Letters of Warning

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A Homeland Security task force will soon review and possibly change the system of color-coded terrorism alerts implemented in the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks. For an Op-Art exercise in Sunday’s New York Times, four graphic designers were asked to develop a new, better system of alerts. Paula Scher created a two-letter system that uses C to stand for Caution and A for Alert. (The A gets an extra slash across its form for added emphasis.) Kurt Andersen provides online audio commentary and judges Scher’s submission to be the most effective because it acknowledges there are really only two states of warning when it comes to terrorism: Caution (“We will always need to be cautious,” says Scher) and full-on Alert.

Paula Scher and the Geography of Design

The Geography of Design is a new two-part interview with Paula Scher directed by the filmmaker Nicolas Heller and produced by Brian Collins for the Art Directors Club. In the first part of the film, shot at Scher’s home and studio in Connecticut, Scher discusses the influence of New York City, its architecture, and especially its noise (the yelling!) on her design and typography. In part two, she talks about the development of her map paintings. In the film, Heller (son of Steven) takes viewers on a journey through Scher’s work, from her groundbreaking “Best of Jazz” poster to a new painting commission for the city’s Percent for Art program.

Part two after the jump.

Awards: Communication Arts 2009 Design Annual

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From cycles to sweeteners, stars to stripes: Nine outstanding projects from our portfolio have been selected to appear in the Communication Arts 2009 Design Annual.

The work covers five categories within the competition. The Harley-Davidson Museum is represented twice in the environmental graphics category, for Abbott Miller’s permanent exhibitions and for Michael Bierut’s signage for the museum. Also honored in the category are Miller’s design for the exhibition Brno Echo: Ornament and Crime from Adolf Loos to Now at the Moravian Gallery and Kit Hinrichs’ exhibition Long May She Wave at the Nevada Museum.

Bierut’s identities for Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) and The Oak Room have been selected in the integrated branding category. Paula Scher’s work for Truvia sweetens the packaging category, where Bierut’s ream wrap for Strathmore Paper (with Marian Bantjes) is also highlighted. Michael Gericke’s design of “A Number of Numbers”, our 2008 holiday card, is a winner in the self-promotion category.

The Design Annual is due out at the end of the year in the November/December issue of Communication Arts. It is an honor to be recognized by CA and we are extremely proud of the brilliant work put forth by our teams.

Pentagram Referenced in ‘Graphic Design, Referenced’

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Pentagram is featured throughout Graphic Design, Referenced, the new compendium/survey/ history/big essential design book by Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Pentagram alumnus Armin Vit. Subtitled “A Visual Guide to the Language, Applications, and History of Graphic Design,” the book covers pretty much everything you need for a working knowledge of graphic design, with sections on the various design disciplines, the major figures in the field, the landmark projects, and rundowns of industry resources, production techniques and typography. Included are entries on Pentagram and Fletcher/Forbes/Gill, the proto-Pentagram; our partners Paula Scher and Michael Bierut; and our work for the Pocket Canons, The Public Theater, Saks, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and many, many others, with countless images. Order your copy here. A few of the Penta-centric pages after the jump.

New Work: Howcast

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Paula Scher and her team designed the identity for Howcast, the popular how-to video site that was profiled in Sunday’s New York Times. Howcast hosts a library of over 100,000 short instructional videos—everything from how to type faster on your iPhone to how to survive a bear attack—and its videos received over 20 million plays in June alone.

So how do you design a logo for Howcast? Scher created an italicized “H” that became a directional arrow that could be used as a vehicle to begin the videos and would suggest taking the “next step.” The style of this “H” was used as a guide in designing all the other icons. The form of the “H” was adapted into a chevron that is used in the video graphics, where it indicates steps or appears behind titles. For its part, the unusual “H” also instructs viewers that they can expect a little irreverence in the videos, many of which are humorous and creatively use animation and props to convey useful information.

Scher also designed a series of icons for the various categories of videos: First Aid & Safety, Food & Drink, Sex & Relationships, Crafts & Hobbies, etc. The identity was prominently featured in a recent iPhone spot, helping Howcast’s free iPhone app become one of the most popular, with over 500,000 downloads to date.

Paula Scher’s Posters Exhibited in Trieste

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A selection of posters designed by Paula Scher will be shown in a joint exhibition with the designer and illustrator Paul Cox opening this week in Trieste, Italy. Scher and Cox were both participants in a conference presented last month by the Istituto Superiore per le Industrie Artistiche di Urbino, which is presenting the new exhibition in collaboration with AGI. The exhibition opens this Friday, 26 June and remains on view through July 24 at Tassinari/Vetta, 16, via Gioacchino Rossini, Trieste.

Awards: 365: AIGA Annual Design Competition 30

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Each year the long, cold winter of competition submissions pays off (hopefully) with a little winning in the warmer months. This year our US offices have had a lucky 13 projects selected in the 365: AIGA Annual Design Competition 30, announced today.

Pentagram has winners in all four categories, or “channels,” of 365. In Branding, our selections include the identities for the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), Bobby’s Burger Palace and The Oak Room, all designed by Michael Bierut; the identity for OLIN, designed by Abbott Miller; and the refresh of The Public Theater identity, designed by Paula Scher. Scher’s 2008 Shakespeare in the Park campaign was honored in the Promoting channel, as were Michael Bierut’s viewbook for Yale College and our very own Pentagram Papers 39: Signs, designed by DJ Stout, and holiday book, A Number of Numbers, designed by Michael Gericke. Abbott Miller’s False Start issue of 2wice was selected in the Entertaining category, and Kit Hinrich’s Long May She Wave: A Graphic History of the American Flag exhibition at the Nevada Museum of Art was honored in Informing.

Our winners in the AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers section of the competition are Writings on Architecture, the collection of essays by Paul Rudolph, designed by Michael Bierut; and Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy, the exhibition catalogue for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, designed by Abbott Miller.

The winning projects will be published in the annual AIGA: 365 Year in Design, out later this year.