Article Archive

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    I have ALWAYS wanted to know the ins-and-outs of the whole beans and farts thing, and there is no one else on this earth I’d rather have explain it to me than Rami Niemi. This animation commissioned by Men’s Health and animated by Vancouver creative studio Giant Ant is the perfect blend of funny, well-executed and actually informative. A lot of the words popping up such as “oligosaccharides” or “pepsin” took me winging straight back to double biology, followed by the joyous realisation that I am now a grown up and I have the option to turn off or walk away whenever I get bored – wahey! Saying that, this animation is so well made it doesn’t even reach boring – if only all scientific matters could be explained in a one-minute-long animation by your favourite illustrator.

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    Rachel Levit’s understated illustration lends itself perfectly to ending the week; it’s understated, oddly enamouring and full of the kind of humour which carefully treads the tightrope between sweet and sinister. The Brooklyn-based artist has perfected the simple line drawing, conjuring up figures with the vaguest impression of an outline. Don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s all she can do though; she’s just as happy creating fully fledged editorial illustration for The New Yorker website, communicating obscure and complicated ideas through the careful placement of an object or a witty observation.

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    As newspapers change, so the meaning, placement and purpose of their mastheads change too. This archive of Indian newspaper nameplates is therefore a celebration of the beauty and communicative skill that goes into them, and a snapshot of the contemporary news media in the sub-continent – see how the odd editorial email address crops up alongside some pretty historic type treatments. The collection has been compiled by Pooja Saxena, a Bangalore-based type designer who previously worked in Apple’s font team and studied at Reading University’s world-leading Type Design and Graphic Communication school.

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    Sometimes the simplest things can be the hardest to pull off, but that is precisely what Andrea Evangelista’s graphic design achieves with quiet aplomb. I imagine most young creatives would quail at the notion of designing a book titled Trafficking Survivor Care Standards, but Andrea’s work is confident and careful, lending the text the clarity it demands. He lets the content sit in plenty of white space inside its buttercup cover, resisting the temptation to chuck in a bunch of pretty images.

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    It seems fitting that the Design Museum’s Designers In Residence show has opened just days before London Design Festival kicks off. LDF is often derided – unfairly but loudly – as a celebration of design vacuousness, of shinier shelves and more ergonomic chairs. This year’s DiR exhibition is a celebration of design’s power, an exploration of how it can improve some of society’s fundamental building blocks – housing, play, money and the law.

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    Just before Christmas I like to go through the bumper two week issue of The Radio Times and circle (neatly!) the things I wish to watch over the festive period. This annual ritual engenders mixed feelings; excitement and anticipation on the one hand and an almost palpable anxiety of deciding what, unavoidably, I am going to have to miss. I have a similar feeling as London Design Festival rolls around every autumn. There is so much going on that it’s very easy to spread yourself too thinly, so with that in mind here’s ten things I am looking forward to at this year’s LDF. I make no apologies for including some pretty obvious selections, as well as hopefully a couple of more individual choices.

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    You know the drill by now; when September comes around it’s time to announce the Autumn issue of Printed Pages, with its sleek, silky cover, thick, robust spine and 128 pages brimming with the most exciting and engaging stories we could uncover in the world of art and design.

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    It’s one thing to bring up the issue of the gender gap in the technology industry in casual conversation, but it’s quite another to do anything about it. Andy Gonzales and Sophie Houser are high school students in NYC who met at a summer camp called Girls Who Code, and decided to use their opportunity there for the greater good, generating discussion around the taboo subject of periods and the distinct lack of women in the tech industries, and learning to code at the same time.

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    In light of New York Fashion Week’s main event, a star-studded play put on by Opening Ceremony entitled 100% Lost Cotton, the It’s Nice That team began to ponder their own individual dream play, and what that would look like if they were given the chance to direct it. The results are pretty weird to be honest, but you can’t deny the appeal of each and every one in its own way.

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    Considering New York band Parquet Courts recently announced in an interview that they were staying away from social media and the web because it wasn’t “punk,” it comes as something of a surprise that lo-fi punk master Ty Segall has just released a music video with an accompanying interactive website. I guess this is what happens when you make brilliant, unique music – artists start queuing up to interpret it for you, be it through artwork, remixes or websites.

