Today we thought we would show you a slightly different side of us. You might have already noticed – or not – but we are huge fans of boardgames. We have a decent collection and we enjoy particularly games with a story. However, these are not always great design-wise. We thought every now and then we might show you some of the games we find interesting in this aspect and share our love for the material side of gaming.

Because the weather makes us think of all things foggy and gloomy we are starting with Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. This is a pretty unusual game in that it’s a set of ten puzzles to solve and once you’ve solved them, you’re more or less done. However, we really love Sherlock Holmes and we don’t have all that much time for gaming (truth be told, we’ve finished two cases so far and we’ve had this game for a few years) so we bought the game despite its limited replayability.


The box (which is only average, compared to some other elements) contains ten booklets with case studies, a map of London and two cool ideas: ten copies of The Times and a directory of various London addresses. Even though we’re not absolutely delighted with everything about the design of the game, particularly with some typographic choices, overall we find it climactic and entertaining.


Each case is described in its own booklet, loosely stylized to an old look through stamps, ornaments and old paper texture. We’re generally not huge fans of this style (though we do like the wallpaper at the beginning) but we get why game designers do this. In fact, it’s not easy to come up with a reasonable alternative for a game like this one.


You use the map of London in order to decide where to go next. The map has Scary Holmes (I’m assuming it’s not Jack the Ripper, much as he looks it) in the corner.


(It also has negative kerning in the street names and I’m not sure about the sans serif but I like the gloomy colors offset by pink.)


But it’s the other two elements that make the game so exciting and immersive. The directory list all the people that appear in the cases and many practical places like restaurants and tobacco makers and it’s your decision who’s relevant to the case and who you’ll visit. It also has very cool initials.



And finally our favorite element: The Times for each day a case is being solved, with information about various relevant and irrelevant events. As if that wasn’t cool enough, the information from the newspapers adds up so that you might need a side note from day one to solve case number four. That’s pretty awesome – and slightly overwhelming.


The newspaper is also hands down the best-designed piece of the game (and one of the best of all the games that we own). It’s also printed on paper that’s nice to handle.


If this post made you want to play the game, you’ll be absolutely right to do so, by the way.

Peace for Paris symbol by Jean Jullien.

It felt inappropriate to write any other post. Our thoughts are with Paris and its people.

The image by Jean Jullien. It’s a good example of how design, though it doesn’t really change the world, can sometimes help people unite.

A combination of a family event and huge workload made it impossible to come up with a proper post for today so instead let us share this random illustration of a shepherd that you need to lead to his sheep.


(Well, it’s not entirely random. It comes from a semi-recent project we’re sure to share one day.)

re-shop-friendsThis week’s Society6 promo is even better than usually: in addition to free shipping there’s also 5$ off everything. Follow this link if you’re interested in buying some of our awesome stuff. And now onto the proper post.

outbox-foto-15Once we started working on the photos of Escape Out of the Box book we made so many that we decided to split the post into two. Last week we talked about the concept of the book and our layout decisions and today we want to focus more on illustrations. Both layout and illustrations refer to modernism as the dominant style of Gdynia’s architecture (well, at least the interesting parts of it). The best way we could think of to reference modernism was to draw inspiration from Isotype infographics, whose huge fans we are. We started by working out a way of drawing a human figure and the rest came from there. Below is an illustration of various people involved in building a house. It was, in fact, the first illustration that we created.

outbox-foto-21 redesign-outbox-15 outbox-foto-30(Also, possibly you can see us geeking out a little in this illustration of modes of transportation.)

outbox-foto-23 outbox-foto-10outbox-foto-32The Infobox building that the book describes gave us plenty of material to work with. Above the concept of scale is explained with a drawing of a kind of recliner they have in front of the building. Music bands play in the restaurant terrace.

outbox-foto-24We found the technical character of the illustrations quite useful because many of them, in addition to being decorative, served an explanatory function. Above our instruction of making a frotage drawing.

