New identity for The New School, by Pentagram’s Paula Scher

Published:  March 31, 2015

The New School (home of Parson’s School of Design) has been given a new identity by Pentagram’s Paula Scher that utilises a custom font with letterforms in three different widths. The university was founded in 1919 in Greenwich Village, New York, and now combines design thinking with varied areas of study including liberal arts, performing arts, global policy and social research.


parsons schools

The new identity was created to be flexible, to be open to evolution and to convey the nature of the school’s curriculum — to communicate The New School as a university but nod to its constituent schools, institutes and programs.

“We had to create an identity system where, no matter how you listed the schools, they’d always look like they were part of the same organization, even if the departments changed,” said Scher. “It had to be flexible.”

Scher’s solution — a typeface called Neue (“new” in German), composed of three letterform widths: regular, extended, very extended — is a customised version of the font Irma designed by Peter Bil’ak, who injected it with an algorithm that alters the width of letters and uses them together, meaning the names of the different schools utilise the same typeface and thus remain connected, but each have a distinct character as dictated by the systematic changing of the width.

parsons kit

parsons schools 1

The New School wordmark appears in black, while the names of the individual schools and programs are accented in a Patone colour, Pasons Red, commissioned by the university. A pair of parallel lines underpins the logo, influenced by the the graphic architecture of the university’s Joseph Urban building.

“Going into the New School neighborhood, you’re going to hit a lot of red, a lot of double stripes,” Scher said. 

parsons building

parsons web

The identity will be rolled out across publications, admissions materials, signage and environmental graphics. The New School website has been redesigned in-house, working with Scher’s guidelines and the Neue typeface.

 Read the full project story on the Pentagram website.


4 Responses

  1. Corey

    For the most part I think this typographic system is awful. And those lines…

  2. Why underline twice a typeface that’s already bold? Why purposely induce spelling errors to attract attention? Why use The New School as a guinea pig for some frankenstein-typography experiment? Surely Pentagram and The New School both have a collective responsibility as leading industry authorities to produce artwork that, at the very least, is aesthetically pleasing. This type solution screams for attention at every angle, it’s like the Kim Kardashian of design. The worrying thing is that given how much has already been spent on it, I imagine we’re stuck with it. What a failure, huge missed opportunity.

  3. Tim

    Well it certainly gets your attention, it’s bold. I wonder how it will age- will people grow to appreciate how oddly balanced it is?

  4. I really don’t want to look at that logo design. It’s the kerning / spacing equivelant of orange text on green background.

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