#85, Smith Street, Brooklyn
You gotta hand it to the Nu Hotel, pictured above, for having the chutzpah to open a "nu" hotel directly across the street from Brooklyn's notorious House of D. You can see that they hope to circumvent any distress out-of-towners may feel at staying within gunshot of the 11-story, pink-tinted behemoth juvie detention center by "distressing" the oversized numbers stuck to the dull brick wall.
And this 85 is as good a time as any to link to designer Michael Bierut's post over at Design Observer called 26 Years, 85 Notebooks. Since I saw Bierut speak eloquently about fonts, serifs, and doomsday advertising at Postopolis! two years ago and after my recent rapturously geeky experience seeing the film Helvetica, which I wrote about here , I've had his work and his insights on my radar. So imagine my awe at the vision of Bierut's 85 composition books, all filled in with notes and sketches and ideas, stacked on a chair like a totem pole or a twisting skyscraper or an astonishing stack of pancakes. In the accompanying essay, Bierut provides a tour through some of the notebooks and what they have meant to him over the years:
He describes design process, discovery, and his dislike of gridded paper. There are tales of lost notebooks (#45, lost in Heathrow and another lost in, oddly, the United Airlines headquarters in my hometown in Illinois) and puzzling later over notes that remain cryptic even to the notebook's keeper. ("Did I ever call Dilland? Whatever happened to Executive Sign? What was the Lefand Alliance?") Even better, you can sneak a peek inside some of the notebooks and see what really goes on in a designer's brain. Mmm.On August 12, 1982, I took a 10 x 7 1/8 inch National Blank Book Company composition book from the supply closet of my then employer, Vignelli Associates. From that moment, I have never been without one. I always have one at my desk. I take one with me to every meeting. I am now in the middle of Notebook #85. It's in front of me right now. Together, these well-worn books create a history of my working life that spans three decades.