Letterform Archive News

May 13, 2019

This Just In: Paul Rand

Posted In: Collections

Hundreds of items from Rand’s archive, including process material and personal copies of his work, encapsulate a radiant career.

Sketches and final cover for The American Democrat, Vintage Books, 1956.

When visitors make requests for Letterform Archive tours and research visits, we hear one name more than any other: Paul Rand. We’ve always had a few special things to show them: brand guides for IBM and NeXT, packaging for Selectric font elements and Producto cigars, and some key poster and book designs. The latest addition, however, brings us a significant collection from his own archive, giving visitors unprecedented access to his work.

May 1, 2019

From the Collection: Ahn Sang Soo and AG Typography Institute

Posted In: Collections

Dating back to 1985, specimens of Ahn’s digital type represent the origins of exploration and play found in Hangul design today.

Specimens covers for Ahnsangsoo, Leesang, Mano, and Myrrh, AG Typography Institiute.

Ahn Sang Soo is often recognized as the father of contemporary Korean type design, and for good reason. His first typeface designed in 1985 broke the molds of Hangul’s traditional design and paved a path of experimentation for the young script. An alumnus and now a professor and Head of the Graphic Design department of Seoul Hongik University, he’s made major typographic contributions in both design and discourse. In 2012, he founded the Paju Typography Institute (PaTI), an alternative design school, as well as AG Typography Institute, an organization that’s dedicated to not only the design of new typefaces, but research, writing, exhibitions, and book design. He’s also published several design books and translated seminal works on typography by Jan Tschichold and Emil Ruder into Korean. Since AG’s founding, Ahn’s original designs have expanded and new faces have been developed. Throughout his career, his typographic lens has also been applied to print magazines, visual arts, photography, poetry, architecture, and more — altogether representing Ahn’s legacy, and his emphasis on the importance of design, research, and play.

Apr 16, 2019

Periodicals as Collections, No. 3: Information and ulm

Posted In: Collections

Our survey of avant-garde periodicals continues with two magazines that represent the enduring influence of the Bauhaus through the 20th century.

Detail from the cover of ulm 8/9, 1963.

Two weeks ago, our “Periodicals as Collections” series featured bauhaus magazine, the quarterly journal of the German art school that was founded 100 years ago this month. Today, we will explore two more magazines that together weave a narrative about the enduring influence of the Bauhaus through the 20th century. It is also the story of how a particular Bauhaus student would have a hand in continuing the school’s legacy.

Apr 1, 2019

Periodicals as Collections, No. 2: bauhaus

Posted In: Collections

Our survey of avant-garde periodicals continues with a closer look at the Bauhaus’s magazine on the school’s 100th birthday.

Title page from bauhaus, year 2, no. 1, 1928.

The second installment of Letterform Archive’s survey of avant-garde periodicals recognizes an auspicious occasion. This month marks the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus, one of the most significant and influential institutions in 20th-century design history.

Mar 19, 2019

From the Collection: Laini (Sylvia Abernathy)

Posted In: Collections

The Chicago-based activist’s dynamic album covers of the 1960s expand our sense of design history.

Roscoe Mitchell Sextet album cover (detail), Delmark, 1966. Design by Sylvia Abernathy, photograph by Billy Abernathy.

In late 1960s Chicago, Sylvia Abernathy was all at once a college student, activist, and graphic designer. Having later changed her name to “Laini”, Abernathy is best known for working on the Wall of Respect, a community mural in the South Side on 43rd and Hayward Streets. The effort was collaborative, a creative orchestration by the Visual Arts Workshop arm of the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC). During these years, Abernathy was also designing album covers for jazz musicians under Delmark Records. Four of Abernathy’s albums live at the Archive and hold a special place in our collection. They represent a part of her work that has yet to be researched extensively, and they demonstrate a way of combining type, image, and color that sets her apart from her contemporaries.

Jan 7, 2019

Designing the Online Archive

Posted In: Online Archive

We’re building a virtual discovery machine for letter lovers. Meet the designers who put you in the driver’s seat.

Designers and Archive staff discuss features, prototypes, and user flows during the development of the Online Archive.

The Online Archive beta is running and members are taking it for a test drive. Meanwhile, we’re taking a peek under the hood and introducing you to the people who built it.

Dec 18, 2018

The Online Archive: Describing Design

Posted In: Online Archive

Established library vocabularies aren’t right for our unique collection of type, lettering, and graphic design. So we’re creating a new one.

