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A bite of big apple

13 July, 2010
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On the advice of our old-timey sign painting colleague and wall-dog-to-the-trade, Bob Dewhurst, I sought out this excellent picture book of New York city storefronts, called simply Store Front.  It’s not strictly about hand-painted signs, of course, as fewer and fewer remain.  The pix in the book date from the first few years of the current century, and are interspersed, every few pages, with transcribed interviews of some of the proprietors.  It’s alarming how many of them have closed shop in just the few years between their interview and the book’s publishing in 2008.  We can only guess how many more so in the few years since.

I feel like I’ve been gently nudging New Bohemia’s design portfolio into more of a mid-20th century direction in my tenure here, and this book is a hodge-podge treasure trove of such evocative colors and shapes.  It moved me further to pick myself up a copy of Shop America, a Taschen tome on storefronts of this era, worked on by Steven Heller, who has compiled a lot of terrific lettering design reference books for Chronicle Books.  That deal was sealed for me, when the sole negative Amazon review said, “Has diagrams and font types, window measurements, etc. All tech stuff that’s not really interesting to me.”

I learned recently that Urban Outfitters is opening a store in NYC, styled to look like it could be one of the city block panorama shots from the Store Front book.  (UPDATE: Just learned the faux storefronts are, er, less fake than may have been hoped for)

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