Graphic Design Archive

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    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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    Year six is a tricky time to remember. Clearly we were too busy counting pogs, furtively worrying about training bras and forging detailed plans of how to marry Damon Albarn to forge many other remembrances. What it’s likely we’ve forgotten, then, is the terror of leaving for senior school and all that entailed – going from being a big fish (relatively) to a tiny one who suddenly felt a bit embarrassed about still wearing her hair in two plaits.

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    Featured back in January, Barcelona-based studio Querida has had a busy few months churning out more of its stylishly colourful and well-considered design work. One of its latest projects is this catalogue for Spanish opticians, Optiques Prats which takes the form of an incredibly stylish magazine catering for the optically challenged.

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    It’s wonderful when graphic design perfectly unites two seemingly disparate concepts – and Commission Studio’s branding for a Lewes-based homeware brand is a quietly brilliant example. The project saw the London studio (which designed our 2013 Annual) create the look and feel for a range of delicate, subtle pieces like candles and soaps with a name that deliberately sounds anything but delicate and subtle – Freight.

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    There’s a whole heap of great design studios in Barcelona with which we’re very familiar but it’s always a joy to discover talent we haven’t come across before. Such is the case with P.A.R, a graphic design and art direction studio run by Iris Tarraga and Lucía Castro. The way they talk about their approach eschews any kind of bullshit, as they write on their website: “Our methodology is simple: We listen to our clients, we understand their needs and we solve them. Our style is clear and direct, we take care of the balance and harmony in our designs, we use typography and colour accurately, we believe in functional design.”

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    We were lucky enough to meet some of the team from Singapore studio Foreign Policy when they popped into It’s Nice That HQ during a recent research trip to London. The same friendly, curious and open-minded approach that led them to drop us a line has also seen them develop The Swap Show, “an exhibition exchange between design studios and creative agencies from cities around the world designed to showcase and celebrate creative work internationally.”

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    It’s tricky to implement the intricate tricks of an optical illusion in a book cover design without the finished product appearing slightly heavy-handed, but designer Hansje van Halem does it with poise and perfectionism. She’s worked as a freelance graphic designer since graduating from Amsterdam’s Gerrit Rietvield Academie in 2003 (as her About section explains) and her enjoyment of what others might find to be repetitive shines through in the illusory patterns in her portfolio.

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    As serious art and design journalists, we’re not distracted by mere baubles. But when said bauble takes the form of an online game (think Space Invaders meets graphic design portfolio) then who are we to resist. It’s one of many trinkets to be found on karlssonwilker’s terrific new website, which shows off their work in the best possible light and confirms their status as one of the most accomplished design studios working today.

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    When the Design Museum planned its Women Fashion Power show, which opened last month, it was very much keen to take the “women” component seriously, appointing them to take care of both the exhibition design and graphics for the show. As such, it drafted perhaps one of the most famous women in design’s practices, Zaha Hadid Architects for the exhibition design; with Lucienne Roberts and her team (Dave Shaw and John McGill) at LucienneRoberts+ creating the graphics.

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    Based in Manheim, Germany, Deutsche & Japaner have a really great sense of what looks good. They have been on the site a couple of times for their stylish graphic design but this work for the Aesthetics Habitat project shows off a bit more of their own personality. The site is described as “a venture all about meeting objects with a personal interpretation, transforming its function and creating narratives” and in essence its curators invite creatives to respond to and reflect on their relationship with a favourite thing of beauty.

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    London’s Wellcome Collection space always hosts explorations of the things that fascinate us most. It’s covered death, it’s exhaustively explored the human body in all its glory and grotesquery, and now it’s moved on to surely the most fascinating of all – sex, or more precisely, how people have studied it.

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    Brimming with sophistication and an understanding of what makes great design, Atelier Tout va bien’s portfolio is a glorious way to scroll away the day. The studio is made up of French design duo Anna Chevance and Mathias Reynoird, and it’s the pair’s editorial, poster and book design that really stands out.

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    The It’s Nice That team recently discussed which discipline we cover on the site would we most like to be brilliant at (it’s the kind of thing we do to wile away the final, dragging hours of these dark winter afternoons). After the appropriate amount of consideration (charts, cost/benefit analysis and the like) I plumped for book cover design and that led me down a little book-design-reminiscence and that led me back to Linda Huang.

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    Another day, another well-crafted, interesting identity for a topic that isn’t perhaps the most instantly exciting. This time, bringing us issues like “sustainable urban energy planning” and “urban transitions management” (we admit we’re not too sure what this means), is this identity for Sustain, by Filimonas Triantafyllou. Sustain is an academic platform to host discussions between different universities in Europe and Asia about their research into sustainability issues, and it’s refreshing to see Netherlands-based graphic designer Filimonas take such a pared-back, colourful approach to the subject matter. The graphical treatment uses different typographic word-marks for each of the topics being addressed, with each symbol reducing these rather complex issues into a simple motif.

