Article Archive

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    Things is back! After some good, hard reflection about how best to showcase the incredible selection of stuff that we receive in the It’s Nice That studio, we’ve decided to transform Things into a carefully curated monthly selection of the ten best art and design nuggets from the month. On that note then, here’s November!

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    “Digital and design isn’t just a set of skills, it’s a way of thinking and approaching things,” says Nik Roope, who founded digital agency Poke back in 2001, when – in the words of Poke themselves – “the web was a curious, frightening thing that people nudged with sticks and whispered about.” Clearly, things in the digital world are rather different now, as neatly demonstrated in the breadth and creativity of the Lovie Awards, another of Nik’s many brainchildren which celebrates the best work on the internet from digital types across Europe. The awards took place last month (you can see all the winners here), so we had a chat with Nik about what makes great design for digital platforms, how education should cater for design students in a digital age and where he sees things going in the sphere in future.

  3. Lsit

    Since we last featured their work, the good people of Rotterdam-based Studio Dumbar have been quietly beavering away at what they do best – making some striking and brave graphic design work, this time for Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Design. Known as PolyU Design, the school recently opened its new Zaha Hadid-designed Jockey Club Innovation Tower building as part of its broader drive to showcase Hong Kong to the world as an Asian design hub and bring in more students, according to Studio Dumbar.

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    A late contender for my favourite editor’s letter opening line of the year comes courtesy of the new issue of Human Being Journal, the magazine produced by US-based clothing and lifestyle store Need Supply Co.

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    With beautiful composition and a real elegance to his work, Paris-based Tom Haugomat’s portfolio is like taking a sophisticated stroll in your Sunday best. While his style feels familiar, Tom’s ability to execute his images to such a smart finish separates him from the others so it’s no surprise his work has appeared in numerous magazines. Having started his career as an animator, Tom’s love for illustration soon took over, enabling him to develop his own style. A wonderful graininess and pared-back colour palette is used in each of his illustrations, and the way Tom plays with space and the figures within the image creates an atmospheric and compelling story.

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    Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been hearing from many of the people responsible from some of the best websites around, showcasing their brilliance and asking how and why they’ve made such a success of online publishing. It’s fair to say we’ve saved one of the very best for last. Tim Noakes is editor-in-chief of Dazed, having originally started as an intern back in 2001. Here he tells us what that early east London creative scene was like, how the Dazed website has evolved and why he thinks it’s important for his team to be creating culture, not just reporting on it.

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    Benjamin Kivikoski and Philipp Staege are Bureau Progressiv, a Stuttgart-based design studio with an already impressive portfolio to their name. The German designers are both graduates of the Stuttgart Academy of Fine Arts, where they’ve honed their typographic skills and become expert practitioners of publishing projects, branding and identity creation – and even the odd bit of web design too. Their passion lies in print though and books like Willisau and All That Jazz (pictured) show off an affinity for ink on paper that’s evident throughout their portfolio. Sadly we can’t show you the whole thing, so recommend at least a good half-hour spent perusing their various projects.

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    I make no bones about being a die-hard fan of German publishing house Lubok Verlag. Their luxurious block-printed publications have my unconditional admiration for their wonderful tactility, skilful printing and beautiful content. Right now though, they’ve surpassed their own high standards, having just released two new books by a couple of my favourite artists.

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    If we put a penny in a jar for every time we gave a nod to Berlin-based studio Haw-lin relentless sourcing of cracking creative talent we’d likely have at least a fiver in there by now. And by way of adding to the growing stash, here’s another gem we came across on on their online moodboard – Alexander Medel Calderón. The Santiago-based graphic designer and illustrator makes work which is colourful and playful above all else, championing a palette of primary colours and a selection of shapes straight from Microsoft Word with an admirable nonchalance. While it’s not all fun and games – Alexander has an innovative and experimental approach to typography too, proven by some super sharp poster design and flashy lettering – there’s a healthy dollop of irreverence in what he does, and we’re complete suckers for a bit of that.

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    It’s a cliche now to say that food magazines have become a cliche. New ones are served up seemingly every week and various titles have food specials from time to time, the formula of which has become very familiar. Respect then is due to The Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazine which eschewed the well-trodden territory of glossy photographs artfully designed to look unstaged for its latest food issue. Instead the SZ team turned to Israeli artist Rutu Modan, who illustrated the entire thing from the cover through the 100 ages that follow. It’a bold approach for a weekly supplement but they’ve pulled it off in style and Rutu’s images pull the whole issue together into a great-looking cohesive whole.

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    With our leftovers lunches and biro-stained jeans, we don’t feel overly confident as experts in “modern luxury.” One man who is, however, is Johannes Torpe, creative director of slick Danish brand Bang & Olufsen. A hilarious and rather surreal new short directed by Bo Mirosseni plays on Johannes’ luxury savvy to rather comical effect, pitting him as a sort of cool saving grace for a less-than-cool entrepreneur frantically trying to prepare a speech for the International Luxury Conference.

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    Texan artist Mark Lovejoy produces work that’s a bit of of a head scratcher. What at first looks like a complex digital render could also just be photographs of thickly-painted palettes. In fact Mark’s images are a hybrid of both; myriad individual photographs of paints, pigments waxes and resins, shot and reshot, manipulated and then retouched some more until the surface textures take a pleasing aesthetic form, but retain their ambiguous genesis.

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    In spite of the myriad ways that the internet is one of the greatest inventions of all time, there are some corners of the creative world that it cannot measure up to. Illustrator Thibaud Herem’s work is one of them. And that’s not to say that his architectural drawings don’t look great rendered in millions of tiny pixels and presented in front of a light source – they do, of course – but there’s still nothing like seeing the huge lengths of stained, scratched and wrinkled paper unrolled across the carpet to admire the incredible detail in the inky lines of his enormous compositions.

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    We get no shortage of submission emails at It’s Nice That, so when one arrives from someone with a name that comes out as brilliantly as “Vincent Champagne” when viewed with Google translate enabled, it certainly livens things up. Real name the marginally less exciting Mr Champenois, Vincent is founder of Paris-based studio Atelier à Propos, which works on graphic design projects for clients as diverse as fashion brands, technology companies, writers and Bums, which is apparently a voucher site. However, of the studio’s recent work we were most impressed by the visual identity and print designs for the band Inkwood.

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    Coming up with new ways of doing things is pretty hard, especially in our culture of instant gratification where we’re bored within 30 seconds if it doesn’t make us gasp in amazement. So when I saw Stark Films’ video for FontFont, I was bowled over by the imagination used to inject some fun and flair into their launch of new online typefaces.

  16. Wee

    Here we are again, another Friday, another reason to sit back and catch up on what you may have missed from the last five days of creative gloriousness we’ve been putting before your lucky little peepers this week. Enjoy.

  17. Fish

    We just can’t get enough of well-executed GIFs here at It’s Nice That at the moment, so we were rather chuffed when today’s grey morning was brightened up with these stunning moving images from photographer Chris O’Donovan.

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    It’s customary at the annual Swedish design awards, Design S, for a three-dimensional S to be awarded to the finest of Scandinavian practitioners; and it’s always made from traditional Swedish materials. Previous years have seen it crafted from finest Swedish wood, but this year’s award by BVD is folded from Swedish paper, fashioned into a giant origami letterform. We hadn’t a clue how they’d done it, but pleasingly there’s an accompanying video that shows you how to make your own.

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    French illustrator Baptiste Virot is a seriously exciting new talent in the comics world. He’s a man skilled in the art of wavy lines, surreal characters and traditional print processes; his portfolio is stuffed with hand-screened prints, risographed zines and bits of bizarre commercial illustration. In the age-old tradition of fanzine culture he’s just as comfortable working in stark black and white as he is creating colour separations for the manufacture of vibrant prints. Want to see some ugly people riding a giant neon dog? Today’s your lucky day pal!

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    The bright, woozy haze of Wojciech Fangor’s psychedelic paintings is mesmerising. It’s even more so having learnt that the Polish artist, who worked during the 1960s, created these Op art masterpieces entirely in isolation, working in Eastern Europe having not seen the similar works being created in America and Europe by the likes of Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely. As such, while the images feel familiar; there’s also something exotic about them, pulsing with light created using intensely coloured oil paint applied in thin layers. A new show named Colour-Light-Space opens next month at London’s 3 Grafton Street gallery, and will display a number of works by Wojciech from the 1960s and 1970s that demonstrate his mastery of all three words in the title. It’s fascinating to think of the artist working on these beautiful optical illusions and explorations of the power of painting well before similar works were created elsewhere in the world, and it’s great to have his work celebrated in the way it deserves.

