Meet Eddie Opara, Pentagram’s Newest Partner

Eddie Opara, the multifaceted designer whose work spans interactive and graphic design, strategy and technology, will be joining Pentagram as a partner in the New York office. Alissa Walker has an exclusive interview with Eddie on Fast Company’s Co.Design blog.

Eddie officially joins Pentagram on October 1. He brings with him his team from The Map Office, the award-winning New York studio he founded in 2005.

This Way to Fall

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The new fall season brings a new series of events to the Yale School of Architecture and a new typographic poster by Michael Bierut. The poster uses 58 different kinds of arrows to point the way to fall programming that includes lectures by architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, a symposium on the lighting designer Richard Kelly and exhibitions on Kelly and the architect James Stirling.

Download the poster here. Bierut has designed the Yale Architecture posters since 1998—see more here and here.

Project Team: Michael Bierut, partner-in-charge and designer; Britt Cobb, designer.

New Work: ‘Design Research’

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Today, retailers like Design Within Reach, Crate & Barrel, Habitat, IKEA and Target have all popularized the idea that good design should be accessible to everyone. But the concept was first introduced over a half century ago by Design Research, the influential modernist mini-chain that mixed design objects from Charles and Ray Eames, Alvar Aalto and Arne Jacobsen with eclectic folk materials and textiles from around the world and helped introduce the modern “lifestyle” to postwar Americans and their homes.

The first Design Research store was established in 1953 in Cambridge, Massachusetts by the architect Ben Thompson, who later ran D/R with his wife, Jane Thompson, the founding editor of I.D. and an architect and urban planner. D/R expanded throughout the 1960s and at its height had locations in New York, San Francisco, Beverly Hills and Philadelphia, among other cities. The architecture of the stores, designed by Ben, was just as distinctive as its wares: Thompson’s iconic 1969 D/R store/headquarters on Brattle Street in Cambridge was constructed of floor to ceiling glass, turning the entire store into a display case, bringing the shop out into the street. (In 2003 the building received the prestigious Twenty-Five Year award from the American Institute of Architects.) But in 1970 the Thompsons lost their controlling share in the stores, and by 1979 they were closed.

In 2006, Jane Thompson brought several scrapbooks of Design Research ephemera to Pentagram and asked Michael Bierut and his team to help her tell the remarkable D/R story. The resulting book,Design Research: The Store That Brought Modern Living to American Homes, is out now from Chronicle Books. Written and edited by Jane Thompson and Alexandra Lange, and with an introduction by Rob Forbes, founder of Design Within Reach, the book is an “autobiography” of D/R told through reminiscences by Jane Thompson and D/R staff, collaborators and customers. This year Jane Thompson was honored for Lifetime Achievement in the National Design Awards.

New Work: Fashion Law Institute

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Fashion designers have always been arbiters of style, but as they increasingly encounter issues like copycat designers, counterfeit imports, calls for consumer safety and environmental sustainability, and even bans of various forms of dress, designers need to know and help establish the law as well.

Opening September 8, the Fashion Law Institute is a new center at Fordham Law School in New York that will train and advise designers, lawyers and design students in areas of the law affecting the fashion industry. The first of its kind in the world, the center has been established by Fordham in partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and is being directed by Susan Scafidi, who pioneered the field of fashion law (and who blogs at Counterfeit Chic). The institute will provide a resource for legal knowledge in subjects like business and finance, intellectual property, real estate, employment law, international trade and government regulation, consumer protection and civil rights. The institute will have a special proximity to its subject; New York Fashion Week relocates this fall to Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park, steps away from Fordham Law School.

Pentagram’s identity for the institute graphically fashions a gavel from a needle and spool of thread. The mark is the latest in our collection of identities for New York’s fashion community, which includes logos for the CFDA, 7th on Sixth and the Fashion Center.

Project Team: Michael Bierut, partner-in-charge and designer; Katie Barcelona and John Custer, designers.

New Work: Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art

logo_fast.gif The new identity for SECCA, the art center in Winston-Salem, NC, is in a constant state of flux.

SECCA, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, reopened this summer following an extensive renovation. Not only the building was refreshed and improved; the institution’s identity was completely redesigned by Luke Hayman and his team.

Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, SECCA is committed to presenting contemporary art to a local, national and international audience. As a non-collecting institution, SECCA places particular value on its space, one always evolving and changing with each visiting exhibition or production. “Flux” became an important key word during design explorations and the final identity conveys a continuing flow; the logo literally moves and fluctuates, echoing the constant change of SECCA’s galleries and community programs.

