House is Where the Font is
As a magazine and a font foundry, House Industries is one of the most creative catalysts of design. Recently, the company released its latest in a series of pop-culturally minded font packages, "Vegas," described as an "homage to the illuminating ingenuity of the golden era of Las Vegas signage. Long before today's prosaic pylons swallowed the Strip, Las Vegas offered some of the finest examples of mid-century lettering ever created. These legendary edifices of cement, stone, steel and neon were enchanting landmarks if unprecedented inventiveness." Just as House—the design company—pays tribute to excess, so does House—the magazine—illustrate the premise on which the foundry flourishes: originality.
"From Bauhaus to dune buggies, the House Industries combo spans the full spectrum of international pop culture," admits FSI founder Erik Spiekermann. The collective of creatives reads more like a rock band than corporate conglomerate: Ken Barber as type designer, Andy Cruz as art director and Adam Cruz as illustrator. Consequently, these three Housemen also play drums, bass guitar and lead guitar respectively—the full spectrum of which was recently exhibited at Font Shop Germany's 2001 Conference in Berlin. An example of the company's multimedia sensibilities, the trade show featured 400 types of House art and typography—including font packages, merchandise and clip art. Throughout the musical presentation, House partner Rich Roat recited House-honed products aloud, as if part of an enormous performance piece rather than traditional retail ruckus. House's fonts can be seen on everything from magazines to packaging to record albums. The ideology (and the delivery) behind the products is what makes House stand out from other more mainstream font design studios
Its magazine is also as much retrospective as it is modern. The latest issue of House salutes the design family's heroes, described honorably as "intrepid vanguard" blazing "uncharted territories." Readers must not look too far to understand that the hero worship is served up in House's own pantheon of font and clip art—everything from tikis to Vespas to other 50s-styled interior trinkets. Typophiles and graphic designers alike enjoy features on such preeminent designers as Ed Benguiat and Rene Chalet, both idols and namesakes for the foundry's publishing design work.