First aired in 1991, Charlie Rose is a nightly, one-hour program featuring one-on-one, in-depth conversations, and round-table discussions led by Charlie Rose, one of the most prolific and consistent interviewers in the U.S.. The show airs nightly on PBS and in primetime on Bloomberg Television and its website has a vast archive of past interviews with everyone from Kevin Spacey to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to Ken Burns to Siegfried & Roy. The show introduced a new identity recently, designed by New York, NY-based Pentagram partner Michael Bierut.
Project images come from Jessica Svendsen’s site, who worked at Pentagram on the project at the time.
The new identity for the Charlie Rose television show reflects the iconic and simple stage that Charlie Rose has used since the show started in 1991. Guests sit at a wood, circle table across from Charlie, all set against a stark black background. For the new identity, we digitized a 1954 typeface Schmalfette, which subtly references the typography of print journalism, especially as the show strengthens its digital presence. The logo functions as part of a larger toolkit, which includes various squares and circles that abstractly reference the two shapes on the stage, as well as quotation marks that can emphasize the in-depth interviewing and conversation.
The old logo was so, so, so bad, especially for the quality of content it represented. The horrible kerning, the scaling of the “r” for “Rose”, the poor stacking… very unfortunate and inappropriate. The new logo isn’t too exciting on its own but the strength of Schmalfette alone makes it interesting when seen standing alone. In application and as part of the system, though, the logo is the anchor for a healthy serving of typographic whoop-ass.
Between the moody photographs, giant quote marks, and super tight letter spacing this looks as if Charlie Rose has been airing on CBS since its graphic heydays in the 1940s and 50s led by William Golden and Lou Dorfsman and while the old-school vibe comes across easily it also feels freshly contemporary and relevant.
It’s a deadly simple system that relies on simple grids, a small handful of typographic treatments, and the existing library of guest portraits shot on the set’s black background. A lot of the success hinges on how well that Schmalfette typesets so tightly and manages to be both the leading and supporting element of the identity. Overall, anything would have been better than the old logo but this elevates the shows already strong game.