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As we keep working on our not-yet-to-be-shown projects, we use the opportunity to continue with the awesome books we have recently bought. We could be doing it for a year and more but we’re planning to actually return to showing our creative efforts soon. However, for today enjoy these.

In one of the previous book-related posts we showed you a catalog for Gierymski’s exhibition in Warsaw but that wasn’t all we brought from that show. The museum also published quite a charming companion publication for children. Now, we’re great fans of this kind of part-educational, part-entertaining materials accompanying exhibitions (hint, hint, we’d love to make some) and are often a little disappointed by their quality and lack of original ideas. But this one is actually what we might expect, with nice design and illustrations, tasks that make sense and even a pleasant kind of paper.

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Alice in Wonderland and the Moomin series are some of these books that you don’t even have to come across in early childhood and you will still enjoy them and then the magic just stays with you forever. They are even not so much about storylines – though we love those too – as about the atmosphere. So finding a combination of both in Tate’s bookstore in the form of Alice illustrated by Tove Jansson left us dumbfounded with delight. Apparently this was originally a Swedish edition then published by Tate in English and Jansson’s illustrating style matches wonderfully the dreamy nature of Carroll’s story. We’ve seen many versions of Alice‘s illustrations and normally we will always pick the classic version by John Tenniel, but this one is definitely worth having. Maybe because it has this nostalgic quality that books from childhood will have for adults.

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And the last book is perhaps the most stunning of all. The High Street by Alice Melvin apparently won some sort of award for best new illustrator and no wonder at all. We also found it in Tate and fell in love with it but when we read it our fascination increased even. It tells a story of a girl gone shopping through an array of old-fashioned little shops, each selling one type of products rather than everything, mall-style. In this it basks in the passing (or maybe returning? that would be awesome) glory of small shops. The illustrating style is lovely in that it combines a bit of theme-becoming old-fashioned-ness with modern clarity. This is exactly what we love, especially seeing as each illustration has a lot of details and you can look at it over and over. But the best part is that the illustrations showing shops can be folded out to reveal the inside of the shop! Now, I’m quite secure in saying that many of you must share our fascination with the inside of buildings that you only see from the outside. As children we loved this kind of drawings and we still do. So, this is a perfect little book, both in idea and execution (it even has a plot twist!), and we encourage you to buy it, should you have a chance (no, no one is paying us for all these recommendations though they may, if they want to).

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We didn’t see as much of London as we had planned but we did visit a whole lot of museum gift stores and today we’ll show you how our collections of pocket pop-up books is growing. We bought the first ones in Paris but Britain has more of them: we found five (to Paris’ three). However, sorry but the French name Petit pop-up panoramique wins with English A Three-Dimensional Expanding Guide. No challenge there.

Still, the illustrations are just as charming (by the same illustrators, mostly) and we were thrilled each time we found a new one in a bookstore. We’re easily amused people.

re-popup-02 We didn’t see a whole lot of royal palaces but we liked the book.

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We did manage to visit Trafalgar Square and Westminster Abbey (the square quite a few times because we went to the National Gallery twice and also you always seem to end up there when you start doing touristy things).

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And of course we’ve already told you about Tate Modern a few times. We enjoyed the bookstore there too.

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We didn’t hope for much from the Tower of London but we were pleasantly surprised: what an entertaining place it actually is. And the ravens were awesome.

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But our favorite was the last find, Shakespeare, which we only discovered at the Globe, where we just dropped in for a few minutes on our last day. One side shows places connected with Shakespeare’s biography but the other one shows scenes from various plays, which is very refreshing after all the architecture of the other volumes. It helps that we’re currently re-reading all of Shakespeare, probably.

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Things are so hectic here these days (or, you know, just exhaustingly, monotonously filled with work, which is not the same as hectic, I guess) that we didn’t even get to show you the books we bought during our recent trips. We bought a lot, especially in London, but for today we only shot catalogs for two amazing exhibitions we saw.

Matisse’s cut-outs in Tate Modern (more info here) is possibly the best exhibition we’ve ever seen or definitely up there with the best. It’s still on till September so if you can make it to London by then, you won’t regret it. It’s emotional, exciting and just freaking great. There is also a huge catalog published for the occasion, which tells you a lot about Matisse’s late years and the process of the cut-outs (we’re assuming; it’s not like we have time for reading or anything) and it has plenty of pictures: everything you see on the exhibition and some more.

