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Review of the Year 2015: 100 Most Popular Articles of the Year

The It’s Nice That Review of the Year concludes with a round up of the best and most popular content we have published this year. We kick things off with the definitive list of the most read articles in 2015. From number one to number 100, this is a mix of the brilliant, provocative, inspiring and sometimes just plain weird projects we have written about and you have read.

  • Klaus_frahm_4th_wall_int_list Work / Photography Klaus Frahm's incredible photographs capture the unseen side of theatres

    Watching the grace and effortless-seeming style of a play, it’s intriguing to consider the flurry and bustle that happens behind the dark red curtain. For the last few years, Hamburg-born photographer Klaus Frahm has been stripping back Europe’s stages to take incredible shots of theatres from the other side. His photographs reveal cascades of seats framed by the structures that house the lights and mechanics of the show. 

    1
    Rebecca Fulleylove
  • Chris-simpsons-artist-creative-jobs-its-nice-that-list Work / Illustration Chris (Simpsons Artist)'s surreal but accurate illustrations of creative jobs

    Working in the creative industries can surely be odd enough at times, but to add an extra dollop of the ludicrous and surreal is Chris (Simpsons Artist), who’s helpfully depicted how ten creative roles really pan out. Often worryingly accurate (see production runner making tea, illustrator who has “left it to the last minute”) and always hilariously strange, the series was commissioned by creative industries network Hiive and gives a nice gentle rib tickle to graphic designers, who may or may not spend all day using a Wacom to scroll about over images of sausages.

    2
    Emily Gosling
  • Drake-whybray-int-1 Work / Web Write whatever you like in the typeface from Drake's new cover artwork

    It took Simon Whybray and Rik Lomas all of 30 seconds (might be an exaggeration, but who’s counting?) to pick up on the freshly released mixtape that Drake dropped at midnight on Thursday, whose cover artwork was a scribbled “If You’re Reading This Its Too Late,” and to turn it into an interactive website which allows you to create your own Drizzy meme. And in accordance with with grammatical errors in the album’s title – Drake has no time for apostrophes – the site won’t allow you to use any, either. Cue whole Tumblrs full of slurs, chat-up lines and jokes in we’re assuming is his handwriting.

    3
    Maisie Skidmore
  • Alice-stein-dirty-kids-its-nice-that-list Work / Film The homeless Dirty Kids of America and their "rainbow party" explored in new film

    Equal parts fascinating, disturbing and grubbily beautiful, a new film from UK-based filmmaker Alice Stein has managed to cast an entirely new light on homelessness and adolescence. Entitled Dirty Kids, she’s made a documentary about a bunch of homeless US teenagers who make a pilgrimage each year to “Rainbow Gatherings.” These camps originated in the 1970s, and offer up a supposedly utopian, countercultural space that eschews capitalism, consumerism and modern day values in favour of a sharing system and an amalgam of various different belief systems and traditions. There’s no electricity, hot water or any form of communication with the outside world for up to three months at a time.

    4
    Emily Gosling
  • List Work / Illustration How illustrators responded to the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris

    It’s not very often that illustration finds itself at the centre of world events, but that came to pass yesterday when three gunmen attacked the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The publication – which lampoons anyone and everyone – was seemingly targeted because of the way it has mocked Islam in the past and three of its cartoonists (Cabu, Wolinski and Tignous) were among the 12 people killed. The illustration community was quick to respond with powerful and poignant imagery uploaded to social media. Jean Jullien’s “Je Suis Charlie” picture depicting a pencil being jammed into the end of a rifle was among the most shared tributes on Twitter, while others like Hattie Stewart paid more personal respects. Later the cartoonists at the major newspapers added their offerings to try and make sense of the events that played out in Paris.

    5
    Rob Alderson
  • Annie-atkins-grand-budapest-hotel-list Work / Graphic Design The Grand Budapest Hotel graphic designer on designing for Wes Anderson

    Anyone who’s seen Wes Anderson’s very pink, very stunning, and very, very meticulously created masterpiece The Grand Budapest Hotel will be aware of just how complex a setting it is. But until we heard from the movie’s graphic designer Annie Atkins at this year’s Offset festival about the painstaking processes the art department went through behind the scenes, the complexity we thought we understood turns out to be just the tip of a very, very deep graphic iceberg.

    6
    Emily Gosling
  • Martin_parr_nice_2015_int_list Work / Photography Martin Parr's unseen beach photography shot last week in Nice

    Since 1985 Martin Parr has been capturing the kitsch culture of seaside resort towns the world over. Starting with the tattered charm of New Brighton near Liverpool in his famous photo essay The Last Resort, the photographer’s anthropological take on beach culture has moved from Englands’ north-west coast to Italy, Spain, and as far as Peru and Argentina. A comprehensive travelling exhibition of his beach photography Life’s a Beach has been making international rounds and is currently on show at Le Théâtre de la Photographie et de l’Image in Nice.

    7
    Alexander Hawkins
  • List2 Work / Product Design Volvo's new luminous paint for cyclists is utterly astounding!

    This won’t be the best-shot, best-edited film you’ve seen all day but it’ll definitely be the most exciting. Volvo (the car manufacturer) have just released a luminous paint that’s invisible during the day and then brightly fluorescent at night as soon as car headlights bounce off it. Spray it on your bike, helmet, clothing – maybe even your face – to make sure you’re lit up like a Christmas tree whenever you set off on nighttime rides.

    8
    James Cartwright
  • Homme-less-int-top Work / Film Mark Reay, the fashion photographer no one knew was homeless

    Looking at Mark Reay – handsome, immaculately groomed and sharply dressed – you would never guess the fashion photographer and former model had spent nearly six years sleeping rough on a New York rooftop. A regular shooting backstage at New York Fashion Week for Dazed, in his mid-20s he walked the runway for Versace, Moschino and Missoni, appeared in French Vogue and later on nabbed a small role in Sex and the City. A new documentary about his double life shot by friend and filmmaker Thomas Wirthenson, Homme Less comes out tomorrow.

