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My Summer Lair featuring Emily Oberman (Pentagram)

My Summer Lair featuring Emily Oberman (Pentagram)

Sammy Younan

Published on: April 10 2018

My Summer Lair Chapter #77: Do You Look Back?

So…I made 2 fascinating mistakes with this interview with Pentagram’s multidisciplinary designer and strategist Emily Oberman.

Typically when you do an interview its focus is the creator’s latest project. If I’m sitting down with Steven Spielberg it’s to talk about Ready Player One. That’s what generated my interview request; that’s why I am taking up his time to talk about a project instead of him working on a new project. As such it’s weird if I suddenly ask him about War of the Worlds, say. (Doubly weird as I did not enjoy the movie.) That’s the first mistake I made.

The second mistake was I guess I assumed everybody is like me. I can’t stand looking back. The constant analogy I use is why put out a greatest hits album…keep making new music. Forget the past; let’s focus on the new. You don’t get into a new relationship and keep thinking about a past love do you? Don’t answer that!

It turns out I was wrong: Emily Oberman was not only happy to talk about past work; she expected me to. And was proud of the work she’s done as it informs her present and future work. Oh. That makes sense.

As it says in her FITC bio: “Emily’s work is unique in that it blurs the line between promotion and design—often using language and humor to make an emotional connection.” That blurred line is what drew me to her work…that and that we all know so much of her work.

Ready? At M&Co. collaborating with Tibor Kalman on Colours then at Project Seventeen working on Sex and The City. She left both firms and now…this is where it gets interesting. From her Pentagram page blurb:

“Clients and projects include NBC Universal, including brand identities for “30 Rock,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Saturday Night Live,” for whom she has designed the opening title sequence for 19 years, as well as a visual history published by Taschen; strategy and branding for DC Entertainment and the “Justice League” film; strategy and branding for Film Independent; branding for the LA Film Festival; identity and show packaging for the Film Independent Spirit Awards; strategy and branding for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Mia); branding and signage for Hudson River Park in New York; branding and opening sequences for Tina Fey’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and Tracey Wigfield’s “Great News”; identities for JK Rowling’s Wizarding World and the films “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “The Crimes of Grindelwald”; and the identity for Steven Spielberg‘s adaptation of “Ready Player One.”

Whew. I guess I can see why she’d want to talk about all this. Ok lesson learned. Sometimes people wanna go back.

 Host Sammy Younan W • T • F

Emily Oberman @ W • T • F

Recorded: April 9, 2018 5pm (EST) at FITC