Article Archive

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    IKEA are known for using their stores to promote their goods (I’m referring of course to the highly successful ad where they filled one of their shops with cats and filmed it) and today they’re back with a new spot to celebrate Hallowe’en. This time they’ve taken the famous scene from The Shining where Danny rolls around on his trike and inserted that same ominous fear into their own store. I swear anyone that puts a Rail Cam anywhere and follows a kid on a small tricycle around for a while is going to give everyone the heebie-jeebies, and this is no exception. The ending’s a bit weird, but at least you’ll be able to sleep after watching it, which is more than I can say for the original.

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    At last month’s photo-themed Nicer Tuesdays we were joined by Luke Evans, a photographer, designer and one of our 2014 Graduates. Luke gave us a funny and honest account of three of his projects, from swallowing photographic film and creating landscapes on his kitchen table to printing with 400,000 volts. Outlining the fun and the challenges of working on what he called “super low-budget stuff,” his talk confirmed the importance of following through with ideas, however daft they may initially seem. “There were tonnes and tonnes of failures,” he admitted.

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    New York-based artist Daniel Arsham is a figure with fingers in a lot of different conceptual pies, from installation works to short films. While architecture plays an important part in his work, so too do the paradoxes and oddities of human nature, and that’s what’s under the microscope here.

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    Designing for the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year must be in many ways a dream project, in many ways a nightmare. Creating graphics that can seamlessly place disciplines as disparate as graphic design, furniture, product and architecture comfortably next to one another takes skill and an eye for leaving said projects to speak for themselves. Ok-RM’s graphics did just that, sitting back to let the viewer to make their own decisions about each project on its own merit, regardless of how it was made or by whom. Clean, well-spaced and scant typography work with clever colour-coding to form an overall aesthetic that more than deserves its place alongside the best designs of the past 12 months.

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    Having founded London-based design studio Build in 2001, creative director Michael C. Place has amassed his fair share of books in his time, with a healthy combination of design knowledge to be found tucked between the spines on the studios (admirably well-organised) shelf. We’ve been championing Build’s work on the site for some time now, so what better way to get an insight into the inspirations behind their snazzy work than by hearing from the creative director himself about his favourite reading material? Between Letraset catalogues, reflections on legend Wim Crouwel and Michael’s mate Blam (who has excellent taste in books) we were not disappointed.

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    Don’t know who King Zog are? SORT IT OUT. Okay fine, they’re four strapping lads who all went to uni together who absent-mindedly, perhaps drunkenly dreamt of forming a collective upon graduating. Unlike most people who have dreams, they actually went and bloody did it. Now they’re all rather successful and clever I thought it might be funny to humiliate them online and ask them to show us their best and most catastrophic university projects – turns out even their shit ones are better than most. Oh well. Take it away boys.

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    When the sad passing of Louise Wilson, the head of MA Fashion at London’s Central Saint Martins, was announced in May of this year, it was received with a tidalwave of grief from former students, friends and industry professionals alike. For those who passed through the hallowed doors into the MA Fashion studios at Central Saint Martin’s, her influence was akin to that of a well-loved monarch. Famed for her brutal honesty and unapologetic criticism as much as for her fierce loyalty and warmth, Louise was instrumental in tutoring an astounding number of the most successful designers working in the fashion industry today – Christopher Kane, Stella McCartney, Mary Katrantzou and Louise Goldin among them.

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    Visual effects artist Dave Fothergill’s hypnotising animation I’ve Fallen, And I Can’t Get Up! is a glorious combination of schadenfreude, and an investigation into the capabilities of some high-end visual software.

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    Lawrence Zeegen has never been one to mince his words. The illustrator, writer and dean of design at London College of Communication has recently launched his new book Fifty Years Of Illustration which he co-wrote with Grafik editor Caroline Roberts. It’s an impressively ambitious undertaking with the duo condensing five decades into 1,000 images by 240 illustrators from 30 countries. Lawrence admits it’s a “pretty personal selection” but one that aims to “represent the movers and shakers across each decade according to the work I believe was instrumental in shaping the discipline.”

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    If all the magazines and small publications that used the internet as their subject matter were dumped on your head it’d be curtains for you – there’s bloody loads of them. Some, like Offscreen, deal with the people that make digital culture happen and try to bring these unsung heroes out from behind their screens into the RGB limelight, others, like French publication Nichons – Nous Dans l’Internet (Tits – We In The Internet) are more conceptually-minded, analysing and assessing the social and cultural phenomena brought about by the ubiquity of technology.

