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Observed

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On Saturday we took a day off and made a family trip to the local zoo in Gdańsk. The weather was just right and we had a great time. In the souvenir stand we found an interesting book that we’re sharing with you today: Planeta zoo (The Zoo Planet), which tells a bit of a history of zoological gardens and introduces various animals from Gdańsk’s zoo. The book tells interesting stories about the animals living in the zoo and will make our next trip so much more informed for our son, who will know the names of some of the animals. It is illustrated by Grażyna Rigall, whose watercolor illustrations have quite a lot of character and include funny little details.

We particularly like the zoo’s effort to publish a customized souvenir, which is thoughtful, informative and well-executed. Too often local tourist attractions don’t use the material they have to self-promote: their own exhibits and buildings. We would expect similar publications in each museum and fun spot. So many creative people could be hired for that and so many lovely objects could be made as a result.

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Yesterday we visited our local design festival, Gdynia Design Days, on our way home, and we saw a couple of small exhibitions. We felt it lacked something as engaging for us personally as last year’s exhibitions of illustration for children (here) but several things drew our attention.

This year’s identity of the festival is again by Patryk Hardziej. Here are a few elements of the signage.

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This student diploma project by Paulina Kozicka attracted our attention because, first of all, illustrated animals, but also it looks like an interesting educational tool. It’s meant to teach children to read and while we didn’t exactly understand how (we wish there were some instructions exhibited), our son, who loves letters, got immediately drawn to playing with the elements. Also, bonus points for the lion’s mouth as one of the game spaces.

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The elements of the game are made of wood, increasing the tactile value of the diploma.

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This is a small exhibition which we found the most interesting, eco-freaks that we are. It shows various ways in which trash can be recycled into everyday products. Some of them we found decidedly not aesthetically pleasing (but an interesting trend nonetheless) but others seemed very promising. Paradoxically the best part was the obvious one, showing results of the well-known recycling of glass and paper (below glass made from glass, which is nothing strange but still right).

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And this exhibition focused on climate changes and products you can buy that are a bit more eco-friendly. We liked that the products were buyable on the market but if an exhibition wants to talk about countering climate change maybe it should show more ways to act than just buying stuff. Like composting, composting is awesome.

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An exhibition about cross-over between space exploration and design. It felt almost mystical (also because we weren’t sure what some of the presented things did).

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It is this time of year again: the time of sharing the Christmas gifts we got. Probably the most impressive one is this book we kind of bought for ourselves: Vaughan Oliver: Archive. We supported the book on Kickstarter and then waited for it to get published – it managed to come a while before Christmas.

The book contains a number of materials designed or used for design by Vaughan Oliver, a design legend. It is impressively printed on Munken paper (always a plus), with a silkscreen-printed slipcase using a specially commissioned shade of orange-red. Overall, it is one of those books which work almost more by impressions than by content but remind you why print isn’t really dead whatever some people might say.

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As our focus drifts now a little to babies (and as we did some huge bookshelf cleaning recently), we remembered one of the first artsy books that our son liked: ABC by Bruno Munari. Bruno Munari was quite a fascinating Italian artist and children’s books were just a small part of his wide artistic and scientific explorations – but it’s the one we’re most familiar with. ABC is a classic letters primer, which uses very elegant, high-contrast typography and lovely, slightly old-fashioned illustrations. While this might not be a book in which you find new tiny details during each re-reading, its very simplicity appeals to children and its high aesthetic level develops their sensitivity.

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This is one gorgeous onion.

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Last time we talked about the huge Wyspiański exhibition we saw in Kraków and how impressed we were by the number of exhibits. But because of a mess of circumstances we didn’t get to spend as much time on the exhibition as we wanted to so we were glad to find a large, reliable catalog, presenting all the objects with descriptions.

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(We don’t necessarily agree with all the design choices made for the catalog but we don’t know how it was created and under what circumstances. We’re mostly just happy to have such a huge, nicely printed book full of Wyspiański’s work.)

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