• Stewart_710x400
Graphic Design

2009 Review: Stewart Smith

Posted by Will Hudson,

Stewart Smith runs “a consultancy that approaches art and software through the lens of graphic design”, he also contributed a fantastic feature to the first issue of the publication back in April of this year. Here he shares with us the rest of his year.

Stewart’s image from 2009, “A photograph taken by Stina just before she and I walked out of our small Chinatown apartment to be married in City Hall on 09 September 2009.”

Mark out of 9 for 2009?

It’s 9 out of 9 for 2009. It’s been all about 9’s for me this year. I married my love, Stina Carlberg (now Stina Smith!) on 09-09-09. This year had a rocky start with a busted economy, no projects, mounting bills, and so on. But things flowered in late spring and all’s ending well.

Best new discovery?

The Rubik’s Cube. Yes, sure it reached its peak in the 80’s but this year I learned how to solve it and it’s become an obsession. So far I’m down to a little over a minute. I taught Stina how to solve it and now she’s faster than I am. For me a lot of 2009 was about investigating older things and rediscovering nostalgic bits. Like the “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.” When’s the last time you listened to it? Come on.

Best idea?

Teaching data visualization at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. The students are talented and that forces me to stay on my toes. I’m moving out of New York so unfortunately I’ll be leaving NYU as well, but teaching feels so right. I want to continue to integrate it into my practice as a graphic designer.

What were you doing this time last year?

I was in Paris preparing the Terre Natale (“Native Land”) exhibition for its grand opening. Robert Pietrusko and I were on very little sleep; constantly dropping Silence of the Lambs references and often speaking in a Buffalo Bill voice to each other from behind our respective keyboards into the early hours. At one point two curators arrived expecting to see our video installation but we Rick-Rolled them instead. The joke landed rather flatly.

What broke? How did you fix it?

The economy broke. It broke bad. Let’s leave it there.

What piece of work really stood out for you?

I’m humbled by Andrey Yazev’s website. It reminds me of seeing Luna Maurer’s work for the first time. I’d love to collaborate with both of them. Also add Rafael Rozendaal to that list whom I met this summer in Amsterdam.

Favourite Book/Album/Film?

Book: Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham. It’s from 2004 but I finally read it this year. Since childhood I’ve felt that source code is poetry so Graham’s essays were love at first sight. (But I blew it by aggressively emailing him about “branding” his new language called Arc. He must think I’m a freak.)

Album: Matt & Kim’s “Grand” kept my summer bumping. (And the “Dark was the Night” compilation kept the Autumn mellow.)

Film: “Videodrome” (1983) by David Cronenberg. Again, not new but new to me. I was already a fan of Cronenberg’s “Crash” and “Naked Lunch” but somehow this one had slipped through my fingers. Amazing.

Net Meme: It’s a tie between Keyboard Cat and Auto-tune the News #3. Yes, just number 3 because it’s clearly the best. Oh and of course it’s the year Twitter truly broke.

Did you get Swine Flu?

Thankfully not. But now that you mention it I am feeling a bit off…

What are you going to miss about 2009 and what are you looking forward to in 2010?

Stina and I are relocating in January. I will miss my home of New York City terribly, but I look forward with great enthusiasm to embracing our new life in London. Cheers for England! (Now if only Simon Amstell was still hosting Nevermind the Buzzcocks.)

Wh-300

Posted by Will Hudson

Will founded It’s Nice That in 2007 and is now director of the company. Once one of the main contributors to the site he has stepped back from writing as the business has expanded. He is a regular guest on the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. Pentagram-list

    Pitting black and white photography against block colour, Pentagram’s new identity work for Queens Theatre in New York is slick, bright and strong; with as much vibrancy and grace as the performers that tread the venue’s boards. Designed by Paula Scher, the identity is based around a logo created from simple, geometric shapes alluding to the theatre’s architecture; which can be pulled apart and rearranged across various different applications to demonstrate the theatre’s broad and diverse programming, and appeal to an equally diverse audience.

