Village

Constellation

Constellation / Brooklyn Stencil

Stencil for Slanted MagazineDecember 1, 2015

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Village partner, Chester Jenkins of Constellation foundry, was invited to design a stencil typeface for Slanted Magazine.

Our stencil is based on a small set of hand-cut Victorian stencils

Slated writes: ‘On the occasion of the release of Slanted Magazine #26 – New York, we published the limited NYC Special which is exclusively available in the Slanted Shop. The edition contains a Photo Essay by Jochen Sand and a limited type-stencil-set with typefaces by Commercial Type, Village and XYZ Type from New York City.’

Typographica’s Best of 2014: Cooper HewittMarch 19, 2015

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On December 12, 2014, the Cooper Hewitt reopened its collections to the public, equipped with a new corporate design by Pentagram’s Eddie Opara and a custom typeface by Chester Jenkins, cofounder of Brooklyn-based Village. This new typeface rightfully bears the name of its owner — yet it is not exclusive, but available for free.

When taking a first close look at Cooper Hewitt: The Typeface, one cannot deny its strong family resemblance to Jenkins’ typeface Galaxie Polaris, specifically the condensed weights, released back in 2008 under the Constellation label at Village. This connection is rooted in the design process and an exchange between Opara and Jenkins. Polaris’ condensed weight was in favor for the museum’s new branding at first — with slight adaptations and adjustments — and soon Jenkins was commissioned to execute some of the “tweaking” himself. Ultimately the regular weight was too wide and the condensed seemed too narrow; a semi-condensed (beta version) resolved the matter rather swiftly. It seems likely that Jenkins would have continued to work on that font data; in an interview with Stephanie Murg, however, he pointed out that Cooper Hewitt was drawn entirely from scratch with Polaris merely serving as a rough guide.

A significant stylistic detail of Cooper Hewitt lies within the straight horizontal and vertical stroke endings (versus the angled terminals in Polaris). This modification becomes apparent most notably in a c e or s. Jenkins added straight segments to all letters with round shapes, a feature that provides an elegant feel overall (apparently this made the drawing of the italics “a nightmare”). Cooper Hewitt and Polaris share the same width in most letters (except for M and W); the tail in Q was changed to a straight stroke crossing the bowl, which is much more adequate for a static sans serif.

One of the important characteristics of this quality typeface is its availability as a free download; files for print, for web, and as open source code can be obtained through the museum’s website. In reference to the Latin proverbs e pluribus unum and ex uno plures, Eddie Opara pointed out in a talk at the Greene Space WNYC that “the premise was to define a system as one and then allow the public to take it and use it the way they want”. Consequently, the type’s admission into Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection was followed by its accessibility, encouraging the public to use and experience it.

This may not be the first concept of its kind, yet it is unusual and brave for custom type and it is rightfully a noteworthy face of 2014. Cooper Hewitt: The Typeface is a serious contemporary interpretation of the static sans serif with very little fuss. With the reopening of the museum — to the day 112 years after Andrew Carnegie and his family moved into the mansion — its typeface not only marks the institution’s visual identity, but is conceived as an artifact that “belongs to the people”.

Read the review on Tyopgraphica

Redesigning Cooper HewittSeptember 10, 2014

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From a bold new font to a brand new name, hear how Cooper Hewitt is reimagining itself for the 21st century and how the museum’s new identity was conceived and designed. Join us as Eddie Opara (Pentagram) and Chester Jenkins talk with Caroline Baumann, Cooper Hewitt’s director, about the new graphic vision for America’s design museum.

Redesigning Cooper Hewitt
Wednesday, 10 September 2014
The Greene Space at WNYC
44 Charlton St. (at Varick St.) New York, NY 10013
6:30pm to 8:00pm
Reserve your tickets here.

