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Christmas is coming fast and if you’re still unsure of what to get people, we’re here to help. That is, if the people in question like delightful, delightful books. Continuing our recent series of posts on books about traveling and lovely places comes a behemoth of illustrated maps called A Map of the World (here on Gestalten’s site).

The book gathers dozens and dozens of beautifully illustrated maps, all of them different, showcasing tons of styles and approaches (all in large format).

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We find it fascinating in how many ways one can think of a map and how pretty one can make it. See for yourselves.

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re-shop-friendsAnd if you want to buy something of ours for Christmas in addition or instead, head  over to Society6, which is having a bunch of promotions before Christmas. There’s no better gift than a poster, right? We also have some, well, towels and are working on more stuff. (Until midnight a code “giftit” should give you 30% off and free shipping and the following days will have different promotions.)

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Do you know it’s been over five years since we first published our series Iconic TV Shows? Our style has changed somewhat since then and lots of those shows are no longer remembered or they also changed completely. Time flies.

Still, it’s one of our favorite – and definitely longest running – projects and we like adding new posters to the series. This year one of our biggest TV discoveries (well, “discovery” is a big word for a show everybody and their aunt saw before us) was the series pictured below and so we proudly add it to the collection.

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And if you’re in love with Hawkins and want a bit of it on your wall, you can buy our poster here (also available as various other products) and here.

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(And here for your convenience links to all the rest of them on bza – and they’re also on Society6.)

 

Promo image for Christian Dior exhibition.

During our last trip to Paris we chanced upon a spectacular exhibition in Musée des Arts décoratifs celebrating the life of Christian Dior and the history of his company. For people really interested in fashion this exhibition, called “Christian Dior, Couturier du rêve,” must be almost unbearably exciting and for us, who only know fashion randomly, it was still a great experience, particularly because of the incredible design of the exhibition and the scale of the event.

The entrance is arranged as an entrance to Dior’s boutique, using the impressive architecture of the museum combined with lights and movie screens. Each room is governed by a different idea – conceptual and visual – but with everything kept orderly through a consistent use of black, white and splashes of red.

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Smart use of movies makes you feel like you’re looking into the atelier.

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Early on a room called Colorama shows hundreds of things the house of Dior designs (shoes, accessories, cosmetics, models of dresses and what not, you get lost in the details) arranged by color and it makes a truly spectacular impression. Unfortunately, we don’t have any photos because that room was too crowded to take them.

Some time after that you get to our favorite room in the entire exhibition, illustrating floral inspiration. It is covered in leaves and flowers cut out of white paper, with only shadows of colors created with lights. We do have photos of that room but they don’t entirely capture its charm.

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So many paper flowers. I wish you could take some with you.

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Oh yes, there are dresses.

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The dresses are pretty, too.

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But just look at those flowers!

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Some sort of Didoni typeface was really the only way to go, typographically.

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One of the rooms is almost entirely white, covered floor to ceiling with preliminary models of dresses, sort of initial 3D sketches. This serves to underline the technical aspects of sewing, which we imagine most people don’t think about often.

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And after that comes this room, with a long row of iconic Dior designs in black and red. The room is black with lights creating a mechanical rhythm and an impression of a long period of time stretching into the future. See what we mean about careful design?

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The room with iconic designs in black and gray, shown in glass cases.

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And the last room pays tribute to ball gowns, showing them in a sort of ball room built with animated lights where pretty much everyone wants to be a classic Disney princess and wear a dress like that. We did anyway.

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And yes, the exhibition is decorated with some beautiful paintings loaned from other Parisian museums which are almost worth the visit by themselves that you’ll barely pay any attention to with all the other things on show. There are incredible fashion photographs, e.g. by Richard Avedon, fashion sketches by consequent heads of the house of Dior and many, many other things a visual person or anyone interested in fashion at all will enjoy. (You may still visit the exhibition until January.)

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(You can also read my slightly more personal account of the exhibition here.)

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In addition to the regular design work, a half of us teaches an introductory course to graphic design in the Academy of Fine Arts. Last year with the students of the then first year we did a project inspired by both the Beatles and the projects Vaughan Oliver did with his students on the Pixies. We did a booklet inspired by the Beatles’ One.

Each student drew a title of one of the songs and was supposed to create a photograph including the title and the time of the song, juxtaposing it with the lyrics. While the lyrics remained unornamented, the photograph had to create a scene whose atmosphere would comment on the song – on its lyrics or particularly on its mood. It was important to show how you can use typography, light and composition to create a mood of a design.

Here you get a chance to see the results and let me tell you, they surprised us with their maturity.

Bernard Kiedrowicz and “Yellow Submarine,” making use of our seaside location and Lego blocks.

