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New Work: Darden Smith, ‘Love Calling’

Love Calling- book

Partner DJ Stout and designer Stu Taylor in Pentagram’s Austin office have designed a new CD package, posters and a lyric book for Austin-based musician Darden Smith. The multi-talented singer-songwriter’s newest release on Compass Records, Love Calling, features a not-so-loving image of a woman strapped to a large wooden wheel with multiple swords protruding from her back. “Obviously this album features love songs,” says Stout, “but as everyone knows, there’s a very thin line between love and hate.”

Included with the collection of love ballads is a song called “Angel Flight” that Smith wrote in 2009 with his friend Radney Foster. The song, which became a radio and Internet sensation, honors the military pilots who fly the planes that bring fallen soldiers home. That song gave Smith the idea for his successful Songwriting with Soldiers program, established in 2012, where the master songwriter works with veterans suffering from PTSD and other injuries. “The album also features a song about jealous love called ‘I Smell Smoke,’ and ‘Baltimore’ is a dark tale about shattered love and salvation,” says Stout, “so the songs aren’t all lovey-dovey. ‘Angel Flight’ is about the heart-wrenching consequences of war, so the violent image of the angelic-looking woman with the traditional weapons of warfare stuck in her back seemed to me to be an appropriate symbol for this collection of songs.”

For local hero Smith, who’s been writing songs and performing for 40 years, Love Calling opens a new chapter in the artist’s prolific career and circles back to his musical roots. “And that’s where the symbolism of the big wooden wheel on the cover comes into play,” says Stout. “Darden is a hard worker and he’s had his fair share of high points and low, both in music and love.”

New Work: Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership 2013 Annual Report


The Flatiron Building is a beloved icon of New York, seen in countless images of the city. But what does the view look like from the building itself? For the 2013 Annual Report of the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership, the area Business Improvement District, Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and his team sent photographer Luca Vignelli to the top of the Flatiron for an aerial shot of the District from a rare perspective.

Titled “View from 285 Feet,” the height of the Flatiron Building, the annual report unfolds to reveal the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street looking north toward Midtown, with the green of Madison Square Park to the east. (The District happens to be Pentagram’s own neighborhood, and our tiny “P” banner can be seen in the view up Fifth.)

Playing off the title, the report’s neighborhood statistics have been overlaid on the photograph to create a large infographic of the area. Among the data noted from the past year are the 30,279 square feet of public space maintained by the BID, 103 block faces in the District, 18,078 directions given by public safety officers, 337 CitiBike docking stations, 2,141 @flatironNY Twitter followers, and one water main break (on February 1). The graphics use the identity we designed for the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership in 2007.

08/26/2013 | Permalink

New Work: Sundance Institute

Animated version of the new Sundance Institute identity.

Founded by the actor and director Robert Redford in the mountains of Sundance, Utah, in 1981, Sundance Institute has grown into a global nonprofit cultural organization that advances the work of storytellers in a variety of disciplines. Best known for the Sundance Film Festival, one of the largest showcases for independent cinema in the world, the Institute is also a resource for thousands of independent film, theater and music artists through its year-round labs, programs and initiatives including the Feature Film Program, Documentary Film Program, Theatre Program, Creative Producing Initiative, Film Music Program, #ArtistServices, and many more.

Pentagram’s Paula Scher has created a new identity for Sundance Institute and a flexible identity system that can be customized for the Institute’s many programs and initiatives. Bold, iconic and memorable, the identity is based around the simple form of a bright yellow circle, a play on the Institute’s name. Scher has also designed the graphic identity for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

New Work: 160m of Steel, Typography and Poetry

Kew Bridge is an area of great historic significance in London. In 1838, the Grand Junction Waterworks Company built an expansive facility in the area, pumping water from the Thames into households north of the river. By the mid-twentieth century, many of the steam engines used for pumping were retired and the site eventually became a trust, housing the oldest waterworks system in the world at the Kew Bridge Steam Museum.

New Work: Square Pie

Square Pie is Britain’s first gourmet pie company, having created 116 different types of pie and providing a truly British culinary experience. To coincide with this week’s launch of their new outlet in Stratford City Westfield, Square Pie asked Pentagram to refresh their identity to reflect their experience within the industry.

