Nice

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206 articles
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    Over the course of seven years It’s Nice That has been providing creative inspiration on a daily basis through our website, our publications and our events programme. But never ones to rest on our laurels, we are always reviewing what we do and how we do it. This is where you (hopefully!) come in. As part of our ongoing development of the It’s Nice That platforms, we’re super-keen to find out a bit more about who you are and find out what you like about the website, what you don’t and what you might like to see in the future. This way we can move It’s Nice That forward with plans that put our readers front and centre.

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    Two weeks ago we featured DesignStudio’s Airbnb logo. One week ago copywriter Rob Mitchell of We All Need Words wrote an Opinion piece calling for an end to convoluted brand stories. His article was cheered by some people and incensed others; Sam Peskin and Liam Hamill of VentureThree want to have their say and defend brand strategy. Again you can add your views using the comment thread below…

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    Last night’s travel-themed Nicer Tuesdays took us to the motorways of Iran and the beaches of northern Iceland, and from the Namibian desert to the streets of Lima all without leaving east London. Our four speakers all shared very different insights into how their work is shaped by changing geographical backdrops.

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    Next up in the talks from our outer-space themed Nicer Tuesdays is illustrator Ben Newman. Ben was inspired to create a space book after seeing the dull offerings in the bookshop where he once worked, and by “the sense of fascination and wonder” in the illustration-heavy books produced before man walked on the moon. Ben worked with his physicist friend Dominic Walliman to create Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, and spoke about the challenges of making something both scientifically robust and simple enough for his target audience. Borrowing the four-colour print process from the space books of old, his became a huge hit and has been translated into nine languages.

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    Quite a few of us joined It’s Nice That in the summer many moons ago and so the sunny months are awash with opportunities for reflection and reminiscence. With that in mind we’ve asked four of our writers to take us back to the first post they ever wrote for the site and find out a bit more about the article that launched their careers here. And just in case you were wondering; here’s the first ever post on the site.

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    We were pretty impressed with the new Airbnb logo when it launched last week, but for a different perspective, here’s Rob Mitchell from We All Need Words. He tells us why he’s had enough of “over-cooked brand stories masquerading as strategy” and as ever you can add your thoughts below…

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    I get the same feeling receiving the zip file from weekly Bookshelf contributors as I did when I used to babysit as a teenager and casually rifle through people’s drawers (by the way, don’t do that). Witnessing the telling spines residing on people’s shelves will always be intriguing, and Holly’s top five is no exception. The editor in chief of i-D has an absolute terasure trove of some of the glossiest, coffee table-worthy tomes money can buy. What’s brilliant about her selection is just how telling it is of her true passion for the world she has been submerged in since beginning as an intern there many moons ago, and of why i-D is so consistently brilliant with her at the helm.

  8. Weekender-list

    Ladies and gentlemen of the world, today our fair isle (Great Britain) is experiencing a HEATWAVE. It’s the prime annual opportunity for us to embody every stereotype better nations have about us; that we drink too much beer (true), that we don’t wear enough clothes (also often true) and that we get burnt at the merest glimpse of the sun (see above.) Whether you’re joining us in partaking in all of the above over a slightly too competitive game of rounders and potentially a BBQ’d sausage, we wish you the best fun. If you’re sitting in a deck chair watching disapprovingly over us, we’re cool with that too. Either way, have THE BEST WEEKEND. Here’s some stuff we liek to get you started.

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    Our next Nicer Tuesdays supported by Park Communications will explore a range of brilliant creative projects inspired by travel.

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    Next up in the talks from our space-themed Nicer Tuesdays is Hefin Jones, founder of The Welsh Space Campaign. Playing off “the tension between the domestic and the cosmic,” Hefin looks at how Welsh skills, trades and cultural artefacts can be recontextualised as part of an intergalactic future. From working with his brother, a plumber, on a space suit (“It’s pretty much like a heating system innit?”) to using traditional woollen mills to provide the fabrics, Hefin’s mission is an inspirational tribute to the potential of participation as a mass cultural force.

