aid & Safety, Food & Drink, Sex & Relationships, Crafts & Hobbies, etc. The identity was prominently featured in a recent iPhone spot, helping Howcast’s free iPhone app become one of the most popular, with over 500,000 downloads to date.