Graphic Design Archive

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    French type designer Benoît Bodhuin is certainly not a man afraid of experimentation. He’s created some great protest poster type, the ZIGZAG typeface to help “break the rhythm of reading” and the rather lovely fractured-looking Mineral; and now he’s back with some lettering formed only from bars and triangles.

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    As university projects go, it’s safe to say this theatre branding by a designer who goes under the name Brandon mg is superbly considered and strong. Created as a live project at Camberwell College of the Arts, Brandon’s bold, direct work is something of a contrast to the company’s former look and feel, which you can see on its site here.

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    There’s a lot to be said for the role of the collector in the design community, given that new trends in graphic design are so often informed by vintage and retro styles. Sourcing, hunting down, collecting and then carefully preserving graphic ephemera, these archivists have a passion for their subject which tends to go unrewarded by the designers pinning archival scans to mood boards and reference sheets.

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    One of the nice things about going to magazine launches is running into talented folks while you’re queuing for a sponsored-vodka-based drink. I can’t take credit for the meeting myself – I was too focussed on jumping the queue – but our art director Jamie got chatting to Gabriel Finotti through a mutual friend and it turned out the Brazilian designer’s work was pretty damn slick.

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    We like a creative solution that is a little obtuse here at It’s Nice That and so this identity work from Dublin-based designer Dolce Merda truly tickled our fancy. Not Saying Boo organise secret gigs and late night parties across the Irish capital, but the designer decided to eschew the visual treatments often associated with exclusive, hidden or little-known cultural events when it came to creating the gig posters.

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    I’d like to think that somewhere a kind critic got drunk one night and confessed to his typographer friend that “presentations of new typefaces can be kind of boring, y’know.” If so, we have him to thank for the number of the innovative new projects we’ve seen this year, as type foundries and designers alike come up with new and ever more intriguing ways to show off new letterforms; from Commercial Type’s Showcase site a couple of months back, to this cool film yesterday. Not to mention this ace new minisite by independent foundry Grilli Type.

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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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.

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    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.