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    If you ask me, the beauty of Maciek Pozoga’s work lies in the fact that it can’t be pinned down. He’s eternally “juggling between documentary, art and fashion,” as his website explains, resulting in a style which grows “from a specific conception of documentary images, naturalistic and authentic but tinged with poetry and humour.”

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    Many a blue-sky-thinker and envelope-pusher has been extolling the virtues of meditation and mindfulness to pseudo-spiritually swell their business jargon lately. So it’s refreshing when a beautifully branded, creatively-minded product emerges that promises to offer that lucrative “pause from modern life.”

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    Over recent weeks we’ve made a few ch-ch-changes here at It’s Nice That HQ and seeing as they’ve now all taken effect, we thought it made sense to bring y’all up to speed too. Rob Alderson, James Cartwright and Maisie Skidmore stay in their current roles as Editor-in-Chief, Print Editor and Assistant Editor respectively but elsewhere we’ve mixed things up a bit.

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    I’m super into these portraits by Maya Fuhr, I think I spent about 45 seconds staring into the pond-coloured eyes of the guy two pics down. Maya’s got this magic touch when it comes to photography, her work is so simultaneously humble and powerful, making her the perfect candidate for quietly strong editorial and personal work. We’ve covered her editorial before – a brilliant photo shoot of girls in messy bedrooms – but something about the power of her portraits made us want to write about her again. She also recently opened up to us about her days as college a fresher, and the perils of choosing the wrong degree (with some brilliant photographs of her in 2008 to accompany it, naturally).

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    Because no return to school is ever complete without a mammoth haul of stationery – think gel pens, scented glitter rollerballs, erasers as big as your 12-year-old fist and some kind of novelty pencil sharpener – we asked some of our favourite creatives to tell us what one piece of kit in their vast pencil cases they could never be without. Turns out they’re all attached to some pretty bizarre objects. Meet their weapons of choice…

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    Growing up in a family of doctors, Swedish illustrator and paper-cut artist Petra Börner secured her first commission (illustrating medical journals) through her surgeon mother, which might go some way to explaining why her work is so reminiscent of botanical diagrams in biology textbooks. Petra’s principle subject is the flora and fauna of the natural world, which she creates using paper cut techniques so intricate and painstakingly-detailed that they scarcely look like they could be real.

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    Swedish creative Henrik Franklin is a designer, illustrator and animator with two of the world’s leading design schools (Konstfack in Sweden and Rhode Island School of Design) sparkling on his CV. Invited to showcase his considerable talents in Anna Lidberg’s Gallery 1:10 – “the miniature gallery for contemporary art” – Henrik produced a table of tiny tomes and the attention-to-detail on each cover design is really impressive.

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    Setting up a design studio and changing your name to a cool pseudonym is a good two-fingers-up to life on the quiet side. Parisian designer Julien Ducourthial decided to make this leap, and now overseas The Jazzist, offering bold, fluoro design work “serving in fields of graphic design, illustration and art direction in digital & printed media.” When Julien emailed us he told us he was inspired by 8-bit imagery and cartoons, which gave us an immediate inkling that we were going to like his work. Anyone looking to commission a great French designer any time soon? Julien is your man.

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    We haven’t featured Oslo-based studio Heydays on the site for a while but a quick check-in with their portfolio shows they’re still producing top-quality work for an eclectic range of clients. Nöra is a design house based between London and São Paulo which among other things supplied the seats for the World Cup stadia in Brazil. Heydays wanted a look and feel that felt “sophisticated with a stylish twist.” The pointillist type treatment pulls this off neatly and there’s some impressive animated elements you can see below as well. Keep up the great work team Heydays!

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    When photographer Maija Astikainen met writer Aischa Berg in Madrid back in 2010, the two bonded over their passion for community gardens. In fact so interested were the pair in this phenomenon that they decided to produce a book on the theme and four years later Horticultured Cities was published. This timescale reflects the assiduity with which both Maisha and Aiscah went about their research, and the publication features insights from London, Helsinki and Berlin as well as Madrid.

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    Alright, we admit it – Peter Judson has made a lot of work we’ve been really into this year, and he’s had the props on the site to prove it. But why should we be made to contain ourselves when he keeps producing illustration of this calibre? Why, we ask you?

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    If you’ve just started uni and you’ve spent an entire week in student unions drinking vibrant blue booze from a questionably-shaped vessel (a goldfish bowl, say, or a shoe) then this Weekender is for you. If you’ve bought more IKEA textiles than your measly student loan will allow but you still can’t get used to the breeze-block walls of your dorms, and you think the mature student next door might have eaten cat food for breakfast this morning, or you accidentally squeegee’d paint onto every last remaining clean item of clothing you own in your first printmaking class (embarrassing) we’re here for you. Welcome to the Weekender.

