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No. 227: Illustrating Cats, a New Take on the Kama Sutra, New Cannabis Brand Skunk Factory + More

Happy New Year! May all your resolutions come true. Here at Eye on Design we’re carrying on our longstanding tradition of bringing you five fabulous design projects each week, and long may that continue throughout 2019.

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

1
Cats on the Page at the British Library

If there’s one thing the internet loves, it’s pictures of cats. Now, we can take that pleasure offline and into the IRL realm (if you’re in London) with a show at the British Library, Cats on the Page. The show presents a veritable cornucopia of fictional kitties from books past and present, including those from Mog, Winnie and Wilbur, and T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

Among the series of talks accompanying the exhibition is one that brings me right back to a particular childhood (and TBH adulthood) obsession: the work of Louis Wain. The Man Who Drew Cats discussion looks at the art of this fascinating cat-artist, whose style vacillated as his schizophrenia developed, moving from lifelike depictions of cats in all sorts of people-like situations into more abstract, modernist renderings.

As well as a wealth of imagery, the show presents a reading corner complete with books, a family trail and sound recordings. It runs through March 17, 2019.

2
The Men Who Fell From Earth, book design by Studio Martin Steiner