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7 Questions

Seven Questions for Chester Jenkins, Designer of New Cooper Hewitt Typeface

(Kirstin McKee)
(Photo: Kirstin McKee)

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.

c h logotypeWhat 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.
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Seven Questions for Jessica Hische

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“The basis of any word is a single letter,” says self-described “letterer, illustrator, and crazy cat lady” Jessica Hische, known for performing stunningly beautiful typographical feats for the likes of Wes Anderson, Penguin Books, The New York Times, and—be still our justice-loving hearts—John Hodgman. Among her latest projects is a stationery collection for the Luxe Project, a Moo initiative that pairs top creative talent with Moo’s deluxe business cards, letterheads, and notecards, and then gives 100% of net proceeds to the designer’s charity of choice (Hische’s feline-friendly pick: the ASPCA). She made time in her busy, bicoastal—San Francisco and Brooklyn—schedule to answer our questions about the luxe letterforms adapted from her Daily Drop Cap project, her book jacket for The Circle by Dave Eggers, and more.

For those not familiar with Daily Drop Cap, what is it and how did it come about?
I started Daily Drop Cap because, when I left working at Louise Fili Ltd., I wanted an excuse to draw letterforms every day, even when I wasn’t being paid to by clients. I wanted a way to experiment and develop my lettering skills since I was about to step out on my own, away from the daily mentoring of Louise. Originally, I had planned on doing an alphabet a week instead of a letter a day, but decided quickly that I wasn’t up for a challenge that enormous at the time. I gave myself the goal of twelve alphabets, a number that seemed daunting but doable, and for a year and a half I drew a letter every single day. It ended up becoming the thing that really kicked my career into full swing and made people pay attention to the work I was doing.

JL moo luxeWhat did you create for the Luxe Project?
My collection for Moo uses a selection of my Daily Drop Caps, transforming the original artwork into sophisticated monograms by switching the complex original color palettes to two-color. I chose letters that I thought would appeal to many people—sometimes the letters I created for Daily Drop Cap specifically referenced something I was doing that day and wouldn’t work as stationery monograms— and tried to pick gender neutral letterforms when possible. The letters are integrated into simple but beautiful designs which could work for anyone, be they a designer or just a lover of letters. I used the typeface Router—which I love—made by a type design friend Jeremy Mickel.

What led you to select the ASPCA to receive all net proceeds?
I adopted my two cats from the ASPCA in New York and just love what they do to put misplaced animals in good homes. I’m a huge animal lover—it’s embarrassing how much I dote on my two cats—and love supporting an organization that obviously cares so deeply about animals.
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Seven Questions for Giulio Iacchetti

noe gi
noe alessiMore than 10,000 people visited WantedDesign, which wrapped up on Monday at New York’s the Tunnel. A highlight among the more than 60 exhibitors was Italian design powerhouse Alessi, which presented projects stemming from research and workshops the company has conducted in collaboration with several young designers around the world. Veteran Alessi designer Giulio Iacchetti was on hand to showcase his new “Noè” collection of wine accessories. The name is a nod to the biblical patriarch. “Noah is not just famous for building the ark, but also for his passion for wine,” says Iacchetti, who is based in Milan. “And it is said that he invented it after being the first to experiment with vine cultivation.” We popped open a bottle of bubbly—with the aid of his bottle-shaped opener—and asked him seven questions.

Giulio IacchettiWhat was the concept for the Noè set?
The inspiring concept for these objects designed to serve and preserve wine comes by a strong formal reference to existing wine imagery, so the bottle holder refers to a cluster of grapes, the Champagne stopper recalls those corks used to hermetically seal Champagne bottles, the shape of the Champagne cork opener is inspired by the outline of a bottle, and finally, the drop-stop ring is truly the engagement between us and wine!

What has distinguished your collaborations with Alessi from those with other companies?
When I think of Italian design and design companies, I think immediately of Alessi. Alessi could be really considered the “dream factory”—as Alberto Alessi defined his company years ago—for its exceptional capability to combine real industrial productivity with the openness to collect in its catalog many different products categories. Every time I go to Crusinallo [Alessi headquarters], I personally live a life-long dream.
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Seven Questions for David Weeks

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Works from the Salvers Collection, on view through June 20 at David Weeks Studio. A second set of the Salvers debuts today in Paris as part of the “American Design in Paris” exhibition at the Mona Bismarck American Center for Art & Culture.