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    This week the whole of London has been going nuts for art – what with Frieze, The Sunday Art Fair and the Turner Prize all going on at once. None of these events would be nearly as good without a specially curated (sorry) mixtape that features strictly art-related songs. Think there aren’t that many songs about art? Think again, there are loads, and I’m as surprised as you are. If you think we’ve forgotten any gems just add them in via the comments box below and we’ll add them in. Happy art-ing everyone!

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    The month of October is synonymous with new pencil cases, stiff Clarks shoes and uncomfortable Freshers week outings, and what better way to celebrate the unique but unmistakeable interval of Back to School-feeling than by looking at some of our favourite films to feature art schools and classes? Here we list some of the classic blockbusters to capture creative education in all of its iterations, including characters from Laney Boggs to Enid Coleslaw. Exercise books out then, pencils at the ready…

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    If, like me, you spent many an hour in your teenage years gazing absentmindedly at Larry Carlson’s experimental website Medijate, you’ll no doubt be similarly transfixed by The Landfill from the very talented Santtu Mustonen. Stitching together a “collection of unused sketches, leftover drawings and rejected ideas from forgotten projects” to a mesmerising soundtrack by Tuomas Alatalo, Santtu created a hypnotic animation that’s a work of art in its own right.

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    Listen up digital art types! If you’ve got great idea for a project that you haven’t been able to make happen, The Space may just be able to help. The not-for-profit venue has launched an open call to help a creative make that one crazy idea a reality, with funding and mentoring on offer. They say: “Nothing’s off limits; this is about pushing the boundaries and the project can take their point of departure from any artistic discipline, from music and film to visual arts and gaming.”

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    I spent the day yesterday at the Canvas Conference in Birmingham where I was blown away by a series of excellent talks, but in terms of pure wow factor organisers very much saved the best for last. UrtheCast (see what they did?) is a Vancouver-based tech start-up that installed cameras on the International Space Station, sending high res images of the earth back to its dedicated website. Founder and CEO Scott Larson gave a compelling presentation about how the team made it happen, how it works and how the imagery can be used. Through the website you can find out when the ISS will pass over your house and so can arrange something to be captured on its cameras, but what was more fascinating is the way that companies and governments might use the data; by monitoring the amount of vehicles in Chinese factories’ car parks for example, economists can make predictions about the country’s output.

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    When it comes to a trendy commission, a restaurant in east London that serves everything on the bone is right up there. Credit is due then to Burgess Studio, whose identity for the eatery doesn’t take itself too seriously. Built around a nice typographic wordmark and the simple idea of making the all-important bone into a smile, the look and feel rolls out seamlessly across everything from bags to cups, menus to the website. It’s simple, it’s striking and it steers well clear of some kind of terrible hipster overload, all of which is to be very much commended.

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    We often take colour for granted in this digital age where our rich tapestry of tones and hues comes as standard on a computer tool bar and getting the right shade is just a few clicks away. Columbian designer Laura Daza wants to shake us out of this complacency, and her project Colour Provenance is an investigation into the ancient origins of colour pigment.

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    There is something incredibly pleasing about this odd collection of passenger-less log flumes. Without the crowds of families and awkward first dates there’s something a little bit sad, maybe even philosophical about them. The photos have been collected by Falmouth grad Zef Cherry-Kynaston whose website boasts one of the most brilliant CVs in existence. “A log flume winds its way around a watery course and slowly climbs the lift hill,” Zef says on his site. “Reaching the top, it then hurtles down the slope. A camera flashes moments before the flume plunges into the water below. Splash! The resulting image is a souvenir; a snapshot of joyous exhilaration.”

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    In December last year we received a zine in the post from Yorkshire-based photographer Christopher Nunn that documented a small selection of images he’d gathered in Ukraine. Kalush offered a unique perspective on a region that was thrust suddenly and violently into the public consciousness, showing us the quiet, everyday side of a place that – from television coverage at least – you’d have been forgiven for assuming was razed to the ground.

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    Fashion editorials aren’t always a straightforward point-and-shoot affair any more, very often now when we look through a designer’s clothes – be it in a specially created lookbook or a spread in a magazine – we want a story, visual impact and pizazz. This demand has resulted in many brilliant amalgamations of ideas between designers, photographers and stylists and I for one am all for this type of collaboration.