‘40 Years of Storefront for Art and Architecture’

Brand Identity, Exhibition Design

The NYC institution celebrates a milestone with a special identity and custom typeface for its anniversary benefit and exhibition.

The Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York celebrated its 40th anniversary in fall 2022 with a visual identity designed by Pentagram. Built around a dynamic custom typeface, the system reflects the discourse around civic space that has always been at the core of Storefront’s work. The program was used in graphics for a retrospective exhibition at the gallery, Public Space in a Private Time: Building Storefront for Art and Architecture, and for the Anniversary Benefit hosted at the Angel Orensanz Foundation, the first time the annual event was held in person again since the pandemic.

Storefront has always done a lot with a little; in a 1993 manifesto, founder Kyong Park described its philosophy as: “There is no wall, no barrier, no inside, no outside, no space, no building…no storefront, (no money).” With the anniversary, Storefront wanted to look at how the social and political challenges facing New York City helped to define the gallery’s focus in its early years, and the role Storefront played in the defense of public space through artistic practice in a period marked by urban development, gentrification and displacement.

The identity ties this all together visually and thematically with a custom typeface inspired by the extended marquee lettering on the gallery’s façade. Digitized for the first time, the type can expand and contract horizontally, echoing the push and pull between public and private space in NYC. This flexibility also ties into working within the tight constraints of Storefront’s space and resources—stretched thin, going big—and the dynamic façade, with its changing apertures. When animated, the variability in the type evokes the optical effect of foreshortening in the angled gallery.

Taking its title from a 1990 essay by artist Vito Acconci, who designed the institution’s distinctive façade with architect Steven Holl, Public Space in a Private Time shares Storefront’s story through archival materials related to its exhibitions and events––mainly flat, paper-based ephemera such as handouts, fliers, letters, documents and photos. Notable among these are a 1983 fundraising poster by Jean-Michel Basquiat and a 1988 graphic by Nam June Paik, and a maquette of the ampersand from the 97 Kenmare façade is one of the few three-dimensional objects on display.

The content is organized thematically in two main sections: “Margin as Center” and “Through the Facade, Onto the Sidewalk, Into the Street.” The titles, both taken from early essays by Park, run along the top of the walls, matching the placement of the sign on the façade. One of the movable panels features the full “No money…” quote by Park, and a 1982 photograph of the opening of Storefront’s original space at 51 Prince Street has been reproduced as a large-scale mural on the back of the entrance.

A third section of the show collects “Storefront Newsprints.” Since its early years, Storefront has accompanied each exhibition with a newsprint, a consistent format that continues to this day. The Pentagram team created one for the retrospective that doubles as a key for the artifacts on display and that unfolds into a poster featuring the quote by Park. For the Anniversary Benefit collateral, a warm yellow was added to the identity’s minimal black and white as a nod to the gold-leaf interiors of the Angel Orensanz Foundation.

New York
Natasha Jen
Project team
Ran Zheng
Junghoon Oh
Zoë Thompson
Jangs Müller Type Foundry, typeface design
Claudia Mandlik, photography
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