Paula Scher, one of the 19 partners who run the world’s largest independent design consultancy called Pentagram has designed the new look of ‘The New School’ and its constituent Institutions. ‘The New School’, mostly known for Parsons, was founded in 1919 and has since grown and innovated in its programs, currently it has incorporated the design thinking within the different areas of its 5 universities, from liberal arts to performing arts, from overall policy to social research.
The past identity design was created by the global strategic branding firm Siegel+Gale, this image made the university stand out from the others by its logo with stencil and airbrush style. But apparently this identity wasn’t working for nowadays because it lacked sophistication and didn’t unified all the institutions of The New School.
The design of Pentagram’s Paula Scher is based entirely on the use of typography, its aesthetics by the architecture and typography of the New School’s landmark Joseph Urban building, as well as the new University Center, opened in 2013. The identity seeks to establish an iconic brand for The New School as a whole that can also be adapted to each institution, program and school.
The logo consists of two colours: black and ‘Parsons Red’, it also includes a pair of parallel lines that echo the horizontal striations in the architecture of the buildings and anchor The New School wordmark, establishing an organization in the different adaptations of the image, creating a flexible brand that can evolve with the university. The typography, called Neu, is a custom typeface version of the Irma font and was made specifically for the brand; it is composed of three different extended weights, programmed to be used randomly all at once. According to Paula ‘The typography embodies the progressive mission of The New School and represents a technological advance in the art of type design.’
And finally, after all that magical explanation by Pentagram, my F opinion. It’s not a surprise that this change caused a lot controversy within and outside the university, most of the hateful comments are directed to the custom typography. I don’t hate the type a 100% but I’m not a fan neither, at first I found it weird because some letters seem very stretched, but after seeing it a lot of times I get used to it, and I kind of like the movement that the different weights give to the logo, for me it looks like a fluid.
The positive thing I see in this design is that they were able to create a unique brand that can adapt to their sub-brands, and thereby make all the different schools to be recognized as part of the same group, so that the fame of one can help the other that is less known. I don’t think that the sophistication they were looking for was necessary because a college with art programs, drama, design, research, and many other programs of the same style, doesn’t need to look elegant, quite the contrary, I think it should be more free and experimental, yes, with a well-defined system, but not as serious like this one.
I won’t criticize each of the applications because that will take years, but I just wanna say that the stationery is very ugly, what’s going on with the pattern of the folder, horrible! It’s like traveling back many years. In general the new identity is so so, it has a great system and language, but it is not breathtaking, but nor horrible (except for that folder). I don’t think it’s the best choice for this type of institution, I believe there is much more to explore and lends itself to a more flexible and creative design, after all it is not a law school.
But well.. at least this is my f opinion.