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Written by Steven

Design Curiosities: Vanessa Lam for Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty

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Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty showcases some of Degas’ most experimental and radical works—notably 120 rarely seen monotypes. To accompany the exhibition, Vanessa Lam, senior graphic designer at MoMA, created a custom typeface inspired by a French type specimen from the same period as the work in the show. Simplifying aspects of the typeface that were too decorative, the result is historical for sure but unmistakably contemporary.

Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty will be up at MoMA through July 24.

※ Photographs by Vanessa Lam and Andrew Toth

Design Curiosities: HEWN Identity by FÖDA

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HEWN is an Austin-based architectural woodworking shop with a team of master-craftsmen specializing in custom woodwork, high-end millwork, metal fabrication, and custom furniture. FÖDA recently reworked their identity from the ground up—name, brand strategy, identity, marketing collateral, website, and environmental graphics. The whole lot!

Design Curiosities: Objektiv by Bruno Mello

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Geometric sans serif typefaces first appeared in the early 1920s with the rise of modernism and the machine age. As design and architecture moved towards purity and simplicity, typography sought unity and rationality. The original grotesque typefaces of the 19th century would no longer suffice, formal purity demanded that the circle, triangle, and square be celebrated. The resulting letterforms were characterized by this geometric construction, owing more to mathematical forms than to the calligraphic letter.

In 1927, Paul Renner defined the genre with Futura, arguably the most popular sans serif of the mid 20th century. Futura was not alone though—Rudolf Koch’s Kabel (1927), Wilhelm Pischner’s Neuzeit Grotesk (1928), Dick Dooijes’ Nobel (1929), and Herb Lubalin’s Avant Garde (1968) all became broadly used standards of geometric type design.

In recent years there has been renewed interest geometric letterforms. A number of robust geometric interpretations have been designed that are better suited to handle contemporary typographic demands. LL Circular and FF Mark come to mind. Dalton Maag’s Objektiv by Bruno Mello is a welcome addition to this short list—it comes in 7 weights with three style variants.

Design Curiosities: Book Covers by Daniel Benneworth-Gray

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I love it when designers focus, but Daniel Benneworth-Gray is honing an aesthetic that really inspires me. He has figured out how to imbue the most minimalist of compositions with warmth and surprise. In addition to his prolific book cover output, he also writes regularly for Creative Review and his own newsletter, Meanwhile.

Design Curiosities: Mériva by NEW LETTERS

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NEW LETTERS is a German typography and graphic design studio founded by Armin Brenner and Markus John just last year. Their latest typeface, Mériva, is a contemporary and charming take on the Grotesque sans-serif. Remaining true to it’s lineage, Mériva is a bold family optimized for longer sizes and headlines. I can’t wait to see what these guys create next, I’m anticipating great things from their partnership.