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June, 2012 Monthly archive

My recent field trip to New York coincided with The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Spring 2012 Costume Institute exhibition (on view May 10–August 19, 2012). Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations, explores the striking affinities between Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada, two Italian designers from different eras. By all accounts the exhibit has been a huge hit, as the place was packed the day I visited.

If you can manage to pull your eyes away from the beautiful garments in order to examine the space details, the exhibit design itself is as incredible as the fashions on display. Having recently completed our Art Deco Chic exhibit for the Museum of Vancouver, I had a full appreciation for The Met’s awe inspiring exhibit design. Massive projected backdrops, glossy plexiglass info panels, custom built display cases and high definition video photo displays (with subtle touches such as opening and closing eyes on the vintage photo models), combine to present the apparel in the best light, and elevate the material on display beyond mere mortals. Even the mannequins are crowned with striking head treatments that are the perfect compliment to the garments without being distracting.

The Metropolitan is always inspiring, but the Impossible Conversations exhibit was definitely a surprising highlight of my trip.

 

Prada Exhibit at The Met

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Sorting through the collection of sign photos from my trip to New York City (or I should say Manhattan), it became apparent just how much the street level typography helps define the character of particular neighbourhoods. Even with all the urban renewal steamrolling through the city, obvious attempts have been made to hold onto existing treasures or recreate quintessential typographic elements. Retail giants dominate the advertising and storefronts, and the slick art gallery system and entertainment industry that permeates the city obviously lends a certain polish, but there is a visible amount of hand-crafted work that nicely offsets the corporate gloss. NYC presents a wonderful variety of signs, for all levels of communications. Inspiration is on every street corner. In addition to these, here are some more signs that caught my attention while meandering through the city.

 

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New York City is a visual treat. The City that Never Sleeps has something to offer everyone, and on my recent visit, it offered up a dizzying array of letterforms and signage that I found just as interesting as the characters that inhabit the five boroughs. It felt like there was construction on every block, with an increase of slick, sterile, pre-fabricated letters dominating the streets. However, with urban density dominating Manhattan, typographic gems were everywhere, old & new. Hand lettering is alive and well in New York. Neon lighting is everywhere, thankfully not just in Times Square. Here are a few of my favourites, from the over-the-top visual noise pollution of Times Square, to the over-the-top paranoia of Fallout Shelters.

 

NYC signage

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Neon is back and not in a bad sort of 80s way. In fashion and interiors, hints of neon are popping up everywhere. Pair it (sparingly) with white, wood and neutral shades and you can’t go wrong.

 

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