  2. Listtt

    Year six is a tricky time to remember. Clearly we were too busy counting pogs, furtively worrying about training bras and forging detailed plans of how to marry Damon Albarn to forge many other remembrances. What it’s likely we’ve forgotten, then, is the terror of leaving for senior school and all that entailed – going from being a big fish (relatively) to a tiny one who suddenly felt a bit embarrassed about still wearing her hair in two plaits.

  3. List

    Featured back in January, Barcelona-based studio Querida has had a busy few months churning out more of its stylishly colourful and well-considered design work. One of its latest projects is this catalogue for Spanish opticians, Optiques Prats which takes the form of an incredibly stylish magazine catering for the optically challenged.

  4. List

    It’s wonderful when graphic design perfectly unites two seemingly disparate concepts – and Commission Studio’s branding for a Lewes-based homeware brand is a quietly brilliant example. The project saw the London studio (which designed our 2013 Annual) create the look and feel for a range of delicate, subtle pieces like candles and soaps with a name that deliberately sounds anything but delicate and subtle – Freight.

  5. Listtttt

    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.”

  6. List

    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.”

  7. List

    It’s tricky to implement the intricate tricks of an optical illusion in a book cover design without the finished product appearing slightly heavy-handed, but designer Hansje van Halem does it with poise and perfectionism. She’s worked as a freelance graphic designer since graduating from Amsterdam’s Gerrit Rietvield Academie in 2003 (as her About section explains) and her enjoyment of what others might find to be repetitive shines through in the illusory patterns in her portfolio.

  8. List

    As serious art and design journalists, we’re not distracted by mere baubles. But when said bauble takes the form of an online game (think Space Invaders meets graphic design portfolio) then who are we to resist. It’s one of many trinkets to be found on karlssonwilker’s terrific new website, which shows off their work in the best possible light and confirms their status as one of the most accomplished design studios working today.

  9. List-0102-0103-0105-triptych-%c2%a9-david-shaw

    When the Design Museum planned its Women Fashion Power show, which opened last month, it was very much keen to take the “women” component seriously, appointing them to take care of both the exhibition design and graphics for the show. As such, it drafted perhaps one of the most famous women in design’s practices, Zaha Hadid Architects for the exhibition design; with Lucienne Roberts and her team (Dave Shaw and John McGill) at LucienneRoberts+ creating the graphics.

  10. List

    Based in Manheim, Germany, Deutsche & Japaner have a really great sense of what looks good. They have been on the site a couple of times for their stylish graphic design but this work for the Aesthetics Habitat project shows off a bit more of their own personality. The site is described as “a venture all about meeting objects with a personal interpretation, transforming its function and creating narratives” and in essence its curators invite creatives to respond to and reflect on their relationship with a favourite thing of beauty.

  11. List-flyers-for-the-institute-at-sexology.-photography-by-russell-dornan_-design-by-liam-relph-(3)

    London’s Wellcome Collection space always hosts explorations of the things that fascinate us most. It’s covered death, it’s exhaustively explored the human body in all its glory and grotesquery, and now it’s moved on to surely the most fascinating of all – sex, or more precisely, how people have studied it.

  12. List

    Brimming with sophistication and an understanding of what makes great design, Atelier Tout va bien’s portfolio is a glorious way to scroll away the day. The studio is made up of French design duo Anna Chevance and Mathias Reynoird, and it’s the pair’s editorial, poster and book design that really stands out.

  13. List

    The It’s Nice That team recently discussed which discipline we cover on the site would we most like to be brilliant at (it’s the kind of thing we do to wile away the final, dragging hours of these dark winter afternoons). After the appropriate amount of consideration (charts, cost/benefit analysis and the like) I plumped for book cover design and that led me down a little book-design-reminiscence and that led me back to Linda Huang.