Pantone 3965

The Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning is 75 years old, and they now have this 128-page book to tell their story. The satisfaction of having it printed and delivered after six months of design and production is huge. Erik Vrielink pulled tremendous weight on this one.

Things I love about this book:

  • The gorgeous, difficult-to-define, bright yellow-ish-green Pantone 3965 that CRP immediately embraced.
  • Our fat, geometric CRP75 logo.
  • Sappi’s McCoy Silk: is there a better coated sheet?
  • Finally working with Commercial Type’s Lyon Text — I’m a fan. You may recognize it from the New York Times Magazine, where it debuted in 2009. We paired it with AAP’s Helvetica Neue.
  • And the printing by J.S. McCarthy in Augusta, Maine is fantastic. If you’re ever in need of a super-high-quality resource for books or annual reports, consider working with them.


It’s no secret that Soulellis Studio loves Knockout. We’ve used it a lot, mostly for our work for the Municipal Art Society of New York. Through MAS, we recently began working with The Rockefeller Foundation. Today’s print edition of the New York Times announces the 2010 NYC Cultural Innovation Fund grantees on page A27, with an ad we designed for them. We paired Knockout with Dalton Maag’s Aktiv Grotesk for a revolving, sliding grid of congratulatory messages and program descriptions.

Also just printed: materials for the MASterworks Awards, part of the MAS Summit for New York City on October 20-21.



I never thought that a two-year series of posters using the same format, colors, typography and “graphic machine design generator” would be so interesting. But that’s exactly what Dean Kleinman at Cornell University College of Architecture, Art and Planning challenged us to do and it’s resulted in some of our best poster work. Here’s the recently printed Fall 2010 events poster.


Venetian suite 2

The second in a set of four books created for the Venetian Suite project in Italy, May-June 2010. I posted the first book (“77 palazzi on G.Canal”) here. Read more about the project and trip with SVA here.

0-100 in S.Marco

Every doorway in Venice is numbered. Each number marks an actual door, or a window that was formerly a door, or part of a wall where a doorway once was. The hand-painted numbers are distinctive: always red, always in a white oval or rectangular shape, outlined in black.

The numbers were put in place in the mid-19th century to replace a much older system that had ordered Venice’s doors for hundreds of years. All of the original civic numbers (“numeri civici”) are maintained to this day, whether the door is functional (or even there), or not.

I discovered that the grand entrance to the Basilica in Piazza San Marco is “#0.” It’s unmarked, of course. Doorways #1, 1a and 2 are also unmarked (the Doge’s Palace). The first marked number is “3” — a gelato shop in the piazza, across from the Palace. The numbers continue from there, wrapping around the piazza through the arcades, and continuing on into every street, canal and corner of Venice (many thousands of hand-painted numbers).

One way to explore the city is through these numbers. Venice can be unknowable, unpredictable, chaotic; the numbers project a sense of order and organization, a guiding rationale. But they’re also enigmatic.

Early on a Saturday morning, from a consistent vantage point, I photographed each of the first 100 numeri civici in the piazza. Each photo documents a number (at the center/top) but also contains fragments of doorways, people, interiors and signage. Some numbers are missing; I noted those on blank pages. Look closely at the photographs and you’ll also discover, in the reflections, what was behind me — beautiful moments of deep space and light containing palace, piazza, basilica, people and sky.

A selection of the photographs used in the book are on Flickr.

Download the entire PDF here (4.8MB).



The AAP Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Here’s our gridded “75” design on a save-the-date postcard, using Pantone spots 3965 (yellow-green) & 540 (blue). The photo is from 1957. More to come, including a 148-page book in the fall.


Pantone 808

Our latest issue of the alumni newsletter for the College of Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell University, featuring neon blue-green Pantone 808. This is the eighth issue of the remarkable magazine that we re-imagined and redesigned four years ago.


Gay America.

We just finished designing Scott Pasfield’s Gay America / Out and Proud Across the USA. During a two-year period Scott photographed gay men in every state and gathered their stories to create an incredible portrait of America. For the cover and headline typeface we chose Tapeworm, a curious font based on the wordmarks found in Ed Ruscha’s paintings — the kind of letterforms an amateur sign maker might make with masking tape. Ruscha refers to this style as “boy scout utility modern” — to me it’s proud, American, odd and rebellious, and completely unexpected.
It’s been a great honor to work with Scott and editor Alan Rapp to bring Gay America to life. We had a smooth experience printing the sample book with Blurb and now it’s being reviewed by publishers. Good luck to Scott and his remarkable project.


Venetian suite.

I just returned from an extraordinary two weeks studying design history and typography with Louise Fili, Steven Heller and Lita Talarico in the SVA Masters Workshop in Venice and Rome. I blogged the whole thing here.
Venice in four movements was the final result of my first week in Italy. The four little books are a set: a study of the different structures I discovered there. They suggest something expansive (77 palazzi, 39 doorbells…etc.) but in fact they’re narrow: focused concepts that stay close to one very specific idea. An attempt to produce something spacious and beautiful from a simple, methodical framework.
I’ll feature each book in separate posts.
77 palazzi on G.Canal.
Process: I photographed every facade on the Grand Canal, numbered and plotted the palazzi on a map, sampled each palazzo’s color from its photo, and paired each color with its original family name. The book — a particular kind of color study — paints a meditative portrait of Venice by suggesting a deeper history of the city (the family names), light (how the colors were rendered during my partly cloudy, mid-morning one-hour journey) and urban geography (the cut of the “S” through the entire width of the city).
In this case, as in all four of these books, process becomes content. I try to tell a story through disciplined research, and expose something poetic from the structure.
The fat little book is a giant accordion fold that can be experienced page-by-page or as an unfolding palette, kind of like the Grand Canal itself.
Download the PDF (2.3 MB).


The studio diagrams.

Course of Action Map for Studio 1.
Course of Action Map for Studio 2.
Course of Action Map for Studio 3.
Course of Action Map for Studio 4.
Course of Action Map for Studio (+1).
These are the diagrams we created for Ann Pendleton-Jullian’s just-published book on design education, Four (+1) Studios: 7 Papers and an Epilogue. Each illustrates a different model for educating the architect in the context of the design studio.


Slow design.

I just had a crazy moment realizing that we started designing the new website for Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning in August 2005 — the same year YouTube was created. Soulellis Studio was four years old. Twitter wasn’t even born yet.
We launched it in two stages (2005 and 2006). It goes without saying that the internet is a different place now. So is AAP. During the last five years we’ve worked with two deans and many dedicated staff to refine the identity of the college (an exciting evolution). Designing quick and dirty brand identities and launching in record time has become the norm these days (doing a few of those right now), but this is a great example of what can happen when designer and client are in it for the long haul. A committment to exploring brand identity over time.
This year AAP asked us to revisit our original design. Among our goals:

  • “expand” the feeling of the narrow site without increasing actual width
  • refresh the design to better reflect AAP’s current visual identity
  • refine the typography
  • increase size and visibility of images
  • increase legibility

While I would characterize these more as chiropractic design adjustments (rather than a total redesign), the impact is huge. Cornell and Krate quietly launched the adjusted site last week. For better or for worse this design was created without much concern for mobile, but I have to say it looks pretty great on the iPad (screenshots above).