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    It takes a strong will to choose psychogeography as the subject for a graphic novel – it’s not an easy subject to get your head round at the best of times – but that doesn’t seem to have dissuaded Christian Skovgaard. His new book Picking Up Pieces is based around a young woman who is forced to deal with the death of her lover in tandem with the news of the collapse of a historical archive in Cologne. Newly absorbed by the emergency services’ attempts to salvage what they can from the ruins, the woman finds sanctuary in tying her own loss to this physical one, and explores the two simultaneously.

  22. Updated

    It’s pretty rare that I give two hoots about dubstep/trap/beats as a musical genre – my dancing sucks and I’m never anything but awkward in a club. But – and this is a big but – stick some slamming bass over sci-fi visuals and I can’t get enough of that stuff. Daniel Swan and David Rudnick’s latest collaboration is exactly that; a brutal mix of intense beats, wailing synth and some incredibly futuristic wartime visuals. There’s a swarm of stealth jets, laser-equipped helicopters and a seriously badass tank. It’s like being in the thick of the best computer game you’ve not yet had the chance to play. Nice!

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    The confined chaos within Astrid Korntheuer’s images hits you instantly, as though the vibrant disorder is actively trying to push its way through the edges of the photograph. The series titled Natures Morte (Still Life), was conceived by photographing 25 square metre installations the German photographer made herself using various materials to create a man-made forest of jumble.

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    Whether you’re a gherkin lover or a fastidious type who sits carefully peeling the little green things from between burger buns, there’s no denying just how awesome the identity for this Madrid pickle stall is. Barcelona-based graphic design studio Bendita Gloria is behind the look for the stall, named Bombas, Lagartos y Cohetes, which joyfully translates as Bombs, Lizards and Rockets. Owned by Kike Martínez, it specialises in “banderillas” – little morsels of different deli foods skewered together.

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    Originally from Barcelona and now working in Finland, Magoz’s portfolio is a colourful jaunt through his editorial illustrations, which have appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and adverts around the world.

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    For the past couple of weeks our Behind The Screens feature has been exploring the world of online publishing, paying tribute to some of the best sites around by talking to the people that make them what they are. From Dezeen to Booooooom, Pitchfork to NOWNESS we’ve been thrilled to hear so many insights about an area we believe doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

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    Joan Cornellà is nothing short of a master of his form. He’s got the gruesome comic strip down to a fine art, creating complex and hilarious narratives and then expressing them in no more than six bright panels, from one man with a poo on his head googling “who loves me?” and being given the answer “nobody,” to another man riding a bicycle made out of a suffering friend.

  28. 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.

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    Mark Lazenby is the go-to guy for collage that just works. We last featured the artist two years ago and since then his portfolio of pieced together artworks has exploded with even more impressive works and a real exploration of materials and collage techniques.

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    Wild Beasts frontman Hayden Thorpe vividly remembers coming across Mattis Dovier’s work. The band had been approached to take part in The Jameson Works, a project which focuses on how creativity happens and the insights and stories picked up along the way that are as much a part of the creative process as the final outcome. Searching for some reference material, Hayden came onto It’s Nice That and saw this post of Mattis’ GIFs. “It was pretty confrontational,” he remembers. “You could see Mattis’ hand behind the work and that reflects the way we now work too.”

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    In the past couple of years we’ve featured hundreds of great creative projects in our Annuals but rarely have we heard from those who’ve made an impact on the art and design world – until now. For 2014, we’ve interspersed the Annual with short Q&A interviews with 50 creatives who have impressed and inspired us over the past 12 months.

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    Some things change, while some beat on ceaselessly, boats against the current and the Studio Audience podcast falls firmly in the latter camp. This week we looked at apparent plans for new-look, hipster-fied KFC restaurants here in the UK, we discussed the final instalment of Monument Valley and we discussed Tate Modern’s extraordinary new war photography show Conflict. Time. Photography, touching on this review from The Telegraph.