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  • Poster House museum acquires 55 typographic treasures from Paula Scher

    Since June posters have their own museum in Manhattan. Poster House is the first museum of its kind in the United States of America and its mission is clear.

    “Through exhibitions, events, and publications, Poster House presents a global view of posters from their earliest appearance in the late 1800s, to their present-day use. Poster House takes its mission from the medium, aiming to engage and educate all audiences as we investigate this large format graphic design and its public impact. For a poster to succeed, it must communicate. By combining the power of images and words, posters speak to audiences quickly and persuasively. Blending design, advertising, and art, posters clearly reflect the place and time in which they were made. Through them, Poster House explores everything from avant-garde design, to changing societal norms, and all the fads and fashions over the last 160 years.”

    Poster House's 7,000-piece collection highlights 150 years of outdoor advertising and now it’s adding 55 posters from the personal archive of iconic graphic designer Paula Scher.

    “These posters are a landmark addition to our permanent collection,” Poster House director Julia Knight commented in a press release. “Paula Scher is among the most renowned graphic designers in the world and we are honored to be housing such incredible examples of her innovative typography and unparalleled sense of design.”

    Known for creating a vast array of brand identities Scher’s donation includes rare prints of her own work ranging from the mid-1900s through today.

    Poster House opened its doors on June 20, 2019. Currently still on view are its two opening exhibitions, Alphonse Mucha: Art Nouveau/Nouvelle Femme, celebrating the famed Art Nouveau illustrator and graphic artist Alphonse Mucha, and Designing Through the Wall: Cyan in the 1990s, which sheds light on the groundbreaking German graphic design duo.

    Paula Scher designed the museum's logo and visual branding in her role at Pentagram.

    This past June, Scher was honored as the 2019 SEGD Fellow, recognized for “creating a body of work that epitomizes the highest standards of practice in environmental graphic design”. Scher joins a distinguished group of recipients that includes Lance Wyman, Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar, Deborah Sussman, Massimo Vignelli, among others. 

  • A-Z presents: Design and Solidarity or when graphic design goes political

    To mark the end of its -highly political- current exhibition "New Anthems VI (Berlin)" by design group Inkahoots, A-Z presents "Gestaltung und Solidarität – Wie kann Grafik Design politisch sein?" (Design and Solidarity - How can graphic design be political?), an open discussion evening which tackles the importance of graphic design in politics and society with Mara Recklies, Susanne Beer (ZOFF) and Sandy Kaltenborn.

    “Our main topic will be applied political design practice, with a special focus on graphic design. We would like to find out how we as designers can work politically and make a contribution to society” notes A—Z. “We have invited practitioners who are active in this field and critically engage with it. The discussion will primarily address the content, obstacles, priorities of the individual and (in)visibility within approaches to working in this field. What priorities can we set in regard to current social issues and crises? What concrete contributions can we make as graphic designers? What contradictions do we face and what are the consequences of working politically in our practice?”

    Mara Recklies is a philosopher and deals with contemporary culture, design and technology. She is particularly interested in the political dimensions of design. Her focus is on criticism, protest, and other resistant practices. Susanne Beer is part of "ZOFF", a collective for visual communication that merged in 2019. Besides her, ZOFF consists of Laura Maikowski, Pierre Maite and Gustav Pursche. Together they focus their work on social and activist projects. Sandy Kaltenborn is a communication designer and runs the office since 1999. In addition, two years ago he founded the tenant association Kotti & Co together with neighbours at the Kottbusser Tor. He is committed to the social housing sector in Berlin.

    The discussion "Gestaltung und Solidarität – Wie kann Grafik Design politisch sein?" (in German) will be presented by Franzi Bauer and Toni Brell on the 29th of August 2019 and the admission is free. More info on this insightful event here. 

  • It’s all about the money! Type on currency & some valuable lessons on humanity’s obsession

    Design Museum’s latest Font Sunday theme was all about type found on currency from all around the world.

    From coins to notes, fictional or real, the type on money is invaluable and this is Typeroom’s highlights from the twitterverse.

    Today there are 180 currencies recognized as legal tender in United Nations (UN) member states, UN observer states, partially recognized or unrecognized states, and their dependencies.

    In the event of this Font Sunday read an insightful excerpt from the must-read book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by the Israeli historian, professor and acclaimed author Yuval Noah Harari which surveys the history of humankind from the evolution of archaic human species in the Stone Age up to the twenty-first century, focusing on Homo sapiens. So how does money work?

