In 1991, Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer Jr. commissioned Tadao Ando to design a space to house their art collection. This building would become his first free-standing public building in the United States. Over the next decade, the space evolved into a non-collecting art museum presenting exhibitions of historic and contemporary art from around the world in dynamic interplay with the Tadao Ando building.
Since its inception, the museum has kept signage to an absolute minimum, keeping it both non-permanent and off the building’s walls so not to interfere with the atmosphere and architecture of the space. Yet as a result, visitors have long-struggled to find the museum and navigate the building. In an effort to improve this experience, we were commissioned to develop a wayfinding strategy and design signage in and around the museum. To avoid applying permanent signage to the building’s walls – a requirement for the client – we designed a series of plexiglas monoliths for interior directionals and used fabricated stainless steel letters close to the ground for the exterior building ID, ensuring the main facade remained largely uninterrupted by signage.
The Pulitzer had recently launched a new identity, conceived largely as a non-identity to remain discreet within the context of the building. However, in an effort to attract a broader and more diverse public, they commissioned us to examine this system and find ways of making temporary signage more impactful and welcoming. As a first step in this transition, we maintained their single brand typeface, but introduced color and large-scale type to make information more eye-catching and clear.
A visual identity for the newly-founded architecture practice, Mcmullan Studio. Our scope included logo, stationery and website to support the studio’s launch. The practice’s approach is all about adaptability, so the logo was designed to be flexible and reassemble in different positions, lock-ups and combinations across collateral over time – as shown on the studio’s website.
The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri is the site of a modern icon – the Gateway Arch by Eero Saarinen – and a historic 91-acre landscape by Dan Kiley. Michael Van Valkenburg Associates (MVVA) won the City Arch River international design competition in 2010 with a visionary plan to revitalize the Arch grounds, the riverfront and portions of the neighboring downtown.
As part of this scope, MVVA led the redesign of Kiener Plaza, the city’s main public square that links the National Park Arch grounds with the Gateway Mall – the main public space downtown that includes Citygarden and Richard Serra’s public sculpture Twain. We were commissioned by MVVA to design signage for the revitalized Kiener Plaza.
MVVA’s work in public space and landscape is characteristically contemporary and timeless, understated yet equally graphic. The signage for Kiener Plaza maintains these same qualities by using a contemporary sans serif with distinctive characters that offset it from being a more standard grotesque typeface. To sit discreetly within the minimalist environment, signage is etched directly into surfaces and left plain or filled with color. Forms are constructed from stainless steel – the material used by the landscape architects throughout the Plaza and also for the Arch, which is prominently visible on the far end of the two-block Plaza. The system includes the attribution for “The Runner” – the sculpture that sits at the center of the main fountain; donor recognition for those who funded the revitalization; and playground signage. With play and public spaces, Kiener Plaza is a sophisticated yet informal gathering place for the city, a sensibility echoed in our design scheme.
Identity, stationery, printed collateral and bus graphics for Bring Me a Book, a non-profit organization that provides new, hardcover books to young children in need in an effort to eliminate the literacy gap. The Bring Me a Book bus travels across the city, visiting schools and inviting kids to pick a collection of books to take home and keep. The identity aims to raise the profile of the organization among community partners and attract the attention of young children.
Exhibition catalog and invitation to accompany Farid Rasulov’s solo exhibition at Laumeier Sculpture Park. 1001 Skewers, 2018, is a large-scale, indoor installation using more than 1,000 stainless-steel kebab skewers, with configurations based on Azeri fairytales. Bird #1, 2018, is a monumental, outdoor sculpture commission that uses geometric, abstract shapes found in Azeri carpet patterns. Rasulov draws his subjects from the traditional cultural practices that slowly become erased from the Azerbaijani collective memory in the face of a rapidly modernizing and globalizing social-political context.
Our design references the visual iconography presented in the artist’s work. A strong, angular sans-serif typeface supports this visual language and the metallic paper used for the cover references the kebab skewers in the artworks.
We were commissioned by the Saint Louis Art Museum to design wayfinding and signage for its expansion by David Chipperfield Architects. The original and main building, designed by Cass Gilbert, was built as one of the exhibition pavilions for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Significant growth in the collection’s contemporary artworks led to a major commission to expand the museum. The new pavilion sits with understatement in the landscape, set back within a grove of trees beside the original Beaux Arts building.
Our brief was to develop a wayfinding scheme that unites the original museum with the new modern wing, creating one system to be used throughout both spaces. In keeping with the sensibility of the space, signage is executed with simplicity and restraint, integrated into the building’s materials for unobtrusive, yet clear navigation. For navigational signage and room identifications, type is silkscreened onto interior surfaces or panels of blackened metal. The donor wall, located within the entry vestibule, was specially crafted in Venetian plaster with sponsor names cut in polished stainless steel and embedded by hand. Exterior building signage is cast into the concrete plinths of the landscaped forecourt.
Velvet Coat is a fashion retailer with two stores in Iowa, one in Des Moines and a second in Iowa City. Bringing together a mix of established and emerging designers, Velvet Coat offers a thoughtful collection of beautifully designed contemporary pieces; and has established itself as one of the leading fashion retailers in the region since opening nearly two decades ago.
We created the Velvet Coat identity using different characters from three serif typefaces for the logotype and for the body type by using GREP styles, giving what at first glance looks quite classic a contemporary edge. The body type is paired with a modern sans serif for secondary information. We used simple, affordable materials for packaging and printed matter, yet with the addition of letterpress printing and custom details, these understated pieces maintain a sophisticated quality. This combination of elements convey the retailer’s foundation of timeless pieces intermixed with more experimental wears from up-and-coming designers.
Velvet Coat does not sell online, but wanted a distinct digital presence to introduce itself to customers. For a site with minimal content, we designed a highly interactive website that changes with each new visit by randomly generating different combinations of photographs from the brands carried in store. Our design establishes a distinct graphic language around the type-based identity.
Tokyo Type Directors Club, Prize Nominee in Annual, 2018
Washington University commissioned architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson to design a 66,000-square-foot athletic complex for students and university athletes. We were commissioned at the start of the three-year design process to develop the building’s wayfinding strategy and design all signage. This included directionals, code signage and donor recognition. The client’s intent was to have a discreet signage system that felt integrated into the largely open-plan, naturally-lit space. With few interior walls, we inserted the directional signage into the vertical beams throughout the space. Since the building is the most modern on campus and the least formal (given its recreational use), we used a contemporary typeface in a vibrant shade of red – the signature color of the university’s sports teams – to capture the dynamic energy of the activities taking place in the space.