Author Archive: Rob Alderson

Ra

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

ra@itsnicethat.com@RobAlderson

2275 articles
  1. Willhall-ponyfightpinterest-int-list

    We’ve all been there: it’s mid afternoon, you had too much lunch, the coffee’s worn off and the inspiration levels are in the doldrums. But that moodboard won’t build itself, right? So you head over to Pinterest and hope the good people there might have done some of the work for you.

  2. Wiedenkennedy-honda-list

    Nice simple idea here from Wieden + Kennedy to introduce Honda’s new range of cars under the wider umbrella of the brand’s boundary-pushing approach. Keep Up begins as a spot that challenges the viewer to, well, keep up with text that runs across the screen – against a backdrop of a vast expanse of desert – culminating in the line “Get to better faster.” But rather than leave it at that, the idea is taken onto its logical next step, with viewers directed to a second spot where the text goes even quicker, and then to a third where the words positively shoot across the screen. What’s interesting is how your mind adapts and you are able to follow the sense of it even at breakneck speed, which is a neat way of encapsulating the brand message in a very human, individual way.

  3. Sagmeisterwalsh-fugue-int-10-list-new

    It’s always good to get word from Sagmeister & Walsh in New York but it took some concentration to get our heads round their latest project. The studio has produced a new identity for Fugue, a platform which “automates the creation, operations, and regeneration of cloud infrastructure” (us neither).

  4. Alicerawsthorn-instagram-int-2

    An awful lot has been said and written about the new ways we consume design in the digital era. But although the rights and wrongs of design blogs have been well-covered, other platforms have received less attention as critical mediums and it’s always interesting to see new ways of engaging with visual content. Alice Rawsthorn is one of the best-respected design writers around, thanks both to her books and her articles for Frieze and The International New York Times.

    On January 1 she began posting design-related imagery to her new Instagram account and this has evolved in recent weeks into themed explorations of topics ranging from film titles to feminism. Posted with articulate explanatory captions, she seems to have hit upon an enlightening and accessible way to talk about design. We caught up with her to find out a little more…

  5. Andyrementer-sanmarinostamps-int-list

    Here’s some things you probably didn’t know about the tiny Republic of San Marino. It has no railway. Its 33,00 citizens enjoy one of the highest life expectancies in the world. It is famous for its stamps, which are widely collected by philatelists, or stamp collectors. This last revelation is the one that concerns us here, because we found out yesterday that illustrator, artist and long-time friend of the site Andy Rementer has just designed a set of stamps for The Philatelic and Numismatic Bureau of San Marino, themed around fantastical interpretations of 3D printing.

  6. Thomasheatherwick-studio-nanyanguniversity-int-list

    Whenever I get invited to give a talk at a university I have a pang of jealousy about people spending their days doing creative things (and their evenings drinking in subsidised bars). But it’s fair to say that architecturally speaking, higher education tends to be pretty functional, unless you go to the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore that is. They have just opened their new Learning Hub building designed by Thomas Heatherwick, which comprises 12 tapered towers and an interlocking network of social spaces. The architect says he was motivated by exactly the kind of underwhelming university structures I mentioned above – “unappealing spaces with endless corridors, no natural daylight and only hints of other people’s presence.”

  7. Spin-uca-int-list

    You may remember the outcry when the University of California changed its logo – 54,000 people signed a petition demanding it be withdrawn and the university eventually complied. It’s now seen as the definitive model of a redesign perfect storm, which must impact on any designer approaching a similar project.

  8. Aishazeijpveld-whatremains-int-list

    Aisha Zeijpveld likes to toy with the viewer. She once overheard two girls discussing her work at a show, with one of them solemnly declaring that her photographs are “definitely Photoshopped.” In fact for the most part they’re not, but Aisha is an image-maker who enjoys confusing us as to what we think we’re seeing. Take her What Remains series from a couple of years ago that was inspired by Egon Schiele’s sketches and created alongside set designers Sara Ivanyi and Judith Veenendaal.

