Archive

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    It’s a universally acknowledged truth that the week back to work after a long weekend drags like no other, so with that in mind, we’re bringing you some light entertainment to break up your Thursday afternoon and while away the hours until Friday hits.

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    Remember shooting your first roll of film as an enthusiastic and slightly precocious six year-old on a sticky disposable camera? I do – and the film was dominated by the backs of people’s heads. I was devastated that I hadn’t created a collection of immaculate and traditional family portraits, of course, but little did I realise back then that the backs can be just as beautiful.

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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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    The people at It’s Nice That – including me – who aren’t really into football get reprimanded for referring to it as “the beautiful game” or “the game of two halves” or “the game of the reds and the blues.” But you know, it’s hard for someone who isn’t into football to get emotional about it. Sometimes you see footage of a screaming crowd or a kid in a stripy scarf crying in the stalls an it makes you weepy, sure. But when you see photos like this, of kids running around in the evening sun playing “the beautiful game” with a makeshift ball with some twigs as goalposts then yeah, it does seem pretty unbelievable. Well done Austen for taking this series of shots, and for making the most of his trip round the world rather than just sitting in cafes reading The Celestine Prophecy with a bunch of vest-wearing Etonians.

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    Architect and designer Ana Varela was born and raised in Madrid, Spain, where she graduated from the Superior School of Architecture with a bachelors degree in 2007. Since then she’s led an impressive professional and academic career, directing Spanish design magazine Pasajes Diseño and pursuing a masters in Design for Luxury and Craftsmanship at ECAL in Lausanne. Now she teaches at ECAL and maintains a professional practice as an interior and product designer in Lausanne.

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    British designers Agi Mdumulla and Sam Cotton are one of the biggest success stories of the London menswear scene in recent years. Believing fashion should never be taken too seriously, their beautifully vibrant collections combine bespoke print patterns and a quintessentially British sense of humour with tailored, accessible shapes.

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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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    Documentary photographer Brian Finke has travelled extensively across America capturing an incredible variety of people, professions and social rituals. From construction workers and flight attendants, to hip hop honeys and cheerleaders, his fascination with the dramas played out in small towns and urban cities finds its outlet in these wonderful images. Mixing natural light with flash photography, and staged scenes with candid shots, Brian masterfully highlight the undeniable uniformity of life, whilst celebrating individual moments with honesty and humour.

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    Raymond Lemstra is one of those illustrators who can do no wrong in our eyes; his incredibly fine detail, careful layers of shading and seamless combination of totemic robots with folkloric imagery makes for one hell of a package. So obviously we’re enormous fans of his new book Big Mother, published by Nobrow.

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    This week we are privileged to reprint some of the thoughts of branding legend Wally Olins, who died recently aged 83. Tributes poured in from across the creative industries after his death, made all the more poignant by the introduction to his book Brand New : The Shape of Brands To Come which was published only last month. He rounds off the book’s foreword saying: “I am writing about it all now, because I won’t be here to see it and listen to people telling me how wrong I was.”

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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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    It was in 2007 that Yusuke Miyagawa’s Funky Jamaica first came out, but we were only just starting up then, so excuse us for missing it. In the intervening seven years the Brooklyn-based, Japanese photographer has become a regular at Dazed and Confused and INDIE, repeatedly commissioned for his beautifully up-close-and-personal style of documentary photography in which he consistently confronts his subjects head on. That said, we’ve yet to see him produce a body of work as cohesive as his Jamaican masterpiece.

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    Another Flickr prodigy rears its multicoloured head in the form of Nadine Redlich, a German illustrator whose work is a dangerous cocktail of hilarious and magical puerility. I did some quick digging around for some more information on Nadine and came across a short bio of her on German illustration blog Rotopol Press: “Redlich was born around 1879. In her early life she began her studies at the Fachhochschule Düsseldorf in the field of communication design. She was able to end these studies with a diploma after more than 100 years.”

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    Bird-spotting, Santa-papping photographer Luke Stephenson has recently turned his attentions to the documentation of a Great British culinary staple; the humble 99. For international readers allow me to explain: the 99 is Great Britain’s answer to France’s crêpe, or New York’s one dollar pizza – an article of questionable nutritional value that’s available in any number of strange locations throughout the summer. It’s a glorious swirl of vanilla ice cream spat unceremoniously into a flimsy synthetic cone and we eat them in their thousands.

