2004 Annual Design Review Graphics Design Distinction

Fucking A Poster

“They’re darn lucky to have a title like this, but I think they pulled it off,” said deWilde of this poster (opposite) for Suzan-Lori Parks’s play, a riff on The Scarlet Letter that takes place in a dystopia where rich and poor speak different languages and where it is a crime to have sex outside of marriage. “If the poster were set in Helvetica it would be repulsive and too much in-your-face. I like that they got the emotion and still pushed it back far enough: My child can now look at it and not read it!” added deWilde.

As part of the Public Theater’s ongoing poster series produced under the art direction of Pentagram’s Paula Scher, Fucking A was commended by the jurors for its role in a widely varied yet cohesive campaign. Geissbuhler noted the influence of Ruedi Kulling’s seminal 1962 hand-scrawled advertisement for Bic ballpoint pens: “We’ve seen that same language a million times before, but Paula is a master at bringing it back, reappropriating it, and making it hers,” he said.

Client
The Public Theater, New York
Design
Pentagram, New York: Paula Scher, Sean Carmody
Materials
Silkscreen
Software
Adobe Photoshop

Charlie Chan and the Secret Book Annual Report

An annual report masquerading as a vintage 1930s potboiler from the local library, this hardback book opens to reveal a miniature copy of itself nestled inside a die-cut compartment. The design rationale was to promote the newly acquired undersize-bookbinding capabilities of the client, Craft Print, one of Singapore’s leading print companies. Since Charlie Chan happens to be the name of Craft’s managing director, his 1930s Hollywood namesake, a fictional sleuth, has provided the annual report’s theme for the past three years.

The jurors were initially surprised that the undersize-book business received such emphasis: “For an annual report to be so specifically targeted to this niche market of a specialty printer goes over the top,” said deWilde. But she went on to commend the follow-through and detail in producing the pastiche, down to the aged book cover. “They didn’t coat it, so it’s all banged up. Parody is the lowest form of humor, but it’s just well done. You can’t not like it.”

Client
Craft Print International Ltd., Singapore
Design
Equus Design Consultants Pte Ltd., Singapore: Andrew Thomas, Chung Chi Ying, Gan Mong Teng
Materials
Case-bound, die-cut book block
Software
Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, QuarkXPress

UFO Poster

Designed by Lina Kovacevic for an annual urban festival held in Zagreb, Croatia, this fluorescent yellow poster plays on the event’s ad-hoc theme by presenting a large hole cut in the center. The city’s texture itself becomes part of the logo, shifting with every surface that underlies it. While Hayman and Geissbuhler had reservations about the type treatment, all jurors agreed that the concept was strong, if not original (they cited the “Peepshow” wallpaper designed in 1992 by Gijs Bakker of Droog Design). DeWilde argued that the “pulled-back” type in UFO gained a default quality, “like a replacement font on a computer.” She added, “Posting this in series refocuses your eye on other stuff in the urban environment—like bricks. I love that it’s for an urban festival, which makes it more vital. It brings postering up to another level.”

Client
BLOK, Zagreb, Croatia
Design
Lina Kovacevic, Zagreb, Croatia
Materials
Offset print on Kunsdruck paper with Pantone fluorescent yellow
Software
Adobe Illustrator

Wisconsin Film Festival Promotion

Three 30-second trailers by Planet Propaganda for the annual film festival in Madison, Wisconsin, play with the multiple meanings of the verb to see in witty, fast-cut sequences. One trailer, “See What You See,” offers home-video loops with textual interpretations of the images: A smiling, waving beauty queen in a parade is adorned with the words winner, gloss, popular, world peace, and hairspray. Footage of a jumping dog runs the gamut of canine associations, from fleas to fire hydrant to best friend.

Geissbuhler was impressed with the concept: “It was an interesting take to show this process of free association.” For Hayman, the work made its intentions apparent: “The idea that different people understand films differently came through and was clear—it wasn’t obscured by design.”

