The Storefront for Art and Architecture hosted its Spring 2017 Benefit at the historic Federal Hall in Lower Manhattan. Pentagram designed the identity for the event, which featured the theme “Artifact,” inspired by the location and current politically charged moment. The graphics explore the concept of divisiveness and discord with type and image that seem to degrade, underscoring the dialectical struggle between facts and “alternative facts.”
Support for the arts is under attack by the Trump administration, and Storefront called on its guests to “celebrate contemporary forms of practice that invite us to ACT, to consider FACTS, and to reflect upon the ART of architecture and design.”
The location was essential to the theme. Federal Hall is an artifact itself, and the home of many foundational institutions of U.S. democracy. Originally constructed in 1700 as New York’s City Hall, the building served as the first U.S. Capitol, witnessed the inauguration of the first U.S. President, and hosted the ratification of the Bill of Rights by the First Congress. It has been a hub of debate and dialogue throughout the evolution of U.S. political history.
Pentagram created an identity and materials for the event that capture the escalating discord across the political and media landscape while investigating the role of an artifact in this volatile climate. The graphics address issues of identity and authority with a jarring visual vocabulary that juxtaposes metal-cast blackletter typography—evoking historic documents and newspaper mastheads—with degrading bitmap letterforms and images that transform, break down and come together again.
This year’s benefit honored the architect Denise Scott Brown, whose practice has pioneered the re-examination of existing urban forms, and Murray Moss, whose design and curation work, chiefly at his renowned store MOSS, has been formative in creating innovative objects (artifacts) from around the world. The event also launched New Artifacts, the first iteration of a new initiative called Storefront Editions that offers limited edition objects by Adam McEwen, LOT-EK and Moss with Lobmeyr.
Pentagram collaborated with Storefront on a number of previous projects, including last year’s benefit and the exhibitions Closed Worlds, World Wide Storefront, and OfficeUS, the U.S. Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale.