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Natasha Jen

Pentagram’s newest partner adopts a spatial approach to graphic design and building brand identities that go way beyond logos. 

Natasha Jen illustration by Jonathan Puckey
Regardless of media type, be it digital, print, or interface design for the Android phone, Natasha Jen sees the future of design as less compartmentalized. "I do enjoy working within these conventions," she says, "but I think the boundary between the physical and digital world will soften."

Pentagram, the world’s largest independent design consultancy, applies the same unconventional thinking to its infrastructure as it does to its many client projects all over the globe. Natasha Jen, the firm’s newest hire (and first intern to return as a partner), explains that though partners do collaborate informally with one another, “it’s like running your own business.” Given that Jen only started her own practice, Njenworks, in 2010 following stints at Base, 2x4, and SYPartners, working with the “tremendous scale” of Pentagram is, she says, an “obvious” honor.

Spin tops by Natasha Jen
FUNnel Vision was a joint proposal imagining 'spinning tops' as temporary tent structures for the New Museum's Festival of Ideas for the New City in 2011. Njenworks (the firm Jen operated before joining Pentagram) designed the proposal with experimental architecture practice SOFTlab.
The self-described architecture enthusiast, who has worked with Rem Koolhaas’s venerated Office for Metropolitan Architec- ture, OMA offshoot REX, and experimental architecture firm SOFTlab, sees graphic design as complementary to the built world. Jen’s first order of business at Pentagram (carried over from Njenworks) is a commission from fashion company Kate Spade that reimagines the brand’s retail facade “over different spatial conditions” by developing a system of parts that can be deployed into different graphic and architectural configurations.

Nuit Blanche New York designed by Natasha Jen
Njenworks designed a 25-story high, 15,000 square foot LED screen in Times Square to promote the Flash:Light public arts festival thrown by Nuit Blanche in 2011. Check out the video for the site-specific animation here.
Jen is concerned with the interpretative quality of design, rather than adhering to a stylistic category, explaining, “My approach is more or less like a collagist, as I like to draw references from a diverse mixture of sources and create something new.” Regardless of media type—be it digital, print, or interface design for an Android smartphone, which she worked on at Njenworks—Jen sees the future of design as less compartmentalized. “I do enjoy working within these conventions,” she says, “but I think the boundary between the physical and digital world will soften.”

Android interface design by Natasha Jen
TransFoner is an interface for Android phones that re-imagines apps as a kit of parts in constant transformation. Product development: FoneClay.

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