    “Gold coins and dollar bills have value only in our common imagination. Their worth is not inherent in the chemical structure of the metal or paper, nor in their color or shape. Money isn’t a material reality—it is a mental construct. It works by converting matter into mind. But why does it succeed? Why should anyone be willing to exchange a fertile rice paddy for a handful of useless gold coins? Why are you willing to flip hamburgers, sell health insurance, or babysit three obnoxious brats when all you get for your exertions is a few pieces of colored paper?

    People are willing to do such things when they trust the figments of their collective imagination. Trust is the raw material from which all types of money are minted. When a wealthy farmer sold his possessions for a handful of gold coins and traveled with them to another province, he trusted that upon reaching his destination other people would be willing to sell him rice, houses, and fields in exchange for the gold. Money is accordingly a system of mutual trust, and not just any system of mutual trust: Money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised. Even people who do not believe in the same god or obey the same king are more than willing to use the same money. Osama bin-Laden, for all his hatred of American culture, American religion, and American politics, was very fond of American dollars.

    What created this trust was a very complex and long-term network of political, social, and economic relations. Why do I believe in the gold coin or dollar bill? Because my neighbors believe in them. And my neighbors believe in them because I believe in them. And we all believe in them because our king believes in them and demands them in taxes, and because our priest believes in them and demands them in tithes. Take a dollar bill and look at it carefully. You will see that it is simply a colorful piece of paper with the signature of the US secretary of the treasury on one side, and the slogan “In God We Trust” on the other. We accept the dollar in payment, because we trust in God and the US secretary of the treasury. The crucial role of trust explains why our financial systems are so tightly bound up with our political, social, and ideological systems, why financial crises are often triggered by political developments, and why the stock market can rise or fall depending on the way traders feel on a particular morning.

    Initially, when the first versions of money were created, people didn’t have this sort of trust, so it was necessary to define as “money” things that had real intrinsic value. History’s first known money— Sumerian barley money—is a good example. It appeared in Sumer around 3000 BC, at the same time and place, and under the same circumstances, in which writing appeared. Just as writing developed to answer the needs of intensifying administrative activities, so barley money developed to answer the needs of intensifying economic activities.

    Barley money was simply barley—fixed amounts of barley grains used as a universal measure for evaluating and exchanging all other goods and services. The most common measurement was the sila, equivalent to roughly one liter. Standardized bowls, each capable of containing one sila, were mass-produced so that whenever people needed to buy or sell anything, it was easy to measure the necessary amounts of barley. Salaries, too, were set and paid in silas of barley. A male laborer earned 60 silas a month, a female laborer 30 silas. A foreman could earn between 1200 and 5000 silas. Not even the most ravenous foreman could eat 5000 liters of barley a month, but he could use the silas he didn’t eat to buy all sorts of other commodities—oil, goats, slaves, and something else to eat besides barley.

    Even though barley has intrinsic value, it was not easy to convince people to use it as money rather than as just another commodity. In order to understand why, just think what would happen if you took a sack full of barley to your local mall, and tried to buy a shirt or a pizza. The vendors would probably call security. Still, it was somewhat easier to build trust in barley as the first type of money, because barley has an inherent biological value. Humans can eat it. On the other hand, it was difficult to store and transport barley. The real breakthrough in monetary history occurred when people gained trust in money that lacked inherent value, but was easier to store and transport. Such money appeared in ancient Mesopotamia in the middle of the third millennium BC. This was the silver shekel.

    The silver shekel was not a coin, but rather 8.33 grams of silver. When Hammurabi’s Code declared that a superior man who killed a slave woman must pay her owner 20 silver shekels, it meant that he had to pay 166 grams of silver, not 20 coins. Most monetary terms in the Old Testament are given in terms of silver rather than coins. Joseph’s brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty silver shekels, or rather 166 grams of silver (the same price as a slave woman—he was a youth, after all).

    Unlike the barley sila, the silver shekel had no inherent value. You cannot eat, drink, or clothe yourself in silver, and it’s too soft for making useful tools—plowshares or swords of silver would crumple almost as fast as ones made out of aluminum foil. When they are used for anything, silver and gold are made into jewelry, crowns, and other status symbols—luxury goods that members of a particular culture identify with high social status. Their value is purely cultural.

