Also in this week’s Design Diary, our weekly roundup of design news and projects, it’s open season for The Design Kids Awards, a new magazine provides an antidote to aspirational interiors magazines, Carnegie Mellon students do some amazing things with out census data, and the studio School sets up a live cam for studio visits. For more along these lines (and so many others) you can follow along all day, every day on Instagram @AIGAeyeondesign, Facebook, and Twitter @AIGAeyeondesign.
A Better Source
This week saw the launch of A Better Source, an impressive new online resource for designers who want to make their practices more sustainable. The website, founded by Jennifer James Wright of the Austin, Texas design studio Citron, offers a free and public directory for sourcing environmentally-conscious materials—packaging, T-shirts, printing, you name it—for design projects. It also includes reading material on the importance of curbing consumer waste, explainers on the meaning of “circular design,” and the latest in environmental reporting as it relates specifically to waste materials generated through the design process. And as it’s an open source, volunteer-aided project, there’s also a page for submitting resources to the directory and volunteering your time and expertise (current needs: help with sourcing, researching, and fact-checking).
The directory will be updated regularly and will continue to grow (though at this point, it plans to stay U.S.-focused), but even at this initial stage it’s a very helpful resource. While we know that many designers are actively trying to make their processes and their companies more eco-friendly, it’s rare to find a place that brings together sustainable materials and vendors for easy access (Viola Design, it’s worth noting, also does this well). As companies and consumers have become more aware of plastic pollution and the harms of unsustainable packaging, “designers have an opportunity to influence this shift by incorporating sustainability into their practice and recommending more earth minded materials,” Wright says. Hats off to A Better Source for making it easier to do so.
And, not that this is the point, but the branding assets and website design are pretty nice, too—including but not limited to that soaring world ricochetting across the web page.
Typographic Illusions, Hoefler & Co.
It’s been a good week for online design resources: Hoefler & Co. also released a “collection of free tools demonstrating typographic phenomenon” for teachers and students, under the name Typographic Illusions. The idea came out of the episode of the Netflix show Abstract: The Art of Design featuring Jonathan Hoefler, a delightfully nerdy episode that gave insight into the world of typeface designers. As Hoefler writes in a blog post, he and director Brian Oakes conceived of a way to show the mechanics of type design to a general audience, in the form of physical props on a soundstage (rather than computer animation). After the show aired, several people who teach type design mentioned to Hoefler that they’d love to have the lessons featured in the show adapted for use in the classroom, and just a month later, here they are.
The teaching tools in Typographic Illusions, which also includes a supplemental PDF of material, can be printed on transparencies for the classroom, focusing on optical illusion in type design. It’s divided into 10 different lessons (only four of which made it into Abstract in the end, so lots of bonus material) that covers everything from the concept of “overshoot” to balance and contrast.
As Lilly Smith writes in an article about the teaching tools on Fast Company, “Type designers must employ a series of visual tricks that make you think that the letter B is balanced on top and bottom, and that C and T are the same height—even when they aren’t. All this is to say, the letters you read all day are not as they seem. In fact, type design itself is a craft of illusions.” Learn it straight from the master.
Public Works, School
The new studio School got in touch with a nice initiative called Public Works, a platform that broadcasts a new livestream each month showing a “day in the life” of various design studios and creative agencies. School is run by Andrew Herzog and Nicky Tesla, formerly of the studio HAWRAF, which shortly after its launch a few years ago, live streamed its own 26-hour, marathon design session. More to the point, the studio, which also included partners Carly Ayres and Pedro Sanches, was invested in lifting the veil on what it really takes to run a studio, even publishing their business documents (financial statements, revenue breakdown, pricing guidelines) when they amicably closed the studio last Spring. It seems that School is carrying on that ethos with Public Works. “With each monthly broadcast,” the studio says, “viewers will get a look at different studios’/agencies’/ companies’ processes and working environments, and hopefully, glean some second-hand knowledge that’s usually only available to employees and interns.” The first one, with New York-based Architecture firm Food, went live this past Tuesday (November 19) and is now archived on the Public Works site.
Carnegie Mellon student projects with AIGA census data
And for our final piece of open source news this week: Kyuha Shim, a professor at the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has let us know that for the past three years he’s been giving his students the assignment of working with AIGA’s yearly Design Census data to create projects that explore and represent that data in different ways. We’re pretty excited about this, especially since we publish the raw data each year with the explicit hope that designers will dig in deeper and use it for their own means. CMU’s students did just that: the projects, which were created from 2017 to 2019, include online tools that enable users to better explore the data, interactive experiences that use the students’ personal data as material, and data visualization projects that focused on the responses of CMU Design alumni. Excellent work, everyone.
The Design Kids Awards are open
It’s time to apply for The Design Kids Awards if you so please: submissions opened last week and won’t close until January 15, 2020. Per usual, TDK is looking for portfolios of graphic design, typography, illustration, and digital/product design and it’s got a great crop of judges, including Tony Brook of Spin, Irish designer Annie Atkins, Futura’s Daniel Martínez, and much more. We like this competition because it’s free (!) and it gets emerging designers in front of a lot of industry heavyweights, so if you’re just starting out, it’s a good one to consider. Check out the work of last year’s winners and apply.
Scenic Views, Lorena Lohr and Louise Benson
This week also saw us flipping through a lovely little magazine called Scenic Views, created by photographer Lorena Lohr and writer Louise Benson (who, we have to say, is also an excellent photographer, as evidenced by her images of London Zoo in issue #06 of Eye on Design magazine). Positioned as somewhat of an antidote to the luxurious, aspirational tone of mainstream interiors magazines, Scenic Views celebrates the “idiosyncratic and highly personal places that are more frequently ignored.” These include bars, airports, hotel lounges, and cafes (documented by Lohr’s lens), as well as people’s windows as seen from the streets (which are paid homage to in a personal essay by Benson). The magazine also includes an interview with architectural photographer Arnold Kramer and a portfolio of paintings by “the iconic but often maligned” British artist Beryl Cook.