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No. 220: MIT Media Lab’s New Poetic Justice Group, a Jean Jullien Gallery Show in Miniature, Branding “Luxury Fast-food” + More

It’s that time of the week again, when we bring together five projects that caught our eye into one über-exciting Design Diary roundup.

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

MIT Media Lab’s Poetic Justice group

Ekene Ijeoma first entered our radar in 2014, just before the European refugee crisis, with The Refugee Project, an extensive data visualization project in collaboration with Hyperakt that uses data to tell the story of refugee movements from 1975 to today. Since then he’s consistently used art and design to highlight social justice issues, often bringing them to an institutional context, in projects like his Pan-African AIDS sculpture and his Deconstructed Anthems project. He’s just been brought on as faculty at the MIT Media Lab, and in January is founding the Poetic Justice Group inside the lab, which will focus on producing work that embodies “our human conditions, [engages] people in social transformation; imagining and realizing change.” For example, one work-in-progress is a series of publications and interactive installations that reimagine the Negro Motorist Green Book for “traveling while Black” in this era of “New Jim Crows.”  Applications are open to people who are passionate about breaking down complex social issues through design, architecture, engineering, journalism and/or community activism. There are only two more weeks to apply.

Funkis ABC site by Letters from Sweden

Finally, thanks to type foundry Letters from Sweden, we’ve now got a chance to design our own personal Funkis. What’s a Funkis, you ask? It’s a geometric sans serif created by Göran Söderström and Fredrik Gruber in 2015, designed after the display type used in The Stockholm Exhibition (1930), considered to be the high point of functionalism in Scandinavia. Originally released as an all-caps display, Funkis is now being re-released by Letters from Sweden with a full lowercase complement. “The most exciting aspect of this new version is the possibility to customize its design according to common principles found in geometric sans serifs,” the foundry says on the microsite, which it built out for just that reason. The homepage offers the alphabet in caps, lowercase, and numerals; you can click into each glyph and customize it based on some given parameters, then buy your own version. A tailor-made Funkis, just for you.


Jean Jullien paintings at the Arsham/Fieg Gallery

What’s the opposite of big? “GIB,” obviously—or at least according to Jean Jullien. It’s the title of the French artist’s new show at New York’s Arsham/Fieg Gallery, which consists of a series of recent landscape paintings. Apparently, the gallery already has two hyper-realistic, mini-models of curators Daniel Arsham and Ronnie Fieg (see here), which Jullien has complemented with a few of his own 3D characters, which are more surreal than hyper-real. Set up in the gallery, the figures make the small paintings appear huge—I mean, gib—by comparison. At least in photographs (it’s a bit tough to tell how it will look IRL).


Museum für Moderne Kunst identity, Zak Group

Last month, Frankfurt’s contemporary art museum, or Museum für Moderne (MMK), not only got a new identity system, but also became a trademark symbol. OK, not legally or officially or anything, but thanks to a clever design by London’s Zak Group, MMK has been shrunken to a symbol and affixed to things just like the ol’ ™. “Through the introduction of a superscript trademark symbol, MMK, the identity highlights the ways in which brands lay claim to ideas and connect people,” says the design agency. The museum, the museum building, and even the city receive the MMK symbol, boldly asserting the museum’s importance as a “cultural powerhouse.”


Ichibuns identity by Angus Hyland

Angus Hyland’s team at Pentagram London recently unveiled the identity for Ichibuns, a Japanese “luxury fast-food” chain that has been described as a “hallucinogenic Japanese version of Alice in Wonderland.” The restaurant recently opened in central London, and Hyland was tasked with giving it a graphic identity that matched its wild interiors. The team first conceptualized the place as “exceptional Japanese soul food delivered with KAPOW,” which was then shorted to the tagline“Japanese Super”—which has been applied across the identity. 


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