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We Gave an X

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In the run up to the 2015 UK General Election, much was written about the disengagement between voters and politicians. This led to a widespread prediction of voter apathy that was fuelled by vocal non-voters like Russell Brand.

To tackle this disengagement, Naresh Ramchandani and Marina Willer launched I Give an X, a campaign that encouraged people to take pride in their vote. Living online, it consisted of a website with 93 downloadable Xs, a powerful video manifesto encouraging people to vote, and a link to the voter registration form.

New Work: Shakespeare in the Park 2015

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Paula Scher’s iconic Public Theater identity goes to pieces in the campaign for this year’s Shakespeare in the Park, the annual free performances presented by The Public Theater at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. This summer’s program pairs “The Tempest”, Shakespeare’s stormy classic about the magic of storytelling, with the fairy-tale romance “Cymbeline”.

Scher’s campaign for the summer performances previews the look of the graphics for the Public’s 2015-2016 season. The Shakespeare in the Park poster campaigns used to exist apart from the fall season campaigns, but over the past few years the graphics for the Public’s most famous program have helped establish the seasonal look for all aspects of the institution.

Playing off the word “free,” this year’s design is handmade and exists as lines of sliced typography that are cut through photography or large-scale words. The tempest of type creates a mini-identity that both dramatically updates and functions within the familiar Public Theater brand.

Last Folio Book: A Photographic Memory

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In 2006, serendipity led two former political exiles, photographer Yuri Dojc and documentary producer Katya Krausova, to an abandoned Jewish school in their homeland, Slovakia. Abandoned since 1942, when all its students had been deported to concentration camps, Dojc photographed the building and disintegrating school books within it. These photographs were the beginning of Last Folio, an international travelling exhibition and documentary film.

In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, Dojc and Krausova have released a book, Last Folio: A photographic Memory, that documents their exploration into Slovakia’s pre-war Jewish culture.

Auf einer Reise durch ihr Heimatland Slowakei entdeckten Fotograf Yuri Dojc und die Filmemacherin Katya Krausova eher zufällig ein verlassenes, halb verfallenes jüdisches Schulhaus. Als wäre die Zeit stillgestanden seit jenem Tag im Jahr 1942 – als sämtliche Schüler und Lehrer dieser Schule von den Nazis in ein Konzentrationslager deportiert wurden – befanden sich darin noch alle Schulbücher, so, wie sie zurückgelassen worden waren.

Dojc fotografierte das verfallene Gebäude und die darin zurückgebliebenen Schulbücher. Da für Dojc die Bücher allesamt Überlebende einer schrecklichen Zeit waren, versuchte er, sie mit seinen Fotos auch so zu portraitieren. Diese Fotografien waren der Anfang von Last Folio, einer internationalen Wanderausstellung und einem Dokumentarfilm.

Im Gedenken an den 70. Jahrestag des Endes des zweiten Weltkrieges haben Dojc und Krausova nun ein Buch veröffentlicht: Last Folio – ein fotografisches Gedächtnis, das ihre Reise in die jüdisch-slowakische Vorkriegskultur dokumentiert.

New Work: ‘The Great Minds of Investing’

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The first time Michael O’Brien photographed Warren Buffett (for Esquire) in 1988 it changed his life. From that moment on the photographer became a devoted student of value investing, Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway, and a super fan of the “Oracle of Omaha.” He even named his dog Buffett. Now O’Brien’s portraits and William Green’s profiles of the top investors in the world have been published in The Great Minds of Investing, a new book designed and produced by partner DJ Stout and designer Barrett Fry in Pentagram’s Austin office.

The Great Minds of Investing, one of the first books of its kind, was the brainchild of Hendrik Leber, who is the founder and managing partner in ACATIS Investment, a German asset management firm based in Frankfurt. Leber found a co-conspirator in O’Brien and commissioned the value investment enthusiast to photograph 33 of the preeminent investors of our time. O’Brien traveled all over the U.S. and Europe to capture his elusive subjects on film. His large-format, black-and-white portraits, formal and dignified, show the confident demeanor of the profession—and a lot of nice suits.

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.

New Work: ‘Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modern Art’

A true power couple and two of the 20th century’s most celebrated artists, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera helped develop Mexican modernism, a movement that combined social realism and surrealistic imagery in paintings and murals that shaped Mexico’s cultural heritage. Over fifty years after their deaths, the pair continue to fascinate, and Frida is currently having a moment as the subject of several books and exhibitions. Pentagram’s Eddie Opara and his team have designed the catalogue for Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Mexican Modern Art, a new exhibition currently on view at the Nova Southeastern University Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale that explores these famous figures and the other artists who defined the movement.

New Work: The Mansion on Marylebone Lane

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John Rushworth has developed a strategy and visual identity for The Mansion on Marylebone Lane, a 22-unit development in Central London that modernises the concept of a mansion block.

Rushworth’s approach was informed by London’s long history of mansion buildings. A result of the population boom during the industrial revolution, mansion blocks were built in the late 19th century to meet the demands of the new wealthy to have a pied-à-terre in the capital. A distinctly London-based idea, these apartment blocks use Queen Anne’s, Arts and Crafts and Edwardian style architecture, and are unified by red brick facades with terracotta detailing. The blocks are concentrated in the historically wealthy areas of Kensington, Marylebone and Knightsbridge.

New Work: ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’

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Pentagram’s Natasha Jen and her team have designed the catalogue for China: Through the Looking Glass, the blockbuster exhibition currently on view at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Organized by Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute, the show explores the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion, and how China has inspired artists and designers for centuries. The exhibition launched with the annual Met Gala on May 4 and remains on view through August 16.

China: Through the Looking Glass is one of the largest exhibitions ever mounted by the Metropolitan Museum and features more than 100 examples of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear by designers including Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Karl Lagerfeld, Alexander McQueen, Yves Saint Laurent, John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood. These are juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, paintings, porcelains, and other artworks, including films, which are highlighted for their importance in influencing fashion. (The celebrated filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai served as the exhibition’s artistic director.)

‘Last Folio’: A Memorial that Travelled the World

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Last Folio – Traces of Jewish Life in Slovakia – an exhibition of photographs by Yuri Dojc, designed by Daniel Weil – has come to Germany for the first time. From 24 April to 27 June 2015, the exhibition will be on display in Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (National Library of Germany).

The exhibition is part of worldwide commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. It came to Berlin from the Mark Rothko Art Centre in Latvia.

‘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.