Emily Oberman

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Emily Oberman is a New York-based multidisciplinary designer and a partner at design studio Pentagram. Formerly, Oberman was a co-founder of design studio Number Seventeen and a designer at Tibor Kalman's studio M & Co..


Oberman was born and raised in Yonkers, New York by graphic design and painter parents.[1] She studied at Cooper Union and began her career working with Tibor Kalman at his studio M & Co., where from 1987 to 1993 she collaborated with Kalman to create work for Knoll, Wieden & Kennedy, new wave group Talking Heads and the Benetton-sponsored Colors magazine.

In 1993, she founded design studio Number Seventeen with Bonnie Siegler. Number Seventeen specialized in graphics for print, film, and television media, with clients including Saturday Night Live, NBC Universal, Herman Miller, and Jane Magazine. Oberman's book design work has included projects for the Type Directors Club, HBO’s Sex and the City, Glamour magazine, and the deluxe illustrated edition of Stephen Dubner’s Superfreakonomics.

In 2006, Oberman was one of the co-founders and creative directors of the website and daily bulletin Very Short List.[2]

In 2012, Number Seventeen closed it doors and Oberman joined Pentagram’s New York office as partner in April 2012.[3] Later that year, she worked alongside Naz Sahin to redesign the website for radio show This American Life.[4]

Oberman's work has been recognized by the AIGA, the Type Directors Club, and the Art Directors Club. In 2004, she was awarded the Augustus Saint-Gaudens Award for distinguished alumni from her alma mater Cooper Union. She has served on the national board of AIGA and as president of its New York chapter. While on the AIGA board she was responsible for two national conferences on design for television, DFTV.001 and DFTV.002.

Oberman has taught at the Cooper Union, the Yale University School of Art, and Parsons The New School for Design. Currently, she teaches at the School of Visual Arts.



Upon her graduation from the Cooper Union in New York City, Oberman began working at the Tibor Kalman studio, M&Co. In collaboration with Kalman, she created work for Knoll (company), Wieden & Kennedy advertising, and (the now closed) Florent (restaurant). Some of Obermans first works for M&Co include covers for the 1987 November and December issues of Artforum, an international monthly magazine focused on contemporary art.

Beginning in 1988 Oberman worked with the american rock band The Talking Heads to create a number of materials, including a video casing for Storytelling Giant,[6] as well as the music video for the song "(Nothing But) Flowers."[7] In 1991, Oberman was the first designer for the launch of Benetton’s critically acclaimed magazine, Colors.[8] Other M&Co works include multiple printed ads for Isaac Mizrahi, and Florent restaurant. As well as album covers for musical artists Jerry Harrison[9] [10] , Laurie Anderson[11] and David Byrne.[12]

Number 17[edit]

In 1993, Oberman founded her own design firm under the name "Number Seventeen." This firm was cofounded by friend and peer Bonnie Siegler. The firm advertised its abilities in thinking, writing and designing. Both founders also professed at The Cooper Union, the School of Visual Arts and Yale University.[13] In the firms seventeen year life span, the firm served over 80 clients.[14] Including Newsweek, Lucky, Saturday Night Live, HBO, Orbitz, ABC and more.

At the firms beginning in 1993, it served one of Oberman's former clients from her time at M&Co, Colors. For NBC Universal, the studio created logos for TV series 30 Rock, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and Saturday Night Live. The studio also designed the opening title sequence for TV series Will and Grace.[15] Other media work included the identity, promotion and launch advertising for radio network Air America and the creation of Lucky magazine for Condé Nast.

Beyond media work, the firm also accomplished identity developments for multiple retail and accommodation entities. These include The Mercer Hotel, The Maritime Hotel, Madstone Theaters, The Zinc Building, Spice Market and Housing Works Bookstore & Cafe.

In mid-2000's, Number Seventeen was commissioned to develop the brand and identity of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum of which the building and grounds were designed by contest winners, Michael Arad and Peter Walker.

In 2008, Number Seventeen served Tina Brown in designing the launch and resurrection of journalism publication and blog, "The Daily Beast".[16]

In 2012 Number Seventeen ceased accepting clients,[17] as Oberman and Sieglar parted ways to begin each of their owns next step. Intentionally or not, the firm lasted seventeen years. Sieglar, founding her own new studio cleverly titled ""Eight and a Half"".[18] Oberman, accepting a partner position at the NY design collective, Pentagram.


Oberman took her position at Pentagram in 2012. At Pentagram Oberman has served as a designer and director in the development of materials for clients including film review website Rotten Tomatoes,[19] 2018 film Ready Player One,[20] PBS series Third Rail with OZY, co-working space The Wing, Hudson River & Bike NY, and more.

In 2012, Oberman was hired by the band They Might be Giants to develop the music video for their song "Alphabet of Nations".[21] In 2016, Oberman helmed the redesign of a new logo for American comics publisher DC Comics.[22] Oberman also headed the branding and identity of The Queen Latifah Show. Oberman has also created identities for media entities including Tina Fey’s TV series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,[23] the 2016 film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and the 2017 film Justice League.

Oberman continues to develop work for NBC′s Saturday Night Live. In 2015, she designed a coffee table book entitled Saturday Night Live: The Book, which was edited by Alison Castle and published by Taschen.[24] In 2018, the show's title sequence was redesigned by Pentagram under Emily Oberman's leadership, with custom typography and aesthetics influenced by the titles of Jean-Luc Godard films and the New York post-punk scene of the '80s.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Emily Oberman is married to designer Paul Sahre.


  1. ^ "Emily Oberman". Design Indaba. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Emily Oberman at Pentagram". Pentagram. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  3. ^ Labarre, Suzanne. "Emily Oberman, The Branding Force Behind Jimmy Fallon, SNL, And Orbitz, Is Pentagram's Newest Partner". Fast Co. Design. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  4. ^ Alderson, Rob. "Pentagram's Emily Oberman redesigns the This American Life website". It's Nice That. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  5. ^ Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. "Magazine, Artforum International Magazine, December 1987, 1987". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  6. ^ "Storytelling Giant". Cooper Hewitt. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  7. ^ ""(Nothing But) Flowers" Music Video". Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Kalman & Oberman for Colors". Colors Magazine. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  9. ^ Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. "Album Cover, Jerry Harrison, Rev It Up, 1988". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  10. ^ Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. "Album Cover, Jerry Harrison: Casual Gods, 1988". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  11. ^ Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. "Album Cover, Laurie Anderson, Strange Angels, 1989". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  12. ^ Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. "Album Cover, David Byrne, Beleza Tropical, 1989". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Number Seventeen". Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Number Seventeen Client List". Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  15. ^ Eye, Number 39, Volume 10, Spring 2001.
  16. ^ "Tina Brown Resurrects Waugh's 'Daily Beast'". Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  17. ^ "Number Seventeen". Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  18. ^ "Eight and a Half". Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  19. ^ Dawood, Sarah. "Emily Oberman gives Rotten Tomatoes its first rebrand in 17 years". Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  20. ^ Pritchard, Owen. "Pentagram's Emily Oberman explains the logo for Spielberg's Ready Player One". Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  21. ^ "They Might be Giants - The Alphabet of Nations". Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  22. ^ Turner, Natasha. "Pentagram partner Emily Oberman gives DC Comics a new look". Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  23. ^ "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Identity and opening titles for the new comedy by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock". Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  24. ^ "Emily Oberman's book documents 40 years of "Saturday Night Live"". Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  25. ^ "Saturday Night Live Season 44 - Story - Pentagram". Pentagram. Retrieved 23 October 2018.

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