Created by AIGA medalist and Pentagram partner Abbott Miller and produced and curated by Monotype, Century: 100 Years of Type in Design exhibition features rare works and unique artifacts from a dozen exhibitors, including Monotype, AIGA, Pentagram, Mohawk, Type Directors Club, Condé Nast, Hamilton Wood Type, The Type Archive, The Herb Lubalin Study Center, Alan Kitching, and The Museum of Printing.
In honor of the AIGA Centennial events, the Century exhibition, designed and created by Pentagram Partner Abbott Miller, celebrates type, graphic design and their creators from the last 100 years.
On view at the AIGA National Design Center on Fifth Avenue in New York City through June 18, 2014, the Century exhibition will be the hub of a rich variety of presentations, lectures, workshops and receptions.
Visitors will experience how graphic and typeface design from the last 100 years have been interpreted, visualized, imagined and produced. Century exhibitors have delved into their vaults to unveil historic and in some cases never-before-seen artifacts, including examples of seminal graphic and typeface design and the materials used to bring them to life.
Felt & Wire caught up with the Century curators to learn more about the new exhibit.
Q: Tell us more about Century, and what inspired you to create the exhibit?
“Many visitors will be familiar with the legendary designs of the AIGA’s distinguished members such as Oswald Cooper, Herb Lubalin, William Addison Dwiggins, Bruce Rogers, Alexander Liberman, Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast,” says James Fooks-Bale, creative director of Monotype and co-curator of the Century exhibition. “However, Century provides visitors with the opportunity to see the works that inspired these legendary designers, providing a rare glimpse into the artistry, craftsmanship and precision that influenced the last 100 years of design.”
Q: What was your process in creating this exhibit? Did you have any roadblocks or interesting moments while creating?
According to Abbott Miller, “We wanted to create an immersive environment that communicates the diversity of typographic form: the walls and ceilings are dotted with hundreds of typographic periods drawn from the Monotype library. The idea of multiplicity is reinforced in the graphic mark we created for the Century show, a letter ‘C’ rendered in segments of different Monotype fonts.
“Two animations we created extend this idea and are featured in the gallery,” Miller continues. “The first one, called ‘Fractured Century,’ cycles through hundreds of typefaces that move like the minute hand on a clock; the second animation, called ‘Full Stop,’ identifies all of the periods displayed on the walls and floor. Set to the pulsing sound of a heartbeat, the ‘Full Stop’ animation hints at the notion of type as the heart of graphic design.”
“This installation will feature a host of rare and unique works from premier design archives in the U.S. and England,” says Dan Rhatigan, type director at Monotype. “From production drawings by the preeminent designers of the last 100 years to publications, advertising and packaging, together they tell many stories from typeface conception to fonts in use.”
It’s a rare chance to learn about the creation and background of unique works through the paper, photography, magazines – and the typefaces used to create them.
Q: What’s your favorite part about the exhibit?
“It’s an opportunity to see the hand of the author,” explains James Fooks-Bale, Monotype’s creative director. “Many designers are familiar with Mohawk paper, Condé Nast publications or the Gill Sans® typeface, but they may not know as much about where these designs came from. This exhibition will give people the opportunity to learn more about the history of type in design and the work that shapes our environment.”
“We’re surrounded by design from dawn till dusk, but it’s not often that you get the chance to see the history of graphic design and the work that shapes our environment. Only a handful of people can say they’ve been within touching distance of the original paper, drawings and design originals, and this is your chance to join those lucky few,” said Fooks-Bale.
“Century provides a unique opportunity to exhibit rarely-seen objects from the Condé Nast Archive that speak directly to everyone interested in typography and design,” said Shawn Waldron, director of Archives & Records, Condé Nast.
According to Richard Grefé, AIGA executive director: “Century is a tremendous affirmation for the contribution of creative professionals in enhancing all of our experience of the printed word, while enabling the design community to look back at our roots as designers and to look forward to ever-expanding opportunities.”
Some of the rare or never-seen-before exhibit displays include:
- Printed promotional campaigns from Mohawk’s Strathmore archives, which chronicle over 100 years of design, type and printing
- Original drawings and proofs of unreleased typefaces designed by Eric Gill
- Towering type and precious prints that feature oversized letterforms from the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum’s 1.5 million piece collection
- Unique, original production drawings of typefaces from the Merganthaler Linotype Company on loan from the Museum of Printing of N. Andover, Mass.
- Original posters by Alan Kitching designed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of five graphic design icons born in 1914: Tom Eckersley, Abram Games, F H K Henrion, Josef Muller-Brockmann and Paul Rand. The posters feature typefaces from the Monotype Libraries.
- From the Lubalin Center, a copy of the identity manual for the New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual, designed by Unimark International in 1970 and ephemera from the early days of ITC.
- Condé Nast will display highlights from its editorial archives, including a rare 1929 type manual; vintage photos of The Condé Nast Press; an example of Alexander Liberman’s groundbreaking cover design work; prototype covers created by David Hockney and others for Vanity Fair’s 1983 relaunch; an early issue of the completely digitally-designed Allure, and Wired’s first tablet edition from 2010.
The Century Exhibit:
Admission is free and the Century exhibition will be the hub of two months of presentations, lectures, workshops and receptions held at the AIGA gallery and in other venues in New York City, including the Type Directors Club and The Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography at Cooper Union.
To reserve tickets for guided tours and more information on the Century exhibition, visit EventBrite.
For more information, visit the AIGA Century: 100 Years of Type in Design event page. Follow #Century on Twitter @Monotype and join the conversation using #Century, #AIGA100.