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Tag Archives: Typography

New Work: Knotty Objects


Title sequence for Knotty Objects, the inaugural MIT Media Lab Summit.

The first MIT Media Lab Summit devoted to design, Knotty Objects brought together designers, scientists, engineers, curators and scholars to celebrate the chimeric nature of contemporary design and how it defies a discipline-specific approach. Organized by Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at MoMA, and Neri Oxman and Kevin Slavin, professors at the MIT Media Lab, the conference explored the theme through four archetypal objects for which conception, design, manufacturing and use are non-linear, or “knotty”: the brick, the bitcoin, the steak, and the phone.

Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and Aron Fay designed an identity for Knotty Objects that plays off the Summit title and theme with twisting and turning typography that builds on their identity for the MIT Media Lab. The knotty-but-nice type was applied to a full program of event collateral, including a title sequence that played before the start of the conference and environmental graphics for the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the MIT Media Lab, where the Summit was held on July 15-16.

New Work: KIPP NYC College Prep High School

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This week KIPP NYC College Prep High School celebrates the graduation of the second class of seniors who have studied at its new state-of-the-art building in the South Bronx. Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and his team have designed the program of signage, wayfinding and environmental graphics for the school, which is the first high school in the KIPP NYC network of 11 public charter schools and serves over 900 students in grades 9 through 12.

KIPP stands for “Knowledge Is Power Program,” and KIPP NYC students regularly outperform their peers at other New York schools and boast higher graduation and college matriculation rates. (KIPP NYC College Prep sees an extraordinary 100 percent of its students go on to apply for college.) This mission of educational empowerment extends to the graphics of the new building, which encourage students to think, learn and problem-solve as they encounter a series of codes, puzzles and riddles that have been integrated into the school environment.

New Work: ‘Philadelphia Explained’

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In her typographic map paintings, Pentagram’s Paula Scher explores ideas of location and individual ways of seeing the world. Now, working in collaboration with students at her alma mater, the Tyler School of Art, Scher has expanded this unique point of view to an immersive environment. Philadelphia Explained is a large-scale installation that details the city and its surrounding areas in a hand-painted map created by Scher and 154 participants that covers the walls and floor of Temple Contemporary, the school’s 2,100 square-foot gallery.

Preview: ‘Live From New York!’

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“Saturday Night Live” continues the celebration of its 40th anniversary with the release of “Live From New York!”, a new documentary feature film that explores the legendary sketch comedy show’s cultural impact and evolution into an American institution. The film premiered as the opening night selection of the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and opens today in theaters nationwide.

Pentagram’s Emily Oberman and her team have designed all of the graphics for the documentary, including the identity, poster and motion graphics in the film and its trailer. A devoted fan who has watched SNL since the beginning, Oberman has collaborated with the show on many projects over the past two decades, both before and since joining Pentagram, including three iterations of its identity, several opening title sequences, commercial parodies, and most recently, the graphics for the 40th anniversary season and the design of Saturday Night Live: The Book, the definitive visual history of the show.

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.

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.