Ben & Jerry’s Flavor

For the interior design of Ice Cream Social, Brad Edmondson’s history of Ben & Jerry’s, I asked, What makes Ben & Jerry’s visual flavor?

Title Page

Ice Cream Social Title Page

B&JContents

Ice Cream Social: Table of Contents

Mr Natural. I bet he enjoys Ben and Jerry’s.

B&J’s packaging and clever/irreverent product names have their roots in the 1970s. The early designers must have had copies of U&lc in their offices, and the cartoon illustrations of Gilbert Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics, and the lighter side of R Crumb in their minds.

It turns out that Ben & Jerry’s style was created by hand, by illustrator and graphic designer Lyn Severance. Be sure to follow the link to see the scope of her work.

Since B&J’s original shop opened in 1978, I think it is safe to speculate that she was inspired in part by Joel Kaden and Tony Stan’s American Typewriter (1974), but when I consider that she did all the lettering herself, and eventually turned her designs into typefaces, to call her work anything other than original and trendsetting would be a mistake. She tapped into the youthfulness and enthusiasm for the handmade that was in the culture at the time and applied it with great success.

ITC American Typewriter

So, for the major display type elements of the interior, American Typewriter Bold was an essential ingredient. Next, I needed to find a text face that would harmonize with the right amount of authority and formality. In this day an age, slab serifs have enjoyed a significant revival, and that would have been one direction to go. Instead, I let my instincts guide me, and reached back into my typesetter past. I remembered a typeface that was popular in the 70s and 80s, but hasn’t really made it into the 21st century digital culture, (aside from the fact that it you can buy the font in OpenType form): Stemple Schneidler.

Stemple Schneidler Book

To me, the typeface feels like the older, wiser, relative of the youthful American Typewriter. Why do I think it blends with American Typewriter? I suppose it is because of the emphasized serifs, and it could also be that it is a Venetian typeface reinterpreted in the 1930s. I’d argue that the B&J style also looks back to early animated cartoons and lettering styles from the 1930s. Stemple Schneidler has great legibility and earthy elegance.

You’ll see a bit of Shag Mystery (brought in from Irene Morris’s clever cover) as well as Ironwork and Berliner Grotesque to add crunch. The smooth creamy narrative flows in Stemple Schneidler with American Typewriter ripple (heads).

Chapter Opener

Chapter Opener

Photo page

Photo page

Ice Cream Social won a silver award for design in 2014 from Pub West.

Stonehouse Is in the House

StonehouseTitlex672

The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse, translation and commentary by Red Pine published by Copper Canyon Press.

Thinking of Eric Gill, and his background as a stonecutter, I set the book title with Gill’s beautiful Perpetua Titling capitals. I fell in love with the shapes of the letters, I admit.

Then, we found the image of the man in his simple hut, in the midst of dragon-shape pine trees. After acquiring the image rights, we learned that this scene was a detail from the  familiar painting, “The Thatched Hut of Dreaming an Immortal” by Tang Yin (late 16th C), the wide painting depicts a man hovering in space at the left side. The Immortal hovers just beyond the book cover too.

StonehouseSoft

The interior design balances the vertical lines of Chinese and the dense commentary on the verso pages with the poem number and translation on the recto page. All along, we wanted to keep the attention on the poems, with no more than 2 poem per spread.

I selected Minion for the text, as the sections of commentary can be long and we had limited space. Minion is slightly condensed so fits more words on the page than Bembo (another face I considered). Why not Perpetua for the text? Aside from the problem of fitting commentary, I don’t use Perpetua anymore for text because it falls apart when printed POD, and even though this book was printed on web press (at McNaughton and Gunn), you never know how the text may be printed in future.

The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse

Copious notes and commentary are part of what make Red Pine’s books so great.

The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse: spread 2

Stonehouse: The page has to work with less text, too.

Multilingual books are always full of puzzles to solve. In this case the poems contain some archaic characters, so we relied on a compositor in Taiwan to compose the Chinese. Delivered as a PDF, each page contained several poems. I placed the PDF and cropped out the other poems. Midway through, the Chinese compositor changed the spacing and organization of the source pdf changed. Aargh! I had to relink and check and recrop all those text boxes. What are blogs for if not for complaining, right?

I’ll end with one of my favorite poems from this collection:

Poem 13, by Stonehouse

Poem 13 by Stonehouse, translated by Red Pine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To buy a copy of the book, buy direct from Copper Canyon Press, or browse your local bookseller.

 

Books on book design

I was just asked about book design titles. Here are some that have stayed close to my desk:

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

Everything you need to know is in this book. This book is beautifully designed and printed. The books have a ribbon bookmark. Mine is set on the spread of ratios. At one time I worked through the math and proportions for every book I designed. Eventually, I had a body of experience that I could refer to — templates, notes, and printed results of my efforts. At this point, amazingly enough, some of it now part of my own body. That is, I can amaze myself by drawing boxes or choosing positions on the page that turn out to be in proportion if I check the math. I’ve absorbed the aesthetic.

The Design of Books by Adrian Wilson

This great book appears to be out of print. I have a copy that was issued by Chronicle Books in 1993. The process and methods in the book are pre-desktop computing. The book is richly illustrated with examples of book design from the 1960. Adrian Wilson worked at a time when comping was done by hand and the designer communicated their vision to various craftspeople who worked in other buildings or other towns. Those methods enforced a clarity of vision that we do not need in a world where we can create a visual faster than we can imagine it. Covers type, papers, binding, boxes for limited editions — I return to this book again and again for inspiration.

The Form of the Book: Essays on the Morality of Good Design by Jan Tschichold

This one is out of print too. Guess that says a lot right there. This collection of essays covers typography and the materials of book production. I have a flag on the page about footnotes. Between Bringhurst and Tschichold, you can learn everything you need about setting beautiful type