    Ultimately, anything can be used as money, provided people have trust in it. Today, most money is just electronic data. The sum total of money in the world is about $60 trillion, yet the sum total of coins and banknotes is less than $6 trillion. More than 90 percent of all money—more than $50 trillion appearing in our accounts—exists only on computer servers. Most business transactions are executed by moving electronic data from one computer file to another, without any exchange of physical cash. Only a criminal buys a house, for example, by handing over a suitcase full of banknotes. As long as people are willing to trade goods and services in exchange for electronic data, it’s even better than shiny coins and crisp banknotes—lighter, less bulky, and easier to keep track of.

    For thousands of years, philosophers, thinkers, and prophets have besmirched money and called it the root of all evil. In fact, money is also the apogee of human tolerance. Money is more open-minded than language, state laws, cultural codes, religious beliefs, and social habits. Money is the only trust system created by humans that can bridge almost any cultural gap, and that does not discriminate on the basis of religion, gender, race, age, or sexual orientation. Thanks to money, even people who don’t know each other and don’t trust each other can nevertheless cooperate effectively. For whereas religion asks us to believe in something, money asks us to believe that other people believe in something.”


  • Watch: Matthew Carter on the very Swiss legacy of Adrian Frutiger

    Adrian Johann Frutiger (1928 – 2015) was a Swiss typeface designer who influenced the direction of type design in the second half of the 20th century.

    His career spanned the hot metal, phototypesetting and digital typesetting eras with his iconic typefaces UniversFrutiger and Avenir. These landmark sans-serif families span the three main genres of sans-serif typefaces (neogrotesquehumanist and geometric) and his legacy is evident throughout type as we know it.  

    “Adrian Frutiger was born on May 24th, 1928, in Unterseen near Interlaken, Switzerland. After attending school, he was a typesetter’s apprentice from 1944 to 1948 at the printing press Otto Schlaefli AG in Interlaken. After this, he attended the Kunstgewerbeschule (College of Technical Arts) in Zurich for three years. In 1952, he moved to Paris and became the artistic director of the type foundry Deberny & Peignot. After 10 years of successful work, he left the foundry to open a studio for graphic arts together with Andre Gürtler and Bruno Pfäffli in Arcueil near Paris” writes Type Directors Club of the Swiss designer who created numerous world-famous typefaces, signets, logos, corporate typefaces and corporate identities for various publishers and industrial enterprises.

    “For the airport in Paris Orly and the Paris Metro he conceived new lettering systems and he created a new information system for the Charles de Gaulle airport. And whoever drives on a highway through Switzerland will constantly be confronted with his type as well. Plus, his computer type OCR B for automatic reading became a worldwide standard in 1973” adds TDC.

    Frutiger, who once described creating sans-serif types as his “main life's work” partially due to the difficulty in designing them compared to serif fonts, is just one of the legendary Swiss type designers. In the event of this year's #SwissNationalDay -the national holiday of Switzerland, set on 1 August since 1994- watch renowned type designer Matthew Carter commemorate the life and work of TDC medalist Frutiger at the Parsons School of Design.

    Watch the video below and learn more about Frutiger's extremely Swiss legacy here.


  • 2019 Material Design Awards: an open call to creatives from Google Design

    Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has overtaken Apple to become the most cash-rich company in the world The Financial Times reports. 

    As of the second quarter of this year, Alphabet holds $117 billion in liquid reserves, compared to $102 billion for Apple but as the FT notes being a Cash-King “could lead to increased scrutiny from regulators concerned with Google’s dominance.”

    In terms of the most valuable company on the planet, Apple has been overtaken by both Amazon and Microsoft, the latter being named world's most valuable company of all. Microsoft is now worth nearly $1.1 trillion. 

    In the event of this new king of cash by the name Alphabet check all the design-related action from this year's annual developer conference.

    “Consider this your one-stop-shop for design news and programming from Google I/O” notes the company of this designer’s guide to the conference which shapes the industry, any industry, for good. Explore more here.

    Last but not least Google Design announced its open call for the 2019 Material Design Awards. 

    “If you’re a designer using Material Design to build a useful service, execute an ambitious vision, or simply spark delight in a product, we want to see (and celebrate!) what you’ve created” writes Google. 

    This year Google Desing is be accepting nominations in four categories:

    Theming (products that brilliantly exemplify Material Theming guidelines), Innovation (work that creatively expands on Material), Universality (think inclusive and accessible), and Experience (for superb interaction and navigation). 

    To see the past winners look through MDA's archives here and nominate someone (or yourself) by filling out this entry form by August 24, 2019. Material Design Award winners will be announced on Google Design this fall.