Founded in 1826, the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore is the oldest accredited art school in the United States. MICA has educated artists for almost two centuries, from the Industrial Revolution—it was first called the Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts—to the current era of digital innovation. To commemorate this incredible heritage, the school has published Making History / Making Art / MICA, a lavishly produced illustrated history designed by Pentagram’s Abbott Miller, who is a member of the school’s graphic design faculty. Written by Douglas L. Frost, MICA’s Vice President for Development Emeritus, the highly readable book follows the evolution of the school’s educational program in the context of historical, technological and cultural change, and spotlights the school’s transformative role in the Baltimore community, particularly the Bolton Hill neighborhood where it is located.
The book design integrates the institutional identity designed by Miller for MICA in 2007. Bridging the school’s history, the cover of the book features the Main Building, built in 1908, wrapped in a translucent jacket of the identity’s graphic pattern, which was inspired by industrial elements in the school’s architecture and the high-tech frit of the iconic Brown Center, built in 2004. Inside, the story of the school is traced through 450 images including historical photographs, illustrations, works of art by students and faculty, building plans, artifacts and ephemera. The design uses fonts of the identity, Giza and Griffith Gothic, the latter of which was originally designed by a local designer, Chauncey Griffith. Lexicon is the text font.
The book is available for purchase through MICA’s online store.
Pecha Kucha, which means “chit chat” in Japanese, is a creative speaking format that was imported to the United States from Tokyo in 2003. The event was originated by a group of architects who were trying to get their presenters to talk about their architectural design work in a more precise manner, and to basically just get on with it. The fast-paced format they came up with did the trick. Ten presenters from a wide variety of creative disciplines are asked to speak at each event. Each presenter gets twenty slides set on a timer of twenty seconds per slide. The unique format, called 20 X 20, can lead to energetic performances, of about six minutes total, or spectacular failures that seem to last forever. The combination of 10 different personalities and presentation styles makes for an exciting, and inspiring, evening of creative passion.
There have been 10 Pecha Kucha events in Austin over the last three or four years, held at a wide variety of unusual and off-beat venues, including a Design Within Reach furniture showroom, a hot rod shop, a former warehouse and the Austin City Limits recording studios located on the campus of the University of Texas. Pecha Kucha Number 11 will be held at an abandoned 1950s municipal building called Seaholm Power Plant on the evening of April 27th at 8:20 PM. (The event is free and open to the public.) The cavernous public works building, constructed completely of poured concrete, is located on the north shore of Lady Bird Lake in the center of downtown Austin. With its five towering smoke stacks and its nostalgic Art Deco styling, the old power plant has become an architectural icon and a symbol of a bygone industrial era. It is ironic that Seaholm, a building that housed massive turbines for generating electrical power for the city of Austin, has not had electricity or running water since 1989, when the plant was shut down. The old landmark has had a bit of a popular resurgence lately—a “new energy” you could say—and has been the host of several large parties and concerts (with electricity and portable restrooms brought in, of course), including a Kanye West show during the South By Southwest music festival last March that drew record attendance
The official poster for Pecha Kucha Austin No. 11 was designed by Pentagram Partner DJ Stout and designer Stu Taylor in the Austin office. The silk-screened poster features a section of Seaholm’s Art Deco façade, three of its five iconic smokestacks and the names of the ten presenters for the event. The speakers include: George O. Jackson, photographer; Jorie Lodes, burlesque dancer; Dana Friis Hansen, former director of the Austin Museum of Art; Michael Yates, furniture designer; Southpaw Jones, musician/songwriter/performer; the Hancock Brothers, printmakers; Beili Liu, artist; Tiffany Harelik, trailer food diarist; Adrian Quesada, musician; and Johnny Walker, performance art curator. The posters will be offered to attendees at the April 27th event for a five dollar donation. “I’ve always wanted to create a type face out of smoke,” says Stout. “Austin has its roots in hippie culture, so I guess we could call this font ‘High Times.’”
Stout designed the poster for Pecha Kucha Austin No. 10 earlier this year.
The distance from New York to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates is not so great in a new mural created by Pentagram’s Paula Scher for New York University Abu Dhabi. The map is featured on the cover of the spring issue of The New York Times’ “Education Life” section, out this week, and accompanies a story about NYUAD, the first comprehensive liberal arts and sciences campus to be operated abroad by a major U.S. research university. The school opened last fall.
Pentagram’s Michael Bierut designed the graphic identity for NYUAD and environmental graphics for the school’s temporary facility in downtown Abu Dhabi. (Bierut and his team are currently designing the graphics for NYUAD’s permanent campus on Saadiyat Island, designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects and scheduled to open in 2014.) To enliven the main entrance of NYUAD’s temporary building, Bierut suggested a mural by Scher showing the meeting of New York and Abu Dhabi. Scher created a 3’ × 3’ painting that was enlarged to 20’ × 20’ for a wall in the Welcome Center.
