In November 1932, publisher David Smart and editor Arnold Gingrich conceived of a men's-interest magazine aiming to become "the common denominator of masculine interests" and a "magazine for men only." They rejected the names "Stag," "Beau," and "Trim" in favor of "Esquire" after Gingrich received a letter addressed to "Arnold Gingrich, Esq." Esquire’s logo as we know it today came to be in 1956, a thicker, slightly shorter version than the original hand-written script, and though it’s had some slight evolutions since (changes were made in 1980 and 1993), it remains one of the most distinctive and recognisable masthead logos in publishing history.
For the 100th issue of Esquire Singapore, we wanted to add something special to the cover without distracting from the immense history of our logo, and so in incorporating the number of the edition, art director Jerald Ang extended the length of the logo’s “q”, adding to it two spheres that subtly nod to the centennial achievement. In going one step further, we commissioned Singapore-based multi-disciplinary brand strategy and creative design studio BÜRO UFHO, whose co-founders Yana and Jun conceptualised an innovative, three-dimensional take on the logo, which features a textural, brushed metal finish.
“For the celebratory centennial issue we looked at creating something that conveys strength while retaining the soft hand-written structure of the wordmark,” explain the creative duo. “We do that through the use of lights and shadows, materials and reflections. By brushing highlight areas and shadow areas in Photoshop to the flat wordmark, we quickly created depth information that helped inform us where the foldings and overlapping areas will be. With this reference, we began constructing the logo in 3D space, which is not unlike physical construction, where we piece up different parts together.”
For example, the first letter E is made up of two curved pieces and a flat mid-section, which the outlines of the letter are separated and positioned at different depths to exaggerate the reflections and shadows and then “welded” together in the final stages. “Once we have the base 3D wordmark completed, we placed it in a studio, like a fashion shoot, where we place lights at different angles to accentuate flattering areas. Finally, we put on the ‘makeup’ – metallic material we created with flake textures to introduce a pearlescent quality to the treatment.”
It’s a complex process, and yet for the creative designers this is something very much in the wheelhouse of BÜRO UFHO, which works on a diverse range of projects – from illustrations to augmented reality – for brands such as Adobe, Apple, and Facebook. Their work has been honoured by organisations such as D&AD and TokyoTDC, and featured in industry-leading magazines such as DigitalArts and IdN. “We’ve always loved the Esquire wordmark, which to us is one of the most hardworking magazine mastheads ever,” say Yana and Jun. “It is certainly iconic and we’re big fans of George Lois covers, so we’re thrilled to be putting our spin on it for the 100th issue.”