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Pentagram’s New School Rebrand: Best Thing Ever Or Unbearable Monstrosity?

The Internet’s split right down the middle when it comes to the New School’s wonky new typeface.

It’s appropriate that Pentagram’s new algorithmic typeface for the New School looks like a wonky take on the Star Wars font, because to paraphrase the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Internet has reacted to it with a great disturbance, like millions of voices suddenly crying out in terror, then refusing to shut up about it.

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The identity, designed by Pentagram’s Paula Scher, was meant to give the New School a modern, innovative look that is widely adaptable to many different platforms and doesn’t look as dated as its old spray-paint logo. But check out the Twitter hate it’s getting!

Commenters on our story about the new identity seem to agree:

Brian Piper:

The “School House Rock” font now looks edgy to me. Fan of the idea, not the execution.

Joyce Xu:

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Incredible ugly. The type is terribly disharmony!

Isabel:

I don’t know what went through their minds while they where designing this. I’m a Parsons alumni and I feel so disappointed in this work. Parsons has the name, reputation and color to be an iconic/strong brand, but yet it fails at this. It has Star Wars written all over it.

Laura Yeh:

I used to think the used logo was bad… but this is even worse

Manny Hernandez:

The Nevv School

Scott Walker:

Sorry Pentagram but this is woeful by your very high standards. It’s predictable and doesn’t promote any interactive qualities. If Pentagram is REALLY one of the biggest design and branding agencies around, and Parsons specifically is REALLY one of the biggest design schools out there, then you can and should do considerably better.


But this view isn’t unanimous and there are also a whole lot of people who really like the new visual direction. The more articulate defenders of the New School’s fresh identity include graphic designer Andrew M. Fishman, who argued in our comments:

I disagree entirely with the previously stated opinions; this is clean, modern design influenced by a variety of factors. The concept of utilizing architectural design elements and the use of a font completely unique to the school itself illustrates a well orchestrated rebranding. The font itself does not speak to me from a design perspective. However, what strikes me is the fonts use a unique element that captures the spirit of this brand specifically, completely ‘Nue’ school.

Nor is he alone in coming to the identity’s defense. Popular graphic design critic Armin Vit gave the new identity a good review on his blog, UnderConsideration (even if his commenters largely disagree with him):

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I’ve always been a fan of Siegel+Gale’s spray-painted identity. It was (and still is) a bold move for an educational institution, even one deep in New York City where such shenanigans are to be expected. What made it great wasn’t so much that it was spray-painted but that it defied expectations and set itself apart by being purposely different and slightly uncomfortable. The new logo and identity achieve a similar effect. The wordmark is not classically pretty–the odd “W” has already been the subject of many hate-Tweets–but it commands attention in the way that odd New Yorkers (in their styles and behaviors) command attention: by being uniquely personal and slightly off.

What do you think? Is Pentagram’s new identity for the New School a quirky triumph that time will redeem, or a total disaster that will be quietly swept under the rug a year from now?

Read more about Pentagram’s New School redesign here.

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