Seven Questions for Chester JenkinsJune 26, 2014

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Come December, the renovated and expanded Cooper Hewitt will welcome back visitors with a bold new look. The tricky task of reimagining the graphic identity of the Smithsonian Design Museum was taken on by Pentagram’s Eddie Opara, who tapped Chester Jenkins to work his typographical magic. Jenkins, co-founder of Brooklyn-based Village, created a custom typeface—Cooper Hewitt—that the museum has released into the digital wild: the bold sans serif can be downloaded free of charge as installable fonts, Web font files, and open-source code. Having taken the recent press preview of the museum as an excuse to follow Jenkins around and ask him his views on the various typefaces that were revealed by the painstaking restoration of the Andrew Carnegie Mansion, we agreed to relent if he would answer just seven more questions. He graciously agreed.

What three words best describe the Cooper Hewitt typeface?
Objective. Accessible. Spirited.

How does Cooper Hewitt differ from your Polaris Condensed?
The width of Cooper Hewitt is based on the Semicondensed version of Polaris, which only exists as beta fonts on the computers at Pentagram and UFOs on my hard drive. When I drew the Cooper Hewitt types, I didn’t recycle the outlines of Polaris, but instead drew everything from scratch, referring to Polaris Semicondensed, not simply tweaking it.

The range of weights is greater in Cooper Hewitt; while a couple of the master weights were based on Polaris, the family of fonts has a different internal structure. A significant stylistic difference is in the hewing to horizontal and vertical stroke endings, as opposed to the angled terminal strokes which are a touchstone of Polaris. Then there are the ‘plateaus’—or ‘plateaux’ for the linguistic sticklers—within most of the curves in round glyphs. You can’t really see them at anything less than a million points, but they separate the two designs. And the numerals and currency glyphs depart significantly from Polaris.

Village is a type co-op—what is that exactly and who are the members?
Village is a group of a dozen small foundries from around the world. While not technically organized as a co-operative, our model was the first of its kind in the digital era, as far as we are aware. We contact our members to discuss important decisions, such as adding new members to the group. The members sometimes collaborate with each other, and often pass along custom projects where one member is more suited than another. We also avoid stepping on each others’ toes; one member will not publish a design if it’s stylistically close to another member’s design. We distribute the work of our members: A2-Type, Blackletra, Feliciano Type Foundry, Klim, LuxTypo., MCKL, Schwartzco, Type Supply, and Urtd. We publish work through two foundries: Constellation and Incubator.

What is your typographical pet peeve?
I had to think really hard about this. Because there are so many approaches to type design, there are pretty much endless solutions to any design challenge. One thing that I’m not wild about is one particular form of the ampersand, the ‘flopped-3-plus-t’. I blame Rotis, which was ubiquitous in the early ’90s. Another peeve is badly-made lowercase eths: ð. And primes used instead of apostrophes, but that goes without saying.

What is the most unusual or meaningful object currently on your desk? A book printed in 1607 in Lyon by Paul Frellon. It’s in pretty great shape for being four centuries old, although it’s not by a ‘great’ printer—Garamond, Grandjon, Plantin, etc—it is printed with representative type, and features a terrific italic ampersand. I recently purchased this book, and three sets of French and Belgian law reference books printed between 1781 and 1841, and ‘my new old book’ from 1607. It’s inspirational to see how much care was taken in cutting the type and laying out the pages. While I studied typographic history more than twenty years ago, I’ve never really been interested in straightforward revival of old typefaces; there are plenty of very talented designers who do this extremely well. But looking through these books has given me clues I can use in making my work.

What is on your summer reading list?
Design-wise, I’ve started Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston, and I’m enjoying it. I’m finally going to read John Maeda‘s The Laws of Simplicity. And I bought the e-book version of Fiona MacCarthy‘s biography of Eric Gill, having read it as a design student.

Otherwise, I’m intrigued by Karl Ove Knausgaard‘s My Struggle. I have a couple of books by Ben Greenman on my phone; I have always enjoyed his New Yorker pieces and Twitterings. But before any of those, I have to read my friend Tom Standage‘s latest, Writing on the Wall: Social Media—The First 2,000 Years.

