Graphic Design Archive

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    Paris-based graphic designer Michael Thorsby originally hails from Sweden, but has travelled across Tokyo, Copenhagen and London picking up influences and developing his work before settling in Paris with a visual language that’s entirely his own. His projects vary enormously from luxurious pattern design fro the likes of Sixpack France, beautiful posters for obscure bands and laboriously 3D rendered commercials for automobile brands. There’s seemingly nothing he can’t do.

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    In 1936 a Penguin executive passing a bookstand in Kings Cross station overheard a woman asking for “one of those Pelican books” and so, worried rivals might start imprints named after birds, he moved to snap up the name for his employers. With its distinctive blue covers, Pelican made a name for itself publishing “concise, accessible and intelligent” books which aimed to “capture the current state of knowledge in their field.”

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    Just when you think you’ve seen everything typography has to offer – bacon, for example, or some of the wilder creations Sam Winston has created, you stumble happily across the type design of a Japanese designer and everything gets turned on its head. Because not speaking Japanese I have absolutely no idea what these bold, graphic compositions mean, but in spite of all my linguistic inadequacies, I still find myself inexplicably drawn to them. The new combinations of lines and forms presents a whole new world as far as type design is concerned, and designer Shun Sasaki is taking full advantage of it, presenting unashamedly vivid colour combinations, and carrying over her myriad Japanese references to the equally fascinating examples of type design in English. Take that grid and throw it to the back of the cupboard, Shun has no need of it.

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    To be totally honest I never knew the Swiss city of Lausanne had a film and music festival, let alone an underground film and music festival but it does, and last year the organisers were savvy enough to call on the design talents of Demian Conrad.

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    Barcelona-based studio Forma & Co. is Joel Lozano and Dani Navarro, and my, do Dani and Joel know how to take a rather unexciting brief – creating communicative posters for government organisations, or posters to advertise debates about neuroscience – and make it 100% more interesting. Example A is this identity for Can Felipa’s Civic Centre, the name of which doesn’t exactly inspire a flurry of excitement.

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    This autumn a fascinating exhibition will celebrate the work of the Royal College of Art’s remarkable graphics alumni. As part of the preparation for this exhibition, organisers have set up a Tumblr called GraphicsRCA on which they are posting some superb examples of work that has a connection with the school. The most interesting bits include degree show posters from the days of yore; particularly given that we are moving into graduate season now. There’s also posters for lectures, workshops and film society meetings as well as work from selected alumni. Well worth a browse as we countdown to what will be a magnificent exhibition in October.

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    In any identity project, designers must also be soothsayers and try to think about how their work will be used (and maybe abused) out in the real world. So when multidisciplinary studio Blok Design was asked to come up with a look and feel for a Mexican cultural organisation they tried to work a few steps ahead.

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    When the seventh issue of Boat Magazine dropped through our door a couple of weeks ago we interested to see that it had undergone a redesign. For the Lima issue, London studio She Was Only had refreshed the look and feel with a new masthead, a new approach to layouts and some nice new visual tricks. We spoke to the studio’s Craig Scott about their involvement in the globetrotting magazine.

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    This is something of a niche reference so please forgive me if I lose you, but do you remember that episode of The Magic Schoolbus where the bus shrinks to molecular size and travels inside Ralphie’s body? Well Kraftfolio’s recent project for Bit Hotel in Barcelona reminds me hugely of that; together with Karina Eibatova and Lesha Galkin, Edgor Kraft who heads up the studio painted the walls with a mural which looks exactly like what I imagine the inside of an illustrator’s brain to look like if you were to shrink and then travel inside it. Covered in ambiguous shapes, squiggles, colours and forms, it’s quite the transformation for the space, turning it from a plain white box into a highly original, almost biological-looking room. Just like inside Ralphie.

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    We’re well versed in the graphic treasures in and around the London Underground but Adam Chang is on a mission to introduce us to the New York subway system in the same way. His beautifully designed NY Train Project site is in turn a celebration of the beautiful design to be found in the city’s underground stations; from intricate tiling and interesting murals to some terrific typography.

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    Graphic designer Mark Porter is synonymous with the far-reaching 2008 redesign of The Guardian newspaper, and not content with mastering one huge media’s look and feel, he’s now turned his talents to TV. RTL is the biggest commercial network in The Netherlands and RTL Nieuws produces news bulletins, business, weather and traffic across its channels.

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    The Tour de France evokes images more quintessentially French than a GCSE exchange visit to La Rochelle, but this year’s race begins in the decidedly English surroundings of Yorkshire. To mark this honour, MADE NORTH studio has invited an amazing selection of designers to create a yellow T-shirt, riffing off the famous Maillot Jaune the Tour leader wears.

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    It would be easy to live in London and take for granted the brilliant posters and identities promoting shows at some of the capital’s best galleries. When you’re shoving past someone 30 metres below street level you barely have time to take in the work someone’s gone to to tell you to go and see a show at the weekend, you just sort of absorb it.

