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.
16 June, 2010
Learning Typeface Design
Learning to draw letters is hard enough, but learning to create typefaces is something else entirely. For those with an interest in both, H&FJ’s Sara Soskolne will be teaching “Turning Letters into Type,” a week-long workshop at New York’s School of Visual Arts, July 12–16. Registration is now open, and seats are limited.
Soskolne, who has contributed to some of H&FJ’s most exhaustive projects (Verlag, Chronicle, Gotham) and some of its snappiest (Tungsten, Sentinel, Numbers) will introduce the tools and principles of digital typeface design by working with students individually on projects of their own invention. “Be it systematizing your own lettering, imagining a complete alphabet from a found fragment,” she says, “articulating that ideal set of forms in your mind, or reviving a non-digital typeface you love,” letters will come alive as type. The workshop will foster a critical eye for shapes and spacing, and a deeper understanding of how typefaces work, all skills critical to both type design and typography. Prerequisites include experience with Bézier drawing (know Illustrator?), and either lettering or typography. —JH
21 December, 2009
Uptown App, for iPhones
Manhattan’s urban grid is a vaunted model of simplicity, a rectilinear plan of numbered streets intersecting numbered avenues. Never mind that West 4th Street crosses West 10th, that those walking from Fifth Avenue to Third Avenue will seldom encounter Fourth Avenue, and that “North” in the New York sense differs from conventional "North" to the tune of 29°. It’s this kind of accuracy, transparency and accountability that makes New York the perfect home for Wall Street.
A fixture of the corner of Broadway and Houston, where H&FJ makes its home, is a tourist population forever asking that question of the ages, “which way is uptown?” I can’t entirely blame them: in the math of the NYC grid, Houston is 0th Street, and local signs wickedly conceal the real names of avenues below fake labels that are designed specifically to ensnare tourists. (Watch the meter when you ask a taxi driver to take you anywhere on “Avenue of the Americas.”)
To the rescue comes H&FJ’s own Andy Clymer, whose joint interests in typography, programming, and human decency are combined in Uptown App, his new utility for the iPhone 3GS. Andy’s thoughtfully used some of our fonts on what’s actually a pretty handy app: because it uses the iPhone’s built-in magnetometer, it can give you a quick read on “uptown” in places where GPS signals and cellular networks are unavailable or slow to come online, like when stepping out of freezing cold subway stations. Compared to the inconvenience of frostbite, 99¢ is a genuine bargain. —JH
1 December, 2009
An H&FJ Lecture at the Cooper-Hewitt
Continuing its celebration of the tenth anniversary of the National Design Awards, The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is offering a wealth of excellent programming this season. On display through April 4, 2010 is Design USA: Contemporary Innovation; if you’re planning a visit soon, make it next Tuesday evening, when you can also attend Thinking in Type, a lecture by H&FJ’s Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones. Registration is required, and seats are limited.
Thinking in Type
Tuesday, December 8, 2009, 6:30–8:30pm
The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
2 East 91st Street
New York, NY 10128