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    In April this year UsTwo ruined a gig I was at by letting me trial a new game due to be released the following week. I was supposed to be seeing one of my favourite bands but instead spent two hours tapping away trying to navigate a little princess through a geometrically impossible world. A couple of weeks later everyone was obsessing over that same princess.

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    There’s a whole heap of great design studios in Barcelona with which we’re very familiar but it’s always a joy to discover talent we haven’t come across before. Such is the case with P.A.R, a graphic design and art direction studio run by Iris Tarraga and Lucía Castro. The way they talk about their approach eschews any kind of bullshit, as they write on their website: “Our methodology is simple: We listen to our clients, we understand their needs and we solve them. Our style is clear and direct, we take care of the balance and harmony in our designs, we use typography and colour accurately, we believe in functional design.”

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    New York based studio Open is being faithful to its name, launching a book that shows us all how it works, what it does and why it does it. The book, named Design for People, is written by Open founder Scott Stowell and his team, with the noble aim to “democratise design” by running over graphic design and branding case studies in a way Scott reckons “everyone can understand.”

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    French photographer Paul Rousteau sounds like a nice chap – one with a bright outlook on life reflected in the bold pops of colour he adorns his editorial work with. “Being cynical is too easy because everyone has a lack of something”, he told Art Book Guy. “So I try to see the beautiful things in people, even if it’s a bit naive or even in a cynical way.”

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    Having only once covered the work of Californian architect Michael Jantzen on the site, it seems about time we provided a little more context to his work and showed off one of his seminal pieces. The M-House is a portable modular system through which multiple iterations of a structure can be made. It consists of a series of rectangular panels, attached by hinges to a gridded frame, that can be moved and manipulated to serve a variety of functions, both structural and decorative. Each new structure can be built to unique specifications so that no M-House needs to look the same. Michael’s intention was that these buildings could serve as a holiday home or as an impressive complex of modular retreats in a single resort. So why hasn’t anyone built this resort yet? Better than Butlins.

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    We were lucky enough to meet some of the team from Singapore studio Foreign Policy when they popped into It’s Nice That HQ during a recent research trip to London. The same friendly, curious and open-minded approach that led them to drop us a line has also seen them develop The Swap Show, “an exhibition exchange between design studios and creative agencies from cities around the world designed to showcase and celebrate creative work internationally.”

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    French illustrator Anne Simon first came to our attention this time last year when she teamed up with psychoanalyst Corinne Maier to bring us an informative, witty and thoroughly charming graphic guide to Freud. She’s back, to our delight, with a new and somewhat more sinister tale, Cixtite Impératrice which is no less brilliant.

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    Back in August, Thames & Hudson published Collector’s Edition, a stunning book collecting collector’s editions of music and literature releases. Now, to continue the rather meta trajectory of the original, the book’s author and creative director, Stuart Tolley, founder and director at creative agency Transmission, has released a collector’s edition of Collector’s Edition in the form of an “artist cover bomb” series, which has seen ten artists whose work appears in the book decorate a copy, and which will be sold in an online auction to raise funds for The Alzheimer’s Society. He talks us through the “very loose” brief he set the participants, and how it felt for him to have the likes of Paul McCartney and Nick Cave decorating a book he created.

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    Of all of the art and design sites like It’s Nice That, there are a few that have been there since the very beginning. Jeff Hamada’s Booooooom is one of those, a reliable one-stop-shop for creative, visual inspiration that’s probably been a lot of people’s homepage since they can remember. It’s always fascinated us that Booooooom has been single-handedly created, curated and updated by one man, so we were particularly excited to speak to him about how he’s managed that over the years – particularly when at one point his page views were up to four million per month.

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    There’s a wonderful, undulating beauty to Alain Delorme’s series that initially tricks the viewer into thinking they’re seeing flocks of starlings choreographing themselves against iridescent skies. On closer inspection though, rather than capturing mass avian movements the Parisian photographer has replaced them with a myriad of plastic bags.

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    I came across Assa Ariyoshi’s work while perusing the latest issue of Mood Magazine where it brought alive a feature on the weird and wonderful world of Icelandic cuisine. I love the way how in this surreal dinner arty scene the shark looks like he’s drunkenly ranting at the puffin. We’ve all been on both sides of this I’d wager.

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    A few weeks ago the creative director of The Pitchfork Review Michael Renaud sent through a copy of their latest issue, accompanied by a small zine he had put together and a small note: “enjoy the weird book I designed and printed in 24 hours, I almost died.” There aren’t many large organisations who employ crazed zine-makers and lovers of the weirder things in life, but Pitchfork do. It’s a site we check daily, like the news or the weather, which we can all agree is one of – nay the place to go for fantastic, in-depth reviews of the best music today. And they’re not just some website, oh no – Pitchfork has publications, exclusives and some of the best interactive, moving interviews ever published online (check out this one about Bill Callahan). They even just held an enormous music festival in Paris which The Quietus described as “too perfect.”

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    Identity is a hot topic these days especially with social media adding to the frenzy and completely blurring the lines between who you are and how you want to be seen. So Ricardo Ferrol and Johannes Bauer’s book created for their bachelor’s thesis while studying at Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmündart in Germany is a refreshing take on what identity means.

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    I have to confess that the name 02gb didn’t ring any bells for me, but it turns out the photographic duo, which is made up of Max von Gumppenberg and Patrick Bienert, is a pretty big fish on the German fashion scene. Looking through their portfolio this comes as no surprise; they’ve worked for the likes of Hussein Chalayan, Kostas Murkudis, and shot numerous times for Vogue. It’s their lookbook for couture master Valentino that we were seduced by however.