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50 Books / 50 Covers

Every year since 1923, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, a.k.a. AIGA, has held the 50 Books/50 Covers competition in the United States. 

Thoughtfulness is not only put in to the design, but also how the books are produced. Michael Carabetta, who was a judge in this year’s competition, mentioned the books chosen excelled “not only in design—[but] in production; in paper, mixing coated and uncoated… People are getting into the real, physical qualities of the book.”

Here are a few of our favorites: 

BOOKS / 

COVERS / 

 
Photos © Design Observer

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Books We Love: Bibliotheca - Bible Redesign For Easier Reading

We love this collection of books that contain a redesigned version of The Bible which allows for easier reading. The books are still available on Kickstarter.

"The Bible is sometimes called the greatest story ever told. Its typography, on the other hand, leaves much to be desired. Unlike the layout of novels, the layout of the Old and New Testament discourages reading the book from front to back. Normally printed as a single, 2,000-odd page volume with microscopic, two-columned text, the Bible's typography is designed with reference, not readability, in mind. No wonder that while 73% of Americans say they are Christian, only one in five Americans will cop to actually reading the Bible on a regular basis.

A new Kickstarter project by Santa Cruz typographer Adam Lewis Greene is hoping to improve Biblical literacy. Called the Bibliotheca, the project is a new printing of the Old and New Testaments that is designed to be read from cover to cover. Greene's goal is to put readability first.

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The idea behind Bibliotheca is simple: What if we printed the Bible as if it were just another long book? Instead of trying to cram the 726,000 words of the New International Version of the Bible into a single volume, Bibliotheca splits it up into four attractive hardcover volumes, two each for the Old and New Testament. This is designed to make the typographical layout roomier and more psychologically approachable. Couple that with the adoption of a larger, custom sans serif font, line lengths optimized for readability, and the abandoning of verse numbers, and you have a Bible that wants to be read like a short story collection-- even if its page-to-text proportions are based on the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant (and they are!).

It might seem like a relatively strange way to present the Bible, but as Greene points out, the verse and chapter numbers we associate with the Bible as reference points are actually relatively recent additions, having first been introduced in the Medieval era. He also argues that the Bible was originally meant to be experienced, not as a spiritual encyclopedia, but as literature.

"Today, our contemporary bibles are ubiquitously dense, numerical, and encyclopedic in format; very different from how we experience other classic and foundational literature, and completely foreign to how the original authors conceived of their work," Greene writes."

Sources: Fast Co Design and Bibliotheca

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June 16th is Bloomsday!

June 16th is Bloomsday!

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"To James Joyce fans, June 16 is Bloomsday, the day that Leopold Bloom walks around Dublin for the 732 pages of "Ulysses." The modernist classic, though a difficult read, has generated a multinational public display of literary enthusiasm -- perhaps because it's concentrated in just one day.

Joyce couldn't have imagined when working on the book that thousands of people would flock to Sweny’s Pharmacy to buy lemon soap, as Bloom does in the novel. That's just one of the stops in Dublin that Joyce fans will be making on Monday, where people don period costume, do public readings, and fill the pubs in his honor.

In Los Angeles, Bloomsday celebrants can gather at the Hammer, which celebrates Bloomsday this year with actors reading some of the book's densest and dirtiest parts. The reading, which begins at 7:30 p.m., is  bracketed by live music, Guinness and Irish food in the courtyard. The event is free; parking is $3.

The profane parts of "Ulysses," of course, made it the subject of a landmark American obscenity case. That trial, and the publishing, creative and censoring actions that led up to it, are the focus of "The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's 'Ulysses'" by Kevin Birmingham, being published by the Penguin Press on Bloomsday itself. Birmingham describes his lively literary history as a "biography of 'Ulysses'" that "revisits a time when novelists tested the limits of the law and when novels were dangerous enough to be burned."

