Continuing our post-Christmas nostalgia, this week we want to share a lovely picture book that our son got from Santa, Lots by Marc Martin (it’s translated as “A Million Things” into Polish so the cover looks rather different).

Each spread shows an interesting place on Earth: some are about cities, some about natural territories, picking out curios, fascinating animals and memorable constructions for an idiosyncratic, personal catalog of the wonders of the world. The illustrations are painted with a mix of lightness and precision, with distinct color palettes that don’t shy away from gray (as watercolor painters sometimes do). The author’s enthusiasm (if not uncritical) for the variety and richness of the things that make up our world is contagious.

Antarctic, water paints work great to show ice and water.
I have a feeling that in the original book everything was written by hand but the typeface chosen for translation actually works surprisingly well.
The wonders of Asia.
Paris, how we miss you!

As Santa was generous with our book gifts this year, we are happy to share the first one: a monograph on Stockholm Design Lab, a studio from, you guessed it, Stockholm, who we’ve been admiring for a while. Their truly impressive portfolio of work includes nothing less than the identity for the Nobel Prize.

The book is also impressive in its own right: solid, hefty, generous with white space, leaving you a lot of air to admire the designs. It is not afraid to spend an entire spread on a single blown-out image and it even uses hotstamping inside the book. Yes, inside. SDL’s designs are characterized by a certain austerity, minimalism and focus on ideas that is sometimes hard to pull off in client work and that makes it all the more impressive that these designs came into existence.

A case of the beautiful golden hotstamping inside. There are more.

A slightly late recommendation, but we spent literally the last days of December delighting in this show.

Bridgerton (season 1)

What is it? A Shondaland foray into (alternative) Regency England, of all places, the show tells a story of a London season and the debutantes’ hunt for husbands.

Why we love it? Once you give up the expectations for historical accuracy, this show is pure delight. Its rompy, sudsy drama kept us glued to the screen. The show refuses to apologize for everything it is not and embraces its chosen convention – which is basically sexy costume melodrama – with aplomb. Most of its vast array of characters are likeable and fairy well-cast, with some choices nearing perfection (particularly Polly Walker as Lady Portia).

Visually speaking, the show is as lovely as anything, with vivid bright colors and lovingly created super clean London streets. Is it realistic? We bet not. But it looks charming as hell.

It’s the most magical time of the year and it’s also our 10th anniversary (not specifically on Christmas, but why not combine two good things?).

On this occasion we want to wish you the merriest, calmest time this Christmas, may it renew your spirit and make you hopeful and cheerful.

As for the anniversary, we had so many plans to celebrate it graphically but, of course, life got in the way, as it does, and we poured it all into the ten Christmas trees. But those projects are brewing and will show up eventually! Peace!

As promised last week, we are sharing the proper photos of the temporary monument built in front of the city hall in Gdynia to commemorate the shipyard workers killed in December 1970 by the communist governement.

The display combined architectural design, animation and graphic design to share information about the events that happened 50 years ago in the city streets. We were touched to see positive, interested reactions of people who happened to come by to see the display as we were taking photos of it.

This was a difficult, also emotionally difficult, topic to work on (it also included time restraints and lots of spray painting) but seeing the raised construction at night was quite powerful.

Credits: concept and architectural design by Anna Grabowska with the technical help of Tomek Sokolski, script by Maugo Domańska, animations by Esy-floresy Studio, management by Hilta/Paulina Neugebauer.

Section titles are taken from a famous, vernacular song about the events, “Janek Wiśniewski Fell.” The wall below shows the entire song. Many of the archival photos from that day, including the one used below, show a crowd of people carrying the body of the killed boy on a door. This became a powerful symbol.

This is the wall with the animation panel – it’s hard to tell in some of the photos because the animations fit so well with the rest of the design, thanks to the great work of Esy-floresy.
Above the title wall (with the Year 1970 Gdynia) there’s another, smaller animation panel (with the eye).

In addition to the construction, another commemorative design consisted of a series of black flags/banners spread over the main street of Gdynia. Some of them were entirely black while others carried first names and ages of the people killed in those events.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the tragic events that took place in some cities in Poland, including Gdynia, where we live, in December 1970. Poland was then under a communist regime and at this time people went on strikes caused by the rise of prices of basic articles. The situation escalated to shootouts in the streets, which resulted in deaths and injuries. In Gdynia most of the victims were young men going to their work in the shipyard. Here’s a Wikipedia link for a small article on the subject.

We had the priviledge of working on an installation commissioned by the city of Gdynia to commemorate the events. The installation was conceived and designed by Anna Grabowska with the technical help of Tomek Sokolski, the texts were written by Maugo Domańska, and animations done by Esy-floresy Studio with the whole thing managed by Hilta/Paulina Neugebauer (and this was really a dream team to work with).

The design we created was meant to be a little dirty, so that it doesn’t look like a typical street exhibition about historical events but that it brings to mind a street object that got written over. We used archival materials: articles and photographs. Some of them, showing crowds, are placed in such a way as to make the passerby feel a part of the demonstrations.

Today we are sharing some making-of photos (building-of, to be precise) taken last Monday, with the installation still being raised. It’s up now in front of the city hall – if you happen by Gdynia, be sure to swing by. We’ll show you the end result once we take the photos of the finished structure.

Since the beginning of December, and particularly since yesterday, St. Nicholas’ Day, we’re in a Christmas preparations mode. Well, as much as deadlines permit. It’s mostly a lot of cleaning but we also try to make handmade decorations with our kids and, to make it at least a little bit design-oriented, we have set a little challenge for ourselves. (This is the first challenge of this kind we’ve ever tried.) Since December 1st we’ve been posting one small Christmas image in our Instagram stories and we’re planning to keep it up till Christmas Eve. (Above: a scrap paper Santa for St. Nicholas’ Day; this was really a spontaneous collage that gave us the idea.)

“Day 2” image.
Yes, we baked ginger cookies yesterday and they are delicious, thanks to our friend Z’s recipe. We struggled a lot before with inferior recipes.
This is a rare case of unretouched photo of paper craft that we post so yeah, the edges are rarely sharp at this stage.

Come take a look (and say hi) if you’re interested, all images past and future to be seen here.