Century: 100 Years of Type in Design, a new exhibit at the AIGA National Design Center in New York, explores the evolution of the modern letterform, from Eric Gill’s original drawings for Gill Sans to the first New Yorker logo.

Created by Pentagram partner Abbot Miller and curated by Monotype, one of the world’s oldest type providers for the AIGA’s Centennial, the exhibit includes curated selections from the archives of Pentagram, Mohawk Paper, Condé Nast, The Herb Lubalin Study Center at Cooper Union, and The Museum of Printing, among others.

The 1,058 evenly spaced black splotches, circles, diamonds, ovals, and squares in the exhibition space are oversized periods from about 630 different typefaces, all drawn from the Monotype library.

His clever approach reveals the power of typography to interpret a single character in near infinite ways.

An animation, “Full Stop,” set to the pulsing sound of a heartbeat, identifies each period displayed.

Miller’s identity for the exhibit is a capital “C,” for century, made up of fragmented segments of Monotype fonts.

In an animation, "Fractured Century," Miller cycles through 100 years of typographic renditions of the letter C.

“We’re surrounded by design from dawn till dusk, but it’s not often that you get the chance to see the history of graphic design and the work that shapes our environment," Dan Rhatigan, type director at Monotype, tells Co.Design. Here, a production drawing for the 36 pt. Linotype BodoniTM typeface, from 1914.

"Only a handful of people can say they’ve been within touching distance of the original paper, drawings and design originals." Production drawing for the 10 pt. Monotype ModernTM (series No. 1) typeface, from 1900.

Page showing William Addison Dwiggins' Metro® typeface in "Typographic Sanity," published by Linotype in 1929.

Design geeks will drool over these early never-before-seen drawings by Eric Gill in 1935 for Monotype series no. 430, a family which was never completed and released.

An 1898 paper sample book produced by the Strathmore Paper Company, showing how foundry type and illustration blocks print on a variety of paper stocks.

Alan Kitching’s limited edition letterpress printed poster honoring designer Tom Eckersley (1914–1997) using the Rockwell® Standard typeface. It's a thoughtful, wide-ranging exhibit, with artifacts "chosen and arranged to tell a story about how design is informed, constrained, and even enhanced by technology over the past century," Rhatigan says, "whether it’s the technology of machine or the microprocessor and bitmap.”

Alan Kitching’s limited edition letterpress printed poster honoring typographer Paul Rand (1914– 1996) using the Gill Sans® Light Shadowed typeface. The work of typography greats get juxtaposed in ways that reveal patterns of influence.

1970 booklet by Kenneth Kuenster features opening copy encouraging designers to turn on with Strathmore Text.

"Are you afraid of Strathmore?” ad campaign by Norman Siegel and Sims Taback from 1968, which showed many paper and ink combinations. The exhibition makes sure to show us how each designer originally interpreted the canon of artful alphabets.

Title page from The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, designed and lettered by W. A. Dwiggins, 1931.

1966 Type Directors Club annual competition announcement, designed by Herb Lubalin with lettering by John Pistilli.

1957 spread from "Schiff nach Europa" by Markus Kutter, designed by Karl Gerstner.

Cover of Vogue, May 15, 1941. Photo by Horst P. Horst, art direction by Alexander Liberman.  Context: This was one of the first covers art directed by Alexander Liberman. It marked his "arrival" at Conde Nast. The cover is notable for the interaction between underlying photograph and overlaid lettering.

"Inside Dylan's Brain," Photo illustration by Andrew Nimmo and Beth Bartholomew from a photograph by Chris Furlong, originally published Vanity Fair, May 2008. Condé Nast spread photographed by Paul Armbruster. This spread is included in the "digital age" section of Condé Nast's vitrines and is an example of digital layout's creative capabilities.

Inspired by the Art Deco movement, Condé Nast ordered up redesigns for all of his titles in the late-1920s. “Vanity Fair’s Portfolio of Modern French Art,” published in 1935, is representative of the new high modern style. Vanity Fair is the Conde Nast title most closely identified with the introduction of modern typefaces in the late 1920s. This portfolio, from 1935, features design typical of the period.

Jambalaya, poster for the AIGA Design Conference in New Orleans, LA, designed by Stefan Sagmeister with illustrators Kazumi Matsumoto, Peggy Chuang, and Raphael Rudisser, 1997. Century: 100 Years of Type in Design is open and free to the public at the AIGA in New York City until June 18.

Co.Design

100 Years Of Type In Design, Curated By Monotype

A new exhibit at AIGA in NYC explores the evolution of the modern letterform, from Eric Gill to Stefan Sagmeister.

Century: 100 Years of Type in Design, a new exhibit at the AIGA National Design Center in New York, explores the evolution of the modern letterform, from Eric Gill’s original drawings for Gill Sans to the first New Yorker logo. You'll even find the 1970 guidelines for the typography still used in New York's subway system.

Created by Pentagram partner Abbot Miller and curated by Monotype, one of the world’s oldest type providers for the AIGA’s Centennial, the exhibit includes curated selections from the archives of Pentagram, Mohawk Paper, Condé Nast, The Herb Lubalin Study Center at Cooper Union, and The Museum of Printing, among others.

Photo by Bilyana Dimitrova

"We’re surrounded by design from dawn till dusk, but it’s not often that you get the chance to see the history of graphic design and the work that shapes our environment," Dan Rhatigan, type director at Monotype, tells Co.Design. "Only a handful of people can say they’ve been within touching distance of the original paper, drawings, and design originals." Design geeks will drool over early never-before-seen drawings for Gill Sans by Eric Gill, but anyone with even a passing interest in visual culture will be equally intrigued. "You don't have to be a type nerd to be interested in the history of Vogue, Vanity Fair, and the New Yorker," Rhatigan says. Era-capturing '20s and '30s issues of those classic pubs are on view, with covers by the likes of Alexander Liberman, the former editorial director at Condé Nast.

It's a thoughtful, wide-ranging exhibit, with artifacts "chosen and arranged to tell a story about how design is informed, constrained, and even enhanced by technology over the past century," Rhatigan says, "whether it’s the technology of machine or the microprocessor and bitmap." Importantly, the work of typography greats, including FHK Henrion, Tom Eckersley, and Stefan Sagmeister (who contributed a bold poster featuring a headless chicken) get juxtaposed in ways that reveal patterns of influence. But the exhibition makes sure to show us how each designer originally interpreted the canon of artful alphabets, too.

Stefan Sagmeister

The material gets abstract in surprising ways. The 1,058 evenly spaced black splotches, circles, diamonds, ovals, and squares in the exhibition space are oversized periods from about 630 different typefaces, all drawn from the Monotype library. "We wanted to create an immersive environment that communicates the diversity of typographic form," Miller said in a statement. His clever approach reveals the power of typography to interpret a single character in near infinite ways. An animation, "Full Stop," set to the pulsing sound of a heartbeat, identifies each period displayed.

Miller created a second animation, "Fractured Century," which cycles through hundreds of typefaces that move like the minute hand on a clock. The animation ultimately settles into Miller’s identity for the exhibit—a capital "C," for century, made up of fragmented segments of Monotype fonts.

Click the slide show above for highlights from the exhibit. Century: 100 Years of Type in Design is open and free to the public at the AIGA in New York City until June 18.

[Photo by Bilyana Dimitrova]

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