Client
Wisconsin Film Festival, Madison
Design
Planet Propa ganda, Madison: Dana Lytle, Nathan Theis
Materials
Motion graphics created in Adobe Premiere
Software
Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Premiere

2wice Magazine

>“It’s consistently terrific,” said deWilde of this biannual magazine of visual culture, coedited since 1997 by patron Patsy Tarr and art director Abbott Miller. “But what can we say about it that hasn’t been said already?” On closer inspection, this particular issue, themed “Animal,” elicited enthusiastic comments from the jurors, who responded to the houndstooth endpapers, the photography by Michael Heiko and Christian Witkin, and the deft deployment of a single font. A high-production magazine unadulterated by advertising (in this sense, deWilde argued, it is like a museum), 2wice has helped spawn a wave of “trust-fund magazines” of varying quality, but this venerable model has never flagged, the jurors agreed. Geissbuhler concluded, “Everything about it—the photography, the illustration, the art direction—is top level.”

Client
2wice Foundation, East Hampton, NY
Design
Pentagram, New York: Abbott Miller, Jeremy Hoffman
Materials
Four-color sheeted litho, perfect-bound
Software
Adobe Photoshop, QuarkXPress

Whitechapel Identity

The Whitechapel Art Gallery occupies a distinctive arts and crafts building in a gritty but culturally diverse area of East London. Founded in 1901 to bring high-quality art to an economically deprived area, the gallery has in recent years become an influential force in the international contemporary art scene and is currently undergoing an $18 million expansion. The new identity by Spin aims to reflect the gallery’s changing role and ambition to be a key European center for art.

Hayman and Geissbuhler enjoyed the transparency and “wittiness” of the identity, which is based on a typeface made of transparent, triangular building blocks recalling the intricate geometric shapes used in Islamic art (a nod, perhaps, to the strong Muslim presence in the Whitechapel area.) DeWilde singled out the use of full-bleed art images on brochures and posters. “The font becomes the overarching identity because the art always changes underneath it, and that makes perfect sense for a gallery.”

Client
Whitechapel, London
Design
Spin, London: Hugh Miller, Tony Brook
Font
Ninety Forty Five
Software
Fontlab, Macromedia FreeHand

Absence

Produced under Printed Matter’s publishing program for emerging artists, this small, stocky white book (5 x 4 x 2.75 in.) features no text beyond a die-cut cover title. As the reader begins to turn the 120 pages, however, a narrative is revealed: A small pinhole cut through the center of the first few pages is followed by two die-cut squares, which are joined on the last few pages by other rectangular cutouts forming what appears to be a site plan. The cutouts transpire to be a representation of the former World Trade Center: the pinhole is the mast; the squares are the two towers. Though it weighs nearly two pounds, the book has a ghostly presence. As Hayman put it, the effect is a kind of epiphany, taking the reader from baffled resistance to quiet comprehension: “It actually annoyed me as a waste of materials until I found what it was. Then it really made sense. What a remarkable object.”

Client
Printed Matter, New York: David Platzker, executive director; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, co-publisher
Design
Meejin Yoon Studio/MY Studio, Boston: J. Meejin Yoon, designer/artist; Stella Bugbee, consultant
Software
Adobe Illustrator

Neoforma Annual Report

Cahan & Associates has gained considerable notoriety for designing annual reports that stretch a company’s image. The studio’s philosophy is that the annual report should appeal to its readership on its own merits as a “standalone entity.” So when Neoforma, a company that provides supply-chain-management technology to the health care industry, requested that the designers closely adhere to its identity guidelines for its 2002 report (opposite), Cahan had less latitude than usual. Rather than chafing under the restraint, it used the corporate standards as a springboard, amplifying the sans-serif type and corporate colors to accompany a blunt, testimonial-style narrative. Type is set in alternating corporate colors; photographs of staff, hospitals, and customers are printed duotone using the same colorways; and bold graphics support oversize pull quotes.

The jurors debated whether the design was too reminiscent of 1960s-era modernism, but Geissbuhler convinced the group of its effectiveness. “It sort of dates me, but I get a kick out of this. It’s so bold, it’s so brash, the minimal type, it’s beautiful. For an annual report it’s just ballsy.”