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    Next up in our space-themed Nicer Tuesdays talks is super/collider’s Chris Hatherhill, who told us that while we are familiar with a handful of iconic space photographs, there are thousands more that most of us have never seen. Super/collider’s Apollo 77 project (named partly in honour of the abandoned south London video store in which it was first exhibited!) brings this vast archive to a wider audience: “images that caught our eye in terms of their artistry, deliberate or not.” They vary from the sublime to the surreal and Chris is particularly drawn to the abstract, colour-streaked images created when astronauts fire off a few shots to end the rolls of Hasselblad film.

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    We are now just a few days away from unveiling our 2014 Graduates; 15 of the most exciting young talents leaving UK art schools this summer. For the first time ever this year we called on a panel of expert judges to help us select our final 15 and we’ll be hearing from them over the course of the next few weeks.

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    Next up in our footie themed Nicer Tuesdays talks is graphic designer Rick Banks who talked us through his 2013 book Football Type. As a ten-year-old boy he was left in floods of tears when the Manchester United goalie top his mum bought him had the name Schmeichel in the wrong font; from here grew a lifelong obsession with football typography. He explained how it took two years to get the brands and clubs on board for the book and shared some interesting back stories; for example the Barcelona typeface is based on Gaudi’s chimneys. His talk encapsulated the highs and lows of self-publishing from the militant attention-to-detail required to filling your flat with the packaged books ahead of sending them out.

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    “Turn and face the strange” – that’s how David Bowie advised we all deal with ch-ch-ch-changes and we think, as ever, Brixton’s favourite son was spot-on. It’s been more than two years since we last changed up itsnicethat.com and we felt the time was ripe for a refresh. The main change sees us move away from the content grid on the homepage back to a linear, blog-style format, a lay-out with which those of you familiar with our earliest iterations will be familiar. Hopefully this makes it slightly easier to browse the articles and work out what you’ve already seen on the site.

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    Next up from our night of football-themed Nicer Tuesdays talks is Alice Devine, co-founder of blog The Illustrated Game. She explained how they learned about the “necessary immediacy” for satirical illustrations and showed how the work was boiled down “to one concept, with no need of an explanation” – Arsene Wenger in a weirdly massive Arsenal duffle coat for example. From the blog has grown a podcast, a Pick Me Up show and various publications amongst other projects; an inspiring example of the potential of finding a rich creative furrow to plough.

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    If I could, I’d don a sparkly, silver cape and a severe black bob wig while gazing into a crystal ball à la Mystic Meg to envision what all of you lot are going to get up to this weekend. I like to think I’d spot all manner of illicit affairs, summer solstice-inspired weirdness and wild, finger-forsaking parties.

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    Another week, another slightly delayed podcast. We think it’s worth the wait (as we would) and we promise to tighten up and do better from now on in providing your aural art and design treats on a Thursday again. But cast aside your judgements for a second and enjoy a slightly elongated pod in which we learn a little, laugh a lot and live life to the full (ok not the last one). As ever you can listen on the SoundCloud embed below or subscribe via iTunes here.

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    Next up in our talks from the football-themed Nicer Tuesdays is film maker Sam Blair, who admitted he feels “self-conscious” about making documentaries about sport which some consider low-brow. “I am an uptight documentary filmmaker who wants to be taken seriously,” he admitted. But he loves how in sport “the inner struggle is so visible…the psychological and physical is intertwined.” His latest film for ESPN told the story of Maradona’s virtuoso performance in the 1986 World Cup. Drawn to the Argentine’s “operatically charged” persona on the football pitch, Sam became obsessed with hunting down old VHS clips on YouTube to tell the story in a new way, which in turn helped him appreciate football’s significance in modern life.

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    On Friday we once again headed west for our third annual Here symposium at the Royal Geographical Society. A stellar line-up of international creative talents treated us to a day of insight and inspiration, shot through with honesty and humility.

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    Our next Nicer Tuesdays supported by Park Communications is going where no monthly art and design talks event has ever gone before, with an outer space themed evening now ready for lift-off.

