Graphic Design Archive

  1. Typeface

    TWO, or Think Work Observe, are a design studio based in Udine, Italy. They create very modern and simple publication identities, and what is particularly intriguing about them is that they also design their identities’ accompanying fonts. We were curious about the process that actually goes into creating a typeface, a process that seems so intriguingly subtle and precise.

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    Deceptive though it might sound, I think the task of taking something boring sounding and making it engaging is one of the most fascinating elements of design – the craftsmanship involved in showing something to its full potential through a limited set of visuals is not to be sniffed at. Interface design is a prime example of where this skill comes to light, and designer and art director Roger Dario does it brilliantly.

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    Thank God that in the barren scrap heap of graphic design littered with apps, bogus coffee shop logos and poorly thought-out iPad swipe features there is someone making work infused with joy, love and humour. Tadashi Ueda’s designs have such a child-like innocence and excitable fascination with exploration – he utilises colours and shapes laid out in unpredictable grids to take the viewer’s hand and lead them on a journey into his eyeballs to witness the way in which he sees the world.

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    Frustration can be a powerful creative force. So it was for Australian graphic designer Andrew Shillington who increasingly struggled to find designers with the rights skills for his Sydney-based studio Shillington Graphics.

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    I sometimes struggle when writing about graphic design as sometimes bad graphic design is masked by fluoro colours and wiggly lines, and it’s difficult for me to differentiate from design with skill and design that just looks like it may be skilful. In the case of Beglu Karahan I have been reassured by the rest of the team that this is candy-coloured design with substance! Hoorah! What I love about Beglu is how he has created fun, cheerful designs for Berlin’s Downtown Festival and other music events – his summery style just seems to be perfect for the job. That work he did for a studio called Sundaze is literally the graphic design equivalent of a Solero, and it’s totally lush.

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    Football is all about moments; a coming-together of time and space and talent and luck which is almost impossible to replicate or convey away from the drama of the stadium. Designer Rick Hincks has taken this challenge and run with it to its logical conclusion, creating these super minimalist posters celebrating the best goals of the current World Cup in Brazil. Abstracted to this degree they become almost absurd; dry diagrams onto which we the viewers project our own experiences of the goals on which they’re based. A glance through Rick’s online shop proves he has pedigree when it comes to working with the beautiful game in this way, and with just a week of the World Cup left we hope the tournament provides a few more poster-worthy moments.

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    Graphic design agencies have different specialities, and Finnish agency Werklig is no different. The Helsinki-based studio are the absolute masters when it comes to taking briefs that appear to leave little room for manoeuvre and creating something eye-catching and engaging. Put another way, they make boring stuff look brilliant. Take this work for the 2014 European Registrars Conference. You know the European Registrars Conference! It’s pretty much the continent’s most “important forum for information, discussion and networking among museum professionals.”

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    Paul Smith has just designed these three bright posters in order to celebrate the arrival of the Tour de France in the UK. We love the mustard yellow colour of the print, and the way that the shape of the outlined cycling route bleeds into the bold, striking lettering.

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    Surely the most nerve-wracking job a designer can undertake is a wholesale brand redesign. The public-facing nature of the work combined with the threat of vitriol from the brand’s loyal fans must be enough to keep you up for nights on end. So imagine the pressure if you’re tasked with creating a new set of brand guidelines for two of publishing’s biggest names and their 250 individual imprints. It hardly bears thinking about.

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    We’re used to seeing publications about food and publications that play with the book/magazine format, but Cookbook combines these two forms into something very special. The second issue of the annual Madrid-based title reached us recently, resplendent in its smart blue cover which Albert Folch – designer, surfer and subject of numero #2 – describes as “a colour that has accompanied me since I was a kid.”

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    Hands up who’s never seen graphic design in Hebrew before? Me! I am amazed at this collection of typographic posters created by third year students on the Visual Communication course at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Israel. Not just because it’s all in Hebrew, which of course makes it look even cooler because I have no idea what it means, but just the diversity in the work that’s been produced.