outbox-foto-25 outbox-foto-06 outbox-foto-29To draw portraits we needed to expand the style but we had fun doing that. To the left is a portrait of writer, Stefan Żeromski. Above, Vitruvius.

outbox-foto-05 outbox-foto-09

There is, in fact, a kind of periscope in Infobox, which you can use to look at Gdynia from above. It’s surprisingly fun.

outbox-foto-27This is the fox from The Little Prince.

outbox-foto-31And a tree-hugger, to go with one of the most difficult illustrations we made: a view of the building with the yard in front of it. It explains the use of various materials in the construction. It’s rather hard to draw materials in a linear, vector convention, believe you me.


redesign-outbox-01It only took us forever but we finally finished with the photos and can tell you more about the exciting book project we did, celebrating a building called Infobox that was added to the landscape of Gdynia not so long ago. This is what the building looks like (promotional materials of the city):


It was created to revitalize an unkempt square in the very center of Gdynia, built in harmony with and even onto the existing structures. It made the area attractive for all the citizens, rather than just those that drank beer in crummy bars that used to be there. The building’s architecture, while controversial, is quite striking. It consists of several linked structures, the most characteristic being the one on the right, as if built of glass boxes. It also references the modernist tradition of Gdynia’s architecture. The building houses some city offices, a nice cafe/restaurant and is a convenient place of meetings and rest. The people working there also organize events promoting the city and the publication of this book was one of such.

The idea to use this building as a tool to teach children about architectural concepts came from the local foundation Architektura+ and its lovely leader Anna Wróbel-Johnson, who’s the author of the text and who invited us to design and illustrate the book. If you know anything about us, you know it was pretty much the perfect assignment. Not only is it an interesting book by itself, but also we got a lot of freedom to design it and, as a huge, grid-shaped cherry on the top, it allowed us to play with our beloved modernist tradition.

redesign-outbox-02redesign-outbox-03The book is aimed at older children and through the example of Infobox it introduces children to such ideas as function, composition, perspective etc. It promotes learning through doing by offering a selection of fun activities to be performed, many of which require visiting Infobox and observing it closely.

The book is spiral-bound, which is definitely one of our favorite types of binding. The thick carton cover has a die-cut hole in the shape of an isometric outline of a box, which shows a box-constrained lettering underneath. And voila, once you open the cover, the letters get “out of the box,” to illustrate the unconventional thinking that the book promotes.

The shapes you can see in the photo above are elements of a paper model of the building that Architektura+ created and which accompanied the publication. Children could cut it out and create the model (and I’m sure they managed it better than we did).

redesign-outbox-04The book is color-coordinated: each chapter has its lead color, as shown on the contents page above. Obviously, the motif of a box organizes much of the design. In homage to modernist design, we also used strict grid and a modernist, sans serif typeface (one of our favorites, too).

redesign-outbox-05redesign-outbox-06Each chapter starts with a colored page, introducing the concept of the chapter with an illustration and a quote. Above: Genius Loci, or the spirit of a place and Function (with icons depicting various things you can do in Infobox; in addition to the obvious, you may build Lego models there).

redesign-outbox-07  redesign-outbox-10An additional bonus of this assignment was a chance to illustrate it in a modernist style. However, we will tell you much more about it next week when we focus specifically on the illustrative part of the job (we didn’t want this post to go on forever).

redesign-outbox-08The chapter on materials ends with a tracing paper insert that can be used for making a frotage illustration.

redesign-outbox-11 redesign-outbox-12The subject of the book required illustrating architecture, which we are always happy to do. In the spreads above you can see two well-known buildings of Gdynia.

redesign-outbox-13 redesign-outbox-14 redesign-outbox-15Yep, it’s a modernist, Vitruvian woman. Tune in next week for the rest of the images.


We’re still working on these images of the book we promised last week and we will finish them some beautiful day but for now we’ll just keep proving we’re getting there, one image at a time. This one is from a title spread for chapter XII, Proportions and Scale and the page on the left shows Supergirl over Gdynia. Just because. We’ll tell you more once we’re ready with the full post.


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