Web Archive

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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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    Websites have come a long way since the days of Space Jam and the like, and in spite of the elaborate things designers are capable of now it’s often just a slick scroll and some jazzy illustration that will have you coming back to a site again and again.

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    We love sites like these: a simple idea, executed brilliantly and contributed-to by a host of fantastic creatives. From Your Desks is a website set up by Kate Donnelly that invites people in the art world to submit photographs of their workspace, which she then accompanies with a short but sweet interview about what they do. Personally, seeing the detritus surrounding someone’s desk gives me the same building curiosity as seeing inside their bedroom – it’s such an important, personal space and can be surprisingly revealing. There’s nearly 350 interviews on Kate’s site, and below we’ve picked a few photographs of the desks of some of our favourite artists including Adrian Tomine, Maya Fuhr, Christoph Niemann and Nat Russell. Enjoy!

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    Art in Film is the kind of online resource you don’t imagine is likely to come in especially handy in your life, but you find yourself scrolling through transfixed anyway. Run on a submissions basis by its curator Martin Cole, the set pulls together every imaginable example of an artwork (real or imaginary) included in film or on TV, from the famous scene at the potter’s wheel in Ghost to Lisa admiring Matisse’s Cut Outs in The Simpsons.

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    It’s a sad fact of modern life that all this time spent staring at screens in order to communicate has the adverse effect of stopping us from actually communicating at all. Fortunately Miranda July has found a solution; an app which allows other people to deliver your messages face-to-face on your behalf. Sponsored by Miu Miu the app allows you to choose the deliverer of your message and to suggest the manner in which they should do so, for example, “confidently,” “longingly,” or with air quotes. Even better the actor, writer and artist also created a short film to illustrate just how effectively the app can work, and true to form it’s chic, hilarious and actually very touching. The whole process has a hint of that 1990s board game Dream Phone about it too, which is a vibe I’m always delighted to channel.

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    Regardless of how much we love an epic view I imagine the majority of us will never climb Mount Everest, the 8,848 metre high mountain in the Himalayas which is home to one of the most incredible viewing points in the world. Fortunately for us there are web developers out there who can create simulations which are basically as good as the real thing. Almost.

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    Never a brand to risk complacency, Kenzo are pushing the boat out yet again this season to scale the parameters of the online store. They’ve created an elaborate narrative to accompany the online shopping destination of their pre-autumn 2014 collection, cooking up a fictional exhibition of which all but one of the featured artworks is stolen by the show’s star the night before it opens. In this story the exhibition opens anyhow, and the works are replaced with film footage of the thieves – Sudanese-American model Grace Bol and her accomplice – at work, with a sack full of their booty and all.

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    When it comes to archives, they don’t get much more impressive than that of Andrea Aranow, the designer and ethnographer who has been collecting samples of textiles that take her fancy since the late 1960s. She’s made snakeskin ensembles for Jimi Hendrix, travelled through the mountains of Peru, China and Japan collecting, consulted designers from Louis Vuitton to Dries Van Noten and even curated exhibitions for the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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    Wise words here from Peckham design collective King Zog. They’re back with a new website that will fart up the nose of your website faster than you can say “rainbow gloves.” The lads – a cocktail of Ben West, Jack Slee, Josh King and Felix Heyes – have collected all their work and put it on the World Wide Web the manner of a really, really personal business card. By that I mean that one look at their new site tells you everything you need to know about this lot. They’re some of the only people who can truly pull off funny design while simultaneously being eons ahead of everyone else in the ideas department. Special lads.

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    Five years ago Dave Tomkins uncovered a huge archive of photographs his Grandpa, Stephen Clarke had taken over the years. With his Grandpa unable to remember where he’d shot these images, Dave was determined to find out more and started reaching out to the big wide world to find out more about the places pictured and what they look like now.

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    It’s Nice That favourite Christoph Niemann has been keeping very busy recently. Between creating a football web essay about Brazil’s World Cup curse for the New York Times, and delivering an incredibly inspiring speech at our creative symposium Here last month, he’s found the time to put together a sleek new website to showcase all of his spectacular work. The site is easy to navigate, and it’s big and bold and bright, and we can’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon hours than by browsing through all of Christoph’s witty GIFs and whimsical illustrations.