Joyce has fans in many professions, including computer programming, who create new technological twists on his work. This year it's an app called He Liked Thick Word Soup. Sentences from "Ulysses" appear in a visual snarl that you must pull apart and reassemble with your fingers. "By the end of your odyssey, you will have read up to four pages and 100 sentences chosen from throughout the novel, the creators promise, adding, "Your fingers' dexterity will have increased by an exponential factor, and your point of view on Modernist literature and experimental apps will have changed forever."

Worldwide Bloomsday events include a literary pub crawl in Brooklyn; public readings in Brazil, Australia and Italy; an exhibition in the Netherlands; a daylong program in Shanghai that moves from location to location, as if Shanghai were Dublin; drinks at Madrid's James Joyce Irish Pub; and Lucy Lawless (a.k.a. Xena, the Warrior Princess) performing in a Bloomsday cabaret in Auckland, New Zealand."

Thanks to LA Times and @paperhaus for the article!

Turn Your iPhone Photo Into A Polaroid With The Impossible Project

Turn Your iPhone Photo Into A Polaroid With The Impossible Project

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Turn Any iPhone Photo into a Polaroid with the Impossible Instant Lab polaroid iPhone device cameras
Turn Any iPhone Photo into a Polaroid with the Impossible Instant Lab polaroid iPhone device cameras
Turn Any iPhone Photo into a Polaroid with the Impossible Instant Lab polaroid iPhone device cameras

"After a wildly successful Kickstarter last year, the Impossible Project have finally made their handy iPhone polaroid printer, The Impossible Instant Lab, available to the general public. The portable lab allows you to turn any photograph on your iPhone or iPod Touch into a bonafide polaroid print in just moments, harkening back to ye olden days when photos were regarded more as physical artifacts that could be shared in real life."

Source: This is Colossal

Books We Love: Gestalten - The Outsiders

Books We Love: Gestalten - The Outsiders

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"The book captures the refreshing and evolving ethos of today’s smartly successful outdoor and lifestyle entrepreneurs and features interviews with key players from across the outdoor sector. Catering to modern globetrotters, these innovators are rethinking the ways in which the fundamental challenges posed by the wilderness meet the aesthetic needs of design-literate adventurers. The results are often radical, but always likeable with the occasional romantic or ironic wink."

Source: Gestalten

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Paper Art: Cut Paper Correspondence by Annie Vought

Paper Art: Cut Paper Correspondence by Annie Vought

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New Cut Paper Correspondence by Annie Vought paper
New Cut Paper Correspondence by Annie Vought paper
New Cut Paper Correspondence by Annie Vought paper
New Cut Paper Correspondence by Annie Vought paper

Oakland-based artist Annie Vought has completed several new structural paper works created by carefully cutting handwritten text out of large sheets of paper. Of her work Vought says:

The handwriting and the lines support the structure of the cut paper, keeping it strong and sculptural, despite its apparent fragility. In these paper cutouts, I focus on the text, structure, and emotion of the letter in an elaborate investigation into the properties of writing and expression. Penmanship, word choice, and spelling all contribute to possible narratives about who that person is and what they are like. my recreating the letters is an extended concentration on peoples’ inner lives and the ways they express their thoughts through writing.

You can learn much more about these new works over on designboom and in her recent interview over on In the Make. Vought currently has work at a recently extended group show titled In Other Words at Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco.

Source: This is Colossal

The Paradigm-Shifting Topic of 3D Printing

The Paradigm-Shifting Topic of 3D Printing

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"Let's face it—the golden age of 3D printing has now begun. In all likelihood, this development represents the largest technical upheaval in manufacturing since the invention of the lathe. Sharing a love of technology and experimentation, young designers like Claire Warnier and Dries Verbruggen of Belgian design studio Unfold continue to expand the possibilities of 3D printing and digital production. Recently, the duo transferred their ideas into Printing Things, a new book by Gestalten that presents the newest technologies and outstanding projects, testifying the paradigm-shifting topic of 3D printing.