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    Alexander Hawkins
  • Nytmagazine-redesign-list Work / Graphic Design Behind the scenes of The New York Times Magazine redesign

    While magazine redesigns often receive a great deal of attention, few are likely to be more scrutinised than the new-look New York Times Magazine which debuts on Sunday. The Times is the leading newspaper in the US and its magazine is read by nearly four million people every week. When listed, the changes design director Gail Bichler and her new art director Matt Willey have implemented sound exhaustive – redrawn fonts, a redrawn logo, a new approach to lay-outs, a new-look version of the online magazine. Add to this a raft of new features and editorial changes (such as a new weekly poem, a column that rotates between four critics and a dispatch from the frontline of internet culture) and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the new magazine will be unrecognisable.

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    Rob Alderson
  • Pentagramlogobook1 Work / Graphic Design Logo book author Michael Evamy on what makes great logo design

    If Pentagram’s Micheal Bierut reckons a book can “make better designers of all of us,” its likely to be a pretty useful tome. The designer was heaping praise on Logo: The Reference Guide to Symbols and Logotypes by Michael Evamy, which is just about to launch its new mini edition with publisher Laurence King.

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    Emily Gosling
  • Unnamed-1 Work / Animation Intricate GIFs depicting modern life from illustrator Rebecca Mock

    GIFs are just a part of life now, like shoes or the BBC. In a world overrun with these oddly satisfying little snippets of expression, the general vibe of GIFs so far has been leaning much more on the quantity level than the quality. When you find yourself scrolling cross-eyed through the internet and you come across GIFs with such delicate majesty such as these by Rebecca Mock, it hits you like a pixelated smack in the face. Rebecca is an illustrator from New York who creates exquisite digital illustrations for the likes of The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Medium among others. Her illustrations are subtle and somewhat tender moments represented in GIF form, un-showy and delicate. Sometimes the only thing moving in the whole image is a flashing light on a laptop, or the endless sideways scroll of an iPad. How refreshing to see someone leaping on this medium, and using it to illustrate the strange new digital world we’re in.

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    Liv Siddall
  • List_graphic-design Work / Review of the Year 2014 Top Ten: The ten most popular graphic design projects and studios of 2014

    There’s been so much superb graphic design this year, from posters to identity projects to cake shop branding. The things that have got you most excited have included work for huge clients like Airbnb, posters showing the innocent victims of gun violence and on a more light-hearted note, some very sweet work for a confectionary shop. All brilliant, smart projects that show the breadth and skill of 2014’s graphic design output.Back in the cold, dark January o’2014 our lives were made a little bit brighter by the work of Pentagram designer Jessica Svendsen. It’s Nice That’s Liv Siddall reckoned she was “instantly drawn in like horny little bees to a pretty flower” when she happened upon Jessica’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library and Haas Arts Library identity with their superb use of colour and icons.
    www.itsnicethat.com/articles/graphic-design-jessica-svendsen may have heard about this project. In fact unless you were, say, on a very long holiday; or lost internet connection throughout the summer, it’s very unlikely you wouldn’t have. From bottoms to vaginas to numerous comparisons with existing logos; Design Studio’s new logo attracted its fair amour of online haterz looking for an easy target. But once these curmudgeons stepped back, it was easy to see what we saw – something “ instantly iconic but easily reproducible”, in the words of our own James Cartwright.
    www.itsnicethat.com/articles/airbnb-redesign-design-studio
    We were wowed by the new identity Sagmeister Walsh created for the Jewish Museum in New York, which used a system founded on sacred geometry, an ancient system from which the Star of David was formed. “It’s intelligent, powerfully communicative and great-looking; in many ways an archetypal Sagmeister & Walsh project.” Nicely put Rob.
    www.itsnicethat.com/articles/sagmeister-and-walsh-jewish-museum the one for me, Fatties!”, we thought, looking at this great and rather non-bakeryish identity by Dot Dash. Like Anagrama’s baked-goods work, the beauty of the project was in the eschewed of cutesy cake cues in favour of patterns, a slick marque and a smart suggestion of the brand name in the widened “a” and “e”.
    www.itsnicethat.com/articles/fatties
    A brilliant rebrand project by Made Thought aimed to “better reflect the legacy, stature and future ambitions” of paper company G . F Smith, and boy did it do a good job. New colours and the Humanist Sans typeface were introduced, as well as a “curators symbol” that succinctly moved the brand forward while reminding us of its heritage.
    www.itsnicethat.com/articles/made-thought-g-f-smith
    We’re all more than familiar with Anthony Burrill’s big-type, bright colour woodblock posters – which are great – but in November we were very excited to see the artist take a new direction in his shocking, sad and very effective poster series Innocent Targets, created with Banana & Associates and showing the innocent victims of gun violence in America.
    www.itsnicethat.com/articles/anthony-burrill studio Anagrama created this gorgeous identity for Xoclad, which eschewed any tastes of sickliness or cliché in favour of bold typography and pattern. The beauty of the identity, which is inspired by pre-Hispanic typefaces, Mayan art and architecture, is that it works just as brilliantly on a pastry box as on a business card.
    www.itsnicethat.com/articles/anagrama-xoclad all went nuts for Norway in 2014, with Snøhetta’s designs for the country’s new banknotes proving very popular on account of their imaginatively designed images of costal landscapes translated into pixellated, colour-blocked snapshots.
    www.itsnicethat.com/articles/snohetta

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    Emily Gosling
  • Nasa-manual-itsnicethat-list News / Graphic Design NASA releases free PDF of 1970s design manual in response to reissue campaign

    Over the past few weeks, NASA’s Graphics Standards Manual from the 1970s has garnered a lot of attention across the design world. The design manual created for NASA by New York studio Danne & Blackburn has not only recently resurfaced on Flickr, but also become the driving force behind a viral Kickstarter campaign. After graphic designers Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth tracked down an original copy, they decided to publish a high-quality reissue funded through Kickstarter and selling for $79. The project currently counts some 6,515 backers and $686,900, and has been spotlighted by publications including The New York Times and Wired.

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    Alexander Hawkins
  • Guardian_brand_guidelines_int_list Work / Graphic Design An insight into The Guardian’s newly released brand guidelines

    The Guardian has just released their brand guidelines to “demonstrate the importance of their design language within their DNA” through a series of posters, according to the company. “When Alex Breuer [The Guardian creative director] and I joined The Guardian just over two years ago we were faced with the task of unifying a myriad of different styling, typographic patterns, colour theory and grammar that through various iterations of The Guardian had weaved itself into the tapestry of our design vernacular,” explains Chris Clarke deputy creative director at The Guardian.