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    “Turn and face the strange” – that’s how David Bowie advised we all deal with ch-ch-ch-changes and we think, as ever, Brixton’s favourite son was spot-on. It’s been more than two years since we last changed up itsnicethat.com and we felt the time was ripe for a refresh. The main change sees us move away from the content grid on the homepage back to a linear, blog-style format, a lay-out with which those of you familiar with our earliest iterations will be familiar. Hopefully this makes it slightly easier to browse the articles and work out what you’ve already seen on the site.

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    Video games have come on miles since the days of perching at the end of the sofa in our living room avidly clutching a Playstation control and racing Crash Bandicoot repeatedly down the same strip of the Great Wall of China. They’ve come on so far in fact that the kids of today don’t even need controls, apps, or to download any software. They don’t even need to be kids, for Pete’s sake!

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    If you’d listened hard enough a couple of weeks ago on May 23 you’d have heard a collective gasp sweep across Great Britain as the news spread that a fire had taken hold of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh building on Renfrew Street in Glasgow, a much-loved and iconic piece of Scottish architecture. A campaign has since been launched to restore the building to its former glory, but in the meantime, former alumni and students of the school have created the Mac Photographic Archive, a brilliantly interactive website allowing contributors to click freely around different parts of the building and to publish their own photographs of the interior.

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    Nishiyama is a silk company nestled beneath the Japanese Alps in the village of Ushikubi, and according to local legend, silk production has been rife in the region for 800 years, ever since members of the Genji Clan escaped to the village and taught locals the secrets of silkworms. The story seems more authentic than just being an old yarn: judging by the wooden looms and fairy-tale-like spinning wheels, the company’s weaving techniques are steeped in tradition.

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    If you haven’t yet found yourself clicking waywardly through to Patatap only to while away several hours idly composing beautiful melodies and weirdly syncopated rhythms when you were meant to be working towards that deadline, then frankly I don’t know what you’ve been doing. We found the website a little while back, but little did we know at the time that it was created by the spectacular mind of Jono Brandel who was also responsible for Anitype, or that it would swiftly be used to create some incredibly elaborate pieces which spread like wildfire online.

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    A good, hard pat on the back is deserved for the guys over at The New York Times for the excellent and timely new string to their online bow, The New York Times: Cooking. It is a cosy nook in the World Wide Web that offers the public a wide variety of affordable, seasonal recipes suggested by an interesting but very well-curated selection of wise, up-and-coming chefs. Currently this is just a test site that The New York Times say “will be available to approximately 10,000 NYTimes.com users. The Times will use the beta to develop insights on how users interact with the product, and to learn from those insights as it approaches the launch of the full product later this year.”

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    This is a stunning and innovative example of interactive storytelling, which focuses on the town of Thule – a municipality in Northern Greenland that was overtaken by the U.S military during the Cold War. The web-documentary by Anrick Bergman uses a combination of beautiful graphic maps, the personal memories of those who were relocated, and a stunning array of moving pictures to tell Thule’s tale.

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    Raise an earthenware mug of ale to the Nous Vous boys, as it’s time to celebrate the launch of their fantastic new website. As with all of their lovely work, this concept of this new site seems to have been approached wisely and with tactile, gentle care. As you enter, a smiling figure encourages you to use your keys to navigate your way around slowly to take in all their wonderful work, old and new.

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    We like to think we don’t watch all that much TV here at It’s Nice That. We’re too cultured to be slumping down in front of the box and watching whatever’s on. But the reality is we’re terrible consumers of TV shows, we just do it with box-sets in three-day sessions over a bank holiday; in bed, blinds down, takeaway pizzas on speed-dial. Which means we’re not even slightly immune to this fantastic project from Kevin Wu, that cropped up on Wired yesterday.

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    It’s one of the big challenges of the internet age; how does a business or organisation which is inherently defined by real-world products do digital? Well, this is how. Just under a year ago we hailed Made Thought’s GF Smith Colorplan swatch book, a drool-inducing piece of print perfection. At the time there was an impressive website to enjoy as well, but recently the studio has updated the online offering and it’s a thing of beauty and joy (which is NEVER something I thought I’d say about a paper company’s website…).