  9. Mattwilley-independent-int-list

    At this weekend’s Offset festival in Dublin, one of the highlights came from much-revered editorial designer Matt Willey. Now art director of The New York Times, Matt has a faultless portfolio of brilliantly considered work on a raft of top publications (and of course was one of the founders of PORT magazine). It was particularly interesting to hear him discuss his redesign of The Independent, which was the first newspaper project he ever worked on. As he doesn’t give too many talks, here’s some of the things we learned about that particular undertaking…

  10. Opinion-int-list

    After visiting the Design Indaba conference in South Africa, Rob Alderson asks if the leading designers working today favour humility and modesty over the cloying over-confidence of their predecessors. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

  11. Studio-audience-lemon_list

    Welcome one and all to the It’s Nice That podcast, our weekly hit of aural art and design chatter. This week we decide on the collective term for art directors, get stumped by Michael Bierut’s opening question and have an odd date-type section that weirds everyone out. This week we’re chatting about the new-look Wired website, and we discus IKEA’s new wireless charging furniture. We touch on the new Google HQ by Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick, Leonardo di Caprio playing 24 roles in an upcoming film, Dunne and Raby leaving the Royal College of Art and the end of fashion.

  12. Freytaganderson-fraher-int-list

    Often the most interesting branding work hinges on a simple twist, and such is the case in this work by Freytag Anderson for Fraher architects. The Scottish studio’s concept revolves around the neat idea of the “F” in the logo doubling up as an architectural floorpan.

    “The intersecting compartments or rooms create a simple graphic device for containing text, images and texture,” the designers say. “A vibrant red accent colour supports the minimal yet functional aesthetic.” Rolled out across stationery, a soon-to-be-launched website and internal presentation documents, it’s a really impressive idea executed to perfection.

  13. Neilbedfordgsj-classicfootballshirts-int-list

    All football fans have a fetishistic relationship with the shirts that runs deeper than simple affirmations of tribal loyalty. We obsess over the exact shades of colours, the detailing on the cuffs, and the stitching on the crest – and most of us can vividly remember how certain shirts smelled (is this getting weird?). Anyway a new project from the chaps over at The Green Soccer Journal celebrates this relationship between fan and jersey in a new series of photos shot by their long-term collaborator Neil Bedford. Occasionally we glimpse a club name or badge but this is more universal than that and the close-ups in particular speak to the intensity of our addictions.

  14. Michaelbierut-nyt-signage

    Michael Bierut is a designer, Pentagram partner, writer, lecturer and self-confessed nerd. Taking the stage at the Design Indaba festival in Cape Town yesterday, he announced his new book, pithily titled How to: Use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, and (every once in a while) change the world. Published by Thames & Hudson it won’t come out until later in the year, but we felt it was a good excuse to look at some of Michael’s most interesting work from across the years.

  15. Wk-nikelebron-int-list

    The third and final day of Design Indaba in Cape Town promised a great deal with its eclectic line-up, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. From advertising royalty to reinventing public filmmaking, Saturday Night Live to Dick In A Box it was a heady mix of the inspiring, the entertaining and the enlightening. Catch up on all our coverage here.

  16. Skipyoutube-int-list

    There is a world of weird and wonderful videos out there on YouTube but like most people I barely scratch the surface day-to-day. So a new project from Bertie Muller and Matthew Britton is helping address that with the aid only of a “skip” button.

  17. Dominicwilcox-indaba-list

    Another super-busy day in Cape Town saw a thrilling range of creative practitioners take to the Design Indaba stage where they treated us to an amazing array of creative insights. You can check out our Day 1 highlights here – featuring ovulation, orchids and Burning Man – or read on to see our best moments from today.

  18. Kathrynfleming-orchid-list

    Design Indaba is one of the most eclectic creative conferences around and the first day in Cape Town did not disappoint. It’s hard to distill so much design wisdom into a round-up but here’s a few of the highlights as we saw them from the first day in South Africa.

  19. Mariohugo-recentlyrejected-int-list

    There was an interesting discussion on our podcast recently about why anyone would really want to watch the creative process taking place. Off the back of our visit to see what was essentially P J Harvey in a box, we’ve spent a lot of time chatting about how the creative process is slow and messy and frustrating, littered with wrong turns and dead-ends.

  20. Crane-oscars-int-list

    There’s always a frenzy of opinions around the Oscars, as Michael Hogan Tweeted this morning: “It’s all happening over on the #oscars hashtag, if you’re interested in people who can’t type properly quacking on about film awards.” But amid all the polarised bickering and the dress-sense-rating bitchiness, it’s nice to remember the sheer amount of skill and craft that went into all the nominated films. Crane.tv has produced an interesting series which focuses on the lesser-appreciated talents who make the movie industry what it is, the most impressive of which focuses on the Whiplash sound mixer Thomas Curley. He got the nod from the Academy this year and it’s super interesting to hear him talk about the challenges of working on a film which is all about drumming, and so sound is critically important to the overall artistic effect.