Letterform Archive’s catalog search function
A powerful search function surfaces our design-specific vocabulary and supports multiple filter terms.
Nov 29, 2018

Now Live: The Online Archive Beta

Posted In: Online Archive

Experience Letterform Archive from anywhere in the world.

When guests visit the Archive our goal is to inspire them through radical access to our collection of graphic design and typography artifacts. The aim is to encourage discovery through visual exploration. Now we’re making that experience available to everyone everywhere with the new Online Archive. Charter members will receive exclusive access to the beta before we officially go live in 2020.

Nov 12, 2018

Susan Kare and Louise Sandhaus Join Our Board of Directors

Posted In: Behind the Scenes

We welcome two design icons with the experience and vision to help shape Letterform Archive’s future.

We are pleased and humbled to announce two new members of our Board of Directors. Beyond their impactful professional resumes, Susan Kare and Louise Sandhaus exemplify the range of background and engagement with the design community that will help guide the Archive in our pivotal early years.

Nov 9, 2018

This Just In: Tézzo Suzuki, Calendar 19

Posted In: Collections

From Tokyo, an annual carnival of numerals in every form imaginable — and many forms never before imagined.

Tézzo Suzuki, Calendar 19, published in 2018.

Every year, since 2012, Tézzo Suzuki makes a calendar. It’s a personal project, an opportunity to work without clients. It’s also a chance to “pursue new graphical vocabulary”. With each year he dreams up new ways to render numbers one through 31, each limited only by color (one) and canvas (square). Suzuki graciously donated the 2018 and 2019 editions of the calendar to the Archive, and Calendar 19 just arrived.

Nov 5, 2018

This Just In: Mark Fox and Angie Wang

Posted In: Collections

The San Francisco duo demonstrate the impact of the designer’s voice in politics and graphic design.

Mark Fox
Mark Fox / BlackDog, Patriotism, screen print, 2002. This work responds to George W. Bush’s suggestion in the aftermath of 9/11 that patriotic Americans should go shopping.

Mark Fox and Angie Wang do not shy away from deploying design as critique. Together they are Design is Play, a studio practice formed in 2008 recognized for award-winning branding and identity work in addition to political graphics. They are educators of design and typography at California College of the Arts, as well as advocates of issues they care about. Fox and Wang’s collection at the Archive is worthy of attention — for both its aesthetic merit and its cultural relevance in our current political moment. Many have debated the designer’s role in politics, and Fox and Wang set an example of how design can pull back the curtain to describe how the world is, or even imagine how it could be.

Oct 1, 2018

This Just In: Martin Venezky

Posted In: Collections

The San Francisco designer reminds us about the beauty of not knowing how things will turn out.

Original artwork (detail) and poster (detail) for Weird America, 2016. Full images in gallery below.

On paper, Martin Venezky is an artist, designer, photographer, and educator. He is also a collector, and some might even consider him a sort of curator. He often plays these roles all at the same time, whether he’s working on a project or not. In both his life and in his practice, he tells stories by combining and recontextualizing images and objects found in the world to create new worlds. His process reveals a lot about his own story too — one of imperfection, surprise, and patience.

“To design a poster and do the whole thing digitally? That gets boring. You’re just sitting there hitting keys, but you kinda wanna get in and see the scale of it.”

Sep 17, 2018

This Just In: Jacob Jongert for Van Nelle

Posted In: Collections

A large collection of objects by an under-appreciated Dutch modernist demonstrates the branding power of lettering and color.

Our holdings of packaging design recently got a significant boost with the addition of several hundred objects created by Jacob (commonly signed “Jac.”) Jongert in the 1920s and ’30s for Van Nelle, a Rotterdam-based manufacturer of coffee, tea, and tobacco. The extensive and varied collection includes labels, boxes, tins, in-store displays, posters, advertising, and other collateral, like pocket notebooks and calendars.

Jul 5, 2018

This Just In: Jennifer Morla

Posted In: Collections, Publishing

The AIGA Medalist, AGI Member, and National Design Award Recipient to donate her archive.

Left to Right: AIGA for SFMOMA Lecture Series; Morla Design Lecture for AIGA Los Angeles (cropped); Environmental Poster for AIGA
Left to Right: AIGA for SFMOMA Lecture Series; Morla Design Lecture for AIGA Los Angeles (cropped); Environmental Poster for AIGA.

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