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    What better way to spend your Friday than on Rafaël Rozendaal’s latest creation, Fill This Up. Rafaël is one of the very few people that uses the World Wide Web productively, and he spends his time making websites for us proles to click around open-mouthed like those pigs those scientists convinced to play basic computer games. His latest venture sees him turn the boring browser into a canvas upon which we can drag our cursor around to make pastel shapes unfold like origami in quick succession. Drag to fill the page, click to reverse it back to white. Just like a lot of Rafaël’s work, this is simple, alluring and strangely brilliant.

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    Interactive artist and conceptual maverick Rajeev Basu’s been involved in some unusual projects in the past, from illustrated commercial drones to a Facebook hack that turns your personal page into a mighty hawk. His latest offering is as tedious as it gets though, an anti-epic piece of computer-generated purgatory that sees you stuck in an endless queue with nothing but your own will to keep you going. Like Doom and its many derivatives you can jump and strafe to avoid your foes, but this time your foes really couldn’t give less of a toss about you and the only weapon you have to stave off trouble is your own fist… which you have to use to punch ourself in the face…repeatedly. Good old-fashioned fun to get you going on a Monday morning!

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    Lurking in the depths of the internet is a place where time has no meaning, where the very concept of progress or gentrification is null. I’m referring of course, to the official Space Jam website which lies dormant on the dark floor of the bottomless pit that is the world wide web. To internet archaeologists (that is a thing) having a play around on this site is like coming across an abandoned but fully preserved tube station with the ticket machines still working – a preserved, long forgotten nugget of history and design. What’s so interesting about the Space Jam website is the staggering difference in it’s aesthetic and the force at which it propels you back to the days when you first saw the internet, and the only thing you knew how to do was go on Hamster Dance. May it remain active for many more years to come.

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    It’s always interesting to see online editorial platforms trying new and interesting ways of presenting their content to make full use of the digital experience, and we’ve written before about Pitchfork’s particular penchant for impressive visual journeys. In a slightly different media space, The New York Times is also keenly exploring different ways of bringing articles to life in the multimedia age, with their Snow-fall piece on the Tunnel Creek avalanche often cited as one of the best examples.

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    In 100 years, people studying our society are likely to be baffled by certain things. Combing through our cultural debris, historians and archaeologists will have to try and piece together what twerking was, or what a Jedward was used for. Chief among those cultural obsessions likely to stump them will be the apparent worship of a tiny Italian plumber, which will make no sense to anyone. Still in for a penny in for a pound we say and so perk up your Monday morning no end by spending some time at the Museum of Mario.

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    There’s disappointingly few great interactive websites out on the world wide web, fewer still that communicate something truly meaningful, so it’s an extraordinary pleasure to write about one that does both. Digesting Science is an interactive site created by the Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma at Barts Hospital, London that’s designed to explain MS to children with parents that suffer from the condition. It discusses, with a refreshingly un-patronising tone, the causes and effects of the disease as well as the possible treatments.

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    This latest collaboration between the London Symphony Orchestra and interactive design studio Sennep has been specifically directed towards schools and students as an educational tool to teach kids about the make-up of a classical orchestra. Which I guess means we’re just a bunch of big kids over here as we’ve spent a fair bit of time playing with it and getting to know the orchestra that little bit better.

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    I’ll level with you gang, I don’t spend an awful lot of time on architects’ websites (judge me if you must) but this new portal for Dutch-Danish firm Powerhouse Company is a real delight. Designed by Present Plus – the Amsterdam-based agency which helped build the new WeTransfer and has worked with the likes of Stella McCartney, adidas and National Geographic in the past – it’s a really nice combination of web design and embedded film which bring the firm’s projects to life in a way that sets a new standard. Great stuff all round.

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    We brought news to you a couple of weeks ago about Wallpaper* magazine’s redesign and said that the website was set to follow suit. Well now it has, designed built in consultation with Nicolas Roope of Poke London and Marc Kremers and the results prove that the online offering was no afterthought.

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    I know you all probably think I’m quite a slick arts journalist type who embodies sophistication (ha!) but at heart I’m pretty simple. Maybe that explains why I am so drawn to this project On A Wednesday like a moth to a sexy lady moth. It’s the work of Dave Dawson and Bekka Palmer, who were moved to try and answer the fundamental question: “There are a lot of people out there. What are they all doing?”