    20
    Rebecca Fulleylove
  • Vincent Work / Graphic Design Wonderful head shots of hand models in M.G.T-designed book

    From the dainty digits that show off wedding rings to the Marigold-clad hands that demonstrate the power of toilet cleaners to the precious paws that poke at futuristic gadgets, it’s easy to forget that the hands that advertise are attached to bodies and heads we seldom see.

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    Emily Gosling
  • Kinfolk_14.cover Work / Opinion Why does Kinfolk magazine seem to split opinion so much?

    The latest issue of Gym Class magazine has an eye-catching cover; with bold block capitals on a black background spelling out: “Nobody cares about your oh-so-cool, Kickstarted, tactile, minimalist unoriginal magazine.” It’s intended as a “call to action,” Gym Class editor Steven Gregor told MagCulture, “make magazines, and make them exceptional.”

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    Rob Alderson
  • Main1 Work / Exhibition Photography: New show at LCC shows young travelling communities of the 90s

    Back in the 90s a whole bunch of young people decided it was way more fun to live in old double-decker buses and party non-stop rather than getting an office job and starting a family. Tom Hunter, Professor in Photography Research at the London College of Communication, was one of those travellers and has decided to host an exhibition of photos taken during that time.

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    Liv Siddall
  • Main Work / Illustration Beautifully crude, rude and lewd drawings from Joan Cornella!

    For me, coming across Joan Cornella’s collages are something of a love-at-first-sight situation — the picture I first saw told a brief story about a man being shot in the crotch by a pink bear in a tree, who then runs over to lend him a tampon. It’s hard to say exactly why these gruesome tales are so pleasing, but I guess it’s something to do with how they’re simultaneously so well-drawn, hilarious and colourful. We don’t know much about Joan, but if you’re reading, get in touch! We want to pick your brains (and then leave offerings of candles, beads and small snacks outside your house).

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    Liv Siddall
  • Marion-fayolle-coquins-int-list Work / Illustration Naughty book of saucy NSFW drawing by illustrator Marion Fayolle

    When I sat down to write this article I was planning to discuss Ardéchoise illustrator Marion Fayolle’s impressive career to date; her numerous books for the likes of Nobrow and Magnani Editions; her editorial work for The New York Times, her textile designs for Cotélac and Kiblind and of course her very own illustration publication Nyctalope which she co-runs with Simon Roussin. And then I remembered she did a brilliant book of saucy drawings, Les Coquins, and decided to focus on that instead.

    31
    James Cartwright
  • Arthurdrooker-merfest-main-int Work / Photography Arthur Drooker's photographs of an American mermaid convention, Merfest

    Cool Hunting used to be a place of current art and design, expensive watches, exclusive booze bottles, leather mountaineering accessories and cars you will never be able to afford. Nowadays it’s a place of exotic content nestled snugly in a brand new redesign that’s pretty ahead of the game. Recently it’s been championing the work of an American photographer called Arthur Drooker, largely focusing on his series entitled Conventional Wisdom. Arthur is something of a curiosity-lover, and his wild, weird series are the visual result of him being unable to resist the pull of “Bronies,” ventriloquists, clowns, re-enactors and taxidermists.

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    Liv Siddall
  • Taschen-psychedelicsex-list-int.png Work / Publication The Psychedelic Sex Book - a new, trippy, very NSFW publication from Taschen

    Unless we ask our parents (which we will certainly not be doing) us young’ns will never really know if sex in the 1960s and 70s was better than it is now. They say a lot of things are better when you’re on acid, so I can imagine the rumours are true: being naked in the company of someone else, and getting down and dirty on some hand-embroidered rugs sounds far superior than a quick bonk in the dark with your iPhone pinging in the background.

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    Liv Siddall
  • Rebecca-scheinberg-itsnicethat-polanski-list Work / Photography Rebecca Scheinberg comes pretty damn close to making perfect photographs

    The funny thing about “perfect” images, where perfect means clean, or clear, or smooth, or lit from every which way, is that they take infinitely more energy to create than they do to consume. We’ve seen a lot of quite immediate photography work of late – street photography spotted and snapped almost instantaneously, or analogue images made based on instinct, but Rebecca Scheinberg’s labour intensive creations demand endless refining, relighting and altering, and her style is all the more bewitching for it.

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    Maisie Skidmore
  • List-saul-bass-the-shining-its-nice-that Work / Graphic Design Saul Bass' rejected designs for The Shining, with notes from Kubrick

    It’s a rare treat to see rejected designs at the best of times, those glimpses at the inner workings of the projects we love and what the client and designer really think. When that client is Stanley Kubrick, and the designer is Saul Bass, it’s just brilliant. While we’re a bit late to the party on this, we had to share these images of Bass’ rejected designs for Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, found on cinema website The Film Stage. The images were taken by Bobby Solomon, and capture the essence of the exchange between Kubrick and Bass tantalisingly. “Hard to read, even at this size,” scrawls Kubrick on one. “Hotel looks too sprawling,” and “not compact enough” he bemoans on the other, cementing his status as a true auteur. It’s like overhearing a conversation between two real masters of their craft, and my God we’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall for those “make the logo bigger” style conversations.

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    Emily Gosling
  • Francesc-moret-vayreda-fap-fapp-int1 Work / Digital Fapp Fap app helps you practice self love. So romantic!

    In honour of the big V Day tomorrow, what could be more romantic than a celebration of the easiest kind of love – self love? Barcelona-based designer Francesc Moret Vayreda has made “having an intimate rest” or “a date with Pamela Handerson” into a tech-fuelled competitive sport, with his onanism-oriented app, Fap Fapp. The app, as Francesc explains on his site, is named from the onomatopoeia “fap fap fap” (the sound of male masturbation, he reckons), and encourages profuse phone-shaking. Unsurprisingly, the branding takes something of a phallocentric approach, using an extended “a” to form a cheeky willy graphic. The interface is black and pink, and Francesc describes the look and, er, feel as “a neutral graphic and visual code, always focussing on the elegance above the obvious.” Perhaps the sexiest part of the identity, however, lies in the straplines. “My brain? It’s my second favourite organ,” reads one. But another is perhaps the chat-up line to end all chat-up lines: “I’m such a good lover because I practise a lot on my own.”

