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No. 171: A Celebration of Failure, Designing to Scale, a Cinephile’s Paradise + More

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

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

Praline, The Scale of Things

London-based agency Praline  has just released a delightful little book, The Scale of Things. Written by Mike Fairbrass and Praline founder and creative director David Tanguy, the book explores the concept of scale through smart, bold design and a hell of a lot of bonkers facts. The aim, according to the studio, is to render the unimaginable imaginable. Through clever, witty, and crystal clear illustrations, we can suddenly get our head around the fact that the Sun is 93,000,000 miles from Earth. How? If we use scale, the Sun becomes a grapefruit, the Earth a grain of sand and the distance between the two a London bus—suddenly, it fits in your head,” Praline explains.

Alongside illustrations and neat, sweet sans serif type that boldly sprawls across the pages, the book also uses information graphics to drive the concept forward. The books a joyful, beautiful thing, and one with serious messages about economics, politics, geography, technology, power, and consumption underneath it all. And where else would you truly be able to comprehend such an array of sizes as the deepest ocean trench to a T. Rex’s shoe size?

Too Good To Be Photographed, a celebration of photographic failure

Cock-ups; we’ve had a few. Everyone makes mistakes, and recently, we’ve seen a bit of a trend for celebrating them—whether that’s through deliberately glitchy design aesthetics or more formalized settings like Erik Kessels’ book, Failed It! Now there’s a new kid on the fuckup block: Too Good To Be Photographed, a book by the artist and curator Paul Paper designed by an Estonian graphic designer Indrek Sirkel. According to the publisher Lugemik, the book deals with a special discrepancy: that moment when photography fails; photography’s B-sides, failures, non-successes, defeats. It features artists working in the medium from all over the world and displays ‘failed projects’ with short stories by the artists, explaining why a particular work is a failure.”

As well as being a fascinating and somewhat reassuring premise for a book; the design is excellent, with easter eggs of sorts hidden throughout. Take the typography, for instance: the body copy uses Arial Grotesk by Joseph Miceli, which Lugemik tells us is “a re-designed version of Arial—one of  the most discredited and failed typefaces—a not-so-attractive doppelgänger of Helvetica. The new typeface attempts to re-introduce the ‘Grotesque’ elements which were lost in the imitation process.” And thus through failure, came success.

A souped up British Film Institute Mediatheque

Excellent news for cinephiles, telly lovers, and indeed anyone with a passing interest in history (if you’re in London): the British Film Institute has just revamped its Mediatheque. For the uninitiated, this is a superb (and FREE!) little zone at the BFI’s Southbank HQ where you can sit comfortably and watch some absolutely blinding (not literally of course) pieces of moving image art from throughout the ages.

The new touchscreen monitors showcase the fruits of the BFI National Archive; comprising 30,000 titles and 80 curated collections spanning posters, press books, feature films, archive news reels, and public information films. My personal favorites include Edwardian crossdressing capers in the form of a 1890s minute-long film called Women’s Rights; and the utterly enthralling 1980 televised Doncaster Disco Dancing championships. Those in it for the long haul can also sit down and enjoy classics like 1971’s The Wicker Man of the 1954 version of Nineteen Eighty-Four. New material is added each week.

It’s a total joy and a boon to the South Bank. So much so I’m almost reluctant to share how ace it is in case everyone starts going there and I can’t get a seat.

50 Books | 50 Covers is open for entries!

Roll up, roll up! Our siblings over at Design Observer have opened up the entries for 50 Books | 50 Covers, the time-honored competition that aims to identify the 50 best-designed books and book covers of 2017.

You can see the entries submitted to this year’s competition on Design Observer, and historical collections of books and book covers dating back to 1924 can be viewed in the AIGA Design Archives.

Alexander Lewis, Type/film site

If you can resist internally singing “type on film” to the tune of Duran Duran’s Girls on Film you’re a stronger person than I. But New Romanticism aside, Type / film is a brilliant little site founded by Alexander Lewis to “share findings of interesting typography in film with friends.” It’s a design and film-lover’s little paradise; featuring everything from “Leo Tolstoy books found on bedside tables in a 1960’s Pasolini, to Jeremy Irons staring pensively through coiled neon signage.”

At present, the site boasts more than 270 entires, providing an not-insignificant record of graphic design in film.

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