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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: 



Photos © Design Observer


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.


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


Turn Your iPhone Photo Into A Polaroid With The Impossible Project

Turn Your iPhone Photo Into A Polaroid With The Impossible Project

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




"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





The Paradigm-Shifting Topic of 3D Printing

The Paradigm-Shifting Topic of 3D Printing


"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, 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

Food Packaging Meets Literature at Chipotle

Food Packaging Meets Literature at Chipotle



"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.”


"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."


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


See America - Vintage Style Travel Posters

See America - Vintage Style Travel Posters


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

Reykjavík Letterpress

Reykjavík Letterpress


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"Hildur Sigurðardóttir and Ólöf Birna Garðarsdóttir founded their studio in 2010 after the financial crisis has given them a bit more time. They decided to move away from the established means of graphic design to rather specialize in one of the oldest forms of printing.

As the only traditional letterpress printers in Iceland, they established their own line of products with all kinds of wonderful goods like business cards, hangtags, notebooks, greeting cards, invitations – always with a fun twist."

Photography by Marlen Mueller | Video & Words by Sylvie Weber

Source: Ignant

WORK IN PROGRESS Reykjavík Letterpress from iGNANT on Vimeo.

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Is Microscopic Printing in Our Future?

Is Microscopic Printing in Our Future?


"According to the folks at Guinness World Records, National Geographic Kids just created the world's smallest magazine cover. It measures 11 by 14 micrometers, roughly the size of a red blood cell—so small that 2,000 of the covers could fit on a grain of salt.

The cover was etched into plastic using an IBM silicon chisel with a tip that's 100,000 times smaller than the point of a pencil. The image, chosen by readers, shows twin pandas. Aww!

Obviously this microscoping approach to printing isn't going to do much to increase readership. The technology is actually expected to be used for applications like security tagging of passports and artwork."

Source: AdWeek

Books We Love - Out of the Blue: The Essence and Ambition of Finnish Design

Books We Love - Out of the Blue: The Essence and Ambition of Finnish Design



"Finland is a country of stark contrasts between nature and high-tech, tradition and unpredictability. It is known for its impressive school system and breathtaking lakes and forests, but also for its love of sauna taking, air guitar playing, and lots of coffee drinking. Its culture and a strong craft tradition have brought up some of the world’s most impressive designs, designers, and design-related brands."


"Out of the Blue showcases Finland’s unique design culture from legendary figures like Alvar Aalto and heritage manufacturers such as Marimekko, Iittala, Artek, or Nokia to a new contemporary generation of chefs, explorers, makers, and entrepreneurs. The book takes an insightful and entertaining look at the typical Finnish characteristics of inventiveness, community spirit, love of liberty, ongoing transformation, and the free rein to be wacky."

Check out the book here on the Gestalten website.







A 50-cent Folding Paper Microscope

A 50-cent Folding Paper Microscope


Check out this TED Talk featuring Manu Prakash discussing his paper microscope and some of the possibilities this opens up!

"Perhaps you’ve punched out a paper doll or folded an origami swan? TED Fellow Manu Prakash and his team have created a microscope made of paper that's just as easy to fold and use. A sparkling demo that shows how this invention could revolutionize healthcare in developing countries … and turn almost anything into a fun, hands-on science experiment."

Books We Love - Designing News: Changing the World of Editorial Design and Information Graphics

Books We Love - Designing News: Changing the World of Editorial Design and Information Graphics




"In Designing News, award-winning editorial and infographics designer Francesco Franchi conveys his vision for the future of the news and media industries. He evaluates the fundamental changes that are taking place in our digital age in terms of consumer expectations and the way media is being used. The book then outlines the challenges that result and proposes strategies for traditional publishing houses, broadcasting companies, journalists, and designers to address them.

Designing News explores how today’s media outlets can become credible, cross-platform news brands. Franchi advocates redefining reporting as telling a continuous narrative across a broad range of traditional and digital media. To this end, he proposes a new, integrated role for editorial designers in advancing the evolution of media for the future.

Franchi’s findings in Designing News are based on his own work for Il Sole 24 ORE as well as case studies by top media insiders including Bloomberg Businessweek’s Richard Turley, Thomson Reuters’s Daniele Codega, the New York Times’s Steve Duenes, the Times’s Matt Curtis, and type designer Christian Schwartz."

(Source: Gestalten)

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Making Bespoke Books Beautifully

Making Bespoke Books Beautifully



"Bespoke. The word conjures images of fine quality, handcrafted items. Artisan Books fit this description; they make beautiful books."