What do you consider your proudest design moment?
The Cooper Hewitt typeface may well be it! I don’t dwell too much on my own work and where it ends up. I make it, release it, and move on to the next one. But it is gratifying to see the Cooper Hewitt typeface live, and I’m excited to see what other designers do with the typeface via the Open Font license.

I am incredibly fortunate to be able to make my living as a type designer; this is what I enjoy doing, and I have collaborated with some wonderful designers. I am very proud that Village has introduced and promoted so many talented type designers to the world. I’m always proud when I see a typeface from our library being used.

See the piece in full on Unbeige

Cooper Hewitt typefaceJune 13, 2014

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‘The new typeface, Cooper Hewitt, is a contemporary sans serif, with characters composed of modified-geometric curves and arches. Initially commissioned by Pentagram to evolve his Polaris Condensed typeface, Chester Jenkins created a new digital form to support the newly transformed museum. 
‘Developing this typeface specifically for Cooper Hewitt has been enormously gratifying,’ said Jenkins. ‘Instead of building on the Polaris structures, I drew everything from scratch, using the existing forms as a rough guide for letter widths and master-stroke thicknesses.’

The new font can be downloaded free of charge for unrestricted public use under the SIL Open Font License.

Cooper Hewitt / PentagramJune 12, 2014

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Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum today announces a new name and graphic identity, custom typeface and website to accompany the expansion of the museum, which will open to the public on December 12. Designed by Pentagram’s Eddie Opara and team, the bold identity establishes a flexible branding system for the museum. Opara’s customized characters for the wordmark have been fully developed into a new typeface, Cooper Hewitt, created by Chester Jenkins of Village in collaboration with Pentagram.

Opara and his team worked closely with Cooper Hewitt and Jenkins to develop the identity. Located in the historic Andrew Carnegie Mansion in New York, Cooper Hewitt is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the group of 19 museums and galleries administered by the U.S. government. In a first, the new Cooper Hewitt identity has been conceived as a design that truly belongs to the people: The identity also exists as a new typeface that will be made available free to the public, who are encouraged to utilize it in their own designs. The font has also been acquired for the museum’s permanent collection.

‘We are spreading good design by making our elegant new typeface, Cooper Hewitt, available as a free download on cooperhewitt.org, as well as collecting it as an important example of the design process,’ says Cooper Hewitt director Caroline Baumann. ‘We look forward to seeing how the public uses this new design tool in their lives.’

Comparison of the final wordmark in the Cooper Hewitt typeface with the existing fonts Galaxie Polaris Condensed Heavy, top, and Galaxie Polaris Semi-Condensed Heavy, center. Comparison of the final logotype with the Cooper Hewitt Heavy typeface, above

Iconic, engaging and highly functional, the new Cooper Hewitt wordmark forms a perfect rectangle that can easily be scaled, positioned and colorized without losing its strong visual presence. There is an intriguing relationship between the words COOPER and HEWITT in the new identity: Set normally, the words are different widths. Here, each character has been tailored to help define the overall typographic frame. The wordmark has been expressly designed to serve as the basis for a wide variety of uses.

The identity establishes a flexible branding system for the museum

‘Cooper Hewitt’s new identity plays it straight, with no play on visual or theoretical complexity, no puzzling contradiction or ambiguity, no distracting authorship,’ says Opara. ‘Function is its primary goal, and ultimately the logo is important, but not as important as what the museum does.’

Typecache’s 20 Best of 2013 picksMay 14, 2014

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Typecache has named six Village releases — Balto, the Domaine Superset, the Brooklyn Superset, Odesta, Ogg and Superior Title to their 20 Favorites fonts of 2013 (out of 550 new releases they featured in 2013.)

Typecache writes: ‘There were more than 550 new releases announced last year on TYPECACHE! So, it took us some time to review all of the great work from last year. We created another roundup of what we regard as the great typefaces from 2013.’