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    There is more than one way to skin a cat, or so the old expression goes – and there’s more than one way to create a brilliantly effective fashion ad too, the new offering by Hermès being my case in question. It’s a short ad operating around a simple concept, but its infinitely quirky nature makes for a fascinating, surprising and very original watch.

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    Some photographers like to take beautiful photos of their mates hanging out in parks, or portraits of famous people standing by nice windows. Other photographers, and I have to say my personal favourite photographers, prefer to take wild, rainbow-infused images that capture your imagination and fling it into the corner of a psychedelic brain festival. Brooklyn photographer Brian Vu does that to me, his compositions of precious stones, human flesh and scenes are like slices of a history that doesn’t exist, or just a mash-up of The Holy Mountain and Topshop in 2008. Amazing.

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    Despite sharing his surname with one of literature’s most dastardly characters, Paul is actually a really nice guy. He’s a well-known, London-based artist and illustrator and is also the creative director of Human After All and the former creative director of Little White Lies magazine. So yeah, pretty talented really. He’s given us a very, very concise peek into his bookshelf today and my oh my does he have some gems! A book of Chinese apothecary packaging design? Yes please.

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    This month we’ve invited four speakers who are working in exciting ways within contemporary fashion. Joining us is London based fashion designer Kit Neale to tell us how how his colourful clothing and playfully animated graphic prints explore themes of British life and humour, and mens fashion critic for the Financial Times Charlie Porter will discuss his journalistic approach for leading fashion publications and his own personal blog.

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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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    Sam Vanallemeersch’s website proclaims that he “draws for you” – and what an honour that is. These images are updates from the man who had the most viewed article on It’s Nice That in 2013, and you can see why. Not many illustrators or artists can boast a portfolio so rich, unique and powerful, but Sam’s got this ability to transport us into his chaotic world with just one glance at one of his hectic, jittery scenes. Interestingly, his piece of work for International Women’s Day is aesthetically very different to his trademark style, but it’s just more proof that Sam is exceptionally talented. His drawings give you the feeling that you’re at once terrified, lost and out of your depth in a strange apocalyptic land, but you’re happy to be there because to be honest, Sam’s world shits all over the reality of our own.

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    It’s laudable that designers are working on worthy projects that will have a practical impact on building a better future, but we’re big believers that creatives should be engaged in making tomorrow a bit more fun too. Luckily for us, there are institutions like the Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL).

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    It’s always a pleasure when the new Port magazine drops through our letterbox and the latest issue was no exception. But even by its own sky-high standards, one piece in particular jumped out as something very impressive. The Chateau de Bosc in the south of France was the aristocratic seat of the Toulouse-Lautrec family, and was home to Henri, the painter and printmaker who captured the wild world of 19th Century Paris with such flair.

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    Bankers have been the butt of a number of jokes over the past few years. They’re easy prey for satirists, what with their wholesale destruction of the global economy and flagrant disregard for fiscal responsibility. But Ninian Doff’s latest video for Peace’s Money adds a whole new level of surrealism to banking satire. In it we see an upwardly mobile yuppy climb the city ladder by unusual means. You see it’s not through tidy hedge fund management that he gains the respect of his bosses, it’s his badass dancing skills, and they gain him entry into a weird and wonderful finale that I really don’t want to spoil for you. See for yourselves…

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    Romping through some fellow creative blogs recently I was stopped in my tracks over on But does it float? by the mindbending geometric paintings of Johnny Abrahams. Information about the New York-based artist is sparse on his own website but a little bit of digging uncovered an artist statement in which Johnny talks about making the viewer the subject of his work.

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    Will looking into artist’s studios ever get boring? I think not, and neither do Freunde von Freunden who make this activity their profession. The Berlin collective travel to the homes and workplaces of some of the world’s most quietly spectacular people who choose to adorn their little nests with beautiful objects, and take pride in things such as ancient rugs, houseplants and hanging crystals.