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    Emily Gosling
  • List Work / Graphic Design We discuss Kinfolk's redesign with creative director Charlotte Heal

    As one of the biggest independent magazines in the world, Kinfolk, has become a strange publishing phenomenon – a print-only title published in multiple languages that’s managed to find huge captive audiences in nations as diverse as Japan, Russia and the USA. It tips itself as “a slow lifestyle magazine… that explores ways for readers to simplify their lives, cultivate community and spend more time with their friends and family.”

    46
    James Cartwright
  • Oliviacharlesworth-itsnicethat-1 Work / Opinion Zelda Malan on the importance of teaching ideas to design students

    At a time when debates surrounding art and design education and the way they prepare students for the creative industries are intensifying, Kingston University tutor Zelda Malan explains why it’s still so important that creative courses continue to teach ideas. You can add your thoughts using the comments thread below…

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    Liv Siddall
  • Penguin-go-set-a-watchman-cover-its-nice-that-list Work / Graphic Design Penguin reveals its designers’ rejected covers for new Harper Lee novel

    First, we brought you the charming illustrations for the first chapter of Go Set a Watchman, the new release from Harper Lee (and the first since 1960’s seminal text, To Kill a Mockingbird.) Now, Penguin has revealed to us how it set about choosing the cover image, and Penguin designer Glenn O’Neil talks us through an unusual process for the publisher, in which all six in-house designers and art directors in the Cornerstone art department were given the chance to submit proposals for the title.

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    Emily Gosling
  • Nude-with-phone-chris-delorenzo-its-nice-that-list Work / Illustration Stunning nudes and monochromes with a story from Christopher Delorenzo

    Usually, I assume that only the most daft, confident or drunk people get tattoos of other people’s illustrations they’ve found on Tumblr. But in the case of “anonymous,” who recently asked graphic artist Christopher Delorenzo if he’d mind if they used one of his drawings to get some ink, I think maybe they’re on to something. Christopher has said that his work is informed by literature and writing: something very much evident in the way each of his simple monochrome drawings manages to convey a rich narrative in black, white and charm. The nudes are stunning – voluptuous and with such a great expression of form – but with a wry eye on the modern world as they clutch an iPhone. Even without much in the way of facial features (just a nose, in some cases), their faces speak a thousand words.

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    Emily Gosling
  • Maxime-ballesteros-itsnicethat-list-2 Work / Photography The bizarre, twilight world of Berlin-based photographer Maxime Ballesteros

    The French have a far superior saying for what we call twilight: “entre chien et loup,” which literally translates as “between dog and a wolf.” That half-lit window between day and night is ascribed all kinds of mystique, and for Berlin-based photographer Maxime Ballesteros, it inspired his dark and subterranean series Entre Chien et Loup. Looking to the in-between, his photographs show an underworld of figures shrouded in fur, leather and lingerie, musclemen and female bodybuilders and particularly jarring flashes of kitsch. As Maxime puts it, “the familiar takes an unknown face, and the limit between domestic and wild, comfort and fear get unclear.”

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    Alexander Hawkins
  • List-alexey-kondakov-photoshop-its-nice-that Work / Miscellaneous Alexey Kondakov Photoshops classic art heroes into modern day situations

    Imagine if sweet little cherubs had to travel on the bus, rather than by their wings or by magic and faith and all those other more abstract things. Ukrainian art director Alexey Kondakov not only imagined what these celestial figures would look like on the bus, but realised his imaginings through Photoshop to share with all of us. For his series The Daily Life Of Gods, he’s taken figures from classical art and popped them in car parks, on public transport, and in decrepit back yards. They somehow look like they belong there, their forlorn expressions and sad demeanours matching the tatty seats of the bus or the pissy stone floors of the subway. It’s very silly, but very fun, even if Alexey would have us believe it’s got a more serious undertone. “I thought, ‘What if I invite these [gods] into our reality and imagine they are on streets of modern Kiev?’", he says. "… My project is about life.”

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    Emily Gosling
  • Grover-heartbeat-its-nice-that-list Features / London Design Festival 2015 Our 15 highlights ahead of London Design Festival 2015

    London Design Festival is just around the corner and as ever, there’s so much to see that it can feel like your brain’s imploding in a sea of red, white and chairs. So we’ve done some of the legwork and picked out 15 things we can’t wait to see and do across the capital for LDF 2015.h3. 1. Robin Day, Works in Wood, V&A, 19 – 27 September

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    Emily Gosling
  • Jean-jullien-google Work / Opinion Moving Brands gives its opinions on the new Google logo design

    In this guest article from Moving Brands, the agency discusses its thoughts on Google’s new “playful” logo, and whether the brand has achieved the goals it set out to achieve through its revised identity.

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    Moving Brands
  • Vw-int-list Work / Advertising Illustrated campaign for Volkswagen uses parents lying to children as a metaphor

    We’ve all told lies, or at least tinkered with the truth either for our own sake or for someone else’s. A new tongue-in-cheek print campaign for Volkswagen’s used cars sees parents’ white lies recast as a metaphor for untrustworthy sellers. “If they lie to their kids, what will they tell you when they sell you their car?” the adverts read. The simple blue and red visuals show parents and children in varying situations, lying about a dead fish, a particularly ugly drawing or a ridiculous hat. “It’s not ugly, it’s called fashion,” a mother says, shoving a bobble hat on her unwitting son’s little head.

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    Alexander Hawkins
  • Nudinits-its-nice-that-list- Work / Animation All hand-knitted stop motion follows the nude residents of Woolly Bush

    In one of the more surreal email missives I have received, Sarah Simi informed me of her equally surreal labour of love: an entirely hand-knitted stop motion animation set in a charming little town called Woolly Bush. All of its quaint inhabitants are totally starkers, save the odd pearly king hat, vicar’s collar or socks and sandals combo. Named Nudinits and animated by Ed Hartwell, the detail is extraordinary: from tiny bubbles on beer and a little cat poop to some woolled-up bible passages, nothing has been missed.