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    First up in our football-themed Nicer Tuesdays talks is self-confessed “stats nerd” Christoph Lorenzi of Sennep who became frustrated with the limited opportunities for football sticker trading he encountered as an adult: “Once you leave school it gets really hard to find people to swap with!” So the studio built an online sticker swapping website, after working out that it would otherwise take on average 824 packs to achieve the coveted completed album. The original site was built in just one week and has now been improved ahead of the World Cup next month; proof that if something geeky’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

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    This week Nat Hunter, director of design at The Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (RSA) and a trustee of D&AD, welcomes awards being given to projects that make a real difference. It might mark, she believes, a fundamental shift in the design world. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below.

  23. Weekender-list

    Know what the best thing about Fridays is? For the next two days, there’s absolutely no telling what could happen. Unleashed from the shackles of your desk like a tiny young butterfly thrust forth from the loins of its cocoon, there’s as much likelihood that you’re going to hop into your souped-up jeep and bounce your way around your hometown in time to a Nicki Minaj song as there is that you’ll end up stuck at home on Saturday night eating shepherds’ pie with your nan and her next-door neighbour Dorothy. Anything could happen, and we’re here to help you embrace the magic. Whether your fate be in the jeep or the shepherds’ pie, let the Weekender take you there.

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    Next up in our talks from the fashion-themed Nicer Tuesdays is fashion designer Kit Neale. From the Vikings to the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, Kit celebrated the eccentricity and sense of humour on which our sense of national identity is built. Why does Guy Fawkes Day (a commemoration of a failed terrorist plot don’t forget) unleash such creativity and imagination? Why is dressing up such an integral part of stag parties and hen-dos, where usual rules of dress and gender can be transgressed with impunity?

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    Hello and welcome, and what a fun week it has been. In the It’s Nice That offices we’ve mainly been eating caramel shortbread, watching goslings eat flowers, drawing pictures for the guy in the cafe down the road and making fun of Printed Pages editor James Cartwright for how he used to be a goth. THEN we found out that it was World Goth Day on Thursday!!! Can you imagine our glee. And so, this week’s Weekender is now 100% goth-themed. Apart from the bits you might have missed, they’re just normal.

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    Up next in our fashion-themed Nicer Tuesdays talks is Becky Smith, the editor and creative director of Twin magazine. She explained that Twin came into being because she wanted her own magazine, something that was “tomboyish, open-minded, feminist but not rammed down your throat.” Becky took us through the development of Twin over the years, revealing that it is her handwriting that adorns the cover and admitting that early experiments with not using photos on the front were a mistake – “I thought I was rebelling but it was a stupid idea.” She also showed how imaginative creative treatments can elevate products into something much more interesting – whether that’s styling a Louis Vuitton shoot around a road accident or draping Tiffany jewellery over Gary Card’s plasticine sloths.

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    This week’s beautiful bookshelf selection comes from Jasmine Raznahan, editor-in-chief and creative director of Noon magazine, a stunning new publication which we wrote about a little while back and whose spellbinding pages have held our concentration through many lunch breaks. Jasmine’s brilliant bookshelf contains all sorts of beautifully bound publications, including a lovely looking book about an old lady and her cat, and a very striking study of geometric shapes. Jasmine is also the Director of ARPA, and her impeccable graphic designer’s eye certainly shines through in her choices. Here she on some of her absolute favourite books…

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    With the World Cup now just weeks away our next Nicer Tuesdays supported by Park Communications will explore the intersection between football and creativity! Even if you don’t know anything about the beautiful game, our superb line-up of speakers are very much rooted in the art and design world.

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    If Monday afternoons are the squashed spam sandwiches that your mum tucks into your lunchbox and that you physically retch while trying to swallow, then Friday afternoons are the fish and chips that you will continue to eat until the whole damn bag is empty, and you won’t stop short of licking the greasy paper from. (Still with me?)

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    Stop the inkjet! Halt the squeegees! Tell the cafeteria workers to hold off on the floppy cheese and mayo sandwiches, it’s time to put down your collective art materials and enter your prized work to be part of The It’s Nice That Graduates 2014.

  31. Weekender-list

    Let me set the scene for you. It’s the summer of 2003, you’re sat out in the park with a WKD blue, your mates are absent-mindedly kicking a ball around and you’re trying to hide the spare cardi that your mum thrust at you before leaving the house in a conveniently-placed nearby bush. It’s not even that cold, anyway. You’re listening to this absolute banger of a song. Altogether now: “So baby gimme that toot toot, lemme give you that beep beep…” Welcome to the Weekender.