Client
Neoforma Inc., San Jose, CA
Design
Cahan & Associates, San Francisco: Michael Braley, Gwendolyn Beckum
Materials
Cougar Opaque White Vellum 80-pound text
Software
Adobe Ilustrator and Photoshop, QuarkXPress

Bombay Sapphire “Drift”

This dreamlike one-minute animation by PSYOP for Bombay Sapphire falls somewhere between a commercial and a sponsored art film commissioned by ad agency Margeotes Fertitta & Partners, but with “no target audience, no key selling points,” according to its designers. The jurors were transfixed, if perplexed. “I’m not entirely sure what the function is, but it’s very pretty,” said deWilde. Aiming to produce something “impossibly smooth and fluid,” the design and animation team began with a series of detailed frames that recall traditional Chinese and Japanese art while aspiring to a visual effect akin to haiku. Over a languid guitar track, a series of metamorphoses takes place: A woman silhouetted on an arched bridge blows bubbles that transform into miniature parasols—or perhaps blossoms—which float through the air—or perhaps underwater—alongside a fish. A fish is caught by a bird, and larvae turn into butterflies or moths and back into parasols, then fireflies.

“I especially love the transformation sequences, the change of scale, and the scissor-cut effect,” said Geissbuhler. “It is a different approach to advertising an alcoholic beverage and should therefore be encouraged. And I’ve always been a sucker for black-and-white—or blue, in this case.”

Client
Margeotes Fertitta & Partners, New York
Design
PSYOP, New York: Todd Meuller, Kylie Matulick, Justin Booth-Clibborn, Daniel Rosenbloom, Todd Akita, Eben Mears, Roi Werner, John Clausing, Tom Cushwa, Kevin Estey, Eric Borzi, Kent Seki
Software
Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, Flame, Softimage XSI

Herman Miller Promotion

A vintage blend of animation and still images keyed to the soundtrack of Charles Mingus’s” Haitian Flight Song,” this two-minute film by Imaginary Forces for Herman Miller playfully makes a case for buying authentic rather than knockoff furniture. The sequence juxtaposes images of “real” products with “not real” counterparts—a Christmas tree is followed by an evergreen-shaped air freshener, a flamingo is superseded by a plastic toy, and a bald man gains an unconvincing toupee. “The ‘nots’ were like a cold slap,” noted deWilde.

Connecting the entire sequence visually is a black line taking a walk through an archive’s worth of photographs, blueprints, and sketches by Herman Miller’s legendary designers Charles and Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi, George Nelson, and Alvar Aalto. As the line travels across the screen, it forms the words real and not as well as signatures and sketches. At one point a well-known photograph of the Eameses on a motorcycle “rides” the line; at another the word not is misspelled knot and the line forms a knotted squiggle. The two minutes flew by, noted Hayman. The commercial “moved fast and left you wanting to see more.”

Client
Herman Miller, Zeeland, MI
Design
Imaginary Forces, Hollywood: Karin Fong, Grant Lau, Dan Meehan, Mark Hoffman, Ken Wallace, Jason Lang; Fairly Painless Advertising, Holland, Michigan: Peter Bell, creative director; Julie Lang, art director
Software
Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, AfterEffects, Cinema 4D, Final Cut Pro

2wice Magazine

“It’s consistently terrific,” said deWilde of this biannual magazine of visual culture, coedited since 1997 by patron Patsy Tarr and art director Abbott Miller. “But what can we say about it that hasn’t been said already?” On closer inspection, this particular issue, themed “Animal,” elicited enthusiastic comments from the jurors, who responded to the houndstooth endpapers, the photography by Michael Heiko and Christian Witkin, and the deft deployment of a single font. A high-production magazine unadulterated by advertising (in this sense, deWilde argued, it is like a museum), 2wice has helped spawn a wave of “trust-fund magazines” of varying quality, but this venerable model has never flagged, the jurors agreed. Geissbuhler concluded, “Everything about it—the photography, the illustration, the art direction—is top level.”

Client
2wice Foundation, East Hampton, NY
Design
Pentagram, New York: Abbott Miller, Jeremy Hoffman
Materials
Four-color sheeted litho, perfect-bound
Software
Adobe Photoshop, QuarkXPress

Whitechapel Identity

The Whitechapel Art Gallery occupies a distinctive arts and crafts building in a gritty but culturally diverse area of East London. Founded in 1901 to bring high-quality art to an economically deprived area, the gallery has in recent years become an influential force in the international contemporary art scene and is currently undergoing an $18 million expansion. The new identity by Spin aims to reflect the gallery’s changing role and ambition to be a key European center for art.