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    We first came across photographer Colin O’Brien last autumn, when we interviewed him about his stunning 1987 series Traveller’s Children in London. The book which housed the series was an understated affair, allowing his monochromatic images to speak for themselves, which they did in volumes of sentimentality and nostalgia. And while understated can be lovely, Colin’s back catalogue is so extensive – beginning as it does in 1948 and stretching all the way to the present day – that we couldn’t help but feel that he deserved something more.

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    Held in any number of unusual venues and with a line-up of acts who break boundaries all over the shop, Eastern Electrics is a festival unlike any other, so when Accept & Proceed undertook rebranding it it made perfect sense that they create something appropriately cool. They created a new mark which they describe as a “lightning bolt E” and a “bespoke electrifying variation of Simplon Mono font,” drawing on classic heavy metal motifs and a gloriously sunny palette.

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    Don’t be shocked at the photos you see here. Clicking on a Henrik Purienne article and complaining about the nudity is like going to the Louvre and complaining that there are too many paintings. The bounty-hunting jet-setter has recently published a new book, morena, which has been lovingly designed by Barcelona design studio Córdova – Canillas. The concept of the book is simple: morena is a Spanish word for “a tanned or a non-blonde girl, or both at the same time” and the book is “a collection of monographs venturing in a timeless sensuality, in nudity as a state of true elegance, in sex…”

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    Elizabeth Dilk is a New York-based graphic designer and art director who has a rare gift. Not in a creepy I-see-dead-people-kind of way, rather she creates work which is stylish without feeling soulless (a compromise we come across more than you’d think). It helps that she’s very versatile, with a portfolio that includes web design, packaging, identities and logo marks, advertising, typography and print and it’s the latter we’ve chosen to focus on this time.

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    Like many famous combinations – fish and chips, gin and tonic – type and design are inextricably linked but rarely do we explore that relationship in any depth. A new exhibition in New York does just that though, bringing together a host of rare works and unique artefacts to examine the centuries-old way in which these two entities have developed in partnership.

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    A boutique creative agency based in New York, New Zealand and London, Hardhat Design have a side range of projects under their belt. We were particularly taken by this identity for interior stylist and store owner Alex Fulton, whose work is characterised by her use of colour and forms. In accordance with these elements of her practice, Hardhat designed a fun and playful identity which utilises shapes that can be viewed in a number of different ways. We spoke to the design director Jenny Miles about their key references.

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    We don’t want to seem like we’re showing favouritism to particular publications by featuring them repeatedly on the site, but even though we profiled Edition 9 of Process Journal back in October, Edition 10 is equally deserving of attention, and so we’re covering the Aussie mag again.

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    Educational design is no mean feat, the boundary between accessible, engaging and incredibly cheesy being a difficult one to tread, and I’ve never seen it achieved with the aplomb that Multistorey have managed in Discovering Architecture, the publication they designed as part of the V&A museum’s back-pack guides.

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    It was just the other day that we featured some striking new work from Graphic Thought Facility, but they’ve clearly been busy working on all manner of interesting projects so we thought, what the hell, let’s get them up on the site again.

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    You know that advert where everything that guy touches turns to Skittles? Well Graphic Thought Facility are like that, only that everything they touch turns to design gold rather than delicious fruity confectionery. They have just art directed the inaugural issue of Modern Design Review which is billed as “a considered and curated insight into modern product and furniture design.”

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    I’m an unashamed geek when it comes to journalism (my favourite Twitter feed is easily the Guardian Style Guide for goodness sake) so this new publication from The Times is right up my street. Byline is a quarterly magazine for the newspaper’s subscribers which provides “an exclusive insight into the news-gathering process.”

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    Unless you’re born a gifted arithmetician, maths tends not to be an awful lot of fun; those most opaque of school-taught subjects – trigonometry, calculus and algebra – all blend into one to create a giant, indelible knot of difficult questions and tricky excuses. This is where Spanish studio Tata&Friends come in. Specialising in art direction, brand identity and editorial work, they’ve illustrated a series of numbers from joined, jumping and moving parts, to make those tricky subjects that little bit easier. They even had the equally great Cuadro Post animate them to create playful, unmissable gifs.

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    German graphic designer Hagen Verleger produces all manner of beautiful print design for a roster of fashion and arts-based clients. He’s particularly adept at the creation of book covers and crisp typographic layout having studied at both the Muthesius Kunsthochschule and Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, Leipzig. His reductive approach to design means that all his work exudes a refined simplicity with only rare additions of devices that feel purely ornamental – and it’s this skill that particularly distinguishes a recent personal project.

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    Sagmeister & Walsh are not known for doing things the easy way, and their latest work for New York’s Jewish Museum is no exception. With a collection comprising 30,000 objects and a challenging mission to engage a broad inter-generational audience, the museum needed a new look and feel across print, physical and digital collateral that would reflect and enhance its modern role.

