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We were working on the proper post but then we spent most of Sunday acquainting our baby with a cat – to mutual fascination, awe and just a bit of distrust.

Specifically, we visited friends who have cats and J had his first chance ever to stalk a cat (well, at least in his view; in the view of the rest of the world the cat had all the control).

We promise this is and always will be a design blog not one where we talk about cutesy things children do but every now and then we will fail to deliver a proper post. That’s, these days, a given. However, we will always try to make up with a custom-made illustration, at least. Next week: the proper post.

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The Center of Modern Art Łaźnia publishes a quarterly brochure with information about cultural events that it organizes. We designed the brochure for summer 2016, which will also serve as a template for future brochures.

The Center consists of two institutions working in two different locations, which the brochure should reflect. We were told to use yellow for Łaźnia 1 and blue for Łaźnia 2 so we chose two vivid Pantone colors to make the difference more striking. Throughout the brochure only these two colors are used with black.

The logo of the Center, which is a circle with arrows inside – a quite nice geometric construction – served as the source for the main ornament: diagonal lines meeting at straight angles. We introduce these on the cover together with the colors marking two buildings. The lines extend directly the lines of the logo. Inside in the margins of the brochure we repeat the pattern so that its color  indicates in which building an event will take place.

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On the left-hand side Łaźnia 1 event and on the right-hand side Łaźnia 2.

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For events that happen in entirely different locations we used alternating lines.

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The right-hand column on each page describes events in English. For the yellow part of the brochure we used there a mix of black and yellow and for the blue part a mix of black and blue. This way we created two grays, one of them warm and one cool. The Polish text is always in black.

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At the beginning there’s a schedule of all the events that we needed to squeeze into two pages so we had to skimp on the white space a little more than we’d like to. Inside the cover one can find information about Łaźnia and various series of events that it organizes: we placed it on a black background.

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One more kind of fun we had with the project was glossy spot varnish that we used on the cover to add diagonal lines onto the yellow and blue rectangles. As we hoped, it turned out quite impressive.

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The logo repeated on the back of the brochure.

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Overall, this was the kind of job we always enjoy doing. It had some limitations: first of all, we needed to come up with something not overly complicated so that other people could use the same design for future brochures if need be. That also meant relying on free fonts. However, this kind of additional challenge usually structures work: it might be hardest to work without any limitations at all.

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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.