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    Emily Gosling
  • Yenertorun-int-list Work / Photography Istanbul’s impossibly colourful minimalist architecture, shot by Yener Torun

    Yener Torun is a 32 year-old architect who has turned Istanbul into the geographical equivalent of Aladdin’s cave of wonders. Tucked away among the beautiful Ottoman and Byzantine architecture and the blue Bosphorus are a wealth of impossibly bright buildings dominated by geometric patterns, rainbow hues and funny architectural idiosyncrasies. And through his Instagram account, Yener has been slowly but steadily documenting it all.

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    Maisie Skidmore
  • Mahaney_130125_apartamento_bob_gill_0011-its-nice-that-list Features / Graphic Design Designer, proselytiser and visual communication critic: an interview with the inimitable Bob Gill

    During Bob Gill’s time in London in the 1960s, the BBC invited him on to a children’s TV show where he was to draw along live as an actor read the nursery rhyme Rub-a-dub-dub. The producer said Bob could make some faint outline sketches before filming began but he refused to even read a proffered copy of the story, committed as he was to doing it in real time. As the cameras rolled though, he soon found himself hopelessly behind and by the end the paper was covered in a series of meaningless marks. “They were so angry,” he laughs. “I thought they were going to kill me!” True to form he’s turned this into a great anecdote which he tells with relish, but it says something important about his creative integrity too.

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    Rob Alderson
  • Brick_01_cover_wizkhalifa-int-list Work / Publication Introducing BRICK, the new hip-hop magazine you'll be seeing a lot more of

    There’s no question that BRICK has been the attraction of choice in the It’s Nice That studio this week. Its fluorescent green logotype and Wiz Khalifa’s fixing gaze on the cover combine to act like metal to magpies, and within seconds of picking it up you’ve been drawn in. It might be to a feature in which ex Death Row Records employee Nina Bhadreshwar reflects on her friendship with Tupac, or one where Cam’ron and T.I. discuss staying relevant after 15 years in the game, or editor-in-chief Grant Brydon gets inside the brain of Joey Bada$$. Either way, there’s no putting it down.

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    Maisie Skidmore
  • Awaytogo-main-int Work / Interactive Dedicate six minutes to this beautiful interactive web game, A Way To Go

    I very rarely struggle to start writing a post – but I have hit a bit of a wall with this. Bear with me while I try and get across the magnificence of this game. I just spent a while playing A Way To Go – a web game created by Vincent Morisset with the help of Caroline Robert, Philippe Lambert and Édouard Lanctôt-Benoit. I knew it was going to be super special before the gameplay started and it informed me that it “is an interactive experience for human beings between 5 and 105 years old. Maybe it lasts six minutes. Maybe it lasts forever.” Then it asks you to pretty much abandon your mouse. Abandon my mouse?! Are you crazy?! But you do, because you trust it. And then you’re in the forest and the game says to you: “Go on, make your way. Stop to see the smallest things. No one’s waiting, no one’s keeping score.”

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    Liv Siddall
  • Graphicmeans-int-main Work / Graphic Design New film explores the difficulties designers faced before computers

    Ever stopped to think as you adjust text, step backwards and copy and paste at the speed of light on InDesign that once upon a time you would be doing all of that with GLUE and PAPER? It’s obvious, but when you really think about it, your respect for the graphic designers of yore increases tenfold. Briar Levit, an assistant professor of Graphic Design at Portland State University, decided to bring this to light via a film in which designers who never used computers are interviewed about the difficulties they had. It wasn’t all doom and gloom of course – you could easily argue that the hand-designed work they produced back then was much more considered than it tends to be now.

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    Liv Siddall
  • Screen-shot-2015-02-10-at-14.31.20 Work / Miscellaneous Richard Turley talks about his work at MTV in our exclusive interview

    It was in April last year that news broke that Bloomberg Businessweek’s much-lauded creative director Richard Turley was leaving to join MTV as its first senior vice president of visual storytelling and deputy editorial director. It was hailed as a huge coup for the network but surprised some that a man who’d been such a passionate, brilliant and at times iconoclastic part of the magazine renaissance was leaving the print industry behind.

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    Rob Alderson
  • Gurafiku-itsnicet Work / Graphic Design Gurafiku founder Ryan Hageman on the wonder of Japanese graphic design

    Clicking on to Japanese graphic design website Gurafiku is something like stepping feet first into a black hole of graphic design. Started by Chicago-based designer and researcher Ryan Hageman in 2009 as a way to learn more about the history of graphic design in Japan, it has since grown into a archive which spans over 200 years of work, from the 1800s all the way up to the present day.

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    Maisie Skidmore
  • Taiwan-museum-youtube-list News / Art 12-year-old accidentally punches a hole in $1.5 million painting

    A 12-year-old boy tripped over in an art gallery, accidentally punching a hole in a 350-year-old painting valued at $1.5m. The Taiwanese boy lost his footing at the Face of Leonardo: Images of a Genius exhibition in Taipei, and managed to put his fist through Paolo Porpora’s oil on canvas still life work Flowers. According to Taiwanese news channel Focus Taiwan the boy and his family will not be charged for the damage, and the work is currently in the process of being restored.

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    Emily Gosling
  • Le-cube-itsnicethat-list-2 Work / Illustration Kanye, Miley, Madonna and more in garish and satirical illustrations scrapped by MTV

    The bright, light-hearted animation and illustration work coming out of South American studio Le Cube has drawn clients from Vodafone to Cartoon Network to Nescafé and recently landed a commission from MTV. Split between Buenos Aires and São Paulo, the studio was commissioned to create seven gif-style animations for the TV network which poke fun at some of the biggest names in pop music. The resulting Pop Icons series, which sees Nicki Minaj’s backside bouncing on washing machine, Justin Bieber melting his own face with a hair dryer, and Kanye West kissing himself, was unfortunately deemed too inflammatory to air and was scrapped by the MTV legal team. When all that was said and done, Le Cube decided to go ahead and finish the project regardless. “If you want to sue something, sue boredom,” writes the studio.

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    Alexander Hawkins
  • List Work / Graphic Design Modular typography runs riot at the Royal College of Art

    Designed by Minna Sakaria, Carolina Dahl and Maria Ines Gul, this great identity for the upcoming Royal College of Art’s School of Communication Work-in-Progress show is a modular representation of the works in progress that’ll be exhibited. Made up of a set of parts, the typeface allows for each element to contribute to any number of letterforms or abstract shapes. As well as existing online and in print, the specially-designed typeface has been printed on stickers with the intention of interrupting the RCA’s corporate identity in a playful and productive way.

