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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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Today we’re sharing just a small recent job. The Atelier of Taste is a company of our friends, Jola and Mirek, who create and promote vegan, gluten-free recipes and sell such products. Together with a Polish association for gluten-intolerant people they have created T-shirts that people who don’t eat gluten can wear to own their diet choices or needs. And we designed the T-shirts that you can see in the photo.

T-shirt slogans and photo above by Atelier Smaku, models: Jola Słoma and Mirek Trymbulak.

We have already celebrated the big Shakespeare anniversary with our design of all his covers but we have (at least) one more thing to share on this occassion. The most obvious design field connected with Shakespeare are theater posters for his plays and a while ago we started researching those to write about them for the anniversary. But in the end we decided to write only about one designer and his work because it’s so damn good. Our admiration is only slightly colored by the fact that this designer taught both of us about design (and taught us a lot).

The designer in question is professor Tomasz Bogusławski, who is a representative of the so called Polish school of posters – one of a later generation, who uses more modern techniques than his predecessors. Professor Bogusławski creates, among other things, theater posters, often just for the sake of design not for actual theater productions. The posters use photography of common or unusual objects photographed in a way which both emphasizes their materiality and gives them metaphorical or metaphysical depth.

The three Shakespeare posters below are great examples of his unique, confident style and they also reflect well the gloom and mystery of Shakespeare’s tragedies mixed with their realistic element.

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Poster for Hamlet, with bread and a fancy knife. The posters are for “Teatr Rekwizytornia” (something like “props storage room theater”, I guess, which sounds better and more punny in Polish), an imaginary theater Bogusławski made up to create his self-commissioned posters.

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The poster for King Lear uses an old (shoe?) brush and the fact that it looks like an old man with hollowed eyes and a beard. It’s a great example of something that in Polish art schools is called “poster thinking”, where you look at things and see them in several ways at once. The image combines surreal humor and terror, much like the play itself, which is all you can ask from a poster.

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And possibly the strongest, certainly most straightforward and, to us, most memorable of the trio: Titus Andronicus with a head made of raw meat and a twig suggesting Roman laurel (but also playing with the idea of dinner). Frankly, since we saw this poster we can’t conceive of any other image for this play and certainly none that would reflect its pointless brutality better.

It’s possibly too much to hope for but as Tomasz Bogusławski is definitely one of the people who most influenced our thinking about design, maybe you can see some of that inspiration in some of our works. At any rate, we’re happy to share this series of works in honor of Shakespeare’s year.

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A while ago we designed identity for an exhibition When Is a Neighbor a Stranger? in the Center of Modern Art Łaźnia, which was a great fun. The fun was even greater when later on we were asked to design a catalog for the exhibition because catalogs are definitely one of our favorite jobs.

The identity was already established so we used the same colors, typography and the symbol of frame but, of course, designing a catalog required many more decisions and allowed us to play more with specifically print-related options. The aqua-green color of the cover is Pantone spot color, which makes it very even. We decided to use an extra neon color both for the cover and the interior. We also used a die-cut on the cover to make the window/picture frame more tangible.

The holes in the cover, when the book is open. The holes have different dimensions, which makes for a nicely layered effect.

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The fully opened cover contains a list of all involved artists. The cover inside printed in neon Pantone color.

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The text inside is in two languages, Polish and English. Throughout the publication we used the neon color for the English version of the text. We used a flexible grid for the contents and so each page needed individual attention and design. It made for much slower typesetting but was more satisfactory than a more typical page layout which remains the same for the whole book.

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Beginnings of essays and an example of flexible layout.

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Because of the conceptual character of the exhibition the catalog contains a lot of text so we needed to accommodate that.

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List of contents close-up.

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Cover close-ups.

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Back cover fully-open, with a neon-colored photo.

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We are very satisfied with the result of the project: it was great to play with unusual, vivid colors and arranging interesting contents, and the book is quite a pleasure to hold in one’s hand.

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Today we celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. For this momentous occasion we used some of the icons from our Shakespeare Project – our actual, huge celebratory work – as a guessing game. Do you know which play each icon stands for? If not, you may find the answers in last week‘s post. Or you may read the plays again, of course, which is probably the most appropriate kind of celebration.

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23rd April marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. Two years ago, for the 450th anniversary of his baptism, we have started what has become our Shakespeare Project, whose results we are sharing with you today.

The logo of the project with symbols for genres of Shakespeare’s work

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We were looking into published series of Shakespeare’s plays and how they were designed because we were wondering about buying a nice collection for our library but we didn’t find anything we’d particularly covet. There are a few collections but not exactly what we had in mind. So instead we decided to design a series ourselves.

At first, however, we (re)read all the plays (and sonnets), looking for symbols or motifs that could stand for the entire play. With some of them it was very simple: it’s quite easy to match a skull to Hamlet or a donkey’s head to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With others, though, we had to dig deeper and rely on less obvious associations. In the end we compiled a list of possible symbols for each play (many for some, fewer for others).

A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse! and some other symbols used on the covers

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redesign-shakespeare_project-04The idea was to pick one symbol for each play and use it in a sort of ornament but when we started working, we realized that we wanted to broaden this concept a little: not only did we add additional, smaller icons which are also inspired by the stories, but also for each cover one big icon is changed, illustrating in an almost gif-animation-like style the plot of the play. For instance, the ship on Pericles sinks and the crown of weeds on King Lear falls apart.

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We kept the covers fairly simple and used bright, pure colors to make them more striking – a different combination of three colors for each cover.

We also designed the interior of the books, using one special color in addition to black to mark characters, footnotes and such.

Cover and interior for The Merchant of Venice
Othello: interior and a fragment of cover
The beginning of Two Gentlemen of Verona

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Comedies

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Tragedies and poetry

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Tetralogies of history dramas

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In addition to 38 books we also used the icon designs in a poster which summarizes the project. It presents all the plays divided into genres, together with their dates of composition (after Encyclopaedia Britannica). There are two color versions of the poster, light and dark, depending on how you imagine your Shakespeare because we liked both versions and didn’t want to choose.

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If you are a huge Shakespeare fan or would just like to remember what plays he wrote, you might buy the poster on bza (light/dark) or society6 (light/dark). Additionally, this time we are also selling wall tapestries and throw blankets with this design because it’s just such a cool option.

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This was a challenging but satisfying project. Not only did we refresh (and complete) our knowledge of Shakespeare’s work (and it’s always great when you learn something while working) but also we had to work with a deadline and we managed and so can celebrate the Shakespeare holiday. And obviously, it’s always fun to complete a large project on something you like.

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We are working on a huge project that we will share next week – and I’d like to say we’re finishing it but no, it’s just “working” for now – so in the meantime please enjoy this random illustration of bears from our archive. Because bears. And cuddling.

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