New Work: ‘A Country of Cities’

A Country of cities_09

In his new book A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America, the architect and urban planner Vishaan Chakrabarti argues that well-designed cities are the key to solving many of the country’s challenges, from the sluggish economy and imperiled environment to rising public health costs and growing social inequality. Chakrabarti suggests that, contrary to what many Americans believe, urban density is actually better for the health and happiness of the country, as well as of the planet, and the trend of fast-growing cities can be harnessed to create an “infrastructure of opportunity.” The highly readable book was recently selected as one of Designers & Books’ 10 Notable Books of 2013 (so far) and will be the subject of a special Oculus Book Talk with Chakrabarti tonight at the Center for Architecture.

Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and Britt Cobb worked on the design of the book with SHoP Architects’ Omar Toro-Vaca and Ryan Lovett, and Metropolis Books publisher Diana Murphy, helping to establish a clear, cogent framework that showcases the author’s manifesto. Chakrabarti makes his case simultaneously in words and pictures: an intelligent, closely reasoned thesis, accompanied by a series of 100 diagrams and infographics that bring the thesis to life.

New Work: Stanford Business Magazine


The Stanford Graduate School of Business is one of the most prestigious MBA programs in the world and is currently ranked as the No. 1 business school in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. (It shares the top spot with Harvard.) Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford GSB is part of a community that includes many of the world’s most forward-looking companies, and the school has an ambitious vision of business as a force for social good. Pentagram’s Luke Hayman and team have redesigned Stanford Business magazine, the quarterly alumni publication, with a new format inspired by Stanford’s commitment to innovation.

Hayman worked closely with Stanford Business’s new editor-in-chief Michael Freedman to develop the redesign. Freedman joined the publication from a background in news journalism, and true to the school’s mission, has re-imagined the alumni magazine with a format that is lively, engaging and impactful, and helps connect GSB to the world at large. The first issue of the redesign was launched in the spring, and the new Summer 2013 issue is out now.

New Work: Makr Shakr

Makr Shakr in action at this year’s Google I/O conference and Milan Design Week.

As any cocktail connoisseur knows, mixology is a precise science, and everyone has their own way of customizing their favorite drink. Makr Shakr was an installation at this year’s Google I/O conference that used robotic barmen to mix drinks in approximately one googol (that’s 10 to the power of 100) different crowd-sourced combinations. Developed by the MIT Senseable City Lab in collaboration with the Coca-Cola Company and Bacardi Rum, the project featured an identity, web application and data visualization designed by Pentagram’s Eddie Opara and team.

Conference attendees downloaded the Makr Shakr app on their handheld devices and mixed and selected ingredients as their own virtual barmen, then watched as the cocktails were crafted by three KUKA robots and delivered via conveyor belt. As the drinks were prepared, a digital display behind the bar showed the queue of drinks in the works, profiles of the users, and the precise mixture of ingredients in their drinks, as well as what cocktails and ingredients were trending across the crowd.

MUSE Opens Its Doors


This week saw the grand opening of MUSE, the Museum of Science in Trento, North Italy. The opening was marked by a 24 hour party attended by 20,000 people.

The building took nearly a decade to complete and was designed by Renzo Piano. It houses six floors of incredible natural history including the Alpine region’s largest dinosaur exhibition and re-creations of the world’s biomes.

Update: Drexel University’s EXEL Magazine

ExelMagazine2013-cover-front copy

The second edition of EXEL, the annual research magazine published by Drexel University in Philadelphia, began hitting mailboxes earlier this month. The new 2013 issue was designed and produced by partner DJ Stout and lead designer Carla Delgado in Pentagram’s Austin office, following their successful design of the magazine’s inaugural issue in 2012.

The latest incarnation of the award-winning publication features an eye-catching school of fish swimming about on its cover. The magazine’s distinctive cover format unfolds to reveal the word DREXEL, a large graphic letter “X” and 23 exotic fish representing a sampling of species native to Brazil’s imperiled Xingu River, including Peckoltia sabaji, named after Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University Ichthyology Collection Manager Mark Sabaj Perez. Like the premier issue, the second edition of EXEL features a wide array of visually dynamic scientific photography, illustration and infographics used in modern, inventive layouts to express Drexel’s rich research narratives. “Our emphasis is on featuring the research—the actual subject matter of the research—not just the researchers,” says Stout. “Science and research is inherently interesting. All a designer needs to do is find the right image and get the hell out of the way.”