Advertising, like the media, has been undergoing a massive transformation in recent years. Audiences and consumers have splintered across countless platforms and niche markets. Advertising, media buying and brand building have been joined by new fields like branded content, social networks, guerrilla marketing and digital strategies. Monolithic agencies are diversifying into specialized divisions and boutique firms. To take all this in, advertising industry trade Adweek is consolidating its three titles—Adweek, Brandweek and Mediaweek—into one publication that launches today in a bold new format designed by Pentagram’s Luke Hayman.
In the early 1990s Adweek split into the three titles to serve different segments of the advertising community, distinctions that are increasingly murky today. (In recent months, the three titles have been sharing much of the same content.) The new Adweek is published by Prometheus Global Media, who purchased the title from Nielsen along with other trades like Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter, which Prometheus reintroduced as a glossy monthly last fall. Prometheus is led by Richard Beckman, a long-time publishing executive who has a vision of transitioning Adweek from a trade magazine to a B-to-I, or “business to influencer,” title that targets thought leaders and consumers across industries, not just advertising. Adweek’s new editorial director of the new Adweek is Michael Wolff, the journalist, Vanity Fair columnist and media entrepreneur, who has a unique perspective on the changes in the industry. Wolff announced the unified Adweek in an open letter on the cover of last week’s issue, writing: “It’s time for one conversation, not separate ones.”
Robert A.M. Stern may be known as a pioneering postmodernist, but the term doesn’t begin to cover the stylistic versatility and wide-ranging output of his architectural practice. Among different audiences, Robert A.M. Stern Architects is known equally for everything from the design of houses and apartment buildings, to the design of office towers, academic buildings, and whole towns. Pentagram’s Michael Bierut has designed a new website for RAMSA that captures the firm’s expansive portfolio.
Bierut has a longstanding relationship with Stern, having designed a series of five monographs on the architect’s work, beginning with Robert A.M. Stern Buildings in 1996, followed by Houses (1997), Houses and Gardens (2005), Buildings and Towns (2007), and On Campus (2010). The distinctive design of the books reflects Stern’s own architectural approach—the contemporary interpretation of classical forms in a confident, even monumental form. Bierut has also designed two books of architectural writing by Stern, The Philip Johnson Tapes and Architecture on the Edge of Postmodernism.
In a new video for The Atlantic, Michael Bierut talks about the process of creating a logo for the New World Symphony, the Miami orchestral academy that recently moved into a stunning new campus designed by Frank Gehry. The video accompanies “Project: First Drafts,” a special feature in The Atlantic’s May issue, out next week, in which artists and designers share the inspirations behind their work. In the clip, Bierut traces the development of the NWS identity, designed with Pentagram’s Yve Ludwig, through a series of different ideas before arriving at a mark inspired by the curving forms of Gehry’s architecture, the vision of NWS director Michael Tilson Thomas, the art of conducting, and the science of music itself.
Cell-phone cameras, reality television and YouTube are innovations in making private images public, but photography has lent itself to “invasive looking” since the invention of the medium. Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870, now in its final weeks at SFMOMA, is a major survey that examines the historical and contemporary context of surreptitious images.
Pentagram’s Abbott Miller has designed the catalogue for the exhibition, which features more than 200 photographs, installations and video pieces by artists including Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray, Lee Miller, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, Nan Goldin, Robert Mapplethorpe and Philip Lorca DiCorcia, as well as images made by professional journalists, government agencies and amateurs. The exhibition was co-organized by SFMOMA and Tate Modern, where it debuted last year. It next travels to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, where it opens on May 21.
Do you happen to be reading this while procrastinating on a design project? For a timely feature about putting things off—April is tax month, after all—Real Simple magazine asked Paula Scher to contribute an illustration about procrastination. Scher’s chart follows the 50 ways she put off designing the page, from answering old e-mails, to mopping up coffee spills and doing the laundry. Because when else would you get all this stuff done, except while trying to avoid getting other stuff done?
Pentagram continues its creative collaboration as global brand guardians for AkzoNobel, the largest global paints and coatings company and a major producer of speciality chemicals, with the design of their latest annual report. AkzoNobel owns brands such as Dulux, Hammerite and International; their products have been used on iconic projects such as London’s Millennium Wheel, the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing and Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia. Reflecting AkzoNobel’s position as the colour authority, the annual report is decorated with blended stripes of colour brought to life by a high gloss varnish. The report also features case studies illustrated with images coated in a high gloss finish, and the colourful theme runs throughout the publication to aid navigation in a manner appropriate to a company that is all about colour and coatings and their infinite variety.
Yuri Dojc’s haunting photographs document what remains of the once-vibrant Jewish culture of prewar Slovakia: ruined synagogues, destroyed sacred texts, decaying graveyards. Weil designed the exhibition as both a celebration and a memorial. As he puts it, the experience is intended to unfold, on a beautifully lit stage, as theatre—a play in which the visitor is not part of the audience, but is an actor.