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Today we would like to share one of our favorite design books, a monograph on Marian Bantjes: one of our absolute design idols. The Canadian designer specializes in typography, ornamentation and has a recognizable-but-not-repetitive style that really speaks to our sensitivities. This large-scale books showcases her work and is just such a beauty to look at, a true sensual pleasure. As if that wasn’t enough, the works are annotated with witty, honest stories about how they came – or didn’t come – to be.

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Bantjes has a wonderful sensitivity for non-traditionally understood calligraphy which she combines with more geometric letterforms.

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She has also a true talent (and patience) for filigree ornaments, partly Arabic, partly historic but overall modernized.

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And, of course, her work on tangible typography is one of the most impressive out there and inspired our own search many times. Here, for instance, sugar lettering.

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We’re not sure if this book is still in stock (probably?) but if you like to look at gorgeously designed letters, this is definitely the coffee table book for you.

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In addition to children’s books, we also love beautiful books about design. This one, for instance, shows the work of Jurriaan Schrofer, a somewhat lesser known Dutch designer (1926–1990). He created modernist typographic designs, experimented with letters and grid, designed typefaces, even tried tangible type. His work has a very distinctive style, which you will love if modernist typography works for you.

The book by Unit Editions showcases Schrofer’s designs, giving basic information about them. Visually, it’s an interesting edition with a vivid orange color used in the middle, black thread for binding and, most strikingly, the open spine (we’re of two minds about open-spined books because, while eye-catching, they are much less durable).

The cover with just the designer’s name arranged of the letters he used illustrates his style particularly well.

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Recently we visited a local museum and in the gift shop we found a little gem illustrated by a friend from work, Joanna Czaplewska. The book tells the story of the most famous painting you can see in our area, The Last Judgment by Hans Memling (here, if it’s not famous enough). In simple illustrations it shows how the painting was created and how it ended up in Gdańsk. The book is remarkable not only for its historical detail but also a subdued, painterly color palette.

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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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This year the Graphics Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk is celebrating its tenth anniversary with, among other things, an exhibition of works by teachers and graduates. As this is a place we both hail from, our work was also exhibited and yesterday we attended the opening (hence the delay, sorry!). The exhibition was curated by the estimable Anita Wasik and designed by the talented Dorota Terlecka.

We chose to show our Shakespeare Project, which has not had as much exposition as some of our other projects but remains one of the things we’re most proud of, so we are happy to see it out there.

That’s our entire corner. Each artist got to design the large banner and whatever they wanted in front of it (within budget constrictions, of course). We showed a selection of Shakespeares with the identity of the project.

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Hanging those lines was soooo swear-inducing, I tell you. But hey, I did it.

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Of course, our stuff is a great reason to see the exhibition, should you be in the area, but there are other designers, and personal friends, showing their projects, too. Here are some random impressions but there are tons more.

Lettering by Eugenia Tynna.

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Posters by Tomasz Bogusławski.

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T-shirts by Patrycja Podkościelny.

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Bugs by Agata Borkowska.

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Hedgehog pants by Agata Królak. Pants. With hedgehogs!

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Patryk Hardziej.

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A board game by Anna Gawron and Dariusz Ogrodowczyk.

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If you know as at all, you know we love tangible type, book covers and paper. Our “Inspiration” archive is full of such finds and today we decided to share a few lovely works which combine all these things: prepare to be amazed by book cover designs where the title is made of paper.

We will start with ours – and everyone else’s – favorite, the brilliant Peter Mendelsund and his covers for Ben Marcus. The covers use deceptively simple typography on slips of paper interwoven with almost as simple ornaments. The ornaments directly refer the parts of the titles (flames, sea) and boast lovely, subtle color palettes. It’s always particularly impressive when something looks almost too easy to bother with and yet is masterful.

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This cover designed by Gabriele Wilson also uses the traditionally printed words which are surrounded by a seemingly random, but really quite sophisticated composition of shredded paper strips. Together they create an atmosphere of mystery and maybe even danger but mixed with the kind of ennui in administrative offices (I’ve no idea what the book is about, just interpreting the cover image).

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One of the common – and usually quite successful and guaranteed to make us happy – tricks is writing made of paper which peels off, revealing something underneath it. However, in this design by Zoe Norvell, the three-dimensionality of the text doesn’t focus attention on the layer underneath. Instead it allows for its entanglement with the threads, playing on the title.

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And in this cover by Tori Elliot the cut-out of letters and shapes plays a more traditional function. It creates the clash between the simple white outer layer and the green illustration underneath, suggesting the lushness of jungle but also how it is not evident at first sight.

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This design by Sinem Erkas uses memo notes to refer to the theme of memory and as material for the creation of semi-spacial letters. Even though the letters are very simple in shape, they prove that the designer possesses a lovely sense of form.

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And here are sticker bookmarks used in an delightful – and impressive – composition by Jon Gray. Not only is this design a smart comment on the complexity of the novel, it is also very pleasing esthetically.

Finally, three covers by one of our favorite cover designers ever, an extremely prolific David Drummond. Mr. Drummond is the master of an ingenious idea realized often with minimalist methods, and quite frequently employing paper.

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Paper/page topography.

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Paper lettering.

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Remember we said it would be both minimalist and ingenious?

Obviously, this is only a small selection because paper might be the most versatile material designers get to work with and it allows for all sorts of solutions. Personally, we tend to be most charmed by simple-yet-brilliant ideas executed with a mix of efficiency and lightness, as evidenced above.

Also, traditionally we’re informing you about a 20%+free shipping promo on our Society6 stuff – you’re most welcome to visit our store.