You probably know David Weeks for his stunning lighting, fluidly formed furniture, or craggily adorable wooden creatures. Last fall his studio branched out from Brooklyn to Manhattan, with a new standalone atelier in Tribeca that is part design studio, part showspace for one-of-a-kind prototypes, collaborations, and work from other artists. It is currently home to a month-long exhibition of the Salvers Collection, designed in conjunction with Alex Rasmussen from Neil Feay Company. Weeks made time to tell us more about the project as well as his new collaboration with Flavor Paper (spoiler alert: gorillas are involved!), what’s on his desk, and the best advice he’s ever received.

david weeksHow are things at your new Tribeca space? Has having a standalone atelier affected your creative process/output/how you spend your day?
Things are great! Challenging, exciting, exhausting. We had run the numbers before I decided to open a dedicated showroom and they are playing out as planned. I didn’t plan on the level of focus and complexity that it has ended up taking. To have a public venue while running a design and manufacturing company is hard. It’s also exhilarating and fun to be in control of my own destiny.

How did your collaboration with Alex Rasmussen come about?
I met Alex a year ago, and we discussed collaborating almost immediately. He has such a phenomenal facility at his beck and call at Neal Feay. It’s hard to imagine.

How would you describe the six unique designs in the Salvers Collection?
The collection ended up being a reaction to what his CNC [Computer Numerical Control] machine could do. I designed my pieces using the stock material and cutters they had on hand, and tweaked the jigs that hold the piece to the machines. The great thing about CNC to me is that it will do whatever you tell it. There is no need to make things at right angles. It’s an opportunity to visualize a unorthodox form, draw it, and have a huge industrial machine create it.
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Seven Questions for Rick Wise, CEO of Lippincott

avianca id
Lippincott worked to unify the brands of merged airlines Avianca and TACA. The three-year project culminated in the recent unveiling of a bold new visual identity.

rick wiseWith a client list that includes 3M, Delta Air Lines, Hyatt, Samsung, Starbucks, and Walmart, Lippincott has spent the last seven decades combining strategy and creativity. (The recent brand face-lifts of Stanley and eBay? All Lippincott.) At the helm of the firm, which is part of Marsh & McLennan-owned Oliver Wyman, is Rick Wise, who oversees innovation in Lippincott’s design and strategy practices while also advising clients on their branding issues. The Wharton alum made time to chat with us about some recent Lippincott projects as well as his branding pet peeve, what’s on his desk, and why the Taj Mahal never gets old.

Lippincott turns 70 this year. How are you celebrating?
It’s a big year for us. We’re celebrating by both looking back on how the industry has evolved, honoring the moments Lippincott has influenced and the iconic brands we built, as well as looking ahead to what the next 70 years will bring. For instance, in May of this year, we designed “Pencil to Pixel” in collaboration with Monotype—an exhibit documenting the past, present and future of typography. As part of this, Lippincott developed an exhibit of its own—curating artifacts and designs throughout our history. As part of that we also moderated a roundtable discussion on the future role of design and brand expression with executives from Coach, Warby Parker, Virgin America, Chipotle, and eBay.

Tell us about a recent Lippincott project that you are particularly proud of and why?
We are very proud of the work we did for Avianca, the Latin American airline formed by the merger of Avianca and TACA airlines. We worked hand in hand with Avianca for three years to create a new unified brand, developing the new logo, aircraft livery, plane interior, visual system and frequent flyer program. It’s a really beautiful system for an airline that aspires to be the regional leader. But what we’re most proud is our work helping build a unified brand from the inside out—making sure the cultures were aligned, the employees were energized, and most importantly the customer experience could live up to the promise of a unified pan-Latin American airline.