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    Eschewing the usual white-paged minimalism, Berlin gallery Neumeister Bar-Am boasts a charming identity inspired by all things postage. The gallery is housed in an old Post Office space, and Slovenia-born, Berlin-based designer Neven Cvijanovic of Floor5 chose to look to its former home in designing the identity, using a colour scheme referencing that of the Deutsche Post, working with art director Marek Polewski on the project. The flexible identity system uses icons that recall mail stamps that adapt to each show for use on invites; while other collateral like stationery and business cards are more pared-back. It’s great how the theme is subtle, yet direct – especially in little touches like the yellow tape.

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    Australian consultancy Sense designed the identity for this year’s Czech & Slovak film festival, which took place in Melbourne and Sydney, creating a look look inspired by the gorgeous hand-printed Czech film posters of the past. The festival was themed around the idea of “resistance”, as a nod to 2014 being the 25th anniversary of the non-violent “Velvet Revolution” in Czechoslovakia – a series of peaceful demonstrations against the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia that worked to end 41 years of Communist rule in the country.

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    If last week on the site was dominated by terrific Norwegian graphic design, then this week it’s the turn of Finland, and more specifically Kokoro & Moi to step into the spotlight. Teemu Suviala and Antti Hinkula’s studio has been going for 13 years now, and it’s always exciting to get wind of new updates on their site.

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    No matter how long it is since you left school, Monday morning can still bring back that sense of academic-induced dread. The Exercise Book by South London design agency Calm & Collected may well inspire similar reminiscence but all being well it’ll be of the warmly nostalgic kind rather than the “haven’t-done-my-homework-forgotten-my-PE-kit” pit of the stomach variety. The publication accompanied the group’s recent show LEARN and features hand-drawn graphics inspired by education across black and white, colour and risoograph pages.

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    Whenever we come across graphic design that features non-Latin script we are always aware of the immediate appeal that comes from these letterforms that are so different to our own. In this case though it’s hard to get round that, because Eric Hu’s A Thousand Characters is a very definite and deliberate celebration of these beautiful alien forms. It is comprised of 1,000 unique illustrations of each letter in a classical Chinese poem that has 1,000 non-repeating characters. “These were drawn with my mouse using a dynamic drawing application I had programmed in Processing then manipulated further in Photoshop,” Eric explains.

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    While certainly an innovative and useful tool, tech-based health tracking isn’t, perhaps, the most exciting concept. So it’s great to see the look and feel of a new health and technology platform use such playful, bold design cues. The Beautiful Meme has worked with illustrator Tal Brosh on this great look for Health Tech & You, a joint initiative between the Design Museum and AXA PPP, which looks at new breakthroughs in technology that tracks and monitors health.

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    A cute little one-eyed book reading a cute little two-eyed book greets us on the site of designer and illustrator Julia Boehme, offering an irresistible invitation to delve into her portfolio, which perhaps unsurprisingly, leans toward all things bookish. The wee anthropomorphised tomes also star alongside pretty girls reading books in some great work for Hungarian University of Fine Arts, for which she’s produced a small brochure explaining the four arts libraries in Budapest. Cuteness is very much the order of the day throughout her work, but she manages to stay just the right side of sickly. We love the simple, tongue-in-cheek Wes Anderson aesthetic of the Year Book project from 2011, which acts as another excuse for us to post some ludicrous, large-specs-based portrait photography.

  22. Lisr

    We at It’s Nice That are the first to admit how easily we’re won over by an exotic script and an novel letterform – when you spend your days thinking about typefaces there’s something undeniably alluring about recognising the existence of a whole other world of them – so we won’t try to hide our excitement at coming across Anzai Konami’s work on Gurafiku.

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    Listen up gang, I’ve been having a think and have come to the irrefutable conclusion that we should all move to Norway. First up we had Snøhetta’s stunning banknote designs and now we find that Neue studio have created new passport covers for Norway’s citizens which are clean, crisp and colourful. The white, red and turquoise covers lead into some beautifully-designed spreads which take their inspiration from the country’s lakes and mountains and the whole thing has personality without feeling gimmicky.

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    Marcel Duchamp, Kanye West and the cast of Star Wars – an unlikely dream team united by typography and the moving image. Liverpool’s FACT Gallery has selected these disparate figures among many more to explore typography in relation to the moving image, demonstrating in the Type Motion show that the two media combined act as powerful signifiers in society through art, film, advertising, computer games, and pretty much any other touchpoint from the past 100-odd years.

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    Almost exactly a year go we featured Sam Barlcay’s book which aimed to show readers what it’s like read if you’re dyslexic. This week we found out that Dutch designer Christian Boer was looking at the same condition in a different way, having produced a typeface which has been designed to circumnavigate some of the problems dyslexic people have when looking at letterforms. So by making the undersides of letters bolder, lengthening ascenders or descenders, increasing the size of openings and tipping some characters to stop them resembling each other, Christian has created a fascinating solution to a problem that affects up to one in 10 people here in the UK alone (according to the NHS).

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    One of the best things about working here at It’s Nice That is when one of our colleagues tips us off to a creative superstar we hadn’t previously heard of. It was yesterday that our art director Jamie McIntyre casually dropped the name 44flavours into conversation and when I got round to checking out their work today it’s fair to say my flabber was ghasted.

