Design Observer

About
Books
Job Board
Newsletters
Archive
Contact



Observatory

About
Resources
Submissions
Contact


Featured Writers

Michael Bierut
William Drenttel
John Foster
Jessica Helfand
Alexandra Lange
Mark Lamster
Paul Polak
Rick Poynor
John Thackara
Rob Walker


Departments

Advertisement
Audio
Books
Collections
Dear Bonnie
Dialogues
Essays
Events
Foster Column
From Our Archive
Gallery
Interviews
Miscellaneous
Opinions
Partner News
Photos
Poetry
Primary Sources
Projects
Report
Reviews
Slideshows
The Academy
Today Column
Unusual Suspects
Video


Topics

Advertising
Architecture
Art
Books
Branding
Business
Cities / Places
Community
Craft
Culture
Design History
Design Practice
Development
Disaster Relief
Ecology
Economy
Education
Energy
Environment
Fashion
Film / Video
Food/Agriculture
Geography
Global / Local
Graphic Design
Health / Safety
History
Housing
Ideas
Illustration
India
Industry
Info Design
Infrastructure
Interaction Design
Internet / Blogs
Journalism
Landscape
Literature
Magazines
Media
Museums
Music
Nature
Obituary
Other
Peace
Philanthropy
Photography
Planning
Poetry
Politics / Policy
Popular Culture
Poverty
Preservation
Product Design
Public / Private
Public Art
Religion
Reputations
Science
Shelter
Social Enterprise
Sports
Sustainability
Technology
Theory/Criticism
Transportation
TV / Radio
Typography
Urbanism
Water


Comments (4) Posted 02.26.04 | PERMALINK | PRINT

William Drenttel

Typography and Diplomacy


Tom Vanderbilt is a writer whose observations on design I respect: I wish he had written this piece for Design Observer. Instead, we have a very good writer making smart design observations on Slate. Check out this story: the United States State Department has moved from Courier New 12 to Times New Roman 14.

I always love it when typography makes the news. It's a scary thought, though, when U.S. government policy is driven by design considerations...

|
Share This Story

Comments (4)   |   JUMP TO MOST RECENT COMMENT >>

Way back at the beginning of my career, I worked for two designers -- Chris Pullman at WGBH, and Massimo Vignelli -- who loved to use Courier. We would pull it right off the IBM Selectric -- then the ne plus ultra of cutting-edge technology -- and use it in mechanicals. The philosophy was that good typographic principals were so universal that they could transform even something "undesigned" like Courier.

Of course, today nothing is undesigned, and Courier is just another design choice. And I would agree that Times (more conversational, more "persuasive") makes a better choice for the State Department than Courier (more neutral but somehow more bureaucratic). As for more effective persuasive tools in the hands of the current administration? I won't get into that.

But 14 point? It's been observed on Typographica that Times at that size is best suited for padding a term paper. So perhaps bureaucracy prevails after all.
Michael Bierut
02.26.04 at 09:02

Some of Chris Pullman's early work with Courier—the in-house newsletters he produced at WGBH in the 1970s, for example—are as elegant as any editorial product I've ever seen. On the other hand, Paul Rand, for reasons I don't quite understand, was enamored of American Typewriter. At Yale in the late 1980s he was outraged by the rapid proliferation of digital fonts made accessible to students by virtue of what I can only imagine was Fontographer 1.0, and in retailiation, he restricted his classes to AT and one or two other typefaces (I think one was Caslon). In any font, padding a term paper would have been a virtual impossibility under his rule—a different political administration, to be sure. But equally bureaucratic. (Or maybe just autocratic.)
jessica Helfand
02.26.04 at 10:47

while offering a crisper, cleaner, more modern look

That gave me my first really good laugh of the day. They should have stuck with Courier. Very cutting edge.
marian bantjes
02.26.04 at 01:35

I wish he had written this piece for Design Observer.

Why just wish? Why not make it happen? Commission pieces from writers and designers you like.
John
02.29.04 at 02:38


|
Share This Story



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

William Drenttel is a designer and publisher, and editorial director of Design Observer. He is a partner at Winterhouse, a design consultancy focused on social change, online media and educational institutions, and a senior faculty fellow at the Yale School of Management.
More Bio >>

DESIGN OBSERVER JOBS









BOOKS BY William Drenttel

Looking Closer 5
Allworth Press, 2006

Looking Closer 4
Allworth Press, 2002

Looking Closer 2
Allworth Press, 1997

Looking Closer 1
Allworth Press, 1994

More books by contributors >>

RELATED POSTS


Mr. Vignelli's Map
Vignelli Celebration: Massimo Vignelli's 1972 New York City subway map is a beautiful example of information design that was ultimately rejected by its users.

Reflections on The Ephemeral World, Part One: Ink
An elegy to the makeready — those sheets of paper, re-fed into a press to get the ink balances up to speed, leaving a series of often random, palimpsest-like, multiple impressions on a single surface — in the digital age.

Cranbrook Commencement Address
"I come to you, like all commencement speakers, as an emissary from the future." The commencement address delivered by Julie Lasky at the Cranbrook Academy of Art on May 9, 2008.

Greening the Grocery Store
It turns out that the "recycling symbol" at the bottom of my yogurt container had nothing to do with its recyclability. So why was it there? My curiosity led to findings around which I built a design class.

O.H.W. Hadank
Paul Rand held Hadank in the highest esteem because he practiced modernist formal principles even though he did not follow its dogma or style. And most important, as Rand said “Hadank was then and always an original. A profile of O.H.W. Hadank by Steven Heller...