If you’ve been to any of the Monotype exhibitions over the last couple of years you may have seen the beautiful, faded copies of the Monotype Recorder, a printed magazine that seemed to recede with metal type.
The original magazine first published over 100 years ago has been redesigned and re-imagined, reinvigorating its original beauty and compelling content.
The twice-yearly magazine aims to celebrate and explore type’s role in almost every aspect of our visual culture and the wider implications of how typography contributes to a broader cultural context.
Making its first appearance in 1902, and eventually edited by the formidable Beatrice Warde, The Recorder was published by the company that produced the machines that today’s Monotype derives its name from. In regular publication as a trade magazine for around 70 years (with a hiatus for much of WWII), it covered everything from technology and typeface releases to historic features; offering readers an in-depth look at the type industry.
This first new issue adopts a new approach, exploring type from a more cultural standpoint, and showing how its influence has played a role in our lives over the years, in everything from street signs to sci-fi. We’ve explored traditional forms of working, as well as the way a new generation of designers are interpreting type’s role, and the way people respond to it. We’ve considered how letterforms have been used to portray our hopes and fears for the future, both in the design industry and in pop culture, and we’ve looked at how history and culture have contributed to the development and popularity of particular styles of handwriting and typefaces. The first issue also features a photo story that goes behind the working process of one of the most well-respected British printers and typographers – the artist Alan Kitching. In collaboration with paper company Mohawk, the entire issue is printed on Mohawk Superfine Eggshell Ultrawhite, with a foil blocked cover, spot colours, and two throw-out sections.
Just two, from 100 variations by Jessica Svendsen, over the course of 100 days, of a 1955 Josef Müller-Brockmann poster for a Beethoven concert in Zürich. Part of the 100 Days Workshop with Michael Bierut, Yale School of Art, Fall 2010.
I was recently poring over some of the typographic posters for the Yale School of Architecture, a series that Michael Bierut has been designing since 1998. On some of the recent designs I noticed another name appearing in the credits: Jessica Svendsen. Looking further I saw the work on Jessica’s site… and wow! I got in touch and to find out more.
What did you do leading up to working at Pentagram?
Before joining Pentagram, I spent eight years studying and working at Yale University. I first received a BA in English Literature and then a MFA in Graphic Design from the Yale School of Art. Within a week after commencement, I moved to New York and started working for Michael Bierut.
How long have you been there and what have been the highlights so far?
I have been a designer at Pentagram for a year and a half. Since I first arrived, I have been fortunate to design the Yale School of Architecture posters with Michael. As a student, I admired and avidly collected the poster series—I managed to collect over forty posters during my tenure there—so I am still dumbfounded and thrilled that I now design the series.
Is there a usual process you follow when starting a new design project?
My process is content-driven, so I eagerly respond to projects where I can geekily engage with the content. For these projects, design is interpretive. It is analyzing the content, distilling an idea or concept, and then making it visual. While I gravitate toward projects that are deeply referential, that are embedded with layers of meaning, I ultimately become preoccupied with the affective qualities of the visual form or typography.
In terms of format, I am drawn to projects that function at a display scale (from a poster to a physical installation) and that play with sequence (from a film to a website).
What is like working with Michael Bierut at Pentagram?
Michael is one of the best bosses in the profession, and he is the real reason why I am working at Pentagram. He is a master at crafting persuasive strategy, sequencing a narrative arch, and communicating ideas. Given his encyclopaedic knowledge, it is remarkable to watch him empathize with any given project or client.
Michael also generously trusts each of the designers on his team. Typically, each designer is independently responsible for their own client list, which means one designer may oversee an entire project from conceptualization to execution. Consequently, the design process is exceptionally efficient and each designer has a deep ownership of the work. The structure allows us to each engage with different types of clients, and to navigate and adapt the design across a wide range of formats.
What does the future hold for you?
Purely virtual work. Designing a physical space. Directing a film.
Image credits: Jessica Svendsen, Michael Bierut and Pentagram.