As a specialist in brand strategy, what brand (aside from your current or past clients) would you single out as an emerging brand to watch?
I’m a huge music fan, and it’s been really interesting to watch the growth of Beats by Dr. Dre. It’s pretty amazing to see the brand they have created in just a few years, focusing on the overall music experience. They have taken a page out of Apple’s playbook by focusing on innovation delivered in great packaging and design, and took a product many thought might be obsolete and made it relevant again.
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Seven Questions for Diana Vreeland Biographer Amanda Mackenzie Stuart

empress of fashion

Cecil Beaton described her as “an authoritative crane” or “some extraordinary parrot,” while Nicky Haslam likened her presence to “a sock in the jaw.” Both were referring to the fashionable force of nature that was Diana Vreeland (1903-89), the subject of Amanda Mackenzie Stuart‘s Empress of Fashion, out Tuesday in paperback from Harper Perennial. The dazzling biography delves into the origins of Vreeland’s genius as it follows her from an ugly duckling childhood in Paris and a self-imposed extreme makeover at the age of 14, through her tenure at Harper’s Bazaar, at Vogue, and at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“There were imagination and fantasy in fashion before Diana,” says Stuart (pictured below). “What she did, indefatigably, and from a position of great influence at Vogue, was to assert the authority of the imagination—and the idea of possibility that galloped along beside it.” We threw on our most exotic caftan, streaked on the rouge, and managed to narrow our questions for Vreeland’s Oxford, England-based biographer down to an elegant seven.

AM StuartWhen/how did you first encounter Diana Vreeland?
I’m British and live in the UK so I was only vaguely aware of Diana Vreeland before I started writing a different book, about Consuelo Vanderbilt and her mother Alva (Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Mother and a Daughter in the Gilded Age, HarperCollins, 2005). Before my research for that book, and like a number of people now I think, I knew something about DV without being quite sure why. I wasn’t quite sure what she did, but I did have a blurry image of a snood, a dash of brilliant red lipstick, and an achingly hip granny who ran ’round town with Andy Warhol. Quite terrifying, in other words.

At the very end of my research for the book about Consuelo, I discovered that Diana Vreeland had long been fascinated by her story and her style and had included her in the Costume Institute exhibition in 1976 called “American Women of Style.” So that was the point at which I first properly encountered DV.

Was there a particular aspect of her background or a finding in your initial research that convinced you to proceed with a biography?
Well, when I was writing the Consuelo book I should have been a very self-disciplined biographer and stopped myself from going off-piste for days on end. I should have allocated no more than half a day’s research, or maybe one day maximum, to the curator of an exhibition in which Consuelo appeared twelve years after her death. But it didn’t work out like that. I became completely distracted by DV, who was very funny, and, at first glance, not unlike Consuelo’s mother. (On second glance she wasn’t like her at all, but that’s another story.)
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Master Class: Seven Questions for Melanie Courbet, Founder of Atelier Courbet

Courbet Interior Shop
(Photos courtesy Atelier Courbet)

Melanie Courbet PortraitNew York’s latest design destination is Atelier Courbet, a new gallery and shop that brings together exquisite objects, furniture, textiles, and home accessories handpicked for their sublime old-school craftsmanship. In an age of touchscreens and disposable everything, many of these one-of-a-kind and limited-edition pieces combine traditional techniques with contemporary design. “Our intention is to highlight the revered talent behind every object,” says founder Melanie Courbet, who convinced renowned craftsmen Domeau & Pérès to make their stateside debut at Atelier Courbet. “We would like to inspire our clients to curate their home and their lifestyle based on the appreciation of the material and the details of their environment.” We asked Courbet to tell us more about the new venture, including its home in the historical Brewster Carriage House (located at the corner of Broome and Mott Streets) and some of her favorite straight-from-the-workshop pieces.

Why did you think that it was the right time to open this gallery and shop?
It was the right time in my life as I matured for seven years my relationships with most of the manufactures or craftsmen I represent today. On another note, I believe my desire to shift the focus to the master-craftsmanship over the design or creative aspects is a response to a context. Our market—like our global culture—shows a shift in the consumer’s behavior. There is a general trend at different levels of consumption that reflects a global desire to nurture a sense of community and connect with the makers behind our belongings or the goods we consume. Brand equity is now often built upon emotional connections with the provenance, a sense of cultural heritage and traditions. I hope for Atelier Courbet to convey that story and to allow for our clients to find that connect with each handmade piece presented.

