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.

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.

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: Bard Graduate Center

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Paula Scher has designed a new identity for the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History and Material Culture. Founded in 1993 by Susan Weber, BGC’s director, the school is an important academic institution devoted to the study of the history of the material world, the objects that people make to transform their surroundings: architecture, craft and design. It is one of the only programs of its kind in the country and a top school for scholars and curators of the decorative arts. The center is affiliated with Bard College and is located in a pair of townhouses on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Scher designed BGC’s first logo when the center opened in 1993. The original logo was a monogram of three letters set in Baskerville with a decorated “G” and was applied to letterhead and the covers of brochures without any established format or system. It was pretty, and it communicated that the school was devoted to the decorative arts. But in the years since, BGC has grown in size and stature, and the logo began to seem precious and no longer conveyed the breadth of the center’s programs. The launch of the new identity is timed to a major renovation and expansion of the school by Polshek Partnership Architects. The center has also officially changed its name to the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, lengthening it slightly from the already long Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture. The school needed a new institutional identity that communicated its importance. A simple, static logotype was no longer enough for the institution; its identity must function as a flexible system that supports broad applications across multiple platforms.