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    If you’ve been dying to know which publications inspire a fashion photographer as prolific as Matthew Donaldson then your prayers have been answered. He’s very kindly told us about five books from his rather beautiful shelves that have informed his work over the years. And what work! Matthew’s photographed for the likes of luxurious big dogs Vogue, Wallpaper*, W and GQ and has also shot slick and witty advertising campaigns for many clients including Sony, Harvey Nichols, Skoda, Coca Cola, Louis Vuitton, Harrods, Missoni, Kvadrat and Marks and Spencer. Ever wonder what a man like Matthew carries around in his blazer pocket? Read on to find out…

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    Welcome, weekenders! What are you doing this time? Going for a nice drive? Going to museums? Or just doing absolutely nothing? If it’s the latter, we’ve prepared a real feast for you below, with video clips and nice articles to get you through the weekend. So get into bed with a bottle of wine, get your laptop on your chest and enjoy this week’s Weekender.

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    We really enjoyed this year’s Pick Me Up festival (as you can see from our glowing review) but others were not so convinced. Here Lawrence Zeegen, dean of design at the London College of Communications, argues that the graphic art world needs a wake-up call.

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    You know how eating a pile of fish and chips makes you feel like if someone pushed you over and you fell on a puddle you’d drown? Or how watching scary films makes you feel like you can’t go upstairs? Or gossiping behind someone’s back is really mean but really fun? Well, the Weekender is there to make you feel warm. Not nice warm, uneasy warm. The warm you feel when you run for the bus in a polyester turtleneck, or the warm you feel when you arrive on said bus and sit on a seat to find yourself asking “Is this heated?”

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    This week we are privileged to reprint some of the thoughts of branding legend Wally Olins, who died recently aged 83. Tributes poured in from across the creative industries after his death, made all the more poignant by the introduction to his book Brand New : The Shape of Brands To Come which was published only last month. He rounds off the book’s foreword saying: “I am writing about it all now, because I won’t be here to see it and listen to people telling me how wrong I was.”

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    Hey guys! For us Brits in the UK it’s actually a Bank Holiday weekend right now, which means we’re going to spend the next four days drinking shandies in the sun and being forced by children to hunt for eggs in damp, pansy-ridden back gardens – fun! The Bank Holiday gives everyone in the UK a feeling of magic, a tickle of fire in the belly, a feeling that anything and everything is possible. And maybe it is. Let The Weekender guide you into what could be the best weekend of your life.

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    Next up in our talks from the prank-themed Nicer Tuesdays is Rebecca Broomfield of Bray Leino, an integrated communications group who worked on a massive April Fools’ stunt for Virgin Atlantic last year. Admitting that 1 April was a time for brands either “to express their personality, or pretend they have one,” she gave us a potted history of Virgin’s weird and wonderful offerings over the years. She then explained how the glass-bottomed plane stunt came about, and how simplicity, visual appeal and letting one newspaper in on the secret was the key to its success.

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    First up in our prank-themed Nicer Tuesdays talks is Katrin Baumgarten, senior interaction designer at Hirsch & Mann. Katrin spoke to us about the agency’s work for Red Stripe tripping out an east London corner shop to become a full-blown musical instrument. She explained that although it was an amazing brief both time and money were tight, and the challenge came in creating the magic, which meant “hiding as much of the technology as you possibly can.” She also revealed that because of various practical and legal considerations the special effects could not be automatically triggered, and so she and her team holed-up hidden away in the shop for the duration to help create the experience.

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    This week has been something of a historic one over at It’s Nice That Towers; not only did the days start getting longer (not that that’s historic, it happens every year) but we also had our SEVENTH birthday! So to celebrate, we’re bring you a weekender that is, in the words of everybody’s favourite TV chef, well and truly “chocka” with all the best stuff we’ve posted on the site this week, plus a few extras that you might have missed from out in the interwebs. Like a beard with stuff in, and a melancholy feline. Altogether now: “Haaappy birrrthdaaay to ussss…”