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In Warsaw, on the other hand, we saw a more locally known painter, but one of Poland’s best, Aleksander Gierymski, whose impressively comprehensive collection is on show in the National Museum. This exhibition is also accompanied by a large catalog, very professionally assembled, presenting a large collection of his works with such interesting details as the paintings’ background  (and such uninteresting ones as the history of all exhibitions where they were shown; TMI for us but I’m sure it’s useful for someone). We also like the layout of the catalog – it might be a bit too modern for the subject matter, from a puristic point of view, but it’s refreshing and makes the catalog a pretty object to look at.

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Sorry for the missing post this week but we spent most of the weekend building pictures out of twigs and other unconventional materials. It’s all a part of an extremely time-consuming project that will take up a lot of our summer but we can only start showing you results some time in autumn. So please enjoy this highly enigmatic in-work image for now and trust us that if we miss a post it’s not because we’re having any real fun.

re-model_city-02This year the Museum of Gdynia celebrated the Night of the Museums with a presentation of the city’s special brand of modernism. We had the pleasure of designing and illustrating an activity card for the participants. It gave us the rare joy of drawing buildings and playing with modernism-inspired typography. We showed you sketches when we were working on them but today we have the final product to share.

re-model_city-05The card is double-sided and folds into a map-like shape, with an actual map on the back. Each part presents one characteristic building and suggests tasks to work on, such as drawing, comparing facades or filling in a crossword puzzle.

re-model_city-06As you may imagine, we had a lot of fun with the buildings, and just as much with the illustrations of people in their old-fashioned outfits (Gdynia was built at the beginning of the 20th century and is rather proud of its relatively fresh legacy).

re-model_city-03 re-model_city-04These days Gdynia has a nicely modernized train station (it used to be pretty horrific a few years ago) and during renovations they discovered quite charming mosaics, which look something like this:

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Obviously, this was another part that we quite enjoyed illustrating.

re-model_city-07 re-model_city-01And the fun model of the building made of laser-engraved wooden board is courtesy of Architektura+ foundation, who were responsible for many aspects of the whole event.

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warszawa-2014-06We’re a little late with this post because we spent the weekend in Warsaw, where we went to see Pixies live (and it was pretty cool). But we also happened upon a nice little typographic exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art presenting the phenomenon of Polish vernacular typography.

warszawa-2014-06-14While not very large, the exhibition is pretty well thought out because it shows the history and ramifications of the whole phenomenon. Polish vernacular typography functioned in a different situation than e.g. American one, without the pressure of free market. As such, it was primarily informative but also pretty unconstrained. Sometimes business-owners did it themselves, but sign painter was also a job and the exhibition interestingly includes a few quotations from people who worked as such before economic transformation forced them out. It has a charming, if too small, collection of original signs from that time:

warszawa-2014-06-04 warszawa-2014-06-05 warszawa-2014-06-02 warszawa-2014-06-03From the top the signs say: “H. Dąbrowski, Tailor” | “Your Carelessness May Cause Fire” | “Tenants! Remember to Save Light and Water to Prevent Wastefulness” | “Please Don’t Smoke.”

When economy changed in the 90s, Polish street typography turned pretty terrible, which is showed in the exhibition with a collage of photographed street signs, clearly made by amateurs thanks to the sudden availability of cheap print and ready-made letters. Unfortunately, you can still see the results of this outbreak in the streets today.

And finally there is also a part of the exhibition which shows modern designs inspired by Polish vernacular. It includes not-so-interesting artsy compositions, but also more directed designs. This is, for instance, an identity designed as a diploma project for a fish stall in Ustka (a small town by the sea). The author designed the whole alphabet (called, I guess, “Fish from Ustka”), with marketing slogans playing on communist slogans.

warszawa-2014-06-06 warszawa-2014-06-08And this is another branding project for a shoe-maker. The old-fashioned job fits well the old-fashioned typographic look.

warszawa-2014-06-12 warszawa-2014-06-10And another interesting part (that we failed to photograph, apparently, but maybe you can see something in this through-the-window shot below?) was a set of re-created alphabets based on letters taken from old surviving signs, a sort of exercise in both inspiration and conservation.

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ucq-redesign_0016A while ago we had the pleasure of seeing our pixel dogs published in UC.Quarterly and this time the cats joined them. Once again we happily received an authors’ copy that let us enjoy many exciting design projects from around the world and the internet. If this sounds like something you’re into, here‘s more information.

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