Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand | Audio

Episode 71: A 40,000-point 9

Ivan Chermayeff, who spent 60 years running Chermayeff & Geismar, died last week. Michael and Jessica discuss his spirit and his work, from his posters for PBS to the large red sculpture of a 9 outside 9 West 57th Street.

Next time you walk by the building, look closely and you’ll see Chermayeff’s signature etched into it, The signature, Michael says,

establishes it as a kind of art. It’s sitting where alternately a Calder statue could sit or a Noguchi sculpture could sit there, but instead it’s just this fantastic piece of typography. And I’ve always felt like it looks really big .And the reason it looks big is because it’s a thing you’re accustomed to seeing small. You know, that is, like, a 40,000-point number 9.

Also mentioned this week:
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Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand Jessica Helfand, a founding editor of Design Observer, is an award-winning graphic designer and writer. A former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Eye and Communications Arts magazine, she is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and a recent laureate of the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. Jessica received both her BA and MFA from Yale University where she has taught since 1994. In 2013, she won the AIGA medal.

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