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    The debate over so-called “ruin porn” has raged for several years now, exploring the cultural and ethical ramifications of turning the decrepit and dilapidated into art. But if anyone could breathe new life into this kind of project, it’s Nadav Kander. The photographer’s new show Dust opens in London today, and takes as its epigraph the T.S Eliot line: “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

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    If I were to draw my own picture of Thomas Colligan (having never met the talented chap) I’d attach a little funnel to his back, because the man is a veritable illustration engine, churning out heaps of great work just this year. This impression also owes something to the plethora of cars and factories and engines puffing out plumes of smoke in the busy worlds of his illustrations, where a population of Flat Stanley-like characters tootle about. Alternating between gouache and coloured pencils, Thomas creates scenes with grass as green as the Swiss hillsides he hails from, and balaclava-clad bank robbers as gutsy as those in the movies set in his new home of New York.

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    Throughout the year there are a few key dates when the design community’s attention focuses on a particular event – a combination of time and place and creative energy that becomes something both special and significant. In mid-September, that place is London, and this year’s London Design Festival is now just days away. We are excited to be partnering with Heineken® for their Pop Up City Lounge, an interactive social hub where cutting-edge design thinkers have stripped the very idea of this social space back to basics, and re-thought it from the ground up.

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    Last night Apple launched the iPhone 6, the iWatch and Apple Pay amid more fawning than a Tumnus family gathering. We may have reached peak mania around Apple’s launches, but then I’m sure I thought that last time. Because of the tech giant’s insane success, many have studied the (winning) formula by which Apple seem to conduct their public pronouncements, and this in turn has led to many spoofs skewering the Apple approach. IKEA were the latest to produce a spoof Appple ad – coincidentally released just days before yesterday’s press conference – but as you’ll see below they certainly weren’t the first to go down that route. My money’s on them not being the last either…

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    Here it is, the third issue (or volume) of KENZINE, the spectacular publication sporadically released by the fashion brand that never fails to be utterly garish and desirable at once. This time the magazine has been taken over by the TOILETPAPER lads, Maurizio Cattelan, Pierpaolo Ferrari and Micol Talso. KENZO have been known for producing some of the most colourful, zany stuff out there in the fashion world of late – so to collaborate with their publishing counterparts seems to be something of a match made in heaven. Want one of your own? Good luck, “KENZINE Vol.3 will be available from 27th September 2014 exclusively in KENZO stores worldwide and from March 2015 in other selected retail stores.” We asked the KENZO press guys for a copy and were told no way, so if you see one – grab it! For now, the pictures below will have to do.

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    GIFs are usually reserved for that corner of the internet preoccupied with getting a quick laugh out of an easy audience (us included) so it’s surprisingly poignant to see the popular form employed not to show how funny a dog walking on its hind legs can be but to express a more powerful idea. This is exactly what Sofia Niazi has done with her new project Women of WOT. She wanted to utilise the medium to tell the unheard stories of the women forgotten by the War on Terror, but soon found that her project took a unexpected turn.

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    The best portrait photography is truly mesmerising; a compliment which can surely be paid to Alex Ten Napel’s series of Alzheimer’s patients. In a somewhat ironic manner, the Dutch photographer has created enrapturing, memorable images of elderly and enigmatic faces. They’re both heartbreaking and joyful, delightful and despairing, as Alex has caught “that specific moment portrait photographers wait for: the moment in which posture and facial expression come together in a meaningful manner.”

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    Last month our Nicer Tuesdays event focused on storytelling, with four speakers tackling how this much overused idea informs and inspires their work. Illustrator Kyle Platts, one of our absolutely favourite creatives, explained that life “is a sandwich filling between two baps of infinity” and so storytelling is our response to this, as a way of passing on experience from generation to generation.

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    There’s not an amateur photographer alive who hasn’t got a roll of film back from the developing booth of their local supermarket to find that almost every picture is clouded over by a giant fleshy finger. Usually it obstructs most if not all of the image and sends the photograph itself catapulting straight into the nearest bin in a fit of frustration.

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    Here at It’s Nice That we’re very aware of how often we cover certain creatives on the site, and we constantly make time to search out talented practitioners we don’t know as well as feting the latest work of those we do.

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    Using block pastel colours and precise pen outlines, Alessandro Apai is part of what seems to be a new trend emerging in illustration. His work is simple and funny, taking what could be perfectly normal everyday interactions and making them just that little bit odd and infinitely more interesting. Featuring a character who looks like a modern day, grown-up version of Hergé’s Tintin and some dark-haired playmates, his drawings show potential to tell even more quirky and fully developed stories. Italian Alessandro’s still a student, so we hope for great things in the future!

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    Due to their consistent brilliance we tend to drop everything when we hear of a new Metronomy video. Well, today it’s happened again, this time for their new single Month of Sundays. The video was directed by filmmaker Callum Cooper and was shot on a cloudy London day in the Barbican and other famous Brutalist residential buildings in London. Using a clever spinning technique not dissimilar to the skipping rope GoPros of old, Callum followed and shot the band as they strolled around and posed among various dark stairways and openings. Taking one of the UK’s favourite bands and buildings and combining them together to create a simple and utterly compelling music video makes for some of the best watching we’ve had in ages, even if it does make us feel a bit seasick at times. You can read more about it in this interview with him and the band over on Nowness.

