Established in 1998, TimesTalks is a live conversation and performance series organized by The New York Times, taking place in various venues around New York and pairing its writers and journalists with notable figures in the fields of film and theater, art, music, literature, innovation, and fashion. Previous guests have included Bill Clinton, Grace Jones, Christo, David Adjaye, Denzel Washington, and Charlize Theron, among many others. Recently, TimesTalks introduced a new identity designed by the New York office of Base.
We worked with the Times to design a visual system that cements its leadership in live journalism, captivates a diverse audience, and reflects the unique cultural relevance of every discussion.
By taking a content-first strategy—leading with speakers, ideas, and topics—we developed a system that can respond to each guest and feel ever-fresh despite 60 yearly events.
The old logo was good, combining the newspapers’ often used Franklin Gothic with its well known blackletter “T” monogram. The new logo is also good, combining now The New York Times’ most distinctive typographic feature, Cheltenham, with Franklin Gothic. The new composition hints more at the idea of a conversation with two points of contrast. Even without the blackletter “T”, the new logo is distinctively New-York-Times-y (perhaps not to the world but undeniably yes to the main target audience of New Yorkers). Now, yes, like most of you, I’m also very, very worried about the space between the “T” and the “i” in “Times”. Given the tight letterspacing all around I think this called for a “Ti” ligature so that that “T” could sit a lot closer. Cheltenham has a very tall capital X-height but it could have been cheated to lower it and make it more similar to what’s happening in “Talks”. If you are able to forgive that, it’s a good logo and it works quite well when it sandwiches another word.
212 color combinations. 24 cuts of Franklin & Cheltenham. This palette enables a flexible range of expression within a cohesive system: from serious to playful, bold to serene. The left-right arrangement of text nods to the dynamic dialogue that TimesTalks is all about.
The tension and typographic variety in the logo is capitalized on in the applications that make use of the full range of Cheltenham and Franklin Gothic to create bold and energetic layouts that combine flush-left and flush-right alignments in tight spaces, sometimes overlaid on black and white head shots. The system is quite simple yet yields great variety across different formats, from Instagram squares to full-page ads in the newspaper.
Something that I found interesting is how well the event “brands” on Instagram. If you scroll through the #TimesTalks hashtag, the typographic texture of the layout becomes a great recurring visual cue and since most events are all talk-talk-talk (as opposed to slide-slide-slide) the title treatment is always visible on photos taken by attendees, helping spread the identity of the event. Overall, this is a great system that repurposes familiar Times ingredients in a novel, engaging, and flexible way.