  21. Farmleague-geoffmcfetridge-int-list

    We’re always interested in what Los Angeles-based artist and illustrator Geoff McFetridge has been up to. A video of him talking about making a bike sounded especially promising, but a video of him talking about making a “totally absurd” ocean-going bike? Swoon.

  22. Fontanel-dutch-design-talents-int-list

    Here at It’s Nice That we love discovering young creative talent – and feel a responsibility to identify and promote new artists and designers – but the challenge can sometimes feel daunting. So anything that can help point us in the right direction is hugely appreciated, such as this new book from Dutch creative site Fontanel. It has run a feature called The Fontanel Finals for the past five years, a scheme which showcases graduation shows and identifies the most interesting practitioners it finds each summer.

  23. Gentlewoman-bjork-list

    Whenever a new issue of The Gentlewoman is announced two questions spring to mind: what colour is it, and who’s the cover star? For the upcoming Issue 11 those all-important answers are cream, and Bjork, and it looks absolutely tantalising. Björk’s been shot by longtime Gentlewoman collaborator Alasdair McLellan and is pictured looking windswept and enigmatic (two of her strongest vibes). It’s hard to move without bumping into Björk at the moment – with a trailer just having been released for her upcoming show at MoMA in New York – but that won’t stop us counting the days until we can delve into this interview.

  24. Nytmagazine-redesign-list

    While magazine redesigns often receive a great deal of attention, few are likely to be more scrutinised than the new-look New York Times Magazine which debuts on Sunday. The Times is the leading newspaper in the US and its magazine is read by nearly four million people every week. When listed, the changes design director Gail Bichler and her new art director Matt Willey have implemented sound exhaustive – redrawn fonts, a redrawn logo, a new approach to lay-outs, a new-look version of the online magazine. Add to this a raft of new features and editorial changes (such as a new weekly poem, a column that rotates between four critics and a dispatch from the frontline of internet culture) and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the new magazine will be unrecognisable.

  25. Opinion-davidpearson-int-list

    Last week an interesting Twitter debate sprang up after a comment by graphic designer Andy Pressman who admitted that on a recent series he worked on it wasn’t always possible to read the books before designing the covers. So we decided to speak to a few other book cover designers and find out where they stand on this apparently quite divisive design issue; as ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

  26. Metaflop-int-list

    I’d forgotten that I once described typography as “the least sexy design discipline” until I discovered that not only did I say it, but that Sarah Hyndman has recorded it for posterity in her excellent Type Tasting book that we featured on the site yesterday. Anyway I may have to reassess this glib pronouncement after spending some time on Metaflop, “an easy to use web application for modulating your own fonts.” Designed and developed by Swiss designers Marco Müller and Alexis Reigel, it’s a delightfully simple tool that allows you to customise fonts using a series of sliders that alter different characteristics such as cap height, aperture and contrast.

  27. Designindaba15-omardio-int-list

    There is now just over a week to go until the 2015 Design Indaba conference kicks off in Cape Town. As media partner It’s Nice That will be there throughout the three-day inspiration bing, bringing you the best visuals and most interesting ideas shared from the stage. The full-line-up has now been confirmed and here’s our pick of ten (plus one for luck) of the talks we’re particularly looking forward to listening to. You can also access talks from previous years on the Design Indaba website.

  28. Newyorker-90th-int-list

    Here’s a piece of useless trivia you never thought you needed; what is the name of the monocle-wearing dandy who appeared on the first ever cover of The New Yorker and has gone on to become its mascot? The answer is Eustace Tilley, and for many years the magazine published his image almost unchanged when its birthday rolled around at the end of February.

  29. Gourmand-typesampler-int-list

    The most recent issue of The Gourmand magazine was staggeringly good; a title that’s always been impressive maturing into something very special indeed. There was so much to admire in fact that the two new typefaces – produced in collaboration with Monotype – used in Issue 05 went slightly under the radar.

