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It’s this season again! The season to talk about seasons. Last year we showed you the amazing book by Blexbolex, this year a different one, but just as much of a treat: My Four Seasons by one of the most recognizable and recognized Polish illustrators, Dawid Ryski.

The book can serve as a season primer, telling a story of a five-person family (the fifth person being the dog) and how they experience all the seasons of the year. It’s told through simple yet lavish illustrations in Dawid Ryski’s characteristic style, which includes masterful simplification that does not eliminate detail and beautiful color palettes. We especially appreciate the ability to make all the seasons seem appealing because, let’s face it, they’re not all created equal. Don’t even try to convince us they are. But at least they all fuel gorgeous illustrations!

As you can see, there are so many things to love about this book: how all the environments, while different, are consistent when it comes to colors and the level of details, how there’s something fun to do in every season and the sweet, idyllic picture of a family life.

With the pandemic limiting access to art events, we have recently learnt of a fantastic one, and held in the open so it’s virus-free. It is a part of a women art festival and this particular outdoor installation has been created by our friend, Anita Wasik. After childbirth she took up embroidery and developed it now into a project integrated into a beautiful green area in Gdynia.

The installation is called Genesis and consists of 12 embroidered objects the author half-jokingly calls “pussies” that have been installed into 12 tree hollows. You can walk around the park and find them, on purpose or by accident. We love this project for two quite different reasons. One is that it looks fantastic. And also shows mad embroidering skills. The other one is more political: it feels like in some environments anything relating to either women or nature these days is, if not downright dismissed or met with hostility, at least considered a lesser subject. So art which manages to combine these subjects, potentially opening a door for an interesting discussion about the relationship between the feminine and the natural, but without being obvious and ugly, as political art often is, get our highest marks. Also, we love trees and tree hollows, so this endears the project to us even more.

If you happen to be in Gdynia this summer make sure to check out Genesis.

(All photos courtesy of the author.)

As Santa was generous with our book gifts this year, we are happy to share the first one: a monograph on Stockholm Design Lab, a studio from, you guessed it, Stockholm, who we’ve been admiring for a while. Their truly impressive portfolio of work includes nothing less than the identity for the Nobel Prize.

The book is also impressive in its own right: solid, hefty, generous with white space, leaving you a lot of air to admire the designs. It is not afraid to spend an entire spread on a single blown-out image and it even uses hotstamping inside the book. Yes, inside. SDL’s designs are characterized by a certain austerity, minimalism and focus on ideas that is sometimes hard to pull off in client work and that makes it all the more impressive that these designs came into existence.

A case of the beautiful golden hotstamping inside. There are more.

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We did flake a little at the beginning of the year (sorry!) but December exhausted us completely. We’re back! We’re back with another lovely book, this time by Isabella Bunnel. The book is called Disappearing Acts and it shows endagered animals of different habitats in lovely, painted search-and-find spreads.

Each spread has a unique color scheme, a richness of details and patterns and a sad message: among the variety of well-painted animals from a different terrain, the reader is asked to find some which are literally disappearing.

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Further pages describe the animals and explain the reasons for their endangered status (spoiler alert: it’s mostly environmental damage and loss of habitats).

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The activity part is easy – our four-year-old found all the animals fast – but the lovely, detailed illustrations still invite careful study. The book is educational, too, with an important message. It manages to match the kind of activity to the theme well (the animals are difficult to find because they are fewer and fewer – makes sense). And, most of all, the painting style is so charming and confident.

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Another trip to the library brought us (and J) another lovely book by Britta Teckentrup. (The previous one is here.) This time we returned with Tree, which tells the story of seasons through a tree in a forest and the animals that live within or near it. The book has a poem commenting on the seasonal changes but it’s really the illustrated part that grabs your attention. It has lovely depictions of animals in their yearly cycle (foxes are, unsurprisingly, our favorites) and a generous use of die-cuts, which make the book more playful. But we are, perhaps, most impressed with the color palettes used for every season (and particularly autumn).

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The owl in its hollow is always in the centre of the tree – and of the book – while the forest around it changes. (Below the minimalist, and lovely, endpaper.)

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Winter snowy mystery (wonder if we’re going to get it this year).

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Spring lushness (our personal favorite real-life season).

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Summer night with its richness of life.

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The beautiful autumn.

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And here we go again.

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As we enter the season of the year that we tend to unreasonably grumble about (it’s cold and it’s gray, guys), this reminder of the beauty of every season comes as very welcome.

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And now for something a little different. While we usually show you modern books for their beautiful illustrations and design, sometimes we want to spend time on gorgeous classics (the more so now that we’ve embarked on the humongous job of cleaning up the basement with all the books stored there).

We’re starting with a book not from our collection but borrowed from our friends, Z&A, specifically so that we can document the illustrations. The book is called Everyday Politeness and is a 1970s collection of advice on good manners and polite behavior. Each chapter is illustrated by Jerzy Flisak, a master of Polish design and illustration. While history of Polish design abounds in great talent, Flisak has always held a special place in our heart. He is the one illustrator we remember by name from beloved childhood books and, in a way, he’s one of the people who made us more interested in drawing.

Flisak used clear, light line in his mostly black and white illustrations and his works prove a great sense of humor.

Title page (messy typography is typical for the period).

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Chapter on dancing.

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The beginning of the chapter “On Holidays.”

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Chapter on smoking (the sentiment here is close to our hearts).

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Chapter on romance.

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“In the Theater”

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“Celebrations”

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That basement we mentioned is full of other Flisak-illustrated books so if you like what you see, be sure to stay tuned for other old-school gems.

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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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