The New York Jets Training Center: A Place for ‘Hard Knocks’

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Pentagram favorites the New York Jets are set for another winning season this year. Last season, the Jets’ 50th, the team made the playoffs, advancing to the AFC Championship Game. Led by visionary owner Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson IV, the team has a new coach, Rex Ryan, a new stadium, and a roster of star players like QB Mark Sanchez, Nick Mangold and Santonio Holmes. Now Gang Green gets its close-up in the new season of HBO’s Hard Knocks, the sports reality series that follows a single NFL team through its pre-season training camp. The show premieres this Wednesday, August 11.

One of the Jets’ newest winning members is its training center, which serves as the remarkable setting of Hard Knocks. The building was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Roger Duffy, and everything about the training center is focused on improving the performance of the players and team.

This extends to the building’s bold and aggressive graphics designed by Michael Gericke and his team at Pentagram. Using the identity we previously developed for the Jets, the graphics have been integrated into the architecture to create a holistic environment that fosters a sense of pride, focus and competition for the team and carries the spirit of the Jets onto the training field.

Officially called the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, the camp is the most modern training facility in the NFL and doubles as the corporate headquarters for the team. The 217,000-square foot, 27-acre complex in Florham Park, New Jersey, houses the practice facilities and business operations of the Jets, its players, coaches, corporate officers and medical team, and is also used for visits with sponsors, press and fans. The Jets previously trained at Hofstra University and had its corporate offices in Manhattan; the new center gives the team its own home and unites players and corporate staff under one roof, working together to win.

Goodbye, Gormley

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It’s almost time to say farewell to a friend: the figure installed on the rooftop of our New York office for the past several months will be leaving when the Event Horizon exhibition closes on August 15.

Event Horizon is the U.S. public art debut of the acclaimed British sculptor Antony Gormley, presented by the Madison Square Park Conservancy as part of its Mad. Sq. Art series. The installation of 31 life-size body forms of Gormley cast in iron and fiberglass has inhabited the streets and skyline around Madison Square Park since March. While some initially feared the figures might be mistaken for naked jumpers—only in New York, kids—the sculptures quickly became a popular addition to the Flatiron District. Indeed, soon after our silent visitor arrived and was properly welcomed, he became part of the Pentagram family.

Nazim Ali, the building superintendent at our New York office, came to know the Gormley figure especially well. He shares his thoughts about the sculpture and exhibition in an interview that will be included in the Event Horizon catalogue, out later this month from Mad. Sq. Art:

I remember getting an email from my building manager informing us about the project, and that we would have one of the sculptures on our building. I read about Antony Gormley and his exhibition in England, along the Thames River, so this was exciting to me. I like art—I have children, and I take them to museums. But a museum is a place you have to go to see art, and I prefer this, out in public. This way seems more natural to me—like you can see the artwork in nature, in a more natural state.
I can see many of the sculptures from my building and the park and I like to look at the other ones, but mine is my favorite. He’s a part of my life now, I never really forget about him. I come up here three, four times every week to check on him, to make sure he is okay, to make sure nobody abuses him. In a way I feel lucky to stand up here, next to him. Sometimes I like to look down at the people below on the street; they’re talking and pointing, asking questions, wishing they could come up here. They observe him, and he observes us.
Sometimes I wonder what he is thinking, or what he would be thinking. To me, it’s very simple—it’s just a person looking out at the world and announcing: “I am here.” But every person has a different exposure to this; everyone on the street has different questions and thoughts. People always say a picture is worth a thousand words and these sculptures are the same way—maybe more so.

New Work: Frank Sinatra School of the Arts

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Tony Bennett is known for his signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” but his favorite place is actually Astoria, Queens, where he was born 84 years ago this week. (Happy Birthday, Tony!) As a gift to his old neighborhood, Bennett and his wife, Susan Benedetto, a former public school teacher, established in 2001 the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, a New York City public high school with programs in vocal and instrumental music, drama, dance, film and fine arts. (In addition to possessing legendary voice, Bennett is an accomplished painter.) The school is named in homage to Bennett’s friend, Ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra.

Originally located in a shared space in Long Island City, the school opened its own new five-story building in Astoria last fall. The school is adjacent to the Kaufman Astoria Studios and the Museum of the Moving Image at the intersection of 35th Avenue and 36th Street and has helped transform the neighborhood into a bustling arts district in the heart of Astoria. Designed by Susan Rodriguez of Ennead Architects, and funded by the New York City School Construction Authority, the state-of-the-art building includes a concert hall, black box theaters, dance studios, recording studio, media center and a rooftop courtyard for outdoor performances.