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    Earlier this month It’s Nice That director Will Hudson went on a week-long coding course with our friends at Steer. Here’s how he got on…

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    I’m not sure how we’ve never come across this Tumblr before but no matter because our tardiness only means that there’s a massive archive of the ebullient Rides A Bike for us to enjoy. The brainchild of American film critic Steven Rea, it’s a collection of images of well-known faces on two wheels taken predominantly on film sets during the silver screen’s golden age. It’s also a book and an app if this fails to provide enough of a supercool-celebrity-cycle fix but as a starting point – if you’re late to the party like us – delve into this treasure trove of a blog and ponder this – nobody has ever looked as cool as David Niven on a bike (and nobody ever will).

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    Royal College of Art mega-zine (better than a magazine but zine-sized) ARC has just treated itself to a brand spanking new website. The student-run publication exists to provide a platform for the RCA’s top talent to engage in exciting theoretical debate, dip their toes in the waters of journalism and continually refresh and reinterpret the format of printed matter. As an inherently physical work it’s not essential for ARC to have an online presence to ensure its ongoing success, but the small but growing archive is a wonderful reminder of the rich history of this prestigious publication and all the remarkable names responsible for the earlier issues. We’re looking forward to seeing this resource grow and discovering more about the illustrious history of ARC.

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    The debate over originality has long been an obsession in the cultural sphere– from finding out that your mate in Year 2 is using the same colouring pencils as you right through to Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans and Brillo Pad Boxes, and Shakespeare allegedly “borrowing” his play ideas from Christopher Marlowe. So a blog that takes these ideas of re-appropriation and semblance is more or less timeless in its relevance. Who Wore It Best might well be in it for the long haul, then, with their ongoing visual research project which considers common practices in art and design.

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    Jonathan Zawada’s a ruddy genius – just look at what he’s done now! Not content simply making sensational graphic design and illustration with the occasional flourish of fine art thrown in for good measure, he’s now set his sights on the internet, making it an altogether more exciting place to spend time. His latest project sees him screwing about with Google Maps, taking that all-too familiar interface we rely on pretty much every day and turning it into a futuristic battleground by overlaying video game graphics on top of Street View. So you can march about the various landscapes of planet Earth and make like you’re a mechanised demon of destruction. If you need me, I’ll be in my battle-bot waging war on downtown Beijing.

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    This is the kind of Tumblr that really floats my boat. Devastatingly I can’t find the genius behind it to give him/her due credit, but there may be a reason why they want to remain anonymous. In essence they have taken some of the ridiculous emails that are sent to all the staff in their company and collated them on a blog with appropriate visual representation. We all know how strange people can be, and this can be accentuated in the workplace; this blog is a celebration of our bizarre at-work behaviours.

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    For this of us passionate about print media, it’s sometimes useful to look to the past to help contextualise what might play out in the future. For that reason, moves by The Spectator – the oldest continuously-published magazine in the English-speaking world – to digitise its 185-year archive will be of interest to many. It’s a work-in-progress at the moment, but the opportunity to delve back to the very first issue launched in 1828, and to chart over the ensuing decades the changes in content, tone and of course design makes for a real treasure trove for those of us still fighting the good print fight here in 2013.

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    For a man with no formal design education, Richard Sapper has managed to make an indelible mark on the face of global industrial design. Since the 1950s his innovative approach to product design has led to some of the most forward-thinking, technically complex and strikingly-beautiful objects of use. From his early days at Daimler Benz to latter years at IBM, Sapper’s vision of the industrial world has come to be more or less our own; from the kettles we boil our water in, to the units from which we send emails.

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    Hey gang – you know what we haven’t done for what feels like ages? Give you something to fritter away your Friday afternoon to the chargrin of your employers, that’s what. So join us in sticking it to “The Man” with the help of the simple yet utterly addictive GeoGuessr. Anton Waller’s creation has been doing the rounds on social media for a few weeks now and we tried to resist, we really did. But the combination of detective work, geographical nous and the opportunity to compare scores with your friends, your co-workers or even that most worthy adversary – yourself – all proved too much. So if you’ve already seen this take some to rediscover it; if you haven’t then take the blue pill and I’ll show you how deep the rabbit hole goes…