See all 20 Typecache picks here

Typographica’s Best of 2013: BrooklynMarch 12, 2014

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Robb Ogle writes: Brooklyn (the typeface) is a noteworthy story of compromise, bulldozers, and the custom type it was dressed in. Tension exists between its commissioned appropriateness and retail legacy.

Imagine the shifting creative briefs concerning aesthetic and civic “right” sent during this 42-billion-dollar project. Type designer Chester Jenkins worked with Pentagram to give graphic voice to three consecutive architect firms’ visions of a contested plan: to build Atlantic Yards’ stadium along with residential and office towers on 22 acres of land and transform a transit hub at the intersection of three neighborhoods. With so many interpretations defining one opinionated population’s sense of “live, work, and play”, odds for a striking type design to emerge were low. Jenkins and Constellation (and Village) are to be commended.

2007: Jenkins’s initial design was inspired by Frank Gehry Architects’ preliminary model, hyped in 2003 by former New York Times critic Herbert Muschamp as “the urban equivalent of the fanciest flower arrange­ment a city could give to itself.” Octagonal type pulled jagged beauty and function from gargantuan steel petals, using (as Village puts it) “horizontal, vertical, and 45-degree diagonal lines, with just a few other ‘support’ angles woven throughout.” The latter details make the design superior to another prominent civic/athletic faceted display type drawn around the same time. Alias’s design for Wolff Olins’s [2012 Olympics] identity(http://typographica.org/on-typography/a-fruitful-discomfort-the-face-of-the-2012-olympics/) looks crude, breakable, ephemeral by comparison. Brooklyn (the typeface) has thought­ful engineering. Typically curved terminals stay horizontal in a mechanistic touch that opens up interior shapes and avoids overwhelming octagonal repetition. Paired with slight obliques, it is built for loadbearing and fits the identity of an urban develop­ment commission and legibility demands for signage use.

2012: Gehry’s out. SHoP Architects are in. Brooklyn (the typeface) changes voice when set on different buildings. It’s disinterested in the rusty-amoeba-curved Barclay’s Center wayfinding. It’s brash when overriding fashion retail and neutral transit branding with Brooklyn attitude. The type becomes exclamation when attached to the quieter 32-story prefab resi­dent­ial B2 tower currently under construction.

2013: Retail release. The style fits the site and the time, but will it fit Brooklyn (the borough) moving forward? Let’s hope that Brooklyn (the typeface) does not turn into ITC Manhattan, which forever locked the island to its brief Deco heyday.

See the review on Typographica.org.

New Release: Brooklyn & Brooklyn StencilFebruary 11, 2013

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Brooklyn and Brooklyn Stencil started out in an architectural model….

In April 2007, I got a call from a favorite client, Michael Bierut at Pentagram in Manhattan, asking if I could come in to talk about a project for a new architectural development. The project turned out to be the Atlantic Yards project, a massive undertaking involving a sports arena, an office block, and hundreds of housing units, all designed by the great American architect Frank Gehry.

An early rendering of the Atlantic Yards project from The Office of Frank Gehry

I was shown photos of the model for the project which included a wonderfully twisty and turny tower, a stack-of-blocks-block-of-flats, and an arena which looked as though it was to be covered with blue metal post-it notes.

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TDC2 winners: Aero & ShiftDecember 31, 2011

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Two Village typefaces were among the 2011 TDC2 winners: Shift & Aero.

Shift, designed by Jeremy Mickel, was inspired by American slab-serifs from the late 19th century. In its lighter weights, it takes on the personality of a typewriter face, with flared terminals and prominent serifs. In the heavier weights, it acts as a titling Egyptian, with thin spaces between characters and small counters. Designed as a display face, it also works well for text.

Aero, designed by Chester Jenkins and Jeremy Mickel, takes inspiration from Roger Excoffon’s landmark design Antique Olive, particularly the heavy ‘Nord’ weight. Instead of revisiting the original, Aero was drawn from memories of Antique Olive: its high-waist and reversed contrast. And that wonderful scooped lowercase i. The result is a contemporary reflection of a 60’s-era classic, with the volume turned up and applied to a wider weight range.