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    A year on since we first covered George Osodi’s work on the site he continues to astound us. The Lagos-based photographer produces some of the most incredible photojournalism I’ve ever seen; this series Nigeria Monarchs: The Custodians of Peace and Cultural Heritage documents the figures across Nigeria who, in spite of having no constitutional rule since the monarchy was officially abolished in 1963, remain key personalities in the country’s political landscape. The travelling exhibition had a stint in London last year and is about to open in Budapest, Hungary, serving as further proof (if any was needed) of the curiosity which exists worldwide about these majestic and exotic figures. What’s more George hopes to photograph 100 of the monarchs, so the collection is not due to stop growing any time soon.

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    With 25 years experience in magazine design, not to mention eight years of covering the extensive subject under the title magCulture, it’s a wonder we haven’t already metaphorically burst into Jeremy Leslie’s house and insisted he share his five favourite examples of printed matter right then and there. Instead, we caught him in the build up to The Modern Magazine 2014, the conference which takes place annually in the midst of London Design Festival to shine a torch on the current state of editorial creativity, as well as new directions for the industry.

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    September is always a time for nostalgia; it’s that back-to-school, turning-of-the-seasons vibe that goes hand-in-hand with a certain sense of self-reflection. Few moments stick in our minds and come to define our personal stories more than our first kiss; that giddy mixture of nerves, anticipation and a feeling of the moment’s huge significance that rarely tallies with the physical reality! For its latest brief, MOPHOTO are working with Cornetto and asking young photographers to create an image of a first kiss that captures that dizzying array of emotions in a single visual.

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    Every year during graduate season we sift our way through an enormous number of grad show identities. It’s arguably one of the trickiest briefs for a young student; creating a comprehensive identity for a showcase of upwards of 100 creatives’ work – all of them with different styles and concerns. Some of what we see is excellent, but many seem to struggle under the pressure of pleasing their peers.

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    We love Jack Hudson. Sometimes I find myself staring at his drawings open-mouthed like a magic eye image – the level of minuscule is like in a Wes Anderson film, every time you go back to an image you’ll find something you didn’t notice before. The clever bunch over at Computer Arts decided to commission London-based Jack to make their magazine look sweet, and so he did. We caught up with him to find out how on earth you go about designing a magazine cover, and to find out the back-stories of the teeny characters featured within it. First one to spot Mr Bingo wins a Kit-Kat!

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    You can’t go wrong with a video set to honky-tonk piano music featuring some fresh-faced youngsters who get to work solving a granny’s sock problem. Designers Dan Jackson and Sophie Both are the “Fixperts” who puzzle over how to help “fix partner” Edna get her socks on in the mornings and come up with a creative solution in this short, jazzy film.

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    Spectacularly creative Dutch duo Lernert & Sander have made a film for COS, The Sound of COS, in which the artists imitate the sounds clothes make. In their studio they crush salt, open umbrellas, slip on oven mitts and stomp about to create the soundtrack for a fashion video. Meta, eh? The concept is ingenious, because as we’re paying heightened attention to the pop of the button, the zip of the jacket and the jingle of keys in a purse, we’re also paying extra close attention to COS’ Autumn/Winter collection in all its lovely detail.

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    It isn’t often that we have a centenarian on the site, so today there’s double cause for celebration because not only is designer Mac Conner 100 years old, he’s also a ruddy legend. Mac spent the 1950s living and working in New York as one of the real-life Mad Men, illustrating for The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping.

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    Simon Penochet is responsible for making one of the sexiest adverts for a chocolate factory ever! In fact, we featured his career-making short back in June this year. We wanted to know more about the director, and what better way to get a good idea of his influence than by asking him to pick his favourite music video? Well, there probably are better ways to be honest, but this will do for now. Also anyone who picks a film made by CANADA must be on to a winner. Take it away Simon!

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    Just when you thought the only time you’d get to see some fruit getting jiggy with each other was the last time you ate a Moam bar, here’s Amelie von Wulffen’s paintings. Amelie’s work is a refreshing, sometimes sinister, sometimes sexual series of water-colour paintings depicting a strange mixture of food and tools interacting with each other as if they were humans – eating ice cream and going to music concerts and the like. As well as reducing mankind down to what it really is – a bunch of ridiculous creatures bumbling around the earth – Amelie’s real success here is bringing dark comedy into the largely unfunny art world, and for that she should be praised.