Daniel Weil: Returning to the Light

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From June 2004, I spent five and a half years designing the Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Archeological Wing of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. When the wing was opened in July this year, to great acclaim, I felt proud and very privileged to have been part of the renewal and elevation of a great museum to world class status.

Returning there in November allowed me to see the wing from the point of view of a visitor - to experience the unique chronological narrative in its galleries. And what I saw most clearly was the story of light. The light of Jerusalem is the major protagonist in the Archeological Wing’s experience, as the journey of this unique history goes from dark to light, triggering the emotions of the visitor.

Eddie Opara Joins Pentagram’s New York Office

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This week Pentagram’s newest partner, Eddie Opara, officially joined our New York office. Eddie is a multi-faceted designer whose work encompasses brand identity, publications, environments, interactive installations, websites, user interfaces and software, with many of his projects ranging across multiple media. He has developed numerous applications including the MiG, an innovative content and asset management system for off and online applications that is currently in use by various clientele.

Eddie brings with him the team from Map, the studio he founded in 2005: Brankica Harvey, senior designer; Raed Atoui, software developer; and Frank LaRocca, designer.

Eddie’s wide-ranging practice complements Pentagram’s multi-disciplinary approach. “Bringing a diversity of design skills laced with innovation to Pentagram is paramount,” says Eddie. “I strive to conceive and build compelling work through my love of strategy, design and technology.”

Paula Scher says: “Eddie represents the new generation of graphic designers for whom all forms of media and all dimensions of design are not separated from the initial concept but are an integral part of the total thought.”

On the occasion of his joining, Eddie and his team have developed a new Pentagram app for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad that showcases his portfolio. Download it here. Look for future updates of the app featuring more work from our studio.

New Work: ‘Chaos and Classicism’

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Following the chaos of World War I, European art turned away from avant-garde abstraction and looked for a “return to order,” a shift towards clean lines, classicism and—unsurprisingly, given the destruction of the first machine-age war—the depiction of the human figure intact. The result was an aesthetic of “clarity” that worked its way through a variety of ideals, from the High Modernism of the Bauhaus, to the fascism of Mussolini’s revived Roman Empire, to—most chillingly—the Aryanism of Nazi culture. The Guggenheim’s major fall exhibition, Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy, and Germany, 1918-1936, is the first in the United States to examine this international phenomenon. Pentagram’s Abbott Miller has designed the exhibition graphics and catalogue for the show, which opened this weekend and remains on view through January 9, 2011.

New Work: ‘The Surreal House’

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Angus Hyland was commissioned by Jane Alison, Senior Curator at the Barbican Art Gallery, to design the graphic identity for The Surreal House, the blockbuster exhibition on view at the Barbican through 12 September. The show examines the relationship between Surrealism and architecture and features work from artists like Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp, René Magritte, Man Ray and Joseph Cornell alongside contemporary figures like Rebecca Horn, Rachel Whiteread, Rem Koolhaas and Louise Bourgeois, mounted in an atmospheric, house-like series of rooms. Hyland was delighted to accept this commission as it allowed him to explore a longstanding interest in Surrealism.

Preview: Israel Museum

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The renewed Bronfman Archaeological Wing of the Israel Museum designed by Daniel Weil and John Rushworth opens on 25 July following over five years of work. The Archaeological Wing originally opened in 1965 and has been redesigned and restored by Pentagram as part of the whole scale renewal of the entire museum campus.

New Work: ‘Project Mah Jongg’

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For an ancient Chinese game legendarily invented by Confucius in the year 500 B.C., mah jongg enjoyed an extraordinary efflorescence in 20th century America, where it became a cultural phenomenon and fixture in Jewish-American communities. Abbott Miller has designed “Project Mah Jongg” a new exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York that explores the traditions, history and meanings of the game in Jewish-American culture. The show opened on May 4 and remains on view through January 2, 2011, and will then travel to multiple venues in the United States. Miller has also edited and designed a book called Mah Jongg: Crak, Bam, Dot!, published by 2wiceBooks, that serves as a companion to the exhibition.

Miller worked closely with museum curator Melissa J. Martens to create a visual narrative of mah jongg’s unusual hybridization of Jewish and Chinese cultures. The game became an enormously popular fad in the U.S. after sets were first imported in the 1920s. This coincided with a period of national immigration restrictions, and mah jongg’s foreign associations stirred both intrigue and stereotypes in the press. It gained a reputation as a “vice,” a gambling game and sign of rebellious flapper behavior. But in Jewish communities, it was perfect for women’s gatherings and fundraisers, where the rule cards were sold for charity. After World War II, the game became a staple of bungalow colonies in the Catskills and suburban Jewish homes, and it is still played by hundreds of thousands of people today.

With its iconic tiles, graphic symbols and colorful material culture, mah jongg holds special appeal for designers. “Mah jongg is a visual universe unto itself, one governed by dragons, directional winds, and cocktails,” says Miller. “It was—and still is—social media with a heavy dose of style and history.”

New Work: ‘Dress Codes’

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The triennial of the International Center of Photography is the only major American survey of contemporary photography and video. The ICP triennial’s third edition, Dress Codes, recently on view at the Museum at ICP in New York, closed out a year of fashion-related programming at the museum and explored ideas of identity, production and consumption through the lens of fashion, style and image. The exhibition featured the work of 34 photographers including Cindy Sherman, Stan Douglas, Barbara Kruger, Lorna Simpson, Mikalene Thomas and Thorsten Brinkmann. Abbott Miller designed the show working with ICP curators Kristen Lubben, Christopher Phillips, Carol Squiers and ICP adjunct curator Vince Aletti.

New Work: ‘Lincoln Center: Celebrating 50 Years’

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In the five decades since it broke ground in 1959, Lincoln Center has become a model for cultural centers in cities around the world, a home to 12 constituent organizations that host 5 million visitors annually and reach millions more through broadcasts, programs, productions and educational activities. To commemorate Lincoln Center’s amazing half century, Michael Gericke and his team at Pentagram have designed Lincoln Center: Celebrating 50 Years, a major exhibition that focuses on the evolution and influence of this remarkable institution. The show is on view at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts’ Oenslager Gallery on Lincoln Center’s new North Plaza.

The exhibition was developed in collaboration with curator Thomas Mellins and includes an extensive collection of some 400 historic and contemporary objects including photographs, ephemera, costumes, set pieces and props. The show includes special areas for the viewing of films about the building of the center and video recordings of performances.

Pentagram has designed identities for several of Lincoln Center’s resident organizations, including The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic and Jazz at Lincoln Center, and is currently designing environmental graphics for the renovated David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, formerly known as the Harmony Atrium.