24 January, 2011
H&FJ Typefaces Join the MoMA Permanent Collection
The Museum of Modern Art in New York has announced the acquisition of four H&FJ type families — HTF Didot, Gotham, Mercury and Retina — for the MoMA permanent collection.
In designing new typefaces, Hoefler & Frere-Jones has long been consumed with the interpretation of historical artifacts, the implications of cultural expectations and mechanical requirements, and the invention of new techniques. Four type families that embody H&FJ’s approach to type design are HTF Didot, Gotham, Mercury and Retina, and we are honored to have these designs selected by the Museum of Modern Art for inclusion in its permanent collection.
This acquisition marks an important expansion of MoMA’s design collection, which includes historically significant objects ranging from Frank Lloyd Wright’s model for Fallingwater to the original Macintosh 128K computer, into the category of typeface design. “Type design is an essential dimension of the history of modern art and design,” writes Senior Curator Paola Antonelli. “The best typefaces belong in MoMA’s collection.”
The typefaces chosen for the MoMA collection have been selected for their social relevance, the ways in which they reflect technological progress, and their importance to cultural history. “Each is a milestone in the history of typography,” writes Antonelli. Alongside H&FJ’s typefaces are major works by a number of our friends and colleagues, including Matthew Carter, Erik Spiekermann, Erik van Blokland and Just van Rossum, and the many contributors to Emigre. H&FJ is proud to be in such distinguished company, and to be a part of MoMA’s recognition of our industry’s craft.
15 June, 2010
The Murderer Wore Serifs
Typeface designers live with the permanent possibility of encountering their work at unexpected moments. Your old college now uses a font that you designed; in a movie, whose story takes place before you were born, your typefaces are used for prop newspapers and storefronts; the intimidating signs that scold you in public places now address you in your own handwriting. These odd social dislocations have lately been compounded by an additional weirdness, the phenomenon of the literate non-specialist. There are now celebrities and politicians who know fonts by name, so off-duty type designers run an increasing risk of hearing their typefaces mentioned by talk-show hosts or newscasters — to say nothing of seatmates on long airline flights, or anyone desperate for conversation at a family funeral.
None of these strangenesses prepared me for learning this morning that in The Scarpetta Factor, a crime novel by Patricia Cornwell, there is a plot point that revolves around our Gotham typeface. The font first makes an appearance on page 400, when it’s name-checked by an FBI document specialist during the delivery of an expert opinion, but it returns on page 415 for a two-page discussion about the typography of a suspicious package. “Gotham is popular,” says the computer-whiz niece of our sleuth, Dr. Kay Scarpetta. “It’s supposed to suggest all the right things if you want to influence someone into taking you or your product or a political candidate or maybe some type of research seriously.” Our clients have always known as much; we can only assume that one of them is the murderer. —JH
5 May, 2010
Designers who use our fonts have been sharing their work on our Facebook page, much to the delight of both H&FJ’s designers and our followers online. Some recent lovelies, clockwise from top left: Christopher Simmons designed this cheerful festival poster using Ziggurat, Leviathan, and a little Hoefler Text; a corporate identity that uses Archer (and a clever emboss) by Mike Kasperski; Gotham in a terrific typographic abecedarium by Paul van Brunschot and his students; a lovely collection of journals by Jodi Storozenko, featuring Archer in a moment of quiet repose; and a bit of Gotham in Anna Farkas’ exhibition identity for The renaissance of letters. Feel free to share your own creations: more then 6,500 other designers are tuned in. —JH
12 November, 2009
Down Mexico Way
An enchanting bit of Gotham seen en route to ATypI Mexico: timbered lettering, on the storefront for Guru, a gallery and design emporium in Cuauhtémoc owned by graphic designer Quique Ollervides. Thanks for sharing this, Nick! —JH