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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.

 

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As you may or may not remember, we are big fans of the illustrator Emilia Dziubak and her detailed, colored style, which plays with flat design but goes far beyond it. But her book that we’re sharing with you today, Rok w lesie (A Year in the Woods) is even more than we would have any right to expect. It combines pretty much everything that we love in children’s illustration: details, narration, humor and forest animals.

Each spread of the book shows the same woodland scene with the same animals doing things appropriate for every month. You can see not only the changes in the weather and plants but, most importantly, the different activities in which animals are involved. A huge level of detail means that one can return to the book many, many times, each time finding something new and delightful. The things animals do combine the educational aspect with a lot of good humor. And being very much woods-loving people who try to go for a walk there at least every two days, we find the depiction of the woods charming.

Except for the names of the months, most of the book is wordless, which makes it accessible to younger children (ones who will be able to follow the details, though). The last spread has a list of various animals with a character quirk for each so that one can look for those in the book. It’s actually quite fun to browse through the book multiple times, each time focusing on just one animal and their story.

Book cover.

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Spread for January, more appropriate now that we’ve got some snow.

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April and December

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The introduction to individual animals.

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And now for some highlights from the lady fox’s story of love and family:

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Featuring the cutest baby foxes.

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And the badger’s story of eating and sleeping.

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Today we’re sharing a classic from our library, Saul Bass’s Henri’s Walk to Paris. You probably know Saul Bass from either his logo designs, movie posters or his iconic title sequences he created with his wife, Elaine. Those sequences remain a lasting legacy and have been revered, pastiched and parodied. As can be expected, we’re huge fans of  Bass and of his bon mot “Design is thinking made visual.” It sure should be.

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The book we’re showing today is a slightly less known work: Bass’s only children’s book. Bass’s illustration style, well-known from his posters, is quite recognizable with its vivid, flat colors and cutout shapes. This style is also quite remarkable for how it seems to anticipate the prevalent style of today’s vector illustrations with their, you guessed it, flat colors and geometric shapes.

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But Henri’s Walk is truly a designer’s work, rather than just an illustrator’s (lovely as the illustrations are). It makes a smart use of page layout and typography in a way which is intriguing and playful (see e.g. the ingenious ideas on how not to show the characters’ faces to make the story more general). Both images and the text itself tells a story that delights and makes you wonder. And, of course, the colors are simply gorgeous.

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Henri’s little house in his little town. The town of Reboul seems lovely.

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The park with five trees and one squirrel.

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Most of the people of Reboul plus one cow.

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We spent Sunday afternoon in the zoo, where our son was excited to see kangaroos and crocodiles and other animals he’d only seen in his books (or, he was actually excited to see so many other children and mildly interested in all those animals). To keep the theme, today we’re sharing a children’s book To Be Like a Tiger illustrated by Emilia Dziubak.

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The book is told by a tiger who explains all the good things he does for various animals in the jungle: how he sneaks up on them to give them gifts or ask them to dance. It’s fun and light but, most of all, it’s quite delightful visually. The tiger is friendly and playful and the jungle truly luscious, with gorgeous colors and rich mixed-media details.

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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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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.

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.