In this video, Gestalten.tv meet with Warnier and Verbruggen to catch a glimpse into the 3D printing world and its background of what some have hailed as the third industrial revolution."

Source: Gestalten

Books We Love: The Drinkable Book

Books We Love: The Drinkable Book

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"A team of scientists and engineers from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Virginia have developed ‘The Drinkable Book’, a life saving tool that filters water and teaches proper sanitation and hygiene to those in the developing world. Designed by New York-based typographer Brian Gartside for non-profit organization waterislife, each book is printed on technologically advanced filter paper capable of eliminating deadly waterborne diseases, as it is coated with silver nanoparticles, whose ions actively kill diseases like cholera, typhoid and E.coli.

Once liquid is passed through the filter, bacteria count is reduced by over 99.99%, cleaning the water to a quality comparable to standards in north america. the pages cost only pennies to produce; each sheet from ‘the drinkable book’ is capable of giving someone in need up to 30 days worth of clean water, and features a paper supply that filters up-to 5000 liters."

this drinkable book cleans and purifies water with advanced filtering paper
this drinkable book cleans and purifies water with advanced filtering paper

step 1: tear out one of the pre-perforated sheets. each one will filter 100 liters of water

this drinkable book cleans and purifies water with advanced filtering paper

step 2: place the page in the slot, located in the base of the custom filter-box

this drinkable book cleans and purifies water with advanced filtering paper

step 3: replace the pressure plate, and pour water through; what collects in the lower reservoir is safe to drink

this drinkable book cleans and purifies water with advanced filtering paper
this drinkable book cleans and purifies water with advanced filtering paper
this drinkable book cleans and purifies water with advanced filtering paper
this drinkable book cleans and purifies water with advanced filtering paper

The sheets cost only pennies to produce.

Source: Design Boom

Paper Art: Bovey Lee

Paper Art: Bovey Lee

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"Power, sacrifice, and survival are the underlying narratives in Bovey Lee´s cut paper works. Within the parameters of these three subjects, he creates layered and dramatic stories referencing his life experiences, response to headline news, and concerns for urban and environmental issues. He hand cuts each work on Chinese rice paper with silk backing. He defines what he does as drawing with a knife. His life long love affair with art begins with practicing Chinese calligraphy and pencil drawing since age ten. When he cuts paper, it is a visceral reaction and natural response to his affection for precision, detail, and subtlety."

Source: Ignant

Magical Clouds in Empty Rooms

Magical Clouds in Empty Rooms

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"Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde is best known for his fantastical Nimbus series, in which individual clouds appear to magically float in empty rooms. The haunting images portray the airy nimbuses drifting through gorgeous Rococo rooms, Gothic cathedrals, and abandoned factories, evoking a sense of mysticism or supernatural presence.

Carefully controlling the temperature and humidity in a room, Smilde uses a fog machine to produce the ethereal clouds that remain suspended in the air for only a fleeting moment. Although the nimbuses are visible for just a few seconds, their ephemeral existences are made permanent through photography. These works center on an impermanent state of being between construction and deconstruction, as the dreamy clouds appear and vanish in the blink of an eye.

Smilde's latest exhibition Antipode will be on display at the Ronchini Gallery in London until June 14. The show will feature the artist's stunning multidisciplinary works that synthesize photography, installation, performance, and sculpture. The exhibition title Antipode is a geographical term that refers to parts of the earth diametrically opposite each other, echoing Smilde's focus on duality in his artwork."

Source: My Modern Met

Food Packaging Meets Literature at Chipotle

Food Packaging Meets Literature at Chipotle

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"Chipotle will be rolling out a new line of oddly literary packaging--bags and cups printed with new writing both from authors you might find in the New Yorker as well as comedians like Sarah Silverman.

