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No. 162: Early Designs from Paul Sahre‘s New Memoir, Elephant Mag Gets an Elephant-inspired Rebrand + More

Hello, and welcome to this week’s Design Diary, a collection of five fab projects from across the world that have impressed us this week. 

For more creative gems along these lines (and so many others) follow along all day, every day on Instagram @AIGAeyeondesignFacebook, and Twitter @AIGAeyeondesign.

Poetic Computation, by Taeyoon Choi

Poetically designed, by New York studio HAWRAF

Artist and teacher Taeyoon Choi is one of the founders of the School for Poetic Computation in New York, which has since 2013 been offering programs that explore the “creative and expressive nature of computational approaches to art and design,” courtesy of an impressive rotating faculty. With that pedigree in mind, you may not be surprised that Choi’s new book of the same nature, Poetic Computationis not your typical hardcover release. Designed by New York studio HAWRAF, the digital book not only takes readers through the basics of “poetic computation” with a collection of Choi’s writings and lectures, it also demonstrates the content through the book’s inventive form itself.

Poetic Computation reimagines what we typically think of as an e-book, creating an “accessible reading platform that allows users to engage through various inputs—from adjusting type size to listening via text-to-speech API, or even pulling down blinders to read through a ‘focus mode,’” as the designers put it. It’s the kind of thing that’s best explained by experiencing it; scroll through the book yourself, and tell us your reading experience doesn’t feel poetic.

Elephant Magazine rebrand, by Kellenberger-White

And a new issue, with a cover by photographer Eva O’Leary

Since 2009, London-based Elephant magazine has sought to capture the “the sensual pleasure of art” through a print magazine as rich in research-driven art journalism as it is in striking design. This week, in conjunction with its 32nd issue, the magazine has launched a rebrand, both in print and with a brand new site. The designers of Kellenberger-White conceived of the rebrand—which includes a new logo, page design, and paper stock—after a day spent watching how the elephants at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire “move, how they behave together, how they use the trunk as a tool.” Then, with elephant as inspiration, the designers returned to their studio to experiment in creating letterforms by skirting water on the ground.

“After a few days of experimenting and elephant-infused acting, we’d found our direction.”


Issue 32 debuts the sleek and playful new direction, along with the “crunchily cutting-edge typeface Agipo,” for the wordmark, designed by Radim Peško. An arresting cover by photographer Eva O’Leary—as well as features on the hyper-capitalist images of Kate Cooper, and Jo Longhurst’s photographic explorations of cultural ideas of perfection—backs up the new identity with the kinds of interesting and engaging work for which the magazine is known.


Fells Point Corner Theater posters, by Paul Sahre

The designer’s first professional project makes an appearance in his new memoir

Last week designer Paul Sahre published a book called Two-Dimensional Man: A Graphic Memoir, and just as its subtitle suggests, it’s not the typical monograph you’ve come to expect from designers of a certain ilk. While the book does detail several of Sahre’s better known projects—book designs for the likes of Chuck Klosterman and Clarice Lispector, album designs for They Might Be Giants—it is very much a memoir, beginning in the early days of childhood and taking us through to present day. Sahre’s writing is funny and poignant, with a dose of wit and playfulness that will feel familiar to anyone who follows the work that comes out of the Office of Paul Sahre (OOPS).

Yet as Paula Scher pointed out at the book launch last week (put on by AIGA/NY), the images and design work that pepper the book have as much a hand in telling the story as the text. The visuals that illuminate Sahre’s start in graphic design are the posters that Sahre designed pro-bono for Baltimore’s Fells Point Corner Theater. Visually arresting and strong in concept, the theater posters are a rare look into some of Sahre’s earliest work for a non-paying client that allowed for ultimate freedom of expression and experimentation. Uncelebrated as they are, the posters made their mark; Scher remembers them vividly from when Sahre arrived in New York from Baltimore in the 90s, looking for a job and meeting with all of the big design offices, portfolio in hand.


Otl Aicher's Isny, by dn&co

The late Modernist designer's little-known identity for a small German town

German graphic designer and typographer Otl Aicher is best remembered for creating the visual identity for the 1972 Munich Olympics. But it’s his 1981 identity for the small town of Isny in Southern Germany that is the subject of a new book and exhibition by the London-based design consultancy dn&co. Aicher’s identity uses bold lines and spare, abstract illustration to distill an iconography of life in Isny—from the wildlife to the architecture to the food and pints of beer. And although it was not well-received when it launched—the alpine town was expecting more of a “blue skies and blonde waitresses” vibe, as reported by Dezeen—the stark, reductive, and striking style has certainly endured the test of time.


Mister-e Car Wash, by Oliver Elliot

An experimental comic explores the magic of the car wash

Who doesn’t remember the thrill of the car wash as a kid: the spinning machines, soapy haze, and industrial-size blowers strong enough to rock an entire vehicle. For illustrator, animator, and designer Oliver Elliot, the car wash holds a particular significance, what with his interest in finding visual surrealism and delight in everyday, banal experiences. He describes his comic Mister-e Car Wash as a “sort of ‘choose your own’ come ‘Where’s Wally [Waldo]’ hybrid,” set in a car wash, in which the entire narrative is framed by a car window.

Elliot created his comic as a Risograph book with a clear coil binding, which comes with its own stickers and branded pencil. It’s available to order via a website, where Elliot has animated many of the comic’s visual elements and characters (it’s oddly hypnotic). As he explains, the comic was inspired by photographer Raghubir Singh’s A Way into India, a series of photographs documenting India through the windows of the popular Ambassador car, “dividing the content up via wing mirrors and windows; making the visual delight of India easier to absorb.”


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