June 01, 2017

Lowell Milken Family Foundation Makes $2 Million Gift to ArtCenter College of Design for Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography

Funds Will Enhance Public Visual Literacy, Explore Future of Typography in Emerging Media, Build on Expanded Typographic Education, Research and Teaching

“As pervasive as human language, typography has become a more critical agent as digital technologies transform our lives.”

From billboards to smart phones, and from the political campaign trails to corporate boardrooms, advances in technology and media have ushered in a new era of visual literacy among consumers. Typography and letterforms are a central and critical element of communication in this visual world.

The Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography (HMCT) at ArtCenter College of Design is committed to improve the understanding of typography’s impact on our visual culture. Expanding on a new model of typographic education, research and international discourse, the HMCT has become, in its brief two-year lifespan, a catalyst and global resource for educational and professional developments in the field of typography and visual communication.

“Far from becoming an archaic specialty, typography is central to modern life,” said HMCT Executive Director and Professor Gloria A. Kondrup. “As pervasive as human language, typography has become a more critical agent as digital technologies transform our lives.”

To support these ongoing efforts, the Lowell Milken Family Foundation has donated an additional $2 million to the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography. Philanthropist and visionary leader in education reform Lowell Milken, who was recently awarded the prestigious 2017 James Bryant Conant Award by the Education Commission of the States, views the HMCT as an important initiative for students, faculty and the greater community. A previous $2 million gift from the Foundation established the Center in 2014 in memory of esteemed and much loved ArtCenter faculty member Leah Hoffmitz Milken. In 2015, the doors of the Center officially opened in a newly remodeled space located at 950 South Raymond, Pasadena (91105) within ArtCenter’s South Campus.

“The excellent work of the Center embodies Leah’s extraordinary knowledge about typography, her deep passion and dedication to her students, and her commitment to give back to a field which she thoroughly cherished,” said Milken, Leah’s husband and founder of the Lowell Milken Family Foundation. “It is an ideal way to honor’s Leah memory.”

The value of letterform and typographic knowledge in contemporary visual culture

The Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography aligns with the College’s long-term strategy of convening new dialogues among a diverse community to shape and define culture; encourage relevance and social responsibility in art and design discourse and practice; and prepare graduates for leadership, research and creating at the highest level.

This generous gift bolsters the Center’s activities to explore the future of typography in print, digital, emerging media and the growing field of transmedia design. The funds will support ongoing curricula development, programming, research and partnerships that have made the Center a home for the enhanced study of typography and letterform design. The Center has also awarded more than $175,000 to faculty, students and scholars in multiple disciplines who address the importance and impact of typography in visual communication. ­­

Under the leadership of Executive Director, Professor Gloria Kondrup, and Creative Director, Professor Simon Johnston, the HMCT has presented a stellar roster of visiting lecturers including Robert Bringhurst, Richard Danne, Elena Dorfman, Marvin Sackner, Louise Sandhaus and Erik Spiekermann.

Interdisciplinary programming at the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography consists of classes, exhibitions, visiting lecturers and symposia. The HMCT significantly enhances and supports existing campus resources serving students and faculty including transdisciplinary study abroad partnerships at the College’s TestLab Berlin studio; and the development of an online History of Letterforms and Typography class that is founded on the research and teaching of Professor Leah Hoffmitz Milken.

In 2016, the Center welcomed its first Typographer-in-Residence, Akkurat typeface ­­designer Laurenz Brunner. Praise about the Center’s impact on the field from students, faculty and alumni has been overwhelming and reaffirms the distinctive influence and resonance the HMCT can have on an international scale. During January and February of 2017, 18 graduate students from Werkplaats Typografie in the Netherlands worked at the Center as a group Typographer-in-Residence.

As part of the commitment to community outreach and education, the HMCT presents several rotating exhibitions in its 950 South Campus Gallery. Most recently, DoubleData offered a particular focus on the expression of data through the medium of typography. Curated by renowned designer and educator Brad Bartlett, the exhibitionexplored the artists and aesthetic possibilities of data-driven form making. DoubleData was drawn from a broad range of subjects spanning from architecture to linguistics, pop culture to public policy, and Dr. Seuss to WikiLeaks. It featured interactive installations, data-driving sculpture, music, poetry and large-scale prints. The current HMCT exhibition, ISMS / MOVEMENTS / PHOBIAS, presented in partnership with Free Market and The Bloc runs through September 4, 2017 at the Macy’s Plaza in downtown Los Angeles. Designed by ArtCenter Typography 4 students under the guidance of instructor Tyrone Drake, the large-scale typographic-based posters push the physical and intellectual boundaries of communication in this compelling exhibition.

In addition, the HMCT has established an archive focused on collecting original material from important figures in the field of typographic education. The founding collection includes the extensive papers of Leah Hoffmitz Milken. Archetype Press, ArtCenter’s letterpress foundry and printing facility is a living typographic archive closely aligned with the HMCT. It is a rare and valuable resource of the Center that will be accessible to educators, researchers and scholars.


A living tribute to a legend in the field

Renowned as a letterform expert, Leah Hoffmitz Milken taught at ArtCenter for more than 20 years and was a beloved member of the community. Throughout her career, she specialized in the creation of unique logotypes and typefaces for multiple industries and media. Corporate brands benefiting from her expert typographic eye include FedEx, Nokia, United Airlines and Disney.

Since joining the faculty in 1992, Leah influenced a generation of graduates, many of whom have become internationally recognized experts in graphic design and typography. Notable former students include Mike Abbink, senior creative director at the Museum of Modern Art, and designer of the typefaces FF Kievit, Brando and FF Milo for the FontFont label; Bryce Shawcross, graphic designer formerly of Tesla Motors and Faraday Future; Hansen Smith, art director at Magento, owned by eBay Inc.; and Josh Finklea, designer of the typeface Post Grotesque.

About the Lowell Milken Family Foundation: Founded in 1986 and located in Santa Monica, the Lowell Milken Family Foundation (LMFF) creates and supports initiatives that cultivate human capital—that is, the knowledge, skills and experience essential to lead productive and satisfying lives. The LMFF pursues this mission through education programs that are both groundbreaking and comprehensive. By fostering and inspiring excellence, creativity and responsibility within the formal education environment and beyond, LMFF seeks to equip people to pursue and attain lives that have value to themselves as well as to others. Among LMFF’s initiatives are the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement, the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy at the UCLA School of Law, the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes and the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography at ArtCenter College of Design.

About ArtCenter College of Design: Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degrees in a wide variety of industrial design disciplines as well as visual and applied arts. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a highly regarded series of year-round educational programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.

Teri Bond
Media Relations Director
O 626 396-2385

Sarah Haufrect
Director of Communications
Lowell Milken Family Foundation
O 310 570-4896

Philanthropist and visionary leader in education reform Lowell Milken. Photo by Timothy Thomas.
ArtCenter President Lorne M. Buchman interviews Paul Holdengräber, director of New York Public Library’s Public Programming.
Opening night of the recent HMCT exhibition DoubleData.
Interactive installation for the HMCT DoubleData exhibition curated by renowned designer and ArtCenter educator Brad Bartlett.
Attendees of the recent HMCT exhibition DoubleData.