What qualities unite the designers and companies represented at Atelier Courbet?
Atelier Courbet selects and represents master-craftsmen based on their abilities to fabricate for the contemporary art or design scene while carrying on a heritage, discipline and centuries-old techniques.

Atelier Courbet 1How did you come upon the Brewster Carriage House? Why did the building appeal to you?
It’s my friend’s building. He and I have similar visions and passions. It sounded natural and such a great fit for a gallery and shop focusing on master-craftsmanship and heritage to set the stage in a building that has that incarnation.

The Brewster Carriage Building goes back to the mid-nineteenth century when it used to house the famous carriage makers’ workshop. We kept the boilers doors as well as a carriage that was made here by the Brewster Company’s workers. Ross Morgan and I would like to make this corner a destination that stages both the heritage of the building, the neighborhood and selected centuries-old manufacturers from around the world. The Atelier Courbet and the Brewster Carriage Corner will become both a design gallery and a lifestyle shop.
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Seven Questions for Martha Stewart

martha!

Martha Stewart was joined by Bravo’s Andy Cohen last night to kick off the second annual American Made, a two-day celebration of ingenuity and craftsmanship that turns Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall into a lively marketplace of handpicked purveyors, crafters, and makers. Among this year’s American Made honorees are lighting designer Lindsey Adelman, Shinola’s Health Carr, and paper crafters Leo Kowal and Mary Rudakas, who took home the audience choice award for their SVGCuts creations. And for Stewart, that’s not even the icing on the cake—she’s got a new book out (about cakes!), an equally delicious PBS TV series in production (more cakes!), and big Halloween plans (Pumpkin Layer Cake…and much more!). We paused in our attempt at her Clementine-Vanilla Bean Loaf Cake to ask her seven questions.

What are some of your favorite finds among the nominees and winners of this year’s American Made awards?
The two-day event celebrates the spirit of innovation and spotlight a new generation of entrepreneurs. Everything we highlight with the American Made program, which is now in its second year, is something I’ve found in my various travels and meetings to be fascinating, unique, and worthy of recognition. This year, I have my eye on Back to the Roots, which is a ‘grow your own mushroom kit’ company out of Oakland, California, as well as Spoonflower, a custom fabric printing company in Durham, North Carolina.

cakes

Which recipe in Martha Stewart’s Cakes would you suggest for an amateur baker who wants to whip up a tasty and visually stunning cake?
The buttermilk cake with chocolate frosting is a great starting point for any amateur. It’s both visually stunning and tasteful. This book also provides a basics section specifically designed for amateurs who are looking to sharpen their baking skills. It provides essential equipment and ingredients for mixing, baking, and finishing!

Any tricks you can share about making a cake look as good as the amazingly beautiful ones featured in the pages of Martha Stewart’s Cakes?
Pairing cakes with accompaniments can be the finishing touch to a baker’s creation. They are served on the side adding richness, to simple cakes.
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Seven Questions for Eskayel’s Shanan Campanaro

Shanan Campanaro brings the soul of an artist and the sharp eye of a fashion-savvy graphic designer to Eskayel, a collection of custom wallcoverings that has rapidly expanded into fabrics, rugs, and decorative products such as enchanting pillows, scarves, and stationery. Educated at Central St Martins, Brooklyn-based Campanaro developed Eskayel’s distinctive style—painterly and organic yet contemporary and at times downright futuristic—by mixing the handmade and the digitally manipulated. She uses watercolors and soluble watercolor pens to create paintings, scans them, and then plays around with their pixels. This week marks the launch of “Cosmos” (pictured below), a collection of starry, outer space-inspired patterned pillows made in collaboration with ABC Home. She talked with us about the out-of-this-world pillows, the origins of Eskayel, and how she keeps the company’s products eco-friendly.

How did you begin Eskayel?
I made some wallpaper for my house out of a design from one of my paintings, and then decided to try and make a whole collection and enter into a design show in Brooklyn.

