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TypeSupply / Timonium

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.

A2-Type & New North Press’ 3D-printed letterpress fontSeptember 8, 2014

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Creative Review has profiled A2-Type & New North Press’s collaborative project:
A2-Type and London print shop New North Press have created a 3D-printed letterpress font. With a film about the project premiering at London Design Festival next weekend, we spoke to graphic designer Richard Ardagh and A2’s Henrik Kubel about the process…

The wire-frame letterpress font was 3D-printed by an architectural model maker

‘The word ‘letterpress’ usually conjures images of vintage prints and wood type, but A2 and New North Press’s letterpress font looks almost futuristic — made out of pristine white “chemiwood”, the wire-frame font was 3D-printed by an architectural model maker.

‘A23D will be available for use at New North Press’s letterpress workshops and the studio is selling specimen posters on its website from Wednesday. Filmmaker Adrian Harrison has also made a film about the project, which is premiering at a free screening at the V&A next weekend (September 13), as part of the London Design Festival (details here).’

Read the rest of the article on Creative Review’s blog….

New release: GandurSeptember 4, 2014

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Gandur is a display textura in three weights, split into two families: Alte — the German word for old — and New.

Gandur was inspired by other geometric texturas, specially Max Bittrof’s Element (1933). The design began by adhering to a strict hexagonal grid, but during its development, slowly moved from a purely geometric to a more pen-based design. This is especially true in the heaviest weights.

The differences between Alte and New are essentially morphological, with reflections in the character set and OpenType features.

Gandur New has a more humanistic, contemporary structure and is more ‘romanized’ then Alte. Gandur New also features small capitals.

Gandur New / Gandur Alte / Gandur Alte with historical long-s

Visit Gandur New & Alte to read on…

New release: Fort Condensed & X-CondensedJuly 19, 2014

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One day in the fall of 2009, my new friend Arley-Rose Torsone came by my studio in Providence. She was interested in learning to make fonts and I had promised to show her the basics of FontLab. In that initial session, I showed her how to draw beziers and set sidebearings. I drew a few glyphs, and we talked about the qualities of the control characters: what should the shoulders of the n look like? How round should the O be? It didn’t occur to me at that moment that I would eventually expand this font into 48 styles — I was just having fun with a friend.

Slight changes to the weight, overshoot, terminals, and curves between first draft (grey) and the final release of Fort (gold)

Time passed, and as I started transitioning to full-time type design, I forced myself to only use my own fonts in my remaining graphic design projects. That meant that I needed a workhorse sans for day-to-day use, and so I started thinking about what that might look like. Like most graphic designers, I had used a lot of Gotham and Neutraface, as well as fonts from Village like National and Galaxie Polaris. I admired the utilitarian qualities of these fonts — hardworking and versatile with just the right amount of personality.

Read more on Fort Condensed & X-Condensed’s pages…

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.’

Award: D&AD Yellow Pencil AwardMay 22, 2014

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Village member foundry A2-Type won a 2014 Yellow Pencil award from D&AD for their lovely and comprehensive typographic programme for British newspaper The Independent.

A2 writes: ‘We designed a compact suite of inter-connected fonts that share the same underlying structure. In addition to the three master sets — serif, sans and condensed — we also crafted a complimentary hairline display font designed specifically for headlines that formed the inspiration for the paper’s masthead. The typefaces were crafted separately from the masthead however, and feature wide flared serifs and ‘ND’ ligatures.’

See more on D&AD’s site