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Once again we’re taking time to introduce a well-designed board game (which we hope to make a semi-regular feature, but so far it’s, I think, only the second instalment). Today it’s a Polish game, a bit of competitive fun with somewhat grim historic background.

The game is called “Queue” and it was published by the Institute of National Remembrance. What it strives to remind of is the bad economy of the 80s when there were few goods in stores and people had to spend hours in lines to buy anything. We were really young then so we don’t exactly remember the details of it but this is a part of Polish culture that shows up in movies and colloquialisms. We’re not going to go into gameplay details: suffice it to say that we find it impressive how the game manages to recreate the joy of buying the commonest thing or the frustration of having it stolen from under one’s nose. Emotions run high and it’s done with the simplest math.

But our main interest is the design of the game. In fact, it’s quite unique. Board games have a certain aesthetics which often borders on kitsch and is rarely interesting from a designer’s point of view. Not so with “Queue.” This is clearly a game that was designed, not just illustrated.

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The style is an interesting combination of somber and whimsical but with a healthy dose of humor (perhaps the most interesting thing about the game is how it comes off as charming rather than depressing, while still conveying the sense of grayness of Poland in the 80s). Illustrations use a mix of simple icons with retro photographs and jokey collages, all made more poignant with captions. The board manages to show pre-capitalist landscape with a few gray buildings that don’t have to bother to draw in clients.

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Instructions of board games, even of great ones, are often visually cringeworthy (no idea why that is) but here it’s a worthy component of the whole set (or, in fact, components, because the box contains 8 instructions in different languages). Significantly, typography works well, too.

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The cards are originally in Polish but stickers are provided to change the language.

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Yes, we did recently use the pawns for a poster.

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The game turned out to be quite a success so there was a small expansion published that was sold in this awesome gray envelope.

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TD 63–73 is a book published by Unit Editions who totally specialize in design porn. It tells the story of the golden age of Total Design, a Dutch firm that personifies the greatness of Dutch modernist design. The first edition of the book sold out but we bought a reprinted copy and today we want to share it with you.

We find many of these designs not only inspiring but also quite modern-looking. Their way of thinking about logo design, for instance, while characteristic of past decades, is close to ours (and many others’): its geometric logic is something to aspire to.

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A classic typographic calendar:

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Quite appropriately the book is impressively published with embossing and hotstamping on the cover and the slipcase.

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Many of those design decisions still shape our visual landscape.

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We’re in the middle of a redecoration project right now and we spent too much of Sunday with hammers and screwdrivers to finish a larger post. We did manage to finish the illustration above though and it’s brand new (just like our cupboard) so enjoy that for now.

Our project Iconic TV Posters happened a while ago (here and then here) and since then we’ve been watching some new shows so it’s only right to broaden the list every now and then. Today we add a show for your guessing pleasure (assuming you even heard of it). It’s just finished its second season and it remains a weird and charming (if sometimes darkish) delight that so far we’ve had no success in recommending to our friends. So, do you know the show as encapsulated in these three icons?

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We’ll put the answer in the comments and if, like us, you appreciate an original thought in the creation of a show, give it a try.

And if you like the poster, as usual we added it to our stores on Society6 and bza.

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Yesterday we visited our friends for a housewarming party and so we were faced with choosing a gift. This is normally a fairly standard procedure for this kind of event but T&D are both architects of very defined and refined tastes and we (rightly) expected that their apartment would be their big project. So we didn’t want to bring them either anything furniture-related, which they would probably never use, or anything tepid like a plant but instead we designed a poster for the occasion. Even if they wouldn’t want to put it up (which we don’t really expect them to) at least they would get something personal and unique.

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In our design we were inspired by a tradition of small tapestries with embroidered home-related sayings and pieces of wisdom to hang on the wall, which exist in folk tradition (and look something like this). You can still find them in some houses as a kind of jokey wall decoration. As we’re don’t really know too many folk sayings and we wanted something a little weird we found a slogan online. We’d never heard it before and can’t vouch for its authenticity but we liked its surreal quality. It says in rough translation “A house is rich not in its cornerstones but in dumplings”, which I could try to interpret (it makes a tiny little bit more sense in Polish, possibly) but we just kept it very literal. We used illustrations that referred to both building a house and cooking dumplings and arranged the slogan in modernist letters that our friends happen to love.

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Even though we’ll fully understand if the poster doesn’t make it to a wall because they’d probably had every decorative element planned before the they set foot in the apartment, at least our friends were touched and surprised to get this bit of our work.

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First of all, sorry for the missed update. It was on the top of our priorities for the whole week but then something always bumped it down (and mostly it was our son who tends to bump things around on daily basis). Anyways, here we go.

We like to take holidays in May before the holiday season starts for good because it’s (slightly) less crowded and because we always tell ourselves that we’ll take another short holiday in September (and then we don’t). But, clearly, this year we’re skipping the whole holiday thing altogether so instead we will at least talk about a design issue concerning our favorite travel destination ever, which is, you guessed it, Paris.

This year the publications for tourists by The Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau have been rebranded by studio Graphéine. The rebranding comes with a new logo (so, so much better than the old one) – a minimalist typographic design which brilliantly utilizes the Eiffel tower.

It’s very clear that while it’s hard to imagine Paris’ logo without the tower it’s almost equally hard to imagine the tower done right. Graphéine designers gave it a lot of thought: you can read about it in their article about the project (we link to it at the end). We definitely feel they made all the right choices: they did not give up on the most recognizable symbol of the city but they simplified it to the point of abstraction, which way of thinking is close to our hearts. Together the letters create

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The logo is quite awesome but the additional perk of designing for a Paris-based institution is what a great photo you can take of the building signage.

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In addition to the logo the studio also designed various publications, the most impressive of which are the covers of maps and other informative materials based on simple, colorful illustrations. Some of the illustrations allude to specific nationalities (French and British mostly) though we’re not sure if it’s true for all of them.

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A jazzy cover for the informative magazine about what’s happening in Paris.

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The Japanese cover is particularly lovely and it demonstrates well what a nice color palette was chosen.

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The design of Paris Pass, which seems to introduce additional elements (and tone) to the rebranding.

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Here is the link to Graphéine’s presentation of their work with many more images. This project takes on a lovely but potentially difficult topic and deals with it in an effective and charming manner. Much as we love it, it makes us even more Paris-sick because we’d love to get our hands on material prints of all these maps and guides. Tant pis.

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