Hayman and Geissbuhler enjoyed the transparency and “wittiness” of the identity, which is based on a typeface made of transparent, triangular building blocks recalling the intricate geometric shapes used in Islamic art (a nod, perhaps, to the strong Muslim presence in the Whitechapel area.) DeWilde singled out the use of full-bleed art images on brochures and posters. “The font becomes the overarching identity because the art always changes underneath it, and that makes perfect sense for a gallery.”

Client
Whitechapel, London
Design
Spin, London: Hugh Miller, Tony Brook
Font
Ninety Forty Five
Software
Fontlab, Macromedia FreeHand

Hella Jongerius

Based in the Netherlands, Hella Jongerius has established herself as a designer of ceramics, textiles, and furniture that deliberately show the traces of how they were made, embracing imperfections and unusual mixtures of materials and techniques: A vase is held together with Scotch tape; a sink is made of pliable rubber. For Jongerius’s eponymous monograph (opposite), the Swiss-Dutch design group COMA set out to evoke the stories behind her materials and designs, photographing her products in context, surrounded by people. The book has no contents page and begins with the first question of an interview on the front cover. At the same time, two grids—one for images and one for text—follow their own trajectories, sometimes clashing.

Hayman noted that the effect was to convey objects not as slick, perfect, or even finished designs, but as flowing narratives. “It’s an innovative book that pushes things forward. It is very overdesigned, but for a reason. I like the way the products are shot; it’s not the usual sterile art object on a white background. Jongerius’s work is original and I think this book is original, too.”

Client
JongeriusLab, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Design
COMA, New York/Amsterdam: Cornelia Blatter, Marcel Hermans
Materials
Full-color offset with one extra metallic PMS color, cover has extra spot UV varnish
Software
Adobe Photoshop, QuarkXPress

VAS: An Opera in Flatland

An “image text novel” produced by writer Steve Tomasula and graphic designer Stephen Farrell, VAS: An Opera in Flatland (right) interlaces diagrams, illustrations, and photography with literary fiction that is itself woven from other texts. All is animated in a typographically inventive chorus to create what Geissbuhler described as “a whimsical, very intriguing piece that never does the same thing twice.”

VAS takes inspiration from Edwin Abbott’s 1884 novel about a two-dimensional world, Flatland, that satirized blinkered bourgeois attitudes and anticipated subsequent developments in physics and mathematics. In VAS, the narrator, Square, a father about to undergo a vasectomy, ruminates on the limitations of current scientific thinking. The main text is set off-center, with frequent visual and typographic interventions, which provide a multiplicity of narrative voices—or perhaps the protagonist’s own research findings and fleeting thoughts. The jurors agreed that the “opera” was exquisitely produced if infuriatingly unconventional. “I’m looking for the fat lady here, but there’s no fat lady,” Geissbuhler joked. “It’s a novel taken to the nth degree,” countered Hayman. “It’s a beautiful object, with great material.”

Client
Barrytown Station Hill Press, New York
Design
Stephen Farrell, Chicago
Materials
Cougar Natural Opaque Vellum
Software
Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, QuarkXPress

Hornall Anderson Identity

“It’s just so gorgeously simple,” said Geissbuhler of this identity by the Seattle-based firm Hornall Anderson Design Works. Distilling the company’s intitials into a monogram with the deft decapitation of an A, the designers created a system with blocks of color (blue and gold) and a series of wry “check the box” descriptors to match the nature of each stationery item. The envelope, for example, offers the choice to check “may save your life someday,” “somewhat important,” or “not a bill.” And the business card provides several preformatted personal descriptions, including “stressed,” “laid back,” and “married.”

“The check box is the best part,” said deWilde. “That piece of personality is so unexpected and delightful.” Hayman added, “The logo itself is really classic. It could have been done 40 years ago, or yesterday.”

Client/Design
Hornall Anderson Design Works, Seattle, WA: Jack Anderson, John Hornall, Henry Yiu, Andrew Wicklund, Mark Popich
Software
Macromedia FreeHand, QuarkXPress

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