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Review of the Year 2016: Top 25 Graphic Design

We’ve seen some big rebrands this year including Mastercard, the Premier League and Co-op, but there’s also been some new studios and designers breaking through to create some fantastic work. Check out some of the other trends this year with our top 25 graphic design stories.

  • List Features / Graphic Design Monotype unveils its redesigned Transport for London typeface, Johnston100

    It’s a rare person who actively enjoys using the London Underground: the clichés you read about standing uncomfortably with your head nestled into a tall man’s sweaty armpit exist for a reason. But in its early days, Transport for London’s marketing billed the trains as a joyful thing, capable of transporting you to idyllic destinations like Richmond, or Morden (maybe not Morden).

    Emily Gosling
  • Subway-new-logo_itsnicethat_list News / Graphic Design Subway unveils redesigned logo and new symbol

    American fast food chain Subway has revealed a new logo and symbol, to be rolled out to all restaurants in early 2017. The logo has more in common with the sandwich restaurant’s original 1968 logo, with its curvy, upright type, than the recent angular, italicised version. It loosely maintains the colour scheme of the modern logo but uses a darker yellow and lighter green, bringing the colours closer in tone. It also continues the use of the Subway arrows, which are combined for Subway’s new “S” symbol.

    Jenny Brewer
  • Alan-kithcing Features / Graphic Design "I always try to have some logic to the job, to the work": we interview letterpress legend Alan Kitching

    In Alan Kitching’s hands, “the typography workshop is a complex and subtle instrument: his brushes, paint and easel; his film set; his orchestra,” according to John Walters, who interviewed the designer about his life and letterpress for a beautiful new book.

    Billie Muraben
  • Markmaker-logo-generator News / Graphic Design Design by algorithm: does MarkMaker’s logo generator render designers obsolete?

    MarkMaker is an online logo generator that learns what you like and automatically refines a design based on your feedback. Enter your company name, click generate, and browse through countless logo designs instantly. At first they vary wildly, but once you start “liking” certain ones, and feeding it information on the type of logo you want, the bot alters the design until you find an iteration you’re happy with.

    Jenny Brewer
  • 00_list Features / Graphic Design Milton Glaser: we talk drawing, ethics, Shakespeare and Trump with the graphic design legend

    Milton Glaser is ready to talk ethics. It’s not the first time, either. Ours is one of a few recent interviews with the graphic designer and creator of the I ❤ NY logo, in which he addresses some of the moral demands of his trade – questions of whether graphic design ought to compromise its integrity for the sake of meeting a client’s demands. On the subject of advertisers and the designers who work for them, Glaser is clear. “Your obligation is to the client, and not necessarily the public. In some cases, you’re encouraging people to buy things that they don’t need, or encouraging them to move in a direction that does not serve them. Frequently in advertising – and PR and journalism as well – we have to persuade people to do things that we don’t really believe in and that they don’t really believe in. Should you participate in something that encourages people to do something that is not good for them? I consider that a core question for journalists and practitioners of graphic art, but it’s too frequently overlooked because it is too painful to answer.”

    Nathalie Olah
  • Therefugeenationflag_list News / Graphic Design The Refugee Nation Olympic flag was inspired by a lifejacket

    The official flag for The Refugee Nation, a team of ten refugees currently competing in the Rio Olympics, draws its colour scheme and design from lifejackets. Designed by Syrian artist and refugee Yara Said, the flag is a vivid orange with a single black stripe.

    Jenny Brewer
  • Nostalgia-in-design_itsnicethat News / Opinion Nostalgia in branding: top design studios analyse the NatWest and Co-op retrobrands

    The NatWest rebrand and Co-op’s earlier this year have something in significant in common – a delve into the company’s design archives, specifically a return to 1960s logos, and this has stirred up a discussion across the industry about nostalgia in branding. Is it a savvy use of a company’s assets, and a subtle hint to its roots; or a lazy, innovation-stifling device used to tap into society’s feelings of “the good old days”. Or, even, was design simply “better back then”? We asked six leading design studios, including those that worked on the rebrands in question, for their candid opinions on the subject.

