Monthly Archives: March 2014

Announcing ADBC’s 2014 Theme and Call for Ideas: Power

Robert Moses photographed by Arnold Newman. New York, 1959

Robert Moses photographed by Arnold Newman. New York, 1959

“For once Moses came into possession of power, it began to perform its harsh alchemy on his character, altering its contours, eating away at some traits, allowing others to enlarge. The potential had always been there, like a darker shadow on the edge of the bright gold of his idealism. With each small increase in the amount of power he possessed, the dark element in his nature loomed larger.”
—Robert Caro, The Power Broker

This year, Superscript’s Architecture and Design Book Club (ADBC) will explore a theme that is all around us in New York: Power.

Slated to launch its 2014 program during the city’s annual NYCxDesign festival in early May, the pop-up book club will dive into the subject with Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning look at the life of Robert Moses. Our first special guest, architecture critic and author Julie Iovine, will lead our discussion of the book, which sheds light on the man who shaped New York’s politics and its built environment—with work encompassing more than $27 billion in projects during his lifetime—without ever being elected to public office.

We’ve got a long list of titles ready for ADBC’s 2014 season (a sneak peek of our shortlist is below)—and we want to hear from you, too! Whether you’re more interested in power politics or power naps, send your suggestions for texts that address this theme to hello@superscript.co with the subject line “Power 2014.”

Under consideration for ADBC’s 2014 Power Calendar:

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind
The Gun by C.J. Chivers
From Bauhaus to Our House by Tom Wolfe
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shtyngart
Can Jokes Bring Down Governments? by Metahaven
Albert Speer: 1932-1942 by Leon Krier

Superscript Headed to 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale

Fundamentals

We are excited to announce Superscript’s participation in the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale! Directed by Rem Koolhaas with the theme of “Fundamentals,” this year’s Biennale also includes a roster of programming called “Weekend Specials.”  As part of this commissioned series, our three-part event Towards a New Avant-Garde will take place during the Biennale’s opening weekend, June 7-8.

Towards a New Avant-Garde will be under the umbrella of the “Monditalia” section of the Biennale housed in the Arsenale—an exhibition complemented by a series lectures, workshops, performances and discussions organized to consider a range of conditions in Italy, from architecture to politics to religion.

Using the state of Italian architectural practice as a jumping off point, our back-to-back moderated discussions will debate issues of collective action, internationalization, and economics in architecture now and in the future. Our goal is understand lessons we can still learn from the radical architectural impulses of the 1960s and consider how they are being applied by a new generation of architects in the context of today’s economic and political environment.

Working with Superscript to develop Towards a New Avant-Garde are London-based author and scholar Catharine Rossi and Milan-based researcher and writer Rossella Ferorelli. Specially invited guests and provocateurs (including young Italian architects who graduated from the country’s four major schools of architecture) as well as the audience will be invited to participate in these lively, content-generating events in the main Arsenale building. 

A live-edited installation and a website, created by architects DEVspace and interactive designer Thibault Brevet, will reflect the dynamics of the discourse and act as physical and virtual platforms to both document and amplify the conversations in conjunction with other media, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. After the talks are over, the products of these discussions will become an experimental publication, which will be produced on site during the following week.

The 2014 Biennale runs from June 7 through November 23. See you there, or sign up on our mailing list to learn how to participate in our event virtually!

The Anatomy of our New Site

Designer Saundra Marcel's first sketches played with ideas of arithmetic.

Designer Saundra Marcel’s first sketches played with ideas of arithmetic.

Following the launch of our new web site last month, we’re excited to keep friends of Superscript up to date with news about our projects—and also a lot of great information and discussions about compelling things happening in the design world!

As an introduction to this platform, we’ve prepared a sort of “anatomy lesson” about our site with designer Saundra Marcel, creative director of the New York office of Real Art, and developer Craig Coffman, founder of Octoberland. Read on to learn about the process and find out what the site has in store for you:

Ready, set, go!
With Superscript’s original mission of “multiplying conversations about design” in mind, Saundra’s ideas for the new site showed a range of possibilities, including concepts that played with mathematical ideas of multiplication and an infinite loop that would offer users a different experience each time they visited.

Biggest surprise
“That Superscript loves color,” says Saundra. “Many clients are afraid of being too bold, but Superscript asked for it. It’s a core part of their identity. The company has a super fun side to them that complements their sometimes serious, very ‘thinky’ work product.”

Superscript-web-site-1

A color-coded guide to our work.

UX/UI
Because Superscript specializes in words—written and verbal—they are a big part of the site. People traditionally don’t love to read a lot on websites, so big headline styles, beefy color bars, and a vertical scroll (down, down, down), which feels like reading a news or blog article, are all ways to let you read as much as you want, but also make the site easily skim-able. Still even more content is waiting to be discovered in pop-ups, or “easter eggs,” as Saundra likes to say, if you want to dive deeper.

Design minds think alike
“Superscript was a perfect client because they understand design and thinking conceptually, but they are not a design firm,” says Saundra. So we’re not stepping on each other’s toes, but they liked and were open to lots of ideas.”

Superscript-web-site-2

A continuous scroll lets you see everything at a glance.

Head-scratchers
What we do is sometimes hard to explain in one sound bite. Rather than use a term like “communications,” which implies public relations-type work, we identified five core things that encompass our practice—these feature boldly at the top of the site. This new visual system of icons will be used on other Superscript materials, too.

As a firm that primarily works with the written word, we didn’t want to lean too heavily on images. The system of icons and simple, bold graphics—underlines, outlines, bars, chunky arrows—keep things visually interesting and playful without using many photos.

Going with the flow
Opting for a continuously scrolling format “is a clearly modern enhancement,” says Craig. “That, however, was not the main factor behind implementing it. I opted to include the feature because it mimics the flow of the site. Essentially the main page is all someone would really need. Yes, there are links from it to the limited other pages, but it is essentially a one-page design. It felt natural that the News blog would behave in a similar fashion.”

Craig integrated the new site’s header into WordPress to prevent the News section of the site from feeling like an afterthought—it is a natural part of the site, while still offering the power and flexibility afforded by a blogging platform.

Superscript on the go!

Superscript on the go!

Mobile by nature
The site was also created with Responsive Web Design (RWD). More than simply a trend, RWD is a forward-thinking technique to allow the content to display well regardless of the screen. The site will reflow on a many different mobile devices, taking advantage of the different screen sizes used by Superscript’s out-and-about audience.

We look forward to seeing you here again soon!