The project was the brainchild of author Jonathan Safran Foer, who happened to eat lunch in a Chipotle restaurant one day by himself, and started wishing he had something to read. He knew people at the company--who'd reached out after Foer wrote Eating Animals, a book about factory farming--and decided to suggest his idea: What if Chipotle’s packaging was more like a book or a magazine?

“That’s how it started--it wasn’t actually our idea,” says Mark Crumpacker, the company’s chief marketing officer. “It was really because Jonathan was bored one day at Chiptole.”

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"Each story is very short, limited not by the amount of time someone might have to read during lunch but by the physical space on a package. “There’s only so much you can fit on a cup,” Crumpacker says.

The results were sort of brilliant, and each completely different. From Foer, there’s a "Two-Minute Personality Test" that asks random questions: “Is it any way cruel to give a dog a name? Is your fear of insomnia stronger than your fear of what awoke you? Why does it bother you when someone at the next table is having a conversation on a cell phone?”

Steven Pinker, the psychologist, writes about how the world is getting better--fewer wars, less violence, more democracy, more health--in a two-minute case for optimism. "We will never have a perfect world, but it’s not romantic or naive to work toward a better one," he writes."

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These might not be the thoughts that people typically entertain in a fast food restaurant, and that's the point. "We’ve never used our packaging in the traditional sense that fast food uses them, to promote things like Coca-Cola," Crumpacker says. "This takes people out of their daily routine a little bit, maybe gets them to think about their world in a different way."

Instead of limiting the topics to food or sustainability, both themes the company has focused on in the past, and ultimately decided to let authors write about whatever they wanted. "They’re going to be limited enough by the format such that we didn’t need to further limit them by the subject matter. And so they came up with some strikingly different things," Crumpacker says.

If customers like the new packaging, the company plans to roll out another lineup of writing soon. The soda cup may be the next literary form.

Source: Fast Company

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1692 Guide to Paint and Color: 271 Years Before Pantone

1692 Guide to Paint and Color: 271 Years Before Pantone

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271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books
271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books
271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books
271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books
271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books

"In 1692 an artist known only as “A. Boogert” sat down to write a book in Dutch about mixing watercolors. Not only would he begin the book with a bit about the use of color in painting, but would go on to explain how to create certain hues and change the tone by adding one, two, or three parts of water. The premise sounds simple enough, but the final product is almost unfathomable in its detail and scope.

Spanning nearly 800 completely handwritten (and painted) pages, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, was probably the most comprehensive guide to paint and color of its time. According to Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel who translated part of the introduction, the color book was intended as an educational guide. The irony being there was only a single copy that was probably seen by very few eyes.

It’s hard not to compare the hundreds of pages of color to its contemporary equivalent, the Pantone Color Guide, which wouldn’t be published for the first time until 1963.

The entire book is viewable in high resolution here. The book is currently kept at the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France."

Source: Colossal

See America - Vintage Style Travel Posters

See America - Vintage Style Travel Posters

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US Travel Posters by Steven Thomas for Print Collection

"Print Collection is a company that produces museum-style quality prints for your home. With summer just around the bend, they’ve released a special collection fittingly named, See America.'

US Travel Posters by Steven Thomas for Print Collection in art  Category

"See America is a collection of 10 vintage-style CPA travel posters by Steven Thomas that will inspire you to travel across the country. They’re also a great way to vicariously travel and see those famous US sites if you don’t have time to squeeze in a cross-country road trip this year."

US Travel Posters by Steven Thomas for Print Collection in art  CategoryUS Travel Posters by Steven Thomas for Print Collection in art  Category

Source: Design Milk

US Travel Posters by Steven Thomas for Print Collection in art  CategoryUS Travel Posters by Steven Thomas for Print Collection in art  CategoryUS Travel Posters by Steven Thomas for Print Collection in art  CategoryUS Travel Posters by Steven Thomas for Print Collection in art  CategoryUS Travel Posters by Steven Thomas for Print Collection in art  CategoryUS Travel Posters by Steven Thomas for Print Collection in art  Category