"Artisan Books offers bespoke books to a wide audience. The service is targeted to creative professionals and artists, as well as anyone who wants ‘superior limited edition books at an affordable cost’."


"Owned and managed by Francis Atterbury and Jo Hilton, Artisan Books are handmade in London using traditional book binding techniques combined with the most advanced digital printing technologies available today."


"Francis explains that Artisan Books was inspired by his own experience producing a print-on-demand book, based on his father’s memoirs. The pictures were assembled, the pitfalls and traps inherent in trying to make something as complex as a book were avoided but, while the printing was satisfactory, the binding and ‘feel’ of the book was so bad, it was genuinely shocking. “I hadn’t been sent a book” he says, “I’d been sent some sheets of paper glued between some overweight boards; it won’t open easily, looks disgusting and in a few years it’ll be in pieces. To me that’s not a book, that’s an over-specified memo”."


"Located just outside of London, England, Artisan Books is a subsidiary of Hurtwood Press, the company established in 1978 by Rowley Atterbury and internationally regarded for their expertise in print production. Current Partners Francis Atterbury and Jo Hilton have more than thirty years experience of book production and high quality printing, as well as extensive experience in letterpress and litho printing. Hurtwood Press books are often fine art books and photography collections, but they have also produced exhibition catalogues and special edition books for publishers and clients."


"The late Rowley Atterbury was the founder of Westerham Press and a contemporary and friend of Rocky Stinehour and Harold Hugo at Meriden Gravure and the Stinehour Press. Rowley pioneering the use of computers in printing, which culminated in the world’s first bible typeset by computer in 1965. Francis continues to share how first Westerham Press, and now Hurtwood Press, have used technology to improve printing standards. This heritage informs the approach of Artisan Books, combining traditional book binding processes and ultra modern printing technology – not to make objects that are easy for machines to make, but rather to make objects that people will love to hold."


"Artisan Books have been selected by several high profile customers, including Sir Paul McCartney, for whom Artisan Books created a one-of-a-kind collection of Tour books, which included two years worth of extensive tour photography enclosed in a beautiful, double slipcase."


"Each Artisan Book is made with premium Mohawk Superfine paper as its foundation. “It was a simple decision. I’ve used Mohawk Superfine for 20 years, and quite simply, there is not a better paper for digital printing than Mohawk Superfine” said Francis Atterbury of the archival quality paper that does not fade or discolor over time."


"“When you are only making a few books with little or no waste, there is no reason to compromise the beauty of the object”, says Francis Atterbury. The books make use of large format sheets of Mohawk Superfine Digital with i-Tone and are printed on the HP Indigo 10000.

Artisan Books were early adopters of the digital print process, which makes individual books an affordable venture for customers. Nine vibrant colored cloths are available for the binding, or artists can choose their own, unique shade. All books have color matched end papers as well as head & tail bands."


"Everyone should have access to unique, handmade, lasting books and  Artisan Books is extending a limited-time, special discount offer to readers of Felt & Wire.

To make your own custom book:  mention “brands who love Mohawk” and receive a 10% discount andfree shipping, for orders placed by March 31. Contact Francis at to make a book that really will live forever."


Thanks to Mohawk Connects for this great feature story!


Printable Keyboard That Functions Like A Regular Keyboard

Printable Keyboard That Functions Like A Regular Keyboard


Cambridge-based creative development firm Novalia has created a functional keyboard that can be printed onto a sheet of paper.

Unveiled at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the keyboard is printed onto standard photo paper with conductive ink via Bluetooth. It works by employing captive touch technology that does not require special machinery, using standard print processes like screen printing, flexography and offset lithography. The use of inexpensive materials helps to keep costs low, and the team hopes to price it at an extremely affordable price of $10.

The keyboard weighs only 30g and follows the traditional QWERTY layout, and the makers claim it can be printed as thin as 0.005mm and still work at the same pace as a normal keyboard.

With its low production cost and efficiency prowess, the keyboard is definitely an intriguing and innovative product. Would you use such a keyboard?

Source: Design Taxi




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Working Inside a Printing Press - Chicago 1942

Working Inside a Printing Press - Chicago 1942



Working inside a printing press at RR Donnely and Sons, printers of the Montgomery Ward Catalog, 1942, Chicago. Torkel Korling.

We love this old photo of men working inside a printing press from 1942. Thanks to Calumet 412 for the photo!