Play Press: Communication Arts

plog_4_MAY_2015 Communication Arts May/June 2015 Cover

We are thrilled to be featured in Communication Arts’ May/June issue. The profile of Design is Play is written by Jessica Carew Kraft and includes a range of our work, including collaborations with former Credo Creative Director Steve Lyons and Los Angeles illustrator Greg Clarke.

We especially like the summary of the article on CA’s Table of Contents page: “A master of bold identity marks and a refined typography connoisseur marry talents in a dynamic San Francisco design partnership.” The marriage is metaphorical, of course, but it is romantic nonetheless.

Thank you to Patrick and Jean Coyne for this honor, and to Jessica for the article!

Hollywood Boulders Identity

©DesignisPlay Hollywood Boulders

Hollywood Boulders is our latest collaboration with Touchstone Climbing in San Francisco. Slated to open later this year, Hollywood Boulders will be Southern California’s largest indoor bouldering gym, with 18-foot walls and 11,000 square feet of climbing terrain.

The geometry of the tri-skull symbol suggests both an urban skyline as well as the dihedral features of a rock wall. It’s also a nod to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery which just happens to be across the street from the gym.

Fox Acquired by LACMA

©DesignisPlay Mark Fox Posters

Two posters Mark designed in the 1990’s were recently acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as part of the Marc Treib Collection. Treib is professor emeritus of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and his gift of over 500 posters now forms part of the Decorative Arts and Design collection at LACMA.

“Republican Contract on America” (right) is a 1995 propaganda poster screen printed on chipboard. A quote by Nazi Hermann Göring is used to highlight the anti-intellectual, anti-cultural stance of the Republican-controlled 104th U.S. Congress.

“5ive Iconoclasts” (left) is an offset litho poster promoting a series of lectures from the same year. The 1995 AIGA/SFMOMA Design Lecture Series featured an eclectic mix of designers and artists which included Tibor Kalman (M&Co.), Vaughan Oliver (v23), the Guerrilla Girls, Jenny Holzer, and Diller + Scofidio. The poster quotes Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky: “Art is not a mirror to reflect the world, but a hammer with which to shape it.”

Cliffs of Id Identity

©DesignisPlay Cliffs of ID

Cliffs of Id is a new climbing gym from Touchstone Climbing opening in Culver City, California. It is named after a passage in Reyner Banham’s Four Ecologies of Los Angeles, a book about Southern California and its architecture: “The Plains of Id are where the crudest urban lusts and most fundamental aspirations are created, manipulated and, with luck, satisfied.”

The Cliffs of Id symbol is a winged robot, an encapsulation of the mythic future as promised to America by the movie and television industries of Southern California in the 1950’s and 60’s. Like most of our trademark work, we inked this symbol by hand prior to rebuilding it in Illustrator. The wordmark is set in a 17 Oblong, an architectural typeface by Dutch designers René Knip and Janno Hahn at Arktype.

Judd Foundation, 101 Spring Street


We were fortunate to be in New York in January where we visited the Judd Foundation in SoHo for the first time. The five-story cast-iron building was purchased by Donald Judd in 1968 as a home, studio, and permanent installation. The ground floor features a 1986 minimalist installation by Carl Andre titled Manifest Destiny which consists of eight stacked bricks, all bearing the legend “Empire.”

The third floor of the building houses Judd’s former studio which was perhaps our favorite space. The studio is comprised of three separate areas for activities that correspond to three distinct body positions: chairs for reading while sitting; a desk for drawing while standing; and a floor rug and wooden headrest for contemplation while recumbent.

Judd’s reductive arrangement of space within the studio and his prescription for a specific, different physical orientation while engaged in each task would no doubt serve to focus his attention and separate each creative endeavor in his consciousness. Daniel J. Boorstin, the author of The Image: a Guide to Pseudo Events in America, warns against the unconscious blurring of experience. Addressing technology and the “rise of images” in particular, he writes: “In twentieth-century America we have gone one step beyond the homogenizing of experience…. Even as we try to sharpen our artificial distinctions they become ever more blurry.”

Milton Glaser notes that “Drawing is thinking,” an observation I am fond of quoting. That said, the experience of being in Donald Judd’s studio leads me to an oppositional thought, which is: reading is not drawing is not thinking. While I still subscribe to Glaser’s dictum, I admire Judd’s implicit acknowledgment that while these three activities are related, they are not equivalent. The discipline (and clarity) demanded by Judd’s approach is revelatory. [MF]