Last night, the Art Directors Club inducted its Hall of Fame laureates for 2010, a glamorous cohort that included our very own William Drenttel and Jessica Helfand. The evening was fun and even rather educational. Who knew, for instance, that the Hall of Fame trophy, designed by Gene Federico, was based on the Trylon and Perisphere from the 1939 New York World's Fair? Or so said George Lois in a short film produced by JaegerSloan that kicked off the evening. "I'd rather have an Art Directors Hall of Fame award than an Oscar," declared George.
Lois was in attendance, as were all of the honorees except for the impossibly glamorous illustrator and educator Phil Hays, and the "Designer of Modern Design" George Nelson, both of whom received posthumous awards. Well deserved, too, as both their work (Nelson's amazing product design for Herman Miller, Hays's chic 70s portraits) looked better than ever. The only living no-show was creative director Fabien Baron, who thanked the audience in a prerecorded message and then texted in additional gratitude for good measure. Attention to detail: that's how you get in the Hall of Fame, kids.
WNYC's John Hockenberry, legendary for his ad libs and mastery of industry in-jokes, did not disappoint as emcee, opening his remarks with a long and only partially fictionalized account of his cab ride to the evening's event, complete with a fender-bender in the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and a skeptical traffic cop with an accent straight out of Preston Sturges casting call who wanted to know what the hell an art director was, anyway.
Photographer Brigitte Lacombe got a resounding ovation for delivering the shortest acceptance speech of the night. Drenttel and Helfand were introduced with an typically elegant film by Andrew Sloat. Wunderkind Christoph Niemann got laughs and applause with his list of thank yous: "Number four is to my wonderful teacher Heinz Edlemann, who warned me to stay away from Photoshop. Number five is to Photoshop." But the funniest performance of the night was in a film featuring copywriter Dan Wieden's partner, art director and past honoree David Kennedy. "Wieden's a writer! He wouldn't know his ascender from his descender," fumed Kennedy, himself a past honoree. "Dan Weiden in the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame. There goes the fucking neighborhood."
Through sheer ubiquity, the star of the evening was typographer Matthew Carter. His brand new font, Carter Sans (a gorgeous take on classics like Albertus) was used on all the invitation and print materials, festooned the Art Directors Club space, and, best of all, was given as an advance-copy-only gift by Monotype Imaging to everyone in attendance. Maybe that's why Carter, as one guest observed, seemed to be looking like half a million bucks.