Pentagram Postmodernism on View at the V&A

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This fall the colors of autumn are a vibrant neon as the landmark exhibition Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990 opens this weekend at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The first major survey of art, design and architecture of the 1970s and 1980s, the exhibition shows how Postmodernism developed from a provocative architectural movement to rapidly influence all areas of popular culture including art, film, music, graphics and fashion.

Pentagram’s Paula Scher and Daniel Weil are represented in the exhibition with seminal works from early in their careers. Scher has three posters in the show: the Best of Jazz poster for CBS Records, her influential homage to Russian Constructivist typography (the poster is being reprinted in a limited edition for the exhibition); the 1981 Trust Elvis poster created for Elvis Costello at Columbia Records, later described in Bret Easton Ellis’ era-defining novel Less Than Zero; and the iconic 1984 poster for a Swatch USA campaign inspired by the Swiss poster designs of Herbert Matter.

Daniel Weil is represented by his important Muralla China Radio from 2×4 Tango, a series of four radios designed in unusual shapes and materials. The radio is in the V&A’s permanent collection.

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New Work: 1882

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Domenic Lippa and his team have created an identity and packaging for the work of ceramicist and designer Emily Johnson, who is launching her exhibition at a private view tonight. The work is on show until 25 September as part of the London Design Festival.

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New Work: London Design Medal 2011

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At a star-studded dinner last night in the Crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral, the London Design Medal was awarded to Ron Arad. The medal, which was designed five years ago by Domenic Lippa and his team, was presented by Ben Evans, Festival director. Previous recipients of the award have been Thomas Heatherwick, Zaha Hadid, Paul Smith and Marc Newson. At the presentation dinner, Arad said, “I can’t imagine doing whatever it is I do anywhere else in the world.”

Earlier in the evening, Thomas Heatherwick presented a Pentagram-designed special Lifetime Achievement Award to Vidal Sassoon.

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New Work: London Design Festival 2011

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The 2011 London Design Festival launched last night with an evening reception at the V&A previewing Textile Field by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. The Festival is billed to be the largest and most significant yet and runs from 17 to 25 September.

For the fifth year running Domenic Lippa and his team have designed the Festival’s identity which this year takes as its inspiration the phrase ‘Design from all angles’. The range of items designed will ensure that this year’s Festival is more visible than ever.

Pentagram Papers 41: WTC

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Starting in 1978, Judith Turner began photographing the twin towers of the recently completed World Trade Center. Turner, whose iconic images helped to establish the reputations of the generation of postwar modernist architects that included Richard Meier, Charles Gwathmey and Peter Eisenman, was taken with the structural simplicity and abstract beauty of architect Minoru Yamasaki’s masterwork. Turner returned to the World Trade Center repeatedly over the next decade, conducting a personal project to document the towers’ elemental forms against the sky and in the surface reflections of surrounding buildings.

To mark the tenth anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center, 23 of these images have been published for the first time in Pentagram Papers 41: WTC. The suite of images is accompanied by a preface by legendary tightrope artist Philippe Petit. (On August 7, 1974, Petit walked a high wire illegally stretched between the twin towers, a feat chronicled in his book To Reach the Clouds, the basis of the 2008 Academy Award-winning documentary Man on Wire, as well as an upcoming feature film, The Walk.)

The Pentagram Papers series has been privately published since 1974 for the firm’s friends and colleagues. For this special edition, a limited number of copies are available for $20 each, with all proceeds to be donated to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. Contact info@pentagram.com for details.

Daniel Weil’s ‘Last Folio’ on View in Indiana

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Last Folio, the exhibition of photographs by Yuri Dojc, designed by Pentagram’s Daniel Weil, is currently on show at The Grunwald Gallery of Art at Indiana University in Bloomington. It will remain in Indiana until 1 October, the latest venue in a tour that has taken in Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge; the European Commission, Brussels; and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.

999 Fonts in 60 Seconds

In Just My Type: A Book About Fonts, author Simon Garfield takes readers on a tour through all things typographic. The book, which received a rave this week from The New York Times, traces the development of typography through historic figures like Johannes Gutenberg, John Baskerville, Eric Gill and Jan Tschichold, while considering topics like legibility versus readability, the importance of typeface choice in political campaigns, the advent of digital type and corresponding explosion of new fonts, and what your favorite font says about you. (In the book, Garfield takes Pentagram’s own “What Type Are You?” test. He is Archer Hairline.)

Pentagram’s Naresh Ramchandani and Michael Bierut collaborated on the book’s trailer, a montage that sends the “Just My Type” title pulsing through 999 different fonts (more or less) in a minute. The trip starts and ends in Archer, the font used on the book’s US cover (designed by Roberto de Vicq de Clumptich), passing through much-loved fonts like Bodoni, Helvetica and Gotham, as well as ne’er-do-wells like Comic Sans, Papyrus and Arial. How many fonts can you spot?

Just My Type is out September 1 from Gotham Books. The book was originally published to acclaim in the UK last fall.

Project Team: Naresh Ramchandani, partner-in-charge and creative director; Michael Bierut, partner and designer; Katie Barcelona and Niko Skourtis, font compilers. Animation by Steven Qua.

New Work: M&T Bank Central Branch, Brooklyn

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The latest of Lorenzo Apicella’s new branch buildings for M&T Bank has recently opened in East New York, Brooklyn.

Using the by now familiar language of all M&T’s new branches, this 4,500 sq ft building has been configured to work within a prominent urban setting on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and New Jersey Avenue.

Pentagram Turns 39

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Founded in London in June 1972, Pentagram is celebrating its 39th birthday this summer. Our London office commemorated the occasion recently with a leisurely canal trip to London’s Little Venice. As a souvenir of the day staff were treated to an edition of John Buchan’s The 39 Steps with a custom cover design by Pentagram’s Angus Hyland and Zara Moore.

In New York, Pentagram staff walked about 39 steps to their favorite urban oasis, Madison Square Park, for a lively evening of food and drink hosted by the park conservancy.