    Jenny Brewer
  • List Features / Graphic Design Pop, subcultures and the future of graphic design: an interview with Experimental Jetset

    Forming in 1997 and united by a love of post-punk music and aesthetics, Amsterdam-based graphic design studio Experimental Jetset went on to become one of the most important and influential practices of the past 20 years. Even those outside of the graphic design bubble will have seen their work: this is the gang behind that oft-plagiarised John & Paul & Ringo & George T-shirt, set out in Helvetica and reinventing the band top in doing so. The three founding members Marieke Stolk, Erwin Brinkers and Danny van den Dungen took the studio’s name from 1994’s Sonic Youth album Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star (more on that story here), and those alternative pop culture references still loom large. Nearly two decades since forming, Experimental Jetset’s installation works and graphics have now been housed in the likes of the Stedelijk Museum, Centre Pompidou, Dutch Post Group and New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art.

    Emily Gosling
  • Imperfection_booklets_its_nice_that_3 Work / Graphic Design The Imperfection Booklets by O.OO explain the nuances of Risograph printing

    Taipei-based studio O.OO has printed a guide to Risograph printing that embraces all of the imperfections and difficulties that are associated with the process. “For the last two years we have been witness to so many different situations and stories with our customers, that we have come to see our studio as a theatre of sorts – as the stage for printing narratives to unfold,” say the designers. Two booklets have been produced, the first breaks information about the Risograph process down into a simple graphic language to show what results are possible when printing using the technique and the second explores the use of different inks and paperstocks to provide an overview of what outcomes can be expected using chosen media.

    Owen Pritchard
  • Yotamreasonsnotto Work / Graphic Design Reasons Not To Do Graphic Design by Yotam Hadar

    Yotam Hadar’s portfolio is a fine example of educated and experienced graphic design. Graduating last year with an MFA from Yale after studying visual communication in Jerusalem, his work plays upon language and cultural differences within artistic realms. As a result, the designer’s projects are “research based, concept driven and type led”, emerging into a collection of confident publications.

    Lucy Bourton
  • 00_list Features / Graphic Design An Exercise in Style: Interviewing graphic design star John Morgan

    As we ascend the stairs from his subterranean studio, our conversation turns to the subject of design writers. “Are there any? And if there are, why?” A point of contention is, if they do exist, “can [they] write about a subject other than design in an interesting way, and is there not someone else who could do it better?” This emphasis on quality is an important one, and something that defines the often indefinable work of John Morgan Studio.

    Billie Muraben
  • Deliveroo-rebrand-designstudio News / Graphic Design Deliveroo reveals new logo, identity and courier kit by DesignStudio

    DesignStudio has rebranded food delivery app Deliveroo with a new logo and visual identity, including a cycling kit for its delivery couriers. The agency worked in collaboration with the brand’s in-house design team.

    Jenny Brewer
  • List Work / Graphic Design Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman go from 40 days of dating to making us kinder people in 12 easy steps

    From the people who brought you 40 Days of Dating, Jessica Walsh (also one-half of that little agency Sagmeister Walsh) and Timothy Goodman comes a new project based on the 12-step recovery programme. Entitled 12 Kinds of Kindness, the project is dubbed a “12 step experiment designed to open our hearts, eyes and minds.” Tim explains: “We realised that we’re two self-centered millennials, often focused on what’s ahead instead of what’s around us, so we created a series of 12 steps as a way to become kinder, more empathetic people.”

    Emily Gosling
  • Build_int_list Work / Graphic Design Build and the Nike brand team creates bold branding for Nike’s Track and Field line

    Leeds-based design agency Build has been commissioned by the Nike brand team to create the new look and feel for its 2016 Track and Field line. Art directed by Rebecca Parker from Nike, the team has created an extensive graphics system, which includes a typeface, graphic marks, patterns and bespoke numerals. Eye-catching in white and red, the distinct shapes and symbols embody the spray-painted markings seen on running tracks and sports fields.
    The numbers are wonderfully chunky and remind us of the logotype created for the Mexico 1968 Olympics, designed by Lance Wyman. Fresh and punchy, the branding will be applied to advertisements, apparel and events. Strengthening the project is Carlos Serrao’s athlete photography, which grounds the branding and gives it context. He’s shot with Nike before as well as other sporty clients including Adidas, Speedo and Reebok. Here his images strengthen the graphics giving each a dynamism and power that would be hard to achieve without them. 

    Rebecca Fulleylove

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