PopRally: What’s Alt is NeueJune 7, 2010

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PopRally invites you to a very special conversation about typography in the twenty-first century. Taking MoMA’s exhibition The New Typography as a point of departure, Juliet Kinchin, MoMA Curator of Architecture and Design, Stephen Doyle of Doyle Partners, Chester Jenkins of Village, and Khoi Vinh of The New York Times discuss the once and future meanings of New Typography.

Stephen Doyle and Doyle Partners continue to search for memorable ways to make ideas visible and language potent. Chester Jenkins is a type designer and co-founder of the Village type co-op. Khoi Vinh is the design director for NYTimes.com, and the author of the popular design blog Subtraction.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the so-called New Typography movement brought graphics and information design to the forefront of the artistic avant-garde in Central Europe. The New Typography, an installation of posters and numerous small-scale works, is drawn from MoMA’s rich collection of Soviet Russian, German, Dutch, and Czechoslovakian graphics.

Guests will receive a set of limited-edition coasters designed by Village.

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New Release: ArborMay 31, 2010

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Arbor was originally commissioned by the New York Times Magazine for use in their 2008 Hollywood issue. (Although upper- and lowercase were delivered, only the uppercase was used.) The entire project took three weeks, and the results were gratifying.

The New York Times Magazine's Hollywood issue

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Eye magazine: Chester Jenkins on WebfontsMarch 30, 2010

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Monitor: End of default

Eye Magazine interviewed Chester Jenkins, Jonathan Hoefler & Stephen Coles in their piece on Webfonts. ‘The technology that allows us to control type on the Web is available. Now designers and foundries have to decide how to use it best.’

Here’s Chester Jenkins on Webfonts in this profile: With our background in graphic design — I worked as a graphic designer for a decade before transitioning to type seven years ago and my wife and partner Tracy is a graphic designer, too — I believe that we are able to consider our clients’ needs alongside our Village members’ needs. Too often type people forget who they are making their type for; there is a way to balance what our clients think they want and what we think they need. But I certainly don’t speak for giant corporations like Adobe and Linotype, and I don’t speak for the hundreds of fledgling type designers who distribute through MyFonts and are now on Typekit.

I’m not imagining a shift away from ‘traditional’ OpenType fonts towards Web fonts; I see the latter as a complement to the former. I imagine that most designers wanting to use a typeface dynamically online will also want to use that typeface in static designs for print and other media. Because a Web font is a very specific tool for a very specific task, most people will still need the rest of the tools in the kit. I believe that the third-party / subscription model for Web font licensing will have a hard time surviving when most foundries eventually allow licensees to host Web fonts — in the WOFF format, most likely — on their own servers. (And provided that the end-user license isn’t too arduous.)

WOFF is a format which was co-developed by one of our members, Tal Leming, along with Erik van Blokland and Mozilla’s Jonathan Kew. It is the least imperfect of the formats being developed for controlling type on the Web.

We are 100 per cent against @font-face, because it makes specified OpenType fonts freely accessible by, and to all. It is one thing to unknowlingly ‘share’ a Web-only font file, but quite another to give away an OpenType font file which can be used for anything.

I am sure that there will be rampant piracy of Web fonts, but no more so than the piracy of OTFs, and no more damaging to foundries. (Most pirates would not license their purloined fonts under any circumstance.) Clients presently licensing type legally will be the ones licensing Web fonts for their projects. I think that there is a way to provide both ‘traditional’ OTF fonts and Web fonts in ways that benefit both the foundry and the client.

Read more on Eye magazine’s blog…

Introducing VillageJuly 14, 2005

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Village launched on July 14, 2005. The original member foundries were: Feliciano, Darden Studio, KLTF, Lux Typographics, Schwartzco, Type Initiative, Thirstype, Underware & Village (since re-christened Constellation).

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