Guggenheim Redux

Typeface: Verlag Light

For one quarter of its lifetime, the Guggenheim Museum has enjoyed the use of a signature typeface created by H&FJ. The project originally commissioned by Abbott Miller, a sans serif in six styles called Guggenheim, has since grown into a family of thirty styles, now known as Verlag. This expanded set of fonts, now including five weights in three different widths, is now available from H&FJ. And gratifyingly, it’s still being used by the Guggenheim — now more than ever.

If the fonts’ thirteen years of continuous use can be attributed to anything, it’s the careful formulation of the original brief. The iconic lettering on Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous rotunda furnished the seed for the project; unchecked, this might have grown into an overly stylized typeface, too eccentric to be of much use. A more short-sighted designer might have made the easy play for nostalgia, but Miller took a more thoughtful approach, envisioning all the different applications that the typeface would come to serve. The family of types we created was therefore more interpretation than facsimile, a versatile family that we all hoped would evoke the qualities of the museum without simply replicating its signature. It was the right call: the fonts once used only by the Guggenheim New York’s publication department now serve the signage programs of four museums, the institution’s Webby Award-winning website, and now the new identity for the Guggenheim Foundation, also designed by Miller, and premiering this year as part of the Guggenheim’s fiftieth anniversary. —JH

Groovy Tech

Spy shots from Macworld! If only. This is one of Mark Richards’ spectacular photographs from Core Memory Project, his terrific survey of vintage computers. Mark’s sexy shot of the DEC PDP8/F explains all those day-glo set dressings in The Prisoner and The Time Tunnel, both worlds in which the higher the technology, the brighter the orange. Like the steampunks who reimagine today’s aluminum boxes as a festival of valves and gears and brass, when will we see the Modpunks, who will wickedly return us to a world of ochre cabinets, spooling tapes, and knobs that reassuringly click? (Or are they here already?) —JH

Powers of 41

Ours isn’t a government that holds designers in especially high esteem; a glance at the back of the $20 bill says as much. So it was with both delight and surprise that I learned this morning that the U. S. Postal Service is scheduled to roll out this set of stamps next summer, honoring the great contributions of Charles and Ray Eames.

Our entire profession owes thanks to USPS designer Derry Noyes, not only for raising the public profile of design with this marvelous project, but for answering its unique design problems so expertly. The Eames Office worked in two, three, and four dimensions, and to meet the challenge of representing their body of work so concisely — at the size of a postage stamp (a rare, non-metaphorical use of the phrase) — takes tact and aplomb of Eamesian proportions. —JH

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