Sign language


The NorthPark logo was created by Los Angeles designer Herb Rosenthal and chosen “from several hundred sample symbols” he created, says a 1965 article in the Dallas Times Herald. (I wonder if Rosenthal knew going into his presentation that it would be the final choice. Most graphic designers have their favorite, especially if they feel one solution clearly achieves all the goals of the design project.) NorthPark’s modernist icon — now stylistically retro — does that and more. Inspired by the shape of the highway cloverleaf near the shopping center, the logo is an image of a tree in a park. Hidden within the trunk is an arrow that points north and to the center of the tree. It is a playful, clever visual representation of the NorthPark name — that doesn’t require the name to accompany it at all. This deceptively simple graphic becomes the name. It works so well as a hieroglyph that it’s even used as a decorative element throughout the building: the pictorial version of the name built right into its architecture. And though any accompanying typography for the words NorthPark and Center have changed over the years, the logo remains the one Ray Nasher approved. It embodies the optimistic sensibilities of its time, and, over time, has become the symbol for the center of Dallas shopping.

ROB WILSON is a Dallas-based designer and illustrator and the founder of the Silas Tom line of graphic prints, pillows, stationery, cards and gifts.