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    Parisian graphic design studio La Mouche et la Cloche was founded by Fanny Katz and Sylvain Henri, who met at École Professionnelle Supérieure des Arts Graphiques de Paris and worked together at Les Bons Faiseurs before setting up their own studio in 2012. The pair focus their efforts on concepts and typography respectively, allowing them to specialise in both, and this in turn creates a well-rounded spread of projects.

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    Maybe it’s because it’s sunny, maybe it’s our sweet tooth; but following the lovely ice-cream branding from Lorem Ipsum last week we’ve been drawn to some more great designs for the frozen pud, this time from Moscow.

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    Back in May, Penguin relaunched its Pelican imprint – exhuming the series that first emerged in 1936 thanks to a fortuitous mishearing at King’s Cross station, as we explained in our Behind the Scenes piece.

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    Established in 2010, The Rodina is, in their own words, “a society of intimacy, love and trust where individuals may escape the competition of dehumanising forces in post-postmodern society.” Anybody else might refer to it as a visual communication studio, made up of Vit Musil, Radim Petruška and Tereza Rullerová, but the joy with which these guys write their About section permeates the entirety of their output, from completely bonkers posters to wonderfully colourful book cover design.

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    Winter may be here, but let’s think back to sunnier times with this identity for an artisanal ice-cream shop by Serbian studio Lorem Ipsum. Initially founded in 2011 by Nemanja Jehlicka, Bratislav Milenkovic and Nikola Zmajevic, the trio have now parted ways with just Nemanja taking the reigns. Their new website has a host of interesting stuff to explore across art direction, design, type design and illustration, but we were particularly drawn to this work for Moritz Eis. Through the stylish logo, new wordmark and the bespoke typeface Nemanja and his team created, they’ve produced a look and feel that proves they have killer design instincts.

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    There’s got to be something quite special about a designer who can make water safety look interesting. Browsing the work of Porto-based graphic designer Catarina Dantas, it’s clear that she’s got talent, versatility and an eye for an appropriate visual solution, whatever the brief. Her clever graphical solution for the aforementioned water safety app, mWaterSafety (which uses smartphone technologies to help fishing communities and sailors alert others to their whereabouts) uses a clean, clever design incorporating the letterforms of the name and extending them into smiles and patterns.

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    FL@33’s graphic arts label Stereohype is celebrating its tenth birthday this year, an occasion that also marks the launch of its 1,000th button badge. Over the years, these have been designed by the likes of Supermundane, Jon Burgerman, Lawrence Zeegen and Luke Best, to name but a few, and they’re currently on show with some brilliant posters at London College of Communication in an exhibition running until 8 November.

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    In 1963, the Royal College of Art held an exhibition celebrating 15 years of the school of graphic design. In the show’s catalogue, Professor Richard Guyatt remembered the days when the term was adopted by the college. “With a certain sense of relief, but not much conviction, the name ‘Graphic Design’ was chosen,” he wrote. “No one was quite sure what it meant, but it had a purposeful ring…”

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    Finnish studio Tsto have been tantalising us with great work for years and yet again I can’t help but be drawn to their new identity for Taidehalli, an art and design museum based in Helsinki.

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    We’ve sung the praises of Dutch designer Michiel Schuurman more times than we care to remember (it’s four times actually, this is the fifth) but with good reason. The printmaking wunderkind has yet to be beaten as the master of complex process. He’s still using all the techniques, all the inks and all the geometric patterns he can lay his talented hands on. As with every one of his pieces though, his style is constantly evolving and adapting, with each new project serving as a blank canvas into which he can channel all his experimentation. Also the results are still unbelievably cool. Praises sung again!

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    We’re well-acquainted with the brilliant woodblock posters that Anthony Burrill has made his bread and butter, so when he got in touch to share a new project he’s been working on we were happily expecting more of the same. On the contrary, his new project with Banana & Associates is a bold, provocative and political project, executed with all of Anthony’s trademark boldness and thinly-veiled wit. Pleasantly surprised does not cover it.

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    Scrolling through design agency AKU’s portfolio is a joy. The standard of their work is great, but what draws me in even more is their clever image selection signposting each project. It’s only now, seeing it done so well, I’ve realised how important this step is – it’s key in getting people excited enough about your work to click through.

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    Helsinki-based agency Prakt were brought on board to design the identity for the tenth anniversary of the Mikkeli Illustration Triennial in Finland – no mean feat for an agency whose instinct might be to turn to illustration to get their message across. “The triennial went back to its roots: all techniques and themes were welcome in the competition,” founder Matti Tuominen explains. “We didn’t want to create more illustrations for the exhibition already showcasing the best Finnish illustrations.”

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    Brazilian studio Casa Rex’s beautiful book project, Mateus, Marcos, Lucas e João, may be aesthetically gorgeous, but it’s something of a risky proposition. The book takes the idea of the Biblical saviour and transposes it into the 21st Century, by replacing the idea of Christ as saviour with cellulite cream as saviour.