Colorplan Sample Book for G.F. Smith by Made Thought

Curator: Wade Jeffree
date: August 14, 2014
Categories: Brand & Identity Design, Packaging Design, Typography
Tags: logo, paper, printing, Typography

For some time now, paper merchants have been looked upon by designers as an opportunity to produce “print porn."  Yes, most are beautiful things in their own right, but what were they beside a designer's wet dream?

This is where the strength of design studio Made Thought’s rebrand and repositioning of paper manufacturer G.F Smith, and more specifically their new Colorplan paper sample book, is brilliant. Not only does it show a level of restraint not shown in many other sample books, but its core value and offerings are evident in every piece. It's paper, and beautiful paper at that, so why not show the paper for what it is? It's a really strong concept that makes you think “I wish I did that,” executed to the utmost perfection of quality. Made Thought truly nailed this.

The effortlessly simple confidence and beauty of the product itself is always prevalent. All the pieces have minimal printing crafted using techniques that are exceptionally gorgeous. From the business card that uses a very traditional piece of craft called paper marquetry to showcase not one or two, but three styles of Colorplan offering at once, the three papers represent three signature aspects of the range: color, weight and embossing.

The same technique is also used on the sample booklet, which uses simple fold techniques to minimize material waste, and once again, showcase the paper. Minimal printing is used, with only the necessary details. You're clearly informed and understand how the paper will hold a texture and print when needed. The concept is inherent in the product and has been used with craft and high production value to form a real gem for the designer to truly salivate over, whilst having a piece that is useful for the potential specifier.

The transition from something that's inherently physical to the digital world is also somewhat seamless, and the best use I have experienced. You can view and get a gauge for how different stock weights bend and look just by viewing videos on the site. The colors and textures are fully viewable in hi-resolution downloads—I've used many in image mock-ups for client presentation. The production introduction videos are all exquisite.

Being so wrapped up in the paper and online components, I almost overlooked the bespoke typeface for the logo designed by Colophon. It’s subtlety only helps by heightening that the product is key through and through when showcasing their offering.

When a good product is coupled with strong thinking, beauty will take shape. It's obvious with this example. I implore you to get calling or emailing to get your hands on a piece. Below are further examples that incorporate the beauty shown in the above.

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Urs Fischer Mounts an Unexpected Sculpture Exhibition in a Dilapidated Chase Bank Building

Curator: Wade Jeffree
date: August 13, 2014
Categories: Art
Tags: art, exhibition, sculpture

Banks aren't typically places that you look forward to visiting (this is why we can now scan checks on our phone). The bland stillness inside makes you want to get in and out as quickly as possible. But now artist Urs Fischer is using a gutted Chase bank on Delancey Street in New York City (leftover signage hanging feebly from the ceiling and all) as a gallery space. 

The facade is covered with graffiti and looks completely dilapidated, which is actually quite fitting considering the nature of Fischer’s work and the sculptures in the current show.

You might recognize many of the works from his large show at MOCA, entitled "YES," where 1,500 participants created clay sculptures on-site, ranging from cats to crazy monsters. Fischer then selected a batch of these to be cast in bronze. The MOCA show was about the energy that's sustained within the creative process, as well as the fast pace of working with clay. It holds a similar energy drawing or writing in a sketch book. Fischer wanted to capture that feeling and then solidify it, which he does here, too.

These sculptures are spread throughout the bank—literally every corner of the bank is accessible—from the vault to the the tellers’ desks. There are many surprises found in locations not normally accessible to customers. In the vault at the very back of the building, I found a large, body builder torso wearing a baseball cap, aptly named "bro w/ hat.Held atop a squished clay-like cast bronze base, it was both bewildering and confrontational. The scale and placement of the sculpture worked gave me a feeling of discomfort. Even though the security cameras were no longer running, I felt like I was doing something wrong.  

Other pieces included a one-legged boy in an armchair, a gigantic foot, a fireplace, some columns, a bust of Napoleon, a Louis XIV chair, a mermaid (conceived as a functional fountain), a depiction of sleep, a man copulating with a pig, a man and woman embracing, a hat on rocks, a man in a boat, a faceless cat, a pile, a Pièta and a lion in chains. Though constructed in cast bronze, some of which are silver- and gold-plated, they still retain their essence of the decrepit, expressionistic tone in many of Fischers pieces. 

The banal nature of the bank only heightens the surreal representation of these sculptures; their construction and dilapidated nature mirror the dilapidated bank to retain a sense of "banal shittines." As Fischer says, they're a "chaotic little non-family of things," brought together in an unexpected and "convulsive" context, which was key in heightening my experience.

For further reading, I recommend his book, Urs Fischer.

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Noisli: Background Noise and Color Generator for Working and Relaxing

Curator: Wade Jeffree
date: August 12, 2014
Categories: Design in Music, Experience Design, Information Design, Product Design
Tags: apps, productivity, user experience

Noisli is an app and browser-based background-noise generator as well as an ambient color background creator that “brings you the healthy benefits of the chromotherapy.” It allows you to mix and match different kinds of background noise at once. You can listen to rain, wind, water streams, a camp fire and thunder storms, and you can even make it as if you're traveling on a train to a remote client meeting.

The design is as beautifully simple as the concept: to increase productivity and relieve the anxiety of a tight deadline. It's used by coders, programmers, bloggers and writers I know and work with, and they all vouch for its efficacy.

I also use it everyday, especially in those "get shit done"moments. Coupled with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, I find myself instantly more productive. It's also useful when delving into a new book or going to sleep, although I don't use it for this purpose as often as I'd like. The timer is also quite handy, allowing you to set a time to fade out the audio.

Simple concept, executed with the user in mind. Brilliant.

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BIG's Copenhagen Waste-to-Energy Plant Doubles as a Ski Slope

Curator: Wade Jeffree
date: August 11, 2014
Categories: Architecture, Environmental Design, Sustainable Design
Tags: architecture, Copenhagen, Environmental Design, sustainability

BIG is a Copenhagen- and New York-based group of architects, designers, builders and thinkers operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research and development. 

When you first look at this project you think, “Oh, okay, nice.” But once you look closer you say “What. The. Fuck?!”

I love how the idea of a building as mountain is addressed here. Wait—what? Not only is it a an architectural landmark, but it's also a ski slope and a beacon for a more energy-focused future in Copenhagen; it's the cleanest waste-to-energy plant in the world and is located in the heart of downtown Copenhagen. It allows sustainability to be a far more accessible topic of conversation.

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Artist Aakash Nihalani "Skewers" His Subjects with Bold, Graphic Forms

Curator: Jennette Snape
date: August 8, 2014
Categories: Environmental Design, Experience Design, Illustration
Tags: art
New York artist Aakash Nihalani (AA) has been "skewering" his subjects in Brooklyn as part of a new series of work called "Landline." 

Working with bold isometric forms created from bright neon tape, AA transforms outdoor spaces (and often people) into playful installations. 
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