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    Billie Muraben
  • Tokyoolympics_itsnicethat_00-list News / Graphic Design Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games logo scrapped over plagiarism row, according to reports

    The 2020 Olympic logo has been scrapped over a plagiarism row, according to reports. The logo created by Kenjiro Sano was unveiled at the end of July. Claims have since been made that it copies the identity for Théâtre de Liège in Belgium, created by Belgian designer Olivier Debie (more on that in Rob Alderson’s article in The Guardian_). According to the Japan TimespC, the Tokyo Games organising committee scrapped the logo on Tuesday, and has said it will immediately launch a competition to design a new logo.” The report states that Kenjiro “requested the emblem’s withdrawal, and that he will not get paid for the design.”

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    Emily Gosling
  • Booking_sans_web_intwieden-kennedy-its-nice-that_(1) Work / Graphic Design Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam and Colophon create typeface that works with the Earth's tilt

    The world of typography is a complex and enigmatic one, and one that sometimes feels a little impenetrable. So in Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam’s work for travel site Booking.com it thought to itself, “why not align it a little more with Mother Earth?” So that’s what they did, forming an identity based around a typeface that “celebrates the Earth’s angle tilt of 23.5.” The typeface, which was created with type foundry Colophon, is “a subtle nod to travel and Booking.com’s huge worldly reach, and variety of accommodations," according to W+K Amsterdam design director Joe Burrin. The typeface is used across all promotional materials, and was designed to work alongside the company’s logo with its rounded forms to create “a functional but welcoming sensibility,” says the agency.

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    Emily Gosling
  • Listtopgrand_book_00 Work / Publication Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel brought alive in paginated form

    It was only a matter of time before someone committed the gloriously dreamy pink-paletted world of Wes Anderson’s film The Grand Budapest Hotel to book form, and here it is – a tome as magical as the movie. The book, entitled The Wes Anderson Collection: The Grand Budapest Hotel, is written by Matt Zoller Seitz and designed by Martin Venezky, bolstered by more than 300 colour and black and white photographs. The book explores the beautiful world of the ‘Budapest through behind-the-scenes snaps and a wealth of charming illustrations, as well as anecdotes from Anderson about the process of making the film. As with anything Wes Anderson-based, it somehow manages to be terrifically cutesy, quirky and idiosyncratic without making you want to throw up, which is something of an achievement in itself.

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    Emily Gosling
  • Mcbess_int_list Features / Illustration “I wouldn’t recommend trying to make it as an illustrator to anyone”: straight-talking McBess

    When French illustrator McBess (aka Matthieu Bessudo) started drawing it was a way to combat his boredom from the 3D computer-based work he was doing at the time. “I would draw on paper and it became more interesting than the computer, so I kept drawing instead of doing my actual work,” he tells me after his Offset talk a couple weeks ago in Shoreditch. “Eventually I decided I wanted to leave but turns out they wanted to fire me anyway!”

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    Rebecca Fulleylove
  • Pes-honda-paper-itsnicethat-list Work / Advertising A new stop-motion Honda advert took four months, dozens of illustrators and thousands of drawings

    “When an international brand puts their entire evolutionary story in your hands, there’s a lot of pressure in that,” says filmmaker and stop-motion artist Pes. “So the way I designed the film was to communicate this sort of amazing evolution of their vehicles.” All created by hand and shot in camera, a new advert for Honda follows an engine through the automobile manufacturer’s history, moving from one vehicle to the next and evolving along the way. It jumps from motorbike to car to boat to moon buggy to plane, fitting over 60 years into a film just under two minutes long. Something of a remarkable feat in stop-motion, Paper brings together dozens of animators and illustrators, thousands of original drawings and four months of work.

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    Alexander Hawkins
  • Stefaniemoshammer-int-main Work / Photography A poetic series of the women of Las Vegas by Stefanie Moshammer (NSFW)

    “Las Vegas is the strip club capital of the world,” says Stefanie Moshammer, an Austrian photographer whose recent project led her to the underbelly of Nevada’s shimmering city. Stefanie began work on a series called Vegas and She, in which she documents strippers, nightclubs, and various bits and bobs that represent Las Vegas culture: bright pink limos, dust trails, palm trees, and diving boards into sapphire pools.

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    Liv Siddall
  • List-its-nice-thativar-wigan_princess_2012 Work / Photography Ivar Wigan's pics of gangs and strippers have a sense of empathy and admiration

    Images of gangs and strippers are nothing new, and their creation is fraught with the risk of appearing insensitive and patronising at best, exploitative at worst. So for them to pique our interest, they have to be very special. The works of Scotland-born photographer Ivar Wigan are exactly that. Ivar’s recent work has seen him documenting the street culture of Miami, Atlanta and New Orleans, and their often seedy, rarely glamorous underpinnings. And while the images undoubtedly have a voyeuristic slant, central to them is a sense of admiration and empathy, rather than pity or profiteering.

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    Emily Gosling
  • Main Work / Film Film: Gender roles reversed in French short film gone viral, Oppressed Majority

    There’s a reason why this French film has gone viral, and that’s because it’s bloody brilliant. A perfect example of a very simple idea executed to perfection, director Eleonore Pourriat has taken us to Paris where we follow a man around his normal day. As he goes about his chores the realisation slowly creeps in that this guy isn’t just a house-husband, he’s living in a world where the role of men and women has been switched. We watch him deal with prejudice, be sexually abused verbally and physically, and struggle in a relationship which he has little to no control over. So well-shot and perfectly timed it gives you goosebumps and spot-on enough to change your views on gender forever, this is an absolute triumph of a short film, and must be watched by everyone.

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    Liv Siddall
  • Royal-studio-adobe-tutorials-its-nice-that-list Work / Illustration Portuguese Royal Studio makes Adobe tutorials look good (and simple!)

    Online tutorials: necessary, helpful, but not too often particularly easy on the eye. Congratulations, then, to Portuguese agency Royal Studio, which has created some well-crafted imagery to illustrate a series of tutorials for various Adobe programmes. It makes sense really that tutorials for creative programmes should look great themselves, but alas it isn’t often the case.

