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No. 176: Designer Chain Letters, Olde English “Craeft,” the Fonts of the New Year + 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 creative gems along these lines (and so many others) follow along all day, every day on Instagram @AIGAeyeondesignFacebook, and Twitter @AIGAeyeondesign.

1
Communication, by Albert Moya

Chef and artist Laila Gohar uses food as an artistic medium and communication tool, hosting “unique eating experiences that take place in non-traditional settings” around the world. When she created a food volcano a few years ago, it caught the eye of Albert Moya. It sparked the idea for Communication, a film made for Dropbox and The California Sunday Magazine’s Dropbox Stories campaign, which asked Gohar and three others, all located in different countries, to build an actual food volcano in Iceland.

Naturally, they used Dropbox to communicate. But the film is lovely: the four artists describe it as a visual dialogue amongst themselves, inspired by the work of Chris Marker. They explain, “it uses the free association of images and ideas. A voice-over accompanies explanatory text that reinforces the poetic and visual intentions.” It stars Moya in Florence, Gohar and Omar Sosa (a graphic designer) in New York, and Querida—who also provided the art direction— in Barcelona.

2
AIGA Portland, Portland Makers Series

“Imagine that your uncle is Robert Rauschenberg and that he leaves you his printing studio when he passes away,” starts out a new installment of the Portland Makers Series from our friends at Portland AIGA. “You and your favorite art buddies adopt it as your second home, exploring all his legendary printing methods and making art experiments for hours at a stretch. That’s what IPRC feels like—a dreamy art garage with a wide array of printing equipment.”

The Independent Publishing Resource Center in Portland.

 

For the uninitiated, writer Marilee Sweeney is rather poetically describing the Independent Publishing Resource Center. Founded by Rebecca Gilbert and Chloe Eudaly 20 years ago as a zine printing room, the center is now a 2,000 square foot space, “housing a wall of 20” iMacs, a screen-printing studio, a letterpress studio, a zine library, a bindery, and meeting spaces.” Membership fees are “radically low,” which feels very fitting to Portland, with those who can’t afford it able to volunteer. As Sweeney writes, “Generations of Portlanders have used IPRC to screen-print show posters, letterpress cards, bind chapbooks of their poetry, meet with their writing groups, and print their comic books.”

Plus, they’ve got a brand new, Kickstarter funded Risography studio. Even if you’re not able to pop over to Portland, these kinds of accessible, community focused maker spaces are getting rarer and rarer in cities these days—it’s interesting to see how this one’s maintained itself for two decades. Read on here.

3
Moo font forecasting

Welp guys, another year of fonts down, and a new one just begun. What typefaces can we expect to see all over the place in 2018? Digital print and design company Moo is on it: it’s tapped into its customer base to surveyed 1,300 of the design-savvy across the United States. Now it’s got Fonts of 2018 ready for us, based on the survey findings.

Here’s the forecast, according to Moo:

In the “Up and Coming” category:
● Basic Commercial
● Nexa
● Saturday Script
● Basis Grotesque
● Freight Sans
● Alcubierre
● Quainton
● Fortescue
● Leroy
● Luxia

And those “Go-tos”:
● Avenir
● Helvetica
● Avant Garde
● Proxima Nova
● Futura
● Garamond Pro
● Brandon Grotesque
● Gill Sans
● Sackers Gothic
● Georgia

“The biggest up and coming trend we’re seeing? The importance of simplicity,” says Moo’s global creative director, Brendan Stephens. “With the exception of Saturday Script and Quainton, the font choices are quite plain and slightly retro.” Nexa, he adds, “feels a bit utilitarian and masculine, both good in the right context.” And Helvetica’s holding in there, to no one’s surprise—61st year running.

4
Michael Bierut’s review of Craeft

“As daily life becomes increasingly virtual, it might seem like a paradox that making things by hand is suddenly big business,” observed Michael Bierut over at the New York Times Book Review last weekend. “Stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby feature aisle after crowded aisle of sequins, tassels, imported papers, chenille stems, and pompoms. Etsy, the e-commerce platform for selling homemade goods, features nearly two million active sellers serving 30 million eager buyers.” Crafting is and has always been therapeutic, but last year it was also a $44 billion industry, according to the Association for Creative Industries.

Hm. It’s little wonder why in this current place in time, as swirling with inexhaustible anxieties as it is. But Bierut’s not just exploring the big business of craft, he’s writing about “craeft,” the Old English word that means, roughly, “a form of knowledge,” and the subject of a new book by British archaeologist and medieval historian Alexander Langlands. If Craeft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts doesn’t sound like the type of book that would stop you in your tracks in a bookstore, Bierut makes a good case for why it should. Read his description of Langlands description of making of the traditional wooden fence if you don’t believe me—a true testament to passion for the esoteric, and revelling in the minute details.

Often it takes a particular way of seeing to get others to appreciate these types of things. In the case of the book, says Bierut, “beyond the mastery of specialized skills, Langlands is talking about something more holistic: a way of looking at the world.”

5
Design Observer’s “Chain Letters” series

Perhaps you remember chain letters, those pass-it-forward missives that always end with a superstitious threat to dissuade you from breaking the chain? (“So-and-so received the chain. Not believing it, he threw it away. Nine days later he died.”—jog your memory?) Well! Our sister publication Design Observer has brought it back, in the form of a series of interviews.

Here’s how it’s describing it:

“We’re calling the series Chain Letters, a weekly Design Observer series in which we ask leading design minds about the state of the industry—and so do their peers—for a year-long conversation.”

Jessica Gaddis, a product designer working on Netflix’s Studio Engineering team, kicks of Design Observer’s Chain Letter series.

 

This week Netflix product designer Jessica Gaddis starts it off with an excellent interview about UX design and the tech industry. Next week, she kicks it over to R/GA’s Richard Ting with her own burning question for him. And that’s how it will continue the whole year long. Unless someone breaks the chain. DO’s too classy for veiled threats, but I think we all know that would be Very Bad. 

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