Slow & Low Navy Pier Exhibition Identity
- Slow & Low
- STA 100 2022
Design Direction, Design
Lauren M. Pacheco, Peter Kepha
Ed Calderon, Max Herman, AJ Gillet, Nick Lipton, Katrina Nelken, Mike Pocious
For the last 80 years, Mexican-American and Chicano artists, mechanical engineers, and craft communities have defined the vibrant American folk art of Lowrider culture. Since 2011, siblings Lauren M. Pacheco and Peter Kepha have curated Slow & Low, Chicago’s public exhibition that celebrates the thriving Lowrider culture of the Midwest. This year, Slow & Low invited Span to join them in making history by taking over Chicago’s iconic civic space, Navy Pier, on the final day of Hispanic Heritage Month.
For one day, it was our space.”
Lauren M. Pacheco
Co-founder, Co-curator of Slow & Low
Slow & Low co-founders and co-curators Pacheco and Kepha brought Span in to build upon their history and vision by designing the event’s visual identity, promotion materials, and supergraphic environmental signage. More than a car show, Slow & Low is a celebration of identity grounded in self-expression, social change, master craftsmanship, and machinery. The opportunity to take over Chicago’s largest tourist destination came with the responsibility of placemaking. Together, we did so by celebrating the individuals of a community that mainstream cultures often overlook.
Typographically, the design system employs a highly expressive, showroom approach. Span assembled a suite of typefaces mirroring letterforms found on the eye-catching cars, the chromed plaques of the car clubs, and the masthead of the classic Teen Angels publication. The star of the showroom is the swash capitals of Frida Medrano’s Jabin — a contemporary evolution of the Gutenberg bible’s blackletter. Jabin’s curves and contrast are paired with Sharp Type’s dramatic Respira, a reprisal of 15th-century Spanish blackletter. The expressive swatches of Jabin are matched by the ornamental characters of the Jugendstil display typeface Sisteron from Beasts. The supportive type is Archivio Tipografico’s 2021 release of Nova Augustea, a contemporary Roman capital modeled from the era of Emperor Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD). This over-the-top, eclectic range of type is united in flamboyant beauty and in holding key roles in history. These qualities — beauty and history are principles in the artistry and aesthetic of Lowrider culture.
Beyond letterforms, symbolically, the design system embraces an omnipresence of arches, marigolds, and praying hands — religious iconography important to Pacheco and Kepha given their prominence throughout Chicano and lowrider culture symbolizing a celebration of faith, life, and death. The visual identity comes to life with purpose by featuring Slow & Low’s world-renowned and emerging photographers. The photography gave the design system power, by going beyond showing the stunning, lowrider cars and spotlighting the individuals in Chicago’s lowrider community.