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Christmas is coming fast and if you’re still unsure of what to get people, we’re here to help. That is, if the people in question like delightful, delightful books. Continuing our recent series of posts on books about traveling and lovely places comes a behemoth of illustrated maps called A Map of the World (here on Gestalten’s site).

The book gathers dozens and dozens of beautifully illustrated maps, all of them different, showcasing tons of styles and approaches (all in large format).

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We find it fascinating in how many ways one can think of a map and how pretty one can make it. See for yourselves.

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re-shop-friendsAnd if you want to buy something of ours for Christmas in addition or instead, head  over to Society6, which is having a bunch of promotions before Christmas. There’s no better gift than a poster, right? We also have some, well, towels and are working on more stuff. (Until midnight a code “giftit” should give you 30% off and free shipping and the following days will have different promotions.)

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Do you know it’s been over five years since we first published our series Iconic TV Shows? Our style has changed somewhat since then and lots of those shows are no longer remembered or they also changed completely. Time flies.

Still, it’s one of our favorite – and definitely longest running – projects and we like adding new posters to the series. This year one of our biggest TV discoveries (well, “discovery” is a big word for a show everybody and their aunt saw before us) was the series pictured below and so we proudly add it to the collection.

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And if you’re in love with Hawkins and want a bit of it on your wall, you can buy our poster here (also available as various other products) and here.

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(And here for your convenience links to all the rest of them on bza – and they’re also on Society6.)

 

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Let’s continue looking at pretty books about travels and dreaming about all the travels we’re currently not undertaking. Most of our illustrated guides seem to focus on Europe (and more often than not Paris) but this time how about we jump a continent and explore an entirely different country: the USA with the book The 50 States by Gabrielle Balkan and Sol Linero (here on Amazon).

Each spread shows an illustrated map of a state with local curiosities, characteristic animals, famous people and other goodness. There is plenty of information, sometimes unexpected, on things that happened in each state and things you can see if you’re lucky enough to visit it. There are also key facts, symbols, mottos and, most of all, wonderful pictures of all things connected with the state. We haven’t yet read the whole book (it’s a newish addition) but what we have is actually educational.

Visually, the book manages to combine the modern simplicity of flat illustrations with a bit of whimsy and squeeze quite a lot of text in between. The choice of colors is careful and consistent. And when you think about designing the book you realize inherent difficulties in showing all the states with their different sizes in the same manner – but the authors succeed. It’s a pretty, fun book and it tells you about the world’s biggest ball of stamps and about Bonnie and Clyde festival.

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Alaska…

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…has the best dogs.

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All the state flags together.

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This week we went for a short work-related trip and caught an exhibition of posters by a Japanese designer Kazumasa Nagai. Nagai, born in 1929, has had a long career full of awards and official positions. In the 1960s and 70s he produced mostly commercial work, steeped in Japanese visual tradition and playing with geometric compositions with a strong op-art value. In the 80s he focused more on posters illustrating animals, with a strong ecological message and he’s been creating them since. His work is created by hand, usually silk-printed and much closer to fine art than to pure design in everyday understanding. We saw a collection of about 100 posters that give a good idea of the artist’s style.

The exhibition was held in an old building in the Old Town so there’s an interesting interplay between the posters and the architecture, particularly the woodwork.

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A lovely poster for the conference on the future of the oceans, combining allusions to traditional Japanese woodcut with a photograph.

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Save me please, I’m here and Design Life series.

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A close-up of one of our favorites that shows a beautiful combination of fine-arts sensitivity with design principles.

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An unexpected poster for a Rouault exhibition.

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From Save Nature series.

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Very Japanese posters with golden color (the photo doesn’t really do them justice).

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A close-up where you can see the silk print texture of paint.

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And our favorite pair of posters, with a strong use of typography combined with  delicate patterns.

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(We only had a very bad camera with us so the photos are of a rather impressionistic variety but you can see Nagai’s work online if this seems interesting to you.)

It’s been (too long) a while since we last shared with you the love for our design idols. Today we want to focus on someone who we’ve been reminded of in a gift shop of Les Arts Décoratifs, where we saw a huge Dior exhibition: Mats Gustafson. His huge impressive book of illustrations for Dior was sold there and it was so pretty (but also large and expensive so we couldn’t buy it, not yet anyway – take a look on Amazon, if you’re interested). But we knew his work before (one of us anyway, the one who loves fashion illustration and thinks no one does it better than Gustafson).

Gustafson is a Swedish illustrator living in New York, with a background in stage design, who introduced into fashion illustration different media: watercolors, cutouts, color papers and uses them in such a unique, beautiful way that his work is instantly recognizable. Fashion illustration generally tends towards pretty but Gustafson makes it sublime, with his minimalist, painterly sensitivity (based on solid skill in drawing). Gushing time over, now look at the pictures (from the artist’s official representative’s site where you can see his newer work now – these works below are from our archives) and fall in love.

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We find patterns a particularly good test of how a style is working for fashion illustration. Test passed.

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Incredible use of paper.

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And a deer. For his personal projects he seems to like drawing animals. And what do you know, he’s great at it.

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With fall so completely upon us it’s nice to think back on holidays and one way to do that is to look at the books we’ve brought with us. As usual, our trip to Paris has resulted in increasing our library of touristy books about Paris. This time let us share a smart little pop-up called, well, Paris Pop Up by Dominique Ehrhard (here‘s a link, should you be interested).

It presents the biggest tourist attractions of the city as 3D models literally rising from the pages of the book as one leafs through it. Each building is situated in its proper place on a fragment of a map and prefaced by a short introduction on the previous spread. All in all, it’s a simple idea quite ingeniously executed and much prettier than most tourist guides.

The intro map with all the attractions and their relative locations.

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An introduction to the Arc de Triomphe.

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And the Arc itself.

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The Louvre.

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The Notre Dame Cathedral rising from its pages in several steps.

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Centre Pompidou (it even has an exhibition poster visible).

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Experyment Science Centre is organizing a Science Night called Back to the Future about the truth and fiction in science-fiction. The poster had to include callbacks to science-fiction classics – and robots.

You may well imagine that this was just the thing to excite us, big geeks that we are. For the research phase we looked at tons of old science-fiction movie posters and we listed things they often include, like guns, empty planets and, most often, sexy ladies in trouble. We decided to play with those themes, while giving them a decidedly more modern and feminist skew: our lady is a no-nonsense scientist who controls the robot. She was a bit more sexy originally but that got toned down during the process. We also didn’t get to draw the planet because there was too much text but instead we combined elements of the text with the illustration.

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The typography alludes to the classic Back to the Future movies without copying those solutions precisely, but instead keeping the typeface Experyment uses. The logotype is an important part of the design because it has to be recognizable as a standalone.

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