World cinema has a new champion in Cohen Media Group, a new theatrical production and distribution company specializing in independent and foreign language films. CMG has produced and distributed an ambitious slate of films in the past few years, including the Academy Award nominees “Frozen River” and “Outside the Law”; Luc Besson’s acclaimed biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi, “The Lady”; and current releases “Farewell, My Queen” and “The Awakening,” the latter of which opened this past weekend. Pentagram’s Paula Scher has designed a bold, contemporary brand identity for the company and a distinctive system of packaging graphics for its DVDs.
Scher worked closely with CMG founder Charles S. Cohen on the development of the identity. In addition to film, Cohen is passionate about design: As part of Cohen Brothers Realty, he owns landmark design properties including the Decoration & Design Building in New York and the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles.
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America considered numerous designs before establishing the guidelines of the nation’s most enduring symbol at the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777: “Resolved, that the Flag of the united states be 13 stripes alternate red and white, that the Union be 13 stars white in a blue field representing a new constellation.” In 1986, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, Kit Hinrichs, a partner in Pentagram’s San Francisco office at the time, invited 96 graphic designers and illustrators to reinterpret the iconic stars and stripes of the American flag. The resulting flags were presented in an exhibition organized by the San Francisco chapter of the AIGA that opened on the 4th of July, 1986, and were collected in Stars & Stripes, a book designed by Hinrichs and published by Chronicle Books in 1987.
Contributors to the project hailed from all over the country and beyond, and included such leaders in the field as Saul Bass, Massimo Vignelli, Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast, Louise Fili, Michael Vanderbyl, and many more. The designers were given the freedom to present their flags in any art medium within a twelve-by-eighteen-inch format, and the finished works ranged from drawings, oil paintings and prints to assemblages of pressed flowers and colored pencils to shadow boxes and sculptures. Some designers approached the assignment as an exercise in pure design; others used the brief as an opportunity to express editorial comment.
The year 1986 also marked Pentagram’s westward expansion in the U.S., as the company established its San Francisco location when Kit Hinrichs, Linda Hinrichs and Neil Shakery joined Pentagram as partners. These and several other Pentagram partners were among the designers featured in Stars & Stripes, including Pentagram co-founder Mervyn Kurlansky and partners John McConnell and David Hillman from the London office, Peter Harrison from the New York office, and future partners Woody Pirtle, Lowell Williams and Paula Scher. The Stars & Stripes exhibition later traveled to Japan, and several of the flags, including Hinrichs and Scher’s, were used to illustrate a special CD released to commemorate the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993.
Here we present a selection of flags from Stars & Stripes. Happy 4th of July!
The Society for Environmental Graphic Design recently convened its 2012 SEGD Design Conference in New York, where it announced the winners in this year’s SEGD Design Awards. The location was particularly appropriate as two of our high profile projects in the city were recognized with Honor Awards, the competition’s top prize. Paula Scher’s program of signage and environmental graphics for the High Line was honored for its “perfectly integrated design,” while Michael Gericke’s centennial exhibition for the New York Public Library, Celebrating 100 Years, received the award for its “creative use of the library’s collections” to “make a century-old space fun, interesting and beautiful.”
Thanks to all our designers, clients and teams for the great work!
Fifty years ago this summer Joseph Papp, the founder of the Public Theater and New York Shakespeare Festival, took his free performances of Shakespeare “into the woods” of Central Park to the Delacorte, the Public’s amphitheater in the park. The Delacorte first opened on June 18, 1962, and over the past five decades over 5 million people have enjoyed more than 100 productions presented at the theater.
To celebrate the anniversary, the Public is mounting two forest-oriented productions for this year’s Shakespeare in the Park: “As You Like It,” Shakespeare’s romantic comedy that takes place in enchanted Forest of Arden, and “Into the Woods,” a new staging of Stephen Sondheim’s classic 1986 musical starring Amy Adams, Denis O’Hare and Donna Murphy. Pentagram’s Paula Scher has designed the festival campaign, which launched this past weekend with a full-page ad in The New York Times and will be seen in posters going up this week in the streets, subways and buses of New York, along with a program of signage at the Delacorte.
Scher started designing the posters for Shakespeare in the Park in 1994, and her 18th campaign represents a departure from the graphic language of past seasons. This year’s campaign, designed with Kirstin Huber, the Public’s in-house graphic designer, has a looser feel than past posters—it’s fun, celebratory, and purely about the park. The tagline of “Shakespeare and Sondheim in the Park” appears in a large swath of verdant green with a rough edge that evokes trees and greenery. Smaller typographic elements diagram a kind of journey through the woods, with bits of information pointing out a path through the green.
Like Pentagram, the AIGA New York Chapter is celebrating a milestone birthday this year. Founded in 1982, the chapter has been supporting New York’s design community for the past 30 years, and in honor of the anniversary, 30 designers were asked to create commemorative posters for the organization. Pentagram’s Michael Bierut, Emily Oberman and Paula Scher joined 27 other designers in creating limited edition posters to benefit the chapter. The posters are available for purchase on Etsy, including copies signed by the designers.
Quick Link: Paula Scher to Speak at Reasons to Be Creative