running words around
design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

Something Worth Schering

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

On Thursday May 1st I attended the latest LongLunch talk.
The venue was Glasgow School of Art's new and extremely impressive Reid Building, and the speaker, introduced as the designer who needs no introduction, was Pentagram's Paula Scher.

Scher, arguably Pentagram's most successful designer, is amongst the most influential designers of the Twentieth Century, has been at the forefront of graphic design and design education for the best part of 40 years.  In her opening remarks she claimed that she 'still looked good from a distance', and then went on to deliver an engrossing and typically brilliant talk, taking the audience through many of her most famous projects, including the High Line, Public Theatre and the Windows 8 branding.

Scher talked about her long career as having been through three distinct phases - a 'stylistic' period during the 70's and early 80's,  mostly involving experimental typography and postmodern pop-cultural ideas, then a 'large scale' period during the 90's (when she applied huge typographic-based murals onto buildings), and finally a socially responsible period, dominated by ergonomic signage and large-scale external and environmental visual communication. Other topics covered included painting, the impact of modern technology on the creative process, artistic inspiration, and the politics and economics of working at Pentagram.

It was great to see a significant number of my current and former students in the audience, and some were brave enough to ask Paula questions in the Q&A afterwards, including Emma Hart (currently a designer at Edinburgh agency Stuff), who asked what we all wanted to know - what Paula Scher's favourite typeface is and why. The answer came back as 'I think that Futura still has it. It still does look really great, even if the ascenders and descenders are a fraction too long'.

After the talk and a huge ovation, Scher signed posters (including the one shown here, a nice birthday present), and accompanied a big section of the audience to the CCA bar, where she chatted, posed for numerous pics and selfies, and generally looked very good close up.

An edited version of this post originally appeared on www.welovedesignetc.info on May 2nd.