New Work: Grey Group

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A creative company needs an innovative workspace. For Grey Group, one of the largest marketing communications companies in the world, a move to a new, state-of-the-art headquarters in the Flatiron District, a New York design center, symbolized a renewed commitment to creativity. Paula Scher has developed an inventive program of environmental graphics for the offices, which were designed by Studios Architecture.

Grey moved from a sedate midtown location to 200 Fifth Avenue, the former International Toy Center, a century-old landmark building that once housed several toy companies. (Grey is our new neighbor; the building is a short two blocks away from Pentagram’s offices at 204 Fifth.) Grey Group is part of industry giant WPP and counts among its clients blue-chip companies like Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Canon, 3M and Eli Lilly. The Grey divisions at the new headquarters include: Grey New York, its flagship advertising agency; G2, its activation marketing agency; and Cohn & Wolfe, its sister company and PR partner. In the new headquarters these divisions are located from the second to sixth floors, with an entrance lobby on the first floor.

Scher and Studios previously collaborated on the interiors of the Bloomberg L.P. headquarters, where Scher developed an environment of numbers that was a three-dimensional manifestation of the Bloomberg brand. For Grey, Scher has designed graphically playful signage that captures and promotes the creativity of the company’s various divisions. The program utilizes materials used in the interior design to create a series of optical illusions that brand the agency in the space. “It’s a house of visual games,” says Scher.

I.D. R.I.P.

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Like the rest of the design community, we are saddened to hear of the closing of I.D. The magazine was required reading in our offices and served as the starting point of countless conversations and more than a few arguments about design. I.D. felt like part of our family: our partners occasionally contributed articles and essays, and we were always thrilled when our work made the cut in the I.D. Annual Design Review, the most critically daunting of the U.S. design competitions. (The Review will reportedly continue online.)

We also have a more personal connection to I.D.’s history: Luke Hayman was associate art director under Tony Arefin from 1993 to 1995 and later returned as design director from 1997 to 1999, during which the magazine received one of its five National Magazine Awards (General Excellence, 1999).

So long, I.D. You will be missed.

Why Didn’t We Think of That?

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For The New York Times Magazine’s annual “Year in Ideas” issue, published this Sunday, Paula Scher illustrated a chart of selected 2009 patents, classified on a spectrum from “When Real Life Isn’t Exciting Enough” to “There Must Be an Easier Way.” Note striped socks were not patented until this year; “At Last,” indeed. The chart was compiled by Alexandra Horowitz and Ammon Shea.

New Work: Urban Green Council


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Since its founding in 1993, the U.S. Green Building Council has established itself as the nation’s leading advocate for sustainability in the built environment, most prominently as the developer of the now-ubiquitous LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. As the group’s largest chapter, the U.S. Green Building Council New York Chapter has enjoyed considerable influence not only in metropolitan New York, but as a model for sustainability in cities around the world. But despite its considerable success, the chapter suffered an identity crisis, being frequently confused with the national organization and saddled with a ponderous, unpronounceable eight-letter acronym.

Designer Munnies Raise Cash for Charity

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For its holiday benefit, DAHRA (Designers Against Human Rights Abuses) asked 20 of the world’s top graphic and product designers and 10 students to customize do-it-yourself Munny dolls. The signed Munnies will be auctioned at Play.Create, a party presented by DAHRA and Glug London to aid Barnardo’s, the UK-based children’s charity.

Paula Scher gave her Munny a stylish ‘do of almost 1,000 red map pins. “I took out my frustration by sticking the doll with pins,” she says.

Other designers who decorated dolls for the event include Andy Altmann of Why Not Associates, Joe Shouldice of Sagmeister Inc. and Michael C. Place of Build.

The auction and party takes place on Tuesday, 15 December at the Book Club in London. Tickets are on sale now; details here.

New Work: Vertical Zoo

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The word “zoo” was first coined in the 19th century, but the concept of a man-made landscape of fauna is as old as human domination of the earth. The ancient Greeks had menageries, as did the Chinese and Roman empires, but the first historical reference to a “vertical zoo” might have been the medieval one in the Tower of London. Today 80 percent of the world’s zoos are located in cities, and a vertical zoo seems as inevitable as a vertical farm. A new competition in Buenos Aires, Argentina asked architects to design a vertical zoo for a location in a natural reserve on the city’s riverfront. Organized by Arquitectum and TodoObras magazine, the brief was to design a structure that would become a new urban landmark, one that would accentuate a growing area of the city and at the same time complement the natural character of the reserve. James Biber has designed a vertical zoo that is an urban take on Charles Darwin’s evolutionary tree of life, a phylogenic arrangement of species in vertical formation.