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    The average Beyoncé fan’s repertoire is fairly complete, as far as these things go; on top of the extensive merchandise and the dedicated online community (the Beyhive) there are bookmarked folders full to the brim with Tumblrs and fan-sites and even a dedicated Soundboard. What they don’t have, however, is an art gallery full of the one woman superstar’s family portraits. Or they didn’t, at least. They do now.

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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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    Carlos Jimenez is a Spanish photographer and filmmaker living and working in London who caught our attention last year for his work on Nobrow’s promotional film for ELCAF 2013. It provided a slick overview of a massive, messy event and displayed some extremely nice editing flourishes. But Carlos’ most recent project is an altogether more refined proposition. Commissioned by the V&A to produce a film about the renovation of their plaster courts, Carlos has produced a slow, sweeping piece of cinema that glorifies some extraordinary works of Renaissance art including some rare close-ups of Michelangelo’s David. There’s also interviews with a few key players in the V&A’s conservation and curatorial teams who give a real sense of the important work they’re involved in.

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    Hey guys! For us Brits in the UK it’s actually a Bank Holiday weekend right now, which means we’re going to spend the next four days drinking shandies in the sun and being forced by children to hunt for eggs in damp, pansy-ridden back gardens – fun! The Bank Holiday gives everyone in the UK a feeling of magic, a tickle of fire in the belly, a feeling that anything and everything is possible. And maybe it is. Let The Weekender guide you into what could be the best weekend of your life.

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    Here ya go! Another installment from the music men at the ever-brilliant NTS Radio, this time from Shane Connolly (or Shamos), creative director of the station. “I run a night called LIFE which has been running for almost three years where I invite record collectors and music lover to play the music they love,” Shane tells us. “This mix is quite different to what I play out, but is definitely music I love and listen to on my own so this is a good chance to play it.” It’s Bank Holiday, so it’s the perfect time to make a fresh batch of coffee, get the daffodils in the vase, put your feet (no shoes) on the sofa and turn this up.

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    It’s Easter weekend! That magical, once in a year religious occasion which grants you not one but two Bank Holidays, and an anything-goes pass to bask in all the sugary confectionary your body will allow you to consume! It’s a happy time of year, and we’re celebrating with a collection of stuff that we’ve been sent that we think is awesome and that we think you’ll like too. This week’s Things include a catalogue of Studio 75B’s lesser known projects, a story which does crazy things with type, a souvenir from a trip, an adventure beneath the sea and last but not least a book that turns into a lamp. A LAMP! I know. Enjoy!

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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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    In 2011 San Franciscan artist Tauba Auerbach held a solo show at the Bergen Kunsthall in Norway that cemented her reputation as a fine artist with heavyweight conceptual clout as well as being a maker of extraordinarily beautiful objects. Tetrachromat suggested that there was a fourth colour spectrum only perceptible to women and Tauba created a selection of objects that experimented with this theory – including vast books printed with rainbow gradients that are still some of the most beautiful objects I’ve ever laid eyes on.

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    I like to imagine that if I were to hop on a spaceship and zoom a distance away from the earth I’d be able to watch all of the inhabitants of our busy planet scuttling hurriedly around its surface like tiny ants. This is extreme, of course, and completely ridiculous, but as it turns out, if you hover at a considerably lower altitude in a plane, and dangle out of the window, you really can make out the traces of activity that we leave behind us.

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    As publicity stunts go, here’s one that totally floats our boat. Stationery company Moo.com 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.

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    Like inhaling helium or unexpectedly getting a free meal, there’s definitely something magic about messing around with slow motion or playback on film. It’s an easy and very pleasurable art form, and has been taken advantage of a lot in the world of film, possibly most impressively in Spike Jonze’s video for the Pharcdyde’s Drop. In this case, filmmakers Simon Bouisson have wandered the streets of Tokyo backwards and then played it backwards to make it look as if the star of the film is making his way through a city of backwards-walking people. Get your head around that? Never mind, just watch it.

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    Just in case you needed any further proof that women are producing some incredibly high quality girl-focused projects just now, here’s another. Girls Like Us is a magazine produced in Amsterdam and Belgium, and it channels exactly the combination of engaging content, beautiful design and nonchalance that we’re into.