- Associated Press - Saturday, March 4, 2017

BEND, Ore. (AP) - Take a drive through downtown Redmond, Oregon, and you might notice a common thread that ties some of the city’s landmarks together: the signature city of Redmond font.

A modernized version of an early 20th-century art deco style, the city’s customized font can be found on signs that adorn the entryway monument on U.S. Highway 97, the Flag City monument, Centennial Park and the new Redmond City Hall.

“The ‘R’ is very unique in terms of typography - the stroke of this ‘R’ versus that of a traditional font, it’s very different,” said Ken Ambrosini, senior designer at Ambrosini Design, a Portland design firm that became familiar with Redmond’s font after the city hired it for a couple local design projects. “It definitely says period: 1920s. But also it’s been modernized; it’s not an old font. It’s minimal, open, easy to read.”

Redmond’s font officially came into being in 2011, after a city design committee paid a visit to an art deco exhibition in Newport to gather style ideas, former Community Development Director Heather Richards said. The city’s centennial celebration, which took place in 2010, had people thinking about the history of Redmond and inspired the push for a signature style. Until that time, Redmond had sometimes used a common sans serif font called Showtime for signs, but the centennial highlighted the possibility for a font of its own.

Redmond celebrated their 100th year in 2010, and that’s where originally they said, ‘We want to do some kind of art deco font that identifies more or less the year the city was established,’” said Brent Grenfell, co-owner of local sign-making company Dana Signs, which has worked on a number of the city’s orders, including the letters displayed on the new Redmond City Hall.

Art deco is a style of art and design that gets its name from an art exhibition held in 1925 in Paris, where it was first observed. According to Stephan, a Newport artist who doesn’t have a last name and collaborated with Redmond city staff in 2011 to help design its font, art deco style is a combination of modernist styles that became popular in the 1920s and ‘30s. Its influence can be found in architecture, art and design internationally.

“Basically it’s a combination of artistry and industry,” said Stephan. “Designs were very stylized-looking, very sculptural, and what helped spread it across the U.S. was Roosevelt’s New Deal and other economic programs, which paid for a lot of development. That’s why you’ll see a lot of city halls and banks and office buildings across the Midwest and also out here on the coast are done in the art deco style.”

Richards said the trip to the art deco exhibition in Newport came after the city researched the city’s architecture and history and consulted with an architect and contractor.

“We realized that Redmond didn’t need to make up an architectural style to promote itself - it already had one that was authentic to the history of Redmond,” she said, noting the city’s largest period of growth happened in the 1930s - art deco’s heyday. “We felt that it represented Redmond as a progressive city and highlighted Redmond’s prosperity. Redmond has a pretty large number of extant art deco/art moderne buildings in the city center that retain, for the most part, this unique historic style.”

In Newport, committee members met with the artist Stephan to figure out a font style that would match the city’s architecture.

“They sent us photos of some of the buildings they wanted to do refurbishment to and return to their original deco state,” he said. “I gave them advice, and I made some sketches for them,” said Stephan, who is also the artist in residence for the Art Deco Society of California.

After that, it was a matter of putting the new font on buildings and signs across town. Richards said the style was intended to pay tribute to a certain period of Redmond’s history.

“It harkens back to that special time period in Redmond’s history when Redmond was considered one of the more progressive and flourishing communities in Oregon due to the success of the potato industry and the growth associated with that in the 1930s to 1940s,” she said.

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Information from: The Bulletin, https://www.bendbulletin.com


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