  30. Unnamed

    As creative director of Bloomberg Businessweek Richard Turley helped revitalise the formerly staid title with his eye-catching covers and open-minded approach to lay-outs. When he moved to MTV last year many in the magazine world were sad (and surprised) to see him leave print behind. Yesterday we ran the first part of of our in-depth interview with Richard, in which he talked about his reasons for leaving BBW and what he’s been trying to achieve at MTV. In the second part today he talks about the need to shout about his new role and shares his thoughts on the respective design scenes in London and New York…

  31. Screen-shot-2015-02-10-at-14.31.20

    It was in April last year that news broke that Bloomberg Businessweek’s much-lauded creative director Richard Turley was leaving to join MTV as its first senior vice president of visual storytelling and deputy editorial director. It was hailed as a huge coup for the network but surprised some that a man who’d been such a passionate, brilliant and at times iconoclastic part of the magazine renaissance was leaving the print industry behind.

  32. Siggi-list

    “The older I get, the more interested I become in form and beauty. Siggi Eggertsson’s new screensaver is filling some of that need in design.” As testimonials go this is pretty special, even more so when you consider it comes from Stefan Sagmeister, who knows a thing or two about visual brilliance. Saver Screensson is a screensaver for Mac OS X by Siggi and developer Hjalti Jakobsson, which “creates unique patterns on your display by randomly stacking vector stencils to create a virtually infinite, but aesthetically consistent set of possible outcomes.”

  33. Showstudio-pinups-int-list

    Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio has pioneered what might be called the “photoshoot-plus” approach, combining his exceptionally-executed stills work with innovative and engaging extras that push the creative potential of his work into thrilling territory. He recently collaborated with Sophia Neophitou, editor-in-chief of 10 magazine and one of the brains behind the now legendary Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, on a series called Pin-ups which “riffs on the traditional codes and motifs of erotic imagery, from fishnets to silk.”

  34. Malikafavre-baftas-int-list

    Last night us Brits got all razzed up about the BAFTAs, the annual UK precursor to the Oscars hosted by bona fide national treasure Stephen Fry which always exhibits a charming bias to homegrown films. This year Human After All worked with Malika Favre, one of our favourite illustrators, to create the poster for the event and five different covers for the brochure representing the Best Film nominees (Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood, The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game).

  35. Creatorsclass-matthewfrost-int-list

    “My name is Matthew Frost and I make hilarious short films about famous people mostly.” So begins this excellent video profile of the brilliant British filmmaker but we’d go even further – his name’s Matthew Frost and he makes hilarious short films about famous people better than anyone else out there (from Kirsten Dunst and Lizzie Caplan to Jessica Chastain and Cate Blanchett).

  36. Opinion-int-list

    A new survey has identified what clients see as the four worst types of design agency, and Rob Alderson suggests we should listen to what they had to say. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below..

  37. Guardian_deadlineday-int-list

    Today is one of those weird dates in the calendar that means a lot to some people, and almost nothing to everybody else. Transfer Deadline Day is the final 24 hours that football clubs are allowed to buy players before the summer, and over recent years a weird mania has built up every time it rolls around (culminating last year in the bizarre spectacle of a Sky Sports News reporter having a purple sex toy waggled in his ear).

  38. Superbowl%e2%80%93int-list

    Last night in Arizona Superbowl XLIX took place, a sporting event that brings with it lots of cultural collateral – a much-hyped half-time show (with Katy Perry this year), some baffled Brits pretending they know what they’re talking about and loads of Twitter users doing that “superb owl” joke. It also means a huge amount of attention lavished on the adverts, and after showing you a selection of the pre-released spots last week, we’ve updated to bring you our pick of the whole lot.

  39. Martinnicolausson-int-list

    It is almost exactly a year since Swedish illustrator Martin Nicolausson last appeared on the site but if it’s to become an annual tradition to check back in on his work, then you won’t find me complaining. Martin has considerable and versatile talents and particularly excels in editorial work for the likes of Icon, New Humanist and Wallpaper* magazines. But there’s also some charming self-initiated work among his recent updates, including a series dedicated to golf which actually makes this stuffy sport seem pretty darn appealing. His colour palette is often muted but he makes the most of every visual decision to ensure maximum, if sometimes quiet, impact.

  40. Freunde-von-freunden-jordyvandennieuwendijk-list

    Dutch artist and illustrator Jordy van den Nieuwendijk is a 24-carat It’s Nice That favourite. We’ve featured his work multiple times (both online and in print), he’s spoken at our events, heck he’s even been for lunch at our studio (he had a baked potato).