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Crate & Barrel

Contributed by Stephen Coles on Apr 22nd, 2014. Artwork published in .
    Source: Photo of an Edmonton Crate & Barrel store by Ian McKenzie. License: CC BY-NC-SA.

    The iconic logo for Crate & Barrel was designed by Tom Shortlidge five years after the Chicago housewares company’s humble launch in 1962. The mark hasn’t changed since, making it one of the most durable identities in American retail. Moonlighting for C&B while at the famous Young & Rubicam agency, Shortlidge not only created the identity but was also responsible for the brand’s advertising off-and-on for over 40 years until handing it over to Dangel Advertising in 2006.

    Most of the logo comes from Helvetica (perhaps drawn from scratch or modified from a phototype font), but the circular ‘C’ is custom, very similar to ITC Avant Garde Gothic, but with a smaller aperture. It doesn’t quite feel right (heavy on top and bottom) because it’s a perfect circle, not optically corrected.

    License: All Rights Reserved.
    crate and barrel truck © Peter Dawson.JPG
    Source: Photo by Peter Dawson. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Crate and Barrel Logo.png
    Source: License: All Rights Reserved.
    Source: AIGA Design Archives. License: All Rights Reserved.

    A Crate & Barrel store under construction in Northbrook, Illinois, 1989. The installation was designed by Vignelli alum Alessandro Franchini who was Crate & Barrel’s brand manager from 1988–2013.

    Source: Excerpt from an article in Graphis Magazine. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Excerpt from an article in Graphis Magazine. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Excerpt from an article in Graphis Magazine. License: All Rights Reserved.

    6 Comments on “Crate & Barrel”

    1. Rob Mientjes says:
      Apr 22nd, 2014  12:39 pm

      The Northbrook installation seems to have a slightly more open C and a more angled r terminal. Grounds for assuming it was drawn from some photo type and scaled based on similar materials?

    2. Mine Creek says:
      Apr 22nd, 2014  8:31 pm

      The lowercase r’s make it a pretty obvious tracing. The uppercase C is pretty innovative for 1962. Avant Garde came out nearly a decade afterwards.

      I’m surprised that the company hasn’t gotten a James Montalbano or a Jeremy Mickel to smooth a few of those eccentricities out. Even still, the imperfections are sort of refreshing to see.

    3. Apr 23rd, 2014  5:18 am

      This C&B logo was designed in late 1967. While Avant Garde (the font) didn’t arrive until 1970, Avant Garde the magazine was first published in 1967 sporting the ultra geometric lettershapes.

      But, yeah, it’s probably a stretch to tag this work with the AG typeface. Detagged!

    4. Mine Creek says:
      Apr 23rd, 2014  1:07 pm

      Stephen, I misread that first paragraph. 1967 makes so much more sense for the logo.

      A lot of places say that Avant Garde #1, the magazine, came out in January of '68. Shortlidge made a pioneering decision by using that C. Now I’m wondering where his inspiration came from.

    5. LH says:
      Dec 6th, 2016  3:09 am
      Does anyone know what font C&B is using this year in their holiday catalog?
    6. Dec 6th, 2016  8:59 am

      LH – This one? It’s Willona.

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