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    Paris-based graphic design studio Les Graphiquants has a very firm grip on typography. Made up of Romain Rachlin, Maxime Tétard, Cyril Taieb et François Dubois, the studio have created a whole series of flashy typefaces with equally flashy names from Athens and Berlin to Sofia, making graphic lines, bold curves and often monochromatic colour palettes their namesake. You can see a detailed breakdown of each typeface in their portfolio, where you can also view them implemented across identities from clients from the Pompidou Centre, Christian Dior and several biennales; a high-end list, no? They describe their practice as “abstract, poetic, and demanding” and “a fancy taken seriously… backed by a rigorous working methodology," which sounds pretty accurate to me. Revel below.

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    Sure the branding for Daft Punk’s merchandise leans towards the more sexist types of adverts from the 70s, but boy is it done well. The tongue in cheek posters that look like something out of an old copy of LIFE magazine are promoting the French duo’s latest range of merchandise, which in itself is as cheesy as the ads.

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    We already praised Made Thought’s considered G . F Smith rebrand to the skies earlier this week but hot on the heels of the announcement we discovered this terrific book too. Throughout the overhaul of its look and feel, the paper company has been obsessed with promoting its story, justifiably proud of George Frederick Smith’s founding principles and the way they endure in a contemporary commercial climate.

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    As mainstream publishers go, few enjoy a design standing as respected as Penguin, and that is largely down to David Pearson. His brilliance will be given due prominence at a show at London’s Kemistry Gallery next month with his bold and communicative book jacket design for Penguin taking centre stage, alongside work for Éditions Zulma and a few other clients.

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    Swiss type foundry Grilli Type have just released GT Sectra, a bespoke typeface based on the calligraphic forms of a broad nib pen. Originally designed for Swiss news magazine Reportagen, GT Sectra was designed to be ornate in its construction, yet refined enough to be comfortably legible when used in long-form journalism. As a result the Grilli Type’s greatest efforts were spent refining and standardising the face beyond the remit of a traditional serif, paying particular attention to the proportions of the letterforms and the integration of capital letters. The resulting font families are beautifully angular – dispensing with curves almost completely – and distinctive for their obvious modernity despite being grounded in more traditional typographic practice.

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    And so as Secret 7” draws to a close for another year, it’s always interesting to keep an eye on the big reveal. The sleeves went on sale anonymously on Record Store Day at the weekend, but after that the organisers open up about who did what. So peruse some of those sleeves designed by creatives we know and love below, from Paul Smith and Jeremy Deller to former It’s Nice That Graduates Sarah Maycock and Pat Bradbury.

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    We can all pretend that we don’t care that much about design awards but the truth is that it’s always interesting to see who wins what; particularly when it comes to the Design Museum’s prestigious Designs of the Year. This morning the seven category winners were announced and they are as below; the overall winner will be announced on 30 June and the show continues until 25 August.

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    Art director Sue Murphy wears her geekery proudly on her sleeve. “I’m a nerd about a lot of things,” she announces on her Good Design Is Good Business blog, “one area in particular is design.” While working on the IBM account for Ogilvy, she was bowled over by how much beautiful graphic work the company had produced over the past 100 years but realised that not much of it was readily available online.

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    In an age defined by digital, us print proponents are fond of harking on about the beauty, tactility and ultimately irreplaceable wonders of paper. But for a hugely-respected paper company like G . F Smith that argument is one they have to try and win on a very real, daily basis.

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    French designer Benoit Challand is more than happy to test the boundaries of just what typography can do; his portfolio is full of projects which see him manipulate lettering to test new ideas, whether that be through 3D illustration, design or CGI.

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    Any kind of graphic design related to the Olympics can be fraught with challenges – just ask the folk over at Wolff Olins about the London 2012 furore – but maybe the pressure is slightly less intense when it comes to the Games’ winter iteration.

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    Wow! This is such nice work. Visual identities, posters, books and brochures have never looked so cutting edge and friendly at the same time. Eps51 (cool name) have the great ability to be able to combine classic, historic imagery and typography with modern flourishes to build up one of the richest portfolios I’ve seen in ages. Not only is it rich, it’s really interesting. With a lot of design portfolios you get an idea that they’re “cool” and everything but you don’t necessarily see the substance behind the nice fades and gilded type. The Eps51 site gives you a friendly, informative blurb about each one of their worthwhile projects that convey not just a hell of a lot of design knowledge, but also a true passion for what they do. The bonus is that they’re looking for freelancers, go, go, go!

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    As publicity stunts go, here’s one that totally floats our boat. Stationery company have launched a new range, and to promote it they have created business cards and letterheads for a host of famous names; from Charles Darwin and William Shakespeare to James Bond creator Ian Fleming and US founding father Benjamin Franklin.