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    Emily Gosling
  • Toddterje-itsnicethat-main Work / Art + Music Todd Terje interviews the creators of his new animated video!

    What a treat this is! We have for you today a special conversation between bearded electronic wizard Todd Terje and two very talented illustrators Espen Friberg and Bendik Kaltenborn about the fantastic new music video they have been working on. If you haven’t already seen it, it’s a hilarious whirlwind of illustrations painstakingly animated together frame by frame, and something the three of them have been working on since October.

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    Liv Siddall
  • Riposte Work / Graphic Design The Designs of The Year nominees are out – we look at the graphics category

    The fearless mixing of disciplines in one show is one reason the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year show is so intriguing – offering up links between fields as seemingly diverse as transport and editorial design. However, sifting through more than 70 entires can be an exhausting task, so before we immerse ourselves in the multidisciplinary nature of the show when it opens next month, we thought we’d give you a run-down of the category closest to It’s Nice That’s heart, graphics.

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    Emily Gosling
  • List Work / Events The best of the best – This year's D&AD Black Pencil winners in full

    And so the crème de la crème was announced, with five of D&AD’s highest honour – the Black Pencil – awarded this year. From radio advertising to branding it’s a diverse selection that’s sure to get people talking. It’s great to see some of our favourite projects from the last year recognised, and some we weren’t familiar with (the brilliant radio station for dogs, for instance) being celebrated. Without further ado, here they are!Made Thought’s comprehensive rebrand of paper manufacturers G. F. Smith aimed to “better reflect the legacy, stature and future ambitions of the company,” using a new Humanist Sans typeface designed to reflect both machine printing and calligraphy. As well as creating the new identity, Made Thought has also revamped G. F. Smith’s websites.

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    Emily Gosling
  • Izumimiyazaki-main-int Work / Photography Surreal Photoshop and selfie skills from Izumi Miyazaki

    Life can be pretty boring when you’re a teenager. Rather than turning to the gory allure of video games and SnapChat, 18-year-old Izumi Miyazaki decided to take matters into her own hands and make a series of selfies that make yours look absolutely rubbish. By utilising household items and foodstuffs as props, and sometimes going as far as building her own sets (see head in the clouds photos below) Izumi transports herself into far off lands, so far off that they’re on a different world entirely. Her fixed, deadpan stare throughout makes the project not just endearing but also worth much more than if she was just larking about. It’s art, man. FYI she also sells badges and other small merch items – get ’em while you can.

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    Liv Siddall
  • Wongping-doggylove-int Work / Animation Teenage lust, bowling and boobies in this rude animation by Wong Ping

    You know what it’s like when you’re of that age, when even the sight of certain pieces of fruit and veg can turn you on faster than you can say “wet dream.” Cantonese animator Wong Ping decided to take all of the cosmic lust he felt as a teenage boy, and channel it all into one seriously hot animation made exclusively for NOWNESS. Watch as a teenage boy becomes intensely obsessed with a girl in his class whose bosom is on her back, until he can take it no longer and starts placing objects in-between and and top of them without her noticing. Things get racy, then racier, but because it’s produced in Wong’s happy, colourful style, seeing people have sex and jerk off in the toilet isn’t even that weird. You know what is weird, though? Wong Ping’s interview over on NOWNESS, in which he says the first time he had a crush on a classmate he “sniffed inside her school bag and tried to lick her books. I was ashamed of myself and have suppressed my emotions ever since.” Okay…

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    Liv Siddall
  • Opinion-int-list Work / Opinion The four worst types of design agencies (according to clients!)

    A new survey has identified what clients see as the four worst types of design agency, and Rob Alderson suggests we should listen to what they had to say. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below..

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    Rob Alderson
  • Ustwo-moodnotes-its-nice-that-list Features / Interactive Everybody's 'appy: Ustwo's new creation is an app that acts like a therapist

    A marriage of technology and health is nothing new. We track our bodies, we quantify our productivity, we slot our sex lives into neat little tick boxes. But with the exception of the numerous mindfulness apps out there, little seems to be targeted at the nuts and bolts of mental health. While apps that track nutrition are based (most of the time) on science, apps for the mind use far more abstract variables, based more on intuition than conventional techniques used in regular medicine.

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    Emily Gosling
  • Fastfood-feature-23-int Work / Graphic Design A brief rundown of graphic design and fast food

    When Danny Meyer opened his first Shake Shack kiosk in New York’s Madison Square Garden, Pentagram’s Paula Scher designed the environmental graphics, striking an admirable balance of Coney Island scale with sophisticated letterforms. Since its expansion, Paula has designed new iterations of the identity, maintaining its clean, modern aesthetic and applying it to menu boards, tables, T-shirts, hats and watches. Shake Shack’s identity corresponds with its take on fast food. Functioning in a new, particularly current category of burger chains working to a high level of quality, its clean, modern aesthetic is instantly recognisable and widely imitated. We thought we’d use the excuse of its latest redesign to take a look at some recent and historic examples of quality and occasionally questionable fast food branding. First up, how about the creepy McDonalds Corner Cafe that opened near Sydney towards the end of last year. The restaurant cleverly disguised as a hipster cafe serves filter coffee, quinoa and pulled pork, apparently acting as a lab for testing out new menu items. The McDonalds branding has been almost entirely eradicated apart from some discreet nods to “McCafe” and is part of a wider remodelling plan to introduce healthy options and table service. The Corner is all plaid shirts, stainless steel, brown paper and wooden things. Not a laminated chicken nugget in sight. Now, onto pickles. Madrid-based stand Bombas, Lagartos y Cohetes (which translates as Bombs, Lizards and Rockets) specialises in “banderillas,” bite-size morsels of deli foods skewered together. Design studio Bendita Gloria designed the identity for the stall, art directing Marçal Vaquer’s photographs of the banderillas, where they are depicted in synthetic glory looking very much like their bomb, lizard and rocket namesakes. Remaining in Spain, studio Two Points created a new identity for Barcelona-based burger chain Bacoa early last year. The visual overhaul covered the logo, interior architecture, printed matter and online collateral. It’s fun, bright and approachable. We covered IS Creative Studio’s identity for El Pollerio a few weeks ago. Used across all bases from interior architecture to letterheads, the designs are rooted in fast food tradition, packed with humour and clean lines. While we’re here, let’s take a moment for some of the greats. In N Out Burger was founded in 1948 by Harry Snyder (who apparently created the identity, too) and has restaurants all over the American Southwest. It has a not so secret menu with options like “Animal Style,” “The Flying Dutchman” and Neapolitan shakes. And really, just look at those palm trees. Jack in the Box is another American fast food chain which would fit pretty much to the tradition if it wasn’t for its use of this terrifying “Jack” in its advertising. Its new logo was designed by Duffy & Partners and Jack appears all over, but most commonly “in the office.” He makes Ronald McDonald look like Mother Theresa. Finally, White Castle. America’s first ever fast food chain established by Walter Anderson and Billy Ingram, White Castle restaurants not only look like castles – albeit, rendered in sprayed-white steel, but Walter and Billy are credited with inventing the burger bun. According to the brand, they also created the initial identity, too. The burgers are square, the chips are crinkled and it offers candle-lit dinners for two, with table service, every Valentine’s Day. It’s just a plane-ride away.

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    Billie Muraben
  • Sarah-trounce-graphic-design-gallery-its-nice-that-list- Work / Opinion Art and architecture get exhibitions and galleries: graphic design should too

    While we have embraced fashion and architecture as the worthy subjects of blockbuster exhibitions, and watched their representation soar from the frivolous and inconsequential, to the sublime and utterly spectacular; graphic design remains, well, a little flat in the public consciousness.

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    Sarah Trounce
  • List Work / Digital Ustwo says RELAX! with new meditation app Pause

    First it was Monument Valley, then we were in digital therapy then we were lost in a remote virtual reality island. Now ustwo has looked to its Nordic studio to bring us meditation, in the form of its new app Pause. The studio, based in Malmö in Sweden, worked with Danish “mental wellness” company PauseAble to create the app, which it says “brings the act of ‘focused attention’ to the mobile screen.” It works to focus the frazzled user’s attention by recognising “deliberate, focused finger movement” that in theory allows them to destress and refocus.

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    Emily Gosling
  • Vj-itsnicethat-list Work / Graphic Design Parisian studio turns out painterly, colour-themed identity for French theatre

    In its nearly 140-year run, Paris’ Le Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord has had a long and tempestuous history, counting 15 artistic directors in its first decade alone, one of whom notoriously absconded with the contents of the theatre safe after a failed production. After director Peter Brook helped the theatre finally find its feet in the 70s, it’s been smoother sailing and French studio Violaine et Jérémy was recently tasked with designing a bright new identity to accompany this season’s colour-themed programme. The identity sees fonts Nord and Sud – which have a thoroughly old Paris feel – sit against abstract splashes of ink and bleeding watercolour, subtly paying homage to the city’s reputation for first-class painting.

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    Alexander Hawkins
  • Rachelthomas-itsnicethat-main Work / Set Design Rachel Thomas and Sandra Freij's imaginative shoot for Bare Journal

    The set designer that launched a thousand imitators, Rachel Thomas, has recently art directed, styled and designed the set for a hosiery shoot for Bare Journal. The magazine is a self-professed “ode to the raw beauty of realism and simplicity,” which perhaps explains why Rachel was roped in for the job: she’s the master of small details that fizzle together to form simple and engaging images. For this shoot, which she worked on with photographer Sandra Freij, Rachel’s task was to show off some of the best tights and stockings on the shelves at the moment, something that doesn’t sound that appealing. What she did with a bag of tights is far beyond the skill of anyone else, and she should be highly commended for taking something so mundane and making it genuinely covetable and exciting.

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    Liv Siddall
  • New-list Work / Graphic Design Voilà! Our round-up of the best degree show identities we've seen this year

    Degree show season might be the very best time of the year to be in the It’s Nice That studio. Not least because we have more invitations, flyers, posters and catalogues flying through the letterbox than at any other time, all plying us with free semi-chilled beers and frazzling our eyes with a wealth of new work.

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    Maisie Skidmore
  • Freunde-von-freunden-andreas-jarner-142-its-nice-that-list Work / Photography Freunde von Freunden lets us into the studio and home of graphic designer Andreas Jarner

    Hailing from Copenhagen and working as a graphic designer famed for his rigid, geometric works, it’s little surprise Andreas Jarner’s home is revealed to be one that’s neat, ordered and oozing Scandi minimalism. The designer recently opened up his home and studio to the good people of Freunde von Freunden, revealing his fast, impulsive working style and finding inspiration pretty much everywhere.

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    Emily Gosling
  • Recens-itsnicethat-list-2 Work / Publication Meet the 15-year-old behind Recens Paper who's ready to take over the world

    When I was 15 years old I was getting drunk on Bacardi Breezers by the beach huts and caking myself in Impulse body sprays to try to cover up the smell of smoke from a crafty fag on the way home from school. I definitely was not launching an independent magazine, formulated in response to the oppressive perfectionism of mainstream media. But that’s because I’m not Elise By Olsen.

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    Maisie Skidmore
  • Applewtach-list-int Work / Opinion Why the Apple Watch cements a new lease of life for logo design

    The Apple Watch was officially unveiled yesterday (as was a super-thin 13.1mm new MacBook) and as ever the internet is awash with run-downs and reactions slobbering over the new products. For Wolff Olins design director Jan Eumann though, the imminent arrival of the new timepiece got him thinking about logo design, and in particular how app buttons have rehabilitated the logo. You can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

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    It's Nice That
  • Julian-glander-itsnicethat-list-3 Work / Illustration Checking in with gif-man Julian Glander to talk hotdogs and dachshunds

    Any fella with the energy and inclination to create a behind the scenes illustration of an animated gif he made earlier – let that one sink in for a moment – is absolutely fine with us. Julian Glander’s been up to his armpits in commissions since we last caught up with him, building gifs of funny jiggly people jumping into cereal bowls, dachshunds flying down flights of stairs, skating hot dog sausages and drum-playing apples for the likes of Starbucks, Subway and Giphy. This series was made for Koodo though, a Canadian cellphone provider, proving that anything can be made to look exciting if the commissioner is good enough at scoping out up-and-coming young talent.

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    Maisie Skidmore