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    We don’t know all that much about Martin Groch, save that he’s a Slovakian graphic designer living in Prague and has a natural talent for combining type, image and abstract forms. His portfolio is vast, and showcases a whole heap of beautifully-crafted posters, exhibition identities and some slick experiments with deconstructed drawings. There’s also a whole heap of vintage-looking cartoon characters thrown into some of his projects for good measure, adding a sense of youthful excitement to projects that could otherwise feel less than exciting. All in all an impressive portfolio of work. Now we’re just going to have to find out a little more about this talented chap…

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    Swiss Graphic designer Simone Koller is all about experimentation – with typography, layout and concepts – investing heavily in the visual language of each new project she takes on so that no two pieces ever feel similar. Her work encompasses branding and identities, artist books, theoretical publications, posters, packaging and zines, all with a focus on contemporary cultural discourse and sociological theory – plus the occasional poster for a show. But her radical approach to design ensures that even the most heavyweight of subjects feel visually engaging, urging you to pick them up and interact with their content. No small feat when one publication deals with how people move around public space.

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    Since 2001 Sebastian Cremers, Tania Prill and Alberto Vieceli have been working together in Zurich under the name Prill Vieceli Cremers, producing work for reputable cultural institutions, a selection of fine artists and working on personal projects ranging from the cute to the bizarre. With an approach to design that could easily be branded experimental they attack each project with an impressive vigour, tailoring their methodology to the project at hand – meaning their portfolio is loaded with fantastically diverse work.

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    It’s a popular misconception that graphic design is practiced solely by tight-lipped Europeans in freshly-starched shirts who sit around planning white space on fresh pages – it’s an industry renowned for its neatness. But Hong Kong’s finest documenters of design trends Viction:ary have just released a new volume that proves quite the opposite; that there’s room in design for fast, loose, expressive graphics that speak of an energy no Swiss Modernist could possibly convey. Making A Splash brings together over 150 of these projects that utilise tactile media and fluid forms to create striking visuals that express a wilder side to design that we often fail to acknowledge.

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    Ah Paris. Romantic, good-looking, delicious (just the food mind) and stylish. These sentiments are what we think of when dreaming about the City of Love and why not if the glove fits? Perpetuating this ideal is Paris-based Acmé Studio whose body of work is a cool collection of well-designed, well-considered and well, beautiful projects.

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    Getting any form of post is exciting but when it contains the invites for this summer’s student shows we can’t help but feel giddy and weirdly proud. So it’s time for The List to give a run down of some of this year’s most playful and inspiring invites and identities for this year’s graduates. The colours blue, red and orange are big this year, but the overall theme to these identities seems to be about creating something new and fresh, which can only be commended and celebrated.

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    We’ve discussed Peckham Print Studio’s work on the site before. The south London-based screen printing studio keep popping up at events and exhibitions all over the Capital, showing anyone who’ll watch how to pull a super-tight screen print and use the process to make the best of their artwork. As well as workshops and events, they also print commercially for the likes of Kemistry Gallery, Ozwald Boateng, Sunspel and Urban Outfitters. But what makes these guys really interesting (aside from the quality of their work) is their approach to their online presence. Having just re-launched a website that’s leaps ahead of their competitors we caught up with Mike Guppy, the man who built it all, to find out about how and why it was done.

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    Here’s a few facts I read about Montreal today: it’s the second largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris, it’s on the same latitude as Venice, Italy and it’s also a UNESCO City of Design. This last little nugget of information makes perfect sense to me now after perusing the work of Pointbarre, a design collective based in the Candadian city.

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    They say that two’s company but three’s a crowd; not so apparently when launching a much-anticipated album and the creative collateral around it. The Glass Animals album Zaba was released last week, with the visuals overseen by our pals over at Boat Studio (the same gang who do the city-hopping magazine of the same name).

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    As the novelist Tom McCarthy points out in his introduction to this engrossing and beautiful new book, in some ways smartphones have fundamentally changed our relationship with maps. But the outcry over inaccuracies, glitches and inventions in certain map programmes proves one of the longstanding fundamental truths about that relationship; “that maps don’t work, and never have.”

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    It’s been about two years since we featured Swiss design collective Atlas Studio. Back then they’d recently graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and were setting up shop producing stunning book and poster design for some pretty auspicious cultural organisations. Since then not much has changed, although they’ve had a whole host of new clients and have just been nominated for a Swiss design award (told you they were good!). What remains is their commitment to challenging themselves from the outset of each new project, setting strict limitations on the parameters within which they create their work – whether through time, process or materials. Pictured are a series of posters for a Swiss club night, all created in a single day. They’ve still got it!

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    Given the respective creative credentials of its founders Marie Dessuant and Philip Bone, it’s no great surprise that the studio they jointly run over in Paris produces such top-quality work. Specialising in art direction, design, products and interiors, there’s a quiet yet muscular self-confidence about the duo’s work no matter what they turn their talents to. This work for Fabrica’s Objet Préféré exhibition is a case in point; a sumptuous high-end book with its clean, crisp layouts presented alongside a newspaper given out at the show which is noisier but no less carefully thought through.

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    Epiforma is a brand new Portuguese design studio founded by Felipe Ferreira and Francisco Ribeiro in Porto. In spite of their newness it would appear they’ve long been busy working on all manner of projects across many facets of design. As well as practicing the more traditional graphic arts of branding and type design, they also produce high-end modular furniture, unusual board games and limited edition products. Judging by their website they’re also pretty good web designers and art directors too. In short, these guys appear to be very much the complete package and we’re excited to see what their first year of business holds in store.

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    Beautiful colours are the order of the day when perusing Christina Magnussen’s fantastic portfolio. Based in Oslo, Christina’s illustration and graphic design agency Gala is a wonderful mix of books, logos, editorial illustrations, posters and magazine work, all of which have a kaleidoscopic freshness about them.

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    Manheim-based design consultancy Deutsche & Japaner are incredibly varied in their output. Not in terms of quality of course, but in their approach to projects and the clients with whom they work. Not only have they designed websites for erotic magazine Tissue, created merchandise for Jay-Z’s Magna Carter Holy Grail tour and brought together Nike and Liberty in a set of beautiful posters, but also their recent branding for an upmarket hotel in their home town has made beautiful an area of design that is so often tawdry and tedious. Keeping things varied is clearly good for the creative brain if it yields results as good as these!

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    I’m never one to turn down a delicious baked treat, but I think it’s fair to say that I’m way more likely to want it if it’s wrapped in packaging so well designed that I don’t really know which parts not to eat. London-based design studio Dot Dash have worked on identities for several of London’s finest eating establishments, trendy pub The Cat & Mutton and the Hawksmoor Group alike, so I imagine they were a fairly easy call for the bakery to make when it came to working out who might be right to design the identity and packaging.

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    It’s no secret that in spite of the increasing digitisation of contemporary culture, we still dearly love to hold actual objects in our hands – and the more elaborate the better. It’s a fact that record labels, magazines, publishers and most other spheres of the packaging industries have been exploiting for some time, fashioning beautifully ornate objects for which fans are only too happy to part with vast sums; whether it’s a die-cut, debossed, double gatefold or otherwise.

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    There’s so much work in Japanese designer Yuma Harada’s portfolio, I hereby give you permission to while away your Friday looking through his website – you won’t be disappointed and maybe even a “wow!” will escape your lips.

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    Sarah Boris is of the creative calibre that she ups the game for everybody else around her. An award-winning graphic designer and illustrator, she has been working for some of Britain’s greatest art institutions since 2003, including the Barbican Centre, the Architecture Foundation, Tate and Phaidon Press, as well as being solely responsible for the redesign of the ICA’s identity, which was unveiled in 2009 and can still be spotted on posters and billboards across London. The result? A portfolio of work so strong that it doesn’t seem to need much introduction; graphic posters for the ICA sit alongside exhibition identities and editorial projects spanning some incredibly grand subjects, proving in the simplest terms that Sarah cut her teeth with some of the strongest in the industry. And judging by the rate at which she is producing work, she’s nowhere near ready to slow down yet.

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    Last time we bigged up Norwegian/American studio Non-Format it was for an anthropomorphic animal head serving as the identity for Only Connect Festival of Sound in Oslo; so it seems only right that the following feature also explores the visuals for that same Nordic gathering. This time the festival has been dedicated to the late, great J.G Ballard – a man for whom much graphic design and illustration has already been produced, both for his books and film adaptations, as well as in his cult magazine, Ambit. But the Non-Format team have steered clear of any Ballardian visual clichés and adopted a retro-futuristic, geometric approach to the branding, utilising a glitchy typeface for the logo mark and a variety of pixellated patterns to tie the programme’s contents together. And not a smashed-up car or crash-test dummy in sight!

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    By all accounts Kevin Harris is an extraordinary badass, working only for the very coolest record labels and publications, with collaborators like Mario Hugo and Tim Lahan in tow. Part designer, part illustrator, with art direction and animation skills aplenty, he’s carving out a niche for himself producing effortlessly awesome work that references 1990s web art, stoner comics, tie-dye fabrics and pulp pornography with serious conceptual flair. He does his OWN comics too which obviously makes him OK by us. Look out for this one, he’s going to be huge!

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    When it comes to mainstream media, few organisations have embraced digital innovation with quite the same appetite as The Guardian. This week sees the launch of their new and improved app which creative director Alex Breuer and his team have been working on for some months, hoping to create a newly coherent and content-friendly mobile and tablet experience. We spoke to Alex about the design thinking that went into it…

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    While I’ve gracefully accepted the fact graphic design is not a skill I possess, if I was ever to foray into that world, Matteo Gualandris’ work would definitely be the standard I’d like to reach. When it comes to sophisticated, clean and modern design, this guy is as slick as they come.

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    Studio Hato have been around in some guise or another since 2009, although they’ve only recently given themselves an official name. They’re the design branch of a multi-faceted organisation that also includes Hato Press (an exceptional Risographic print studio) and Hato Labo (a digital design and programming team) all based in north east London. Its founders, Jackson Lam and Ken Kirton, have been around since the very beginning, working away on a multitude of commercial projects behind the scenes, while the reputation of the press has grown.

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    Labra is a Helsinki-based “creative laboratory” which is quietly building a super-impressive portfolio of branding, identity and illustration work. Of course there’s a particularly strong graphic design heritage in Finland, but while Labra’s work recognises that heritage, it doesn’t feel slavishly bound by it. This identity for the Mervi electronic music festival sums up the studio’s talents neatly; stylish, playful and interesting with a consistent communicative quality. Little wonder then that clients from art galleries to restaurants are queuing up for a slice of Labra’s considerable graphic talents.

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    Maybe it’s the world cup that’s dragging out the reluctant patriot in me, but I’m seeing flags all over place at the moment, and do you know what? I’m enjoying it. Perhaps nowhere so much as in this project, Multi-national Typeface by Grey Singapore. They’ve taken every single flag in the world, and reconfigured the shapes and colours which distinguish it to create the first letter of the country’s name. Sounds tricky, but fortunately Grey Singapore are also adept at putting together brilliantly functional and very entertaining GIFs which demonstrate the composition process, making the whole thing a damn sight easier to work out.

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    The sad death of Massimo Vignelli this week was greeted with the kind of tributes as befitting one of the design world’s most important figures. From posters to publications, brand identities to buildings and products to public signage, Massimo brought European modernism firmly into the mainstream.

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    In the midst of some research last week I came to Mat Maitland’s site and spent a blissful few minutes reminding myself of his brilliance. Mat – one of the talents on the consistently excellent Big Active roster – pulls off one of the most difficult image-making tricks around, and what’s more he makes it look easy. There’s an awful lot of surrealist collage and far too often it feels like it’s trying too hard, but Mat knows exactly what works and what doesn’t and just as importantly he knows when to stop. So it’s no surprise that big-name clients are beating a path to his door, so Mat is the man behind the new posthumous Michael Jackson release and a recent Prince single among other gems.

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    “Ah,” I can hear you thinking, “another process blog by a graphic designer!” but not just any designer, and not just any process blog, either. Leslie David is a Paris-based illustrator and art director to clients from the high fashion (Givenchy, Opening Ceremony and Chloé) to the music-related (Metronomy) and media-based (The New York Times and Jalouse Magazine) among several others, and tucked away on her page is a blog full of screenshots both of personal work and of work in progress.