Don't miss the latest stories
How Pentagram Brands Itself Through Its One And Only Promotional Material
By Yoon Sann Wong, 11 Jul 2017
Pentagram Papers (1975-ongoing). Pentagram Papers present curious, entertaining, stimulating, provocative and occasionally controversial points of view that have come to the attention of, or in some cases are actually originated by, the partners of Pentagram Design. Photo courtesy of Pentagram
Once a year, a lucky few open their mailboxes to find the Pentagram Papers—a slim black publication produced annually by the esteemed design studio. These are mailed out to Pentagram’s clients, friends, and colleagues on its mailing list, and it comes printed in limited quantity no less—this air of exclusivity undoubtedly bolstering the brand’s name.
Pentagram partner John McConnell initiated the series back in the late 1970s. Instead of highlighting the studio’s work, the Papers spotlight topics and visual artifacts that the firm’s partners find intriguing and worth sharing with readers. This helps distinguish Pentagram and its leanings.
“The justification as business self-promotion is really just disguising a really self-indulgent form of vanity publishing,” explains Pentagram partner Michael Bierut. “People would get it and think, Pentagram, aren’t they clever, they know so many interesting people.”
The issues span a range of topics, from the very first A Dictionary Of Graphic Clichés, to the fourth edition titled Face To Face—a photographic collection of objects that seem to have “faces” resembling those by Swiss brothers Jean and Francois Robert, also dubbed one of Bierut’s most treasured editions—and the latest Pentagram Papers 47: Museum Collection.
Each spring and fall, Pentagram’s partners come together to work on ideas for the Papers’ next issue. “Someone will come and say, my grandmother has this amazing collection of signed concert programs when she was a page turner at the Teatro in Buenos Aires,” explains Bierut.
“The only time I’ve seen ideas rejected is when they’re not esoteric enough. A bunch of nice pictures won’t make it. Specificity and something that rewards curiosity tend to be the things that are favored.”
To get your hands on one of the 5,000 or so copies printed each year, Bierut suggests making your interest known to him or another Pentagram partner.
Selected issues from the Pentagram Papers are featured below.
Click to view enlarged version. Pentagram Papers (1975-ongoing). Pentagram Papers present curious, entertaining, stimulating, provocative and occasionally controversial points of view that have come to the attention of, or in some cases are actually originated by, the partners of Pentagram Design. Photo courtesy of Pentagram
Pentagram Papers 1: ABC: A Dictionary of Graphic Clichés (1975) designed by John McConnell. Photos courtesy of Pentagram
Pentagram Papers 4: Face to Face (1977) designed by John McConnell, is a collection of photographs of objects that look like they have faces, by the photographers Jean and Francois Robert. Photos courtesy of Pentagram
Pentagram Papers 44: Hear, All Ye People; Hearken, O Earth (2015) designed by Michael Bierut, republishes an essay by the award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris that reveals the typeface that he determined to be most trustworthy: Baskerville. Photos courtesy of Pentagram
Pentagram Papers 45: Overlooked (2016) designed by Marina Willer and team, is a celebration of London’s unsung heroes of industrial design - street covers. Photos courtesy of Pentagram
Pentagram Papers 47: Museum Collection (2017) designed by Luke Hayman and team. It presents the artist Brent Birnbaum’s collection of coat check tags and locker keys from museums around the world. Photos courtesy of Pentagram
[via Fast Co. Design, all photos courtesy of Pentagram]
More related news
Also check out these recent news