Environmental responsibility is an important aspect of Eskayel—has that commitment been challenging to sustain as your business has grown?
Well, we are so committed to staying as green as possible that it just means certain things that might make our product less expensive or more commercially viable are off-limits. For example, producing overseas or using vinyl. There are a ton of innovations in technology that have come along that have made things easier for us. Because of these innovations, our contract paper is recycled and the paper substrate with the contract requirements is a relatively new product. Also, the latex digital printers which use water-based inks and have the durability of solvent printers (which off-gas, and have not been an option for us in the past) have really expanded our capabilities.

How did the collaboration with ABC Home come about?
We met buyers from ABC several years ago at ICFF [the International Contemporary Furniture Fair], but it really all started when Paulette Cole, the owner, saw our Poolside collection at ICFF in 2012. The standard Eskayel line was selling well, so they wanted some exclusive patterns for ABC from us, so we designed the Cosmos collection for them and collaborated on furniture. The Cosmos collection ships today, so it should be in stores any moment!
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Seven Questions for Hilary Schaffner, Director of Halsey McKay Gallery


Halsey McKay recently presented “Angel Error,” a solo exhibition of the work of Brooklyn-based artist Joseph Hart. (All images courtesy Halsey McKay Gallery)

Once upon a time, the East End of New York’s Long Island was an artistic refuge that drew the likes of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning to set up homes and studios. The region’s legendary light, charming potato fields, and shimmering views now command stratospheric prices that have priced all but the most successful artists out of the market, but there’s still plenty of art to see in the Hamptons, which last fall gained a powerhouse in the Herzog & de Meuron-designed Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill. We recently journeyed a bit further east to the town of East Hampton and left impressed by the assured exhibitions on view at Halsey McKay Gallery, founded in 2011 by sharp-eyed curator Hilary Schaffner and artist Ryan Wallace. In the wake of a supercharged summer of shows, including solo exhibitions of Joseph Hart, Anne-Lise Coste, Patrick Brennan, and Graham Collins, we asked Schaffner to tell us more about Halsey McKay, what exhibitions she’s looking forward to seeing this fall, and some other Hamptons must-sees.

1. What led you to open your gallery in East Hampton?
It’s amazing to think that this all began with a conversation Ryan and I had one evening in 2011. We were both surprised and intrigued by the fact there were so few galleries on the East End focused on emerging artists. A place with such a rich art history presented a great opportunity to support our programming. We thought that we could be more accessible to collectors out here than if we were in New York City. Without all the distractions and competition of the city, we envisioned we could meet interesting people in a short amount of time and give our artists a great platform for being seen. It’s been rewarding to bring our generation of artists out East and introduce them to the to the area. For me, there was also this continuation of family history. The Halsey’s were one of the first families to settle out here in the 1640s. It feels significant to be working in a place with such strong familial and art historical ties.

2. How would you describe the gallery’s program/artist roster?
This was another aspect that evolved organically. We already had a community of mainly Brooklyn-based artists that ended up being the foundation of our program. I have a MFA in photography and Ryan went to RISD and is a painter, this has lead us to show a range of mediums. Our middle ground has ended up being abstraction. We have some great figurative artists in the mix, like Ben Blatt and Ryan Schneider but there is certainly a mutual interest in abstract works. We’ve also had a lot of fun doing two and three person shows with artists whose work might not be immediately associated together.

3. How did you choose the name Halsey McKay?
Halsey is my grandmother’s maiden name and McKay is Ryan’s grandmother’s maiden name.

4. Tell us about your current show, “Ether Scrims, Dark Rooms, and Calculative Planes,” on view through Sunday.
We were thinking about how space is rendered in an artist’s practice —the flattening of space and the creation of space. Photography, sculpture and painting are all represented here yet each artist has this underpinning of optical illusion in their work through combining virtual and analog interventions. Before the show was installed we were operating in this very conceptual space but after seeing it all hung, these wonderful formal relationships have sprung up. The geometry and patterning that each artist has come to, in very distinctive ways, feels quite unified.
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