Visual Arts Library – Periodicals Collections

September 7, 2011

Just a toe in the water — wide ranging selections from Visual Arts Library Picture & Periodicals Collections, an impressive archive of 20th century magazine covers, including the American music magazine Etude, Vanity Fair, Travel (great depth of colour), and from 1905 the austere-looking Youth’s Companion.

I particularly like Movie (edited by Ian Cameron), which was first published in 1962 and helped England to keep up with the more cutting-edge French films, influenced as it was by the French magazine Cahiers du Cinema.

Thanks to Adrian Shaughnessy for drawing attention to this fascinating collection.


Designers on the Ice Floe

July 10, 2011

“We aren’t the first designers of the world. Many have come before us”. Paul Scrivens on the need to look back in order to move forward.

Steven Heller notes that the young, predisposed to “send out the old on metaphoric ice floes” are keen nowadays to tap into an astute sense of craft. Heller cites several exemplars, including Ladislav Sutnar (One of Sutnar’s favorite comments was: “Without efficient typography, the jet plane pilot cannot read his instrument panel fast enough to survive“)

Heller follows this by devoting an article to Ladislav Sutnar, A Father of Web Design, Kept Alive by His Son, talking to Los Angeles architect and city planner Radislav Sutnar about his ongoing efforts to preserve the legacy of his father.

Western Amerykanski: Polish Poster Art and the Western

July 1, 2011

A sequence of twenty-two Polish film posters for American Westerns, curated by Will Schofield at 50 Watts, drawing on the excellent Western Amerykanski: Polish Poster Art & The Western. Thanks to Adrian O’Shaughnessey for unearthing this.

The American Western had a resonance for Polish cinema-goers in the era of Soviet repression. In the hands of Polish artists the film poster became a vehicle for subliminal commentary: Polish sympathies lay with the Indian, not the cowboy. Jerzy Jaworowski’s 1962 poster for the aptly-titled Misfits, brings to mind Picasso’s petrified horse in Guernica.


June 11, 2011

A treasure trove of found images, classic graphics and advertisements. New discoveries are being posted all the time, so designspiration is a useful website to bookmark and return to.

I found this site when I came across a selection of graphics and photomontage from advertisements in Ty i Ja (Me and You illustrated magazine), published in Poland in the 1970s. One link leads to another.

Thanks to Adrian Shaughnessy for bringing Ty i Ja to light.

Why the world needs editors

June 6, 2011

“This is a bad time to be performing a role that is both invisible and unquantifiable.”

A brilliant article by Mandy Brett on why the world needs editors, even if it doesn’t need books.

Thanks to graphic designer W.H. Chong (aka Culture Mulcher) for posting this.

Eyes on the street

May 31, 2011

Three stories of design in urban contexts:

Robert Montgomery is a fine artist working in type, often hijacking public advertising space in cities. His black panels with white letters feed off the back-lighting of ad posters they’ve covered; in his more recent work, solar cells in his sculptures capture sunlight, projecting at night his poetic messages ruminating on the way we live now.

The following quote gives a Cape Town public safety campaign its name:

“If you strike a woman, you strike a rock.”

 — African National Congress Women’s League slogan

Rock Girl aims to reverse the decline in the number of places where South African girls and women can feel safe. It has begun to plant benches in front of shops and other high-visibility areas.

The bench design, by local mosaic artist Lovell Friedman,  makes use of hand and eye motifs as positive signifiers — healing and caution, looking out for each other — and is shaped to allow seating on either side. Thanks are due to Julie Lasky (Design Observer) for drawing attention to this promising initiative.

In 2008 Mark Batty Publisher brought out Urban Iran, by Charlotte Noruzi and Salar Abdoh, a photographic anthology of street art across Iran in all its diversity. It is supplemented by essays that place the art in its cultural context. Thanks to Maria Popova at Brain Pickings for featuring this.


May 11, 2011

Typetoken is a new online magazine that discusses and reviews the world of typography, icons and visual language.

A collaboration between graphic designers Mike Sullivan of Mister and Mark Millic of Modularlab, and web developer David Cole of Mayfield Digital, typetoken features contributions from designers around the globe and aims to be a source of inspiration for those drawn to what’s new in mainstream and experimental typography and iconography.

The first post contains a video interview between dezeen magazine and Wim Crouwel for his UK retrospective exhibition at the Design Museum in London. Another post, Spacing system by Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert shows typesetting guides for the typeface, Transport, used in 1958 for UK road signage. It also has a video interview with Margaret Calvert. See Eye 78, where the late Paul Stiff explores why Kinneir and Calvert’s road signage has stood the test of time.

ebooks: putting the typo into typography

April 25, 2011

Paul Luna reviews Amazon’s UK Kindle advertisement (from The Guardian) and laments the careless typography of some ebook publishers. By linking to the original printed pages he also highlights the valuable work of the typographer, not to mention the copy-editor, proof reader and commissioning editor.

dezeen: from the monthly archives 2

April 17, 2011

From the monthly archives of Dezeen, some of the ways that designers play with time and space:

Clock by Christiaan Postma

Dutch designer Christaan Postma devised more than 150 synchronised clock mechanisms that rotate their own corresponding metal bar in a seemingly scattered arrangement until they fall into alignment on the hour to tell the time. It’s an impressive feat of patience, planning and — forgive the pun — timing. Postma uses up to five bars to construct a character for the numbers ONE to TWELVE. The video demonstrates the process in under two minutes.

ANZAS Dance Studio by Tsutsumi and Associates

This Beijing dance studio is designed by local architects Tsutsumi and Associates. The telescopic depth of the mirrored walls is tempered by an astonishing illusion of fog, created by the addition of graduated white dots, giving a focus to the tigerwood floorspace.

Zenith music hall by Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas

Perceptions change with the time of day in this French music hall by Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas. This building, in Strasbourg, is covered with a translucent textile membrane that looks solid in daylight, but, like a lantern, illuminates its internal structure at night time. It acts as a huge billboard, hosting projections of upcoming events for passers-by.

The Dieline: packaging design

April 8, 2011

A leading showcase on the web for good package design, The Dieline accepts submissions by email, and its first book, Box, Bottle, Bag by Andrew Gibbs was published in 2010.

The site is regularly updated, as in this round up of recent submissions — my favourite is the Tea Stack, for its tea-inspired artwork by Peskimo.

The Dieline also presents some attractive individual examples: a coffee liqueur inspired by Film noir and designed by Oscar Guerrero Cañizares; a package for honey that opens to reveal several die-cut bees, with gold foil detail, packed into the box (designed by Terence Kitching). You’ll also see the outstanding Louise Fili Ltd updating their own original design for Irving Farm Coffee in a Before-and-After shot. It’s always interesting to see what’s kept, modified — or changed utterly!