In the 1960s, CBS creative director Lou Dorfsman designed the monumental Gastrotypographicalassemblage, a 35 ft × 8.5 ft wall installation completed in 1966 for the cafeteria of the CBS Building on 52nd Street in Manhattan. The installation celebrates the culinary arts, spelling out food-related words in hand-milled wood typography and lettering. It was removed from CBS in the 1990s but recently was restored and reinstalled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Not surprisingly, the installation features a wonderfully lettered “Pizza” section.
Earlier this year I commissioned Nick Fasciano to make a replica of the pizza section of the installation with its own casing. Nick is a designer and fabricator who worked on the original installation, rescued it from the trash when it was being removed from CBS, and was instrumental in its restoration and relocation. His replica was made using the same fabrication methods that were used for the original wall.
Nick finished the replica recently and I could not have asked for a better item to unwrap for the holidays.
As a counterpoint to Jessica’s lovely and fancy letter V slice initial letter, I present to you this pizza-face monster letter A by Elli Egilsson (AC BANANAS on Flickr):
And mocked up here on a t-shirt:
ery rarely, my passions for pizza and lettering cross paths, but the decorative pizza letter V used for this post is an awesome case in which I can dork out on both things at once.
My friend Jessica Hische runs a site called The Daily Drop Cap, where she designs an ornamental letter every work day to be used for decorative initials (I wrote more about the topic previously, elsewhere). Last night she was one of the attendants at a big typography nerd get-together I organized at Lombardi’s Pizza in Manhattan (if you don’t know about it already, Google it). While scarfing on pizza, we joked about how she should make a pizza-themed initial, but I didn’t think she’d actually do it.
Speaking of Lombardi’s-inspired lettering art done by friends (I couldn’t think of a more obscure topic) I ran in to the artist and legendary NYC skateboarder Harry Jumanji during a trip to Lombardi’s last year. He was so psyched on the pizza that he broke out his markers and did a mini piece on the back of a postcard for the owner, John Brescio:
I got one too (though it was skate-themed, rather than pizza):
For what it’s worth, the first time I ever went to Lombardi’s I was similarly compelled to make this drawing in my sketchbook (the disgruntled guy on the right is totally unrelated):
I guess all the pizza art makes sense with the huge Mona Lisa on the outside wall — they say “the debate over her smile is over”.
Since I’m on the subject, Lombardi’s also is relevant to another obscure design-related fascination of mine, which is the pointing-finger symbol known as the “manicule”. For whatever reason, I collect photos of the symbol in use and, coincidentally, they’re used heavily for signage at Lombardi’s — including a sizable example on the exterior of the building (just above the Mona Lisa):
In closing, a gratuitous photo of the source material: