Regulars / Review of the Year 2015

Review of the Year 2015: We present the Top 25 Graphic Design posts

This year has seen some massive rebrands – Google, Channel 4 and the New York Times to name but a few of the successes featured on this list. Some of the failures and rejections got you reading too though, you cynical bunch.

  • 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.

    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.

    Emily Gosling
  • Google_identity_int_list Work / Graphic Design No more serifs, same bright colours: Google launches new identity

    Google has just launched a new visual identity and redesign of its multicoloured logo. At the time of writing the new logo is shown on the Google homepage being drawn by an animated hand. The brand has published its case study online, in which Alex Cook, Jonathan Jarvis and Jonathan Lee say: “Users now engage with Google using a constellation of devices, and our brand should express the same simplicity and delight they expect from our homepage, while fully embracing the opportunities offered by each new device and surface.”

    Emily Gosling
  • 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.

    Emily Gosling
  • 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.

    Emily Gosling
  • 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.

    Billie Muraben
  • 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 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’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.

    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.

    Billie Muraben