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Ula Aksinowicz and “Lady Madonna” made of rose petals and thorns.

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Weronika Płucienniczek and the nostalgia for “Yesterday.”

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Marta Zaparucha and “Eleanor Rigby” in a meditation on old age.

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Aleksandra Bołbot and “Hard Day’s Night.”

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Julia Jaros and the hippie life in “The Ballad of John and Yoko.”

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Katarzyna Cur and the play of light in “Let It Be.”

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Zuzanna Harat and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” made of colorful candy.

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And another take on candy: Nikola Kądziela and “Hello, Goodbye.”

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Marianna Pawłusiów, paper hands and “Help!”

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Natalia Szenborn and “Eight Days a Week” on a wall.

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Magda Bujara’s “All You Need Is Love” among the padlocks on a bridge of love.

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Magda Misztal’s “Hey Jude” in a letter.

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Paulina Zubowicz and “From Me to You” in glitter.

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The cover (the first photo on the top), together with the back cover and the inside spread (below), with a lovely, somewhat surreal use of fake fur by Paulina Wiczanowska.

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Let’s continue looking at pretty books about travels and dreaming about all the travels we’re currently not undertaking. Most of our illustrated guides seem to focus on Europe (and more often than not Paris) but this time how about we jump a continent and explore an entirely different country: the USA with the book The 50 States by Gabrielle Balkan and Sol Linero (here on Amazon).

Each spread shows an illustrated map of a state with local curiosities, characteristic animals, famous people and other goodness. There is plenty of information, sometimes unexpected, on things that happened in each state and things you can see if you’re lucky enough to visit it. There are also key facts, symbols, mottos and, most of all, wonderful pictures of all things connected with the state. We haven’t yet read the whole book (it’s a newish addition) but what we have is actually educational.

Visually, the book manages to combine the modern simplicity of flat illustrations with a bit of whimsy and squeeze quite a lot of text in between. The choice of colors is careful and consistent. And when you think about designing the book you realize inherent difficulties in showing all the states with their different sizes in the same manner – but the authors succeed. It’s a pretty, fun book and it tells you about the world’s biggest ball of stamps and about Bonnie and Clyde festival.

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Alaska…

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…has the best dogs.

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All the state flags together.

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Earlier this year we had the pleasure of designing an annual report for the Historical Museum of Gdańsk. The Museum had recently changed its logo and started looking for a new, unified line of publications so the report became an introduction of new guidelines. The report presents the work and the departments of the Museum and all the important events that took place there in 2016.

Since the new logo (by a Portuguese firm, DO / Design Office) is based on a simple, smart solution of simplifying the crosses from Gdańsk’s crest into a grid of pluses, we followed up on the idea and used a derived grid as the main decorative element. We chose the colors of the logo – dark blue and red – as the leading colors of the design and illustrated the text with large photographs so that the publication became a bit like an album. The Museum has several beautiful old buildings with historical interiors whose photos are naturally lovely, and to emphasize the people of the institution we also chose colorful photos of costumed educators and reenactors.

The cover is embossed with the cross pattern and some of the crosses are laser-cut so that the dark blue from the other side forms a pattern of the year 2016. These choices meant a lot of anxiety for printers (“But there will be no foil on the cover!”) but in the end it turned out great.

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Open report, flap folded.

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Flap unfolded to reveal the laser-cut year and the debossing.

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We used the pluses throughout the report as an ornament.

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Close-up of the cover in all its print glory.

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This week we went for a short work-related trip and caught an exhibition of posters by a Japanese designer Kazumasa Nagai. Nagai, born in 1929, has had a long career full of awards and official positions. In the 1960s and 70s he produced mostly commercial work, steeped in Japanese visual tradition and playing with geometric compositions with a strong op-art value. In the 80s he focused more on posters illustrating animals, with a strong ecological message and he’s been creating them since. His work is created by hand, usually silk-printed and much closer to fine art than to pure design in everyday understanding. We saw a collection of about 100 posters that give a good idea of the artist’s style.

The exhibition was held in an old building in the Old Town so there’s an interesting interplay between the posters and the architecture, particularly the woodwork.

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A lovely poster for the conference on the future of the oceans, combining allusions to traditional Japanese woodcut with a photograph.

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Save me please, I’m here and Design Life series.

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A close-up of one of our favorites that shows a beautiful combination of fine-arts sensitivity with design principles.

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An unexpected poster for a Rouault exhibition.

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From Save Nature series.

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Very Japanese posters with golden color (the photo doesn’t really do them justice).

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A close-up where you can see the silk print texture of paint.

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And our favorite pair of posters, with a strong use of typography combined with  delicate patterns.

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(We only had a very bad camera with us so the photos are of a rather impressionistic variety but you can see Nagai’s work online if this seems interesting to you.)