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Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America

Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America
Phaidon/ the New Museum, 2020
10 inches x 11.75 inches, Book

Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America, is a catalog for an exhibition originally conceived by Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019) for the New Museum. Grief and Grievance brings together artists working in various mediums who have addressed the concept of mourning, commemoration, and loss as a direct response to the national emergency of racist violence experienced by Black communities across America. The show was presented with support from curatorial advisors Naomi Beckwith, Massimiliano Gioni, Glenn Ligon, and Mark Nash.

Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA)

Polymode led a complete redesign of OCMA’s visual identity, brand materials, and website to welcome the museum’s new building, opening in 2022. The site, designed in collaboration with Happening Studio, features colored hues that shift throughout the day based on the current time in Orange County, CA. The typeface, Kent was designed by Jaimey Shapey.

Poetic Research

Southern California is a complex, multilayered place, connected to its ecological and geographical features – the sky, ocean, trees, and architecture. OCMA’s visual identity and website feature a dynamic design system that reflects the light and space of Southern California. The OCMA collection also features a strong representation of California art and the Light and Space movement.

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Artbound Emory Douglas: The Black Panther Artist

At its peak, the Black Panther newspaper publication had the highest circulation of any paper in the country. Behind the its powerful illustrations was Emory Douglas. This episode follows how Douglas created a visual language that uplifted the Black community’s image of itself amid the racist portrayals of mainstream media. In doing so, they created the visual imagery of protest in the country.

Featuring commentary by Silas Munro.

Willi Smith: Street Couture

Willi Smith: Street Couture

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum / Rizzoli

7.5″ x 11.5″ Book

2020

256 Pages

Our team designed the catalog, the didactics, collaborated on the exhibition design, and art directed the online community archive’s look and feel for Willi Smith: Street Couture, the first museum survey of designer Willi Smith (1948–1987). Through hundreds of the artist’s works across a range of media, the exhibition illuminates an under-recognized pioneer of streetwear fashion—one who played an essential role in the New York art scene of the 1970s and 1980s before his sudden death, in 1987, of AIDS.

Willi Smith: Street Couture

Mixed media

Dimensions variable

2020

Polymode was responsible for all levels of didactics, A-, B-, and C-level graphics (read: title wall, timeline, headlines, subheads, and object captions: 62 pieces in total).

Willi Smith Community Archive

Video of the website

00:54

2020

The Willi Smith Digital Community Archive invites friends, collaborators, and admirers of American designer Willi Smith to share in writing his history. The site collects and publishes personal recollections, new scholarship, video, and digital ephemera that contribute to a greater understanding of Smith’s life, work, and times.

Design for Willi Smith

2020

A collaborative essay, written at the request of the curator talking about our, personal and professional, reasoning and rationale for designing the Willi Smith catalogue and exhibition design. It is the last essay in the published catalogue.

Willi Smith: Street Couture

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum / Rizzoli

7.5″ x 11.5″ Book

2020

256 Pages

 

Willi Smith: Street Couture, is the first museum survey of designer Willi Smith (1948–1987). Through hundreds of the artist’s works across a range of media, the exhibition illuminates an under-recognized pioneer of streetwear fashion—one who played an essential role in the New York art scene of the 1970s and 1980s before his sudden death, in 1987, of AIDS.

Our team designed the catalog, the didactics, collaborated on the exhibition design, and art directed the online community archive’s look and feel.

Willi Smith: Street Couture

Mixed media

Dimensions variable

2020

Polymode was responsible for all levels of didactics, A-, B-, and C-level graphics (read: title wall, timeline, headlines, subheads, and object captions: 62 pieces in total).

Willi Smith Community Archive

Video of the website

00:54

2020

 

The Willi Smith Digital Community Archive invites friends, collaborators, and admirers of American designer Willi Smith to share in writing his history. The site collects and publishes personal recollections, new scholarship, video, and digital ephemera that contributes to a greater understanding of Smith’s life, work, and times.

Design for Willi Smith

2020

A collaborative essay written at the request of the curator, speaking about our personal and professional reasoning and rationale for designing the Willi Smith catalog and exhibition design. It is the last essay in the published catalog.

Poetic Research

Conceptually, the identity of the exhibition comprises a set of fundamental elements: verticality; Smith’s cutting-edge designs; the ghosting of memory and the collective loss of potential mentors to AIDS (as expressed by the grey tones); New York’s architecture and broad avenues; and the proportions of the standing, human body. This theme flows seamlessly through all forms of the identity’s typography—from the catalog’s front matter, to the headlines displayed throughout the galleries, and other related exhibition content.

Explore this project’s poetic research

BIPOC DESIGN HISTORY Black Design in America: African Americans and the African Diaspora in Graphic Design 19th—21st Century

Asynchronous Online Design History Course

13 Lectures

2021

Black Design in America is the first in a series of BIPOC Centered design history courses facilitated by Polymode. Launched in January of 2021 as live and pre-recorded lectures, readings, and discussions, this synchronous and asynchronous series of classes sheds light on moments of oppression and visibility. The series revisits and rewrites the course of design history in a way that centers previously marginalized designers, cultural figures—and particularly Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and Queer, Trans, People of Color (QTPOC).

CURRICULUM DESIGN:

Silas Munro, Pierre Bowins, Tasheka Arceneaux-Sutton

INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN:

Brian Johnson, Silas Munro, and Tanvi Sharma

COURSE MARKETING AND OPERATIONS:

Audrey Davies, Brian Johnson, Silas Munro, and Tanvi Sharma

PRODUCERS:

Audrey Davies, Randa Hadi, Michelle Lamb, Silas Munro, and Tanvi Sharma

TEACHING ASSISTANT: Tanvi Sharma

LECTURERS:

Saki Mafundikwa

Ziddi Msangi

Pierre Bowins

Kelly Walters

Silas Munro

Jason Forrest

Jon Key

Tasheka Arceneaux-Sutton

Omari Souza

Colette Gaiter

Chris Dingwall

Lauren Willams

Audrey Bennett

Poetic Research

Black Design in America class topics include the ancient origins of African alphabets, innovative mathematics in African architecture, systemic racism of the transatlantic slave trade, W.E.B. Du Bois’s innovative information diagrams in 1900, the aesthetics of Eugenics and its science of racial profiling, the Harlem Renaissance and other queer Blackness, the grassroots network of Victor Hugo Green’s Motorists books, urgent Civil Rights protest movements, the rise of hip hop’s graphic language, histories of Black liberation from Afrofuturism to the Black Lives Matter movement, and methodologies of Black design education. Explore this project’s poetic research →

Youth Resiliency Project

Dimensions variable

Identity, Phone application, Video, Website, Workbooks

2020

Polymode was commissioned to build the you and brand, identity, and app using design research that was provided by therapists, social workers, and visual prototypes. The Youth Resiliency Project developed you and empowers kids K–12th grade through a series of interactive lessons that teach them resilience, mindfulness, problem-solving, and self-care in the wake of the Covid-19 epidemic. The app brings together all these modes for students to create their own world during the challenging times of the pandemic.

Poetic Research

We proposed a question: What could an app that really cares about you look like? Using research provided to us by therapists, social workers, and visual prototypes, we answered that question with a brand, identity, and app that uses six different colors to firmly anchor each level designed to help children process the simple to the complex. These levels appear throughout the digital materials and videos, and pair with a printed workbook distributed by the school system, and connect to the community with a social media strategy and an out-of-home campaign across Orange county.

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Studio Museum in Harlem: f SHOW

Studio Museum in Harlem: f SHOW

2020

Archival Box, 9.5 x 12.25 x 2.75 inches

Printed, Tri-fold Pamphlet, finished 9.25  x 12 inches

Polymode designed a high-end, editioned, archival box for the seminal collection of five,  f SHOW exhibition catalogs which were released from 2001-2018 [Freestyle (2001), Frequency (2005–06), Flow (2008), Fore (2012–13), and Fictions (2017–18)]. The box is accompanied by a printed pamphlet with a new introduction by Thelma Golden.

Poetic Research

The sculptural and sleek forms of the box echo the materials and cantilevered aesthetics of the new architectural home for The Studio Museum designed by David Adjaye and Associates. The display typography, ITC conduit, set by the f SHOW brand takes on a new permanence foil stamped in a black iridescent finish. The box is accompanied by a printed pamphlet with a new introduction by Thelma Golden, an artist list from all shows, and matching iridescent foil-stamping.

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Queer Diagram Hero

Gays, Queers, Fags, Dykes, Sissies, and Abstract Art

Gays, Queers, Fags, Dykes, Sissies, and Abstract Art

2020

24 inches x 36 inches, Poster

Polymode designed this infographic that reflected a history of queerness for inclusion in Ellen Lupton’s book Extra Bold: A Feminist, Inclusive, Subversive, Non-Binary Field Guide for Graphic Design. We chose Alfred H. Barr’s chart as the inspiration and starting point for our own diagram.

Our linage map communicates the nature of visual culture—that everything within queer history (art, literature, poetry, philosophy, theater, design, even resistance) is connected, despite the attempts of patriarchal dogmas to separate and diminish queer communities.

You can purchase a printed poster of the diagram at our shop. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Trevor Project.

Great Force

Great Force

Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University (ICA at VCU), 2019

6.5 x 9 in, Book

300 pages

Great Force is a powerful group show of artists confronting the impact of racism in America. Polymode designed the fully illustrated catalog that includes images and texts from the artists in the exhibition, new contributions from writers Nicholas Mirzoeff and Rebecca Walker, an essay by exhibition curator Amber Esseiva, historical reprints from Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, and Nell Irvin Painter, and custom information design created by Polymode that informed the themes of the exhibition.

Great Force

Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University (ICA at VCU)

Exhibition Didactics

Oct 5, 2019 – Jan 5, 2020

Great Force

Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University (ICA at VCU), 2019

6.5 x 9 in, Book

300 pages

Great Force is a powerful group show of artists confronting the impact of racism in America. Polymode designed the fully illustrated catalog that includes images and texts from the artists in the exhibition, new contributions from writers Nicholas Mirzoeff and Rebecca Walker, an essay by exhibition curator Amber Esseiva, historical reprints from Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, and Nell Irvin Painter, and custom information design created by Polymode that informed the themes of the exhibition.

Great Force

Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University (ICA at VCU)

Exhibition Didactics

Oct 5, 2019 – Jan 5, 2020

Poetic Research

The exhibit Great Force gets its name from an essay written by James Baldwin about the force that racism has on the American psyche. The identity design remixes graphic data visualizations made by W.E.B. Du Bois and his team of Black students from Atlanta University for the World’s Fair in 1900.
Explore this project’s poetic research

Polymode Sans

Polymode Sans

2021

Western European Language Set

Digital typeface

Polymode Sans is a typeface that expresses a view while remaining neutral. Designed by XYZ Type Foundry in collaboration with Polymode.

 Having the right amount of friction, 
it works well as body type — noticed but not annoying. In Display sizes, it lets that friction be more noticeable. It’s flexible in use and is suitable for both screen and print design.
It features a decent x-height that works well on screen and at caption sizes. The stylistic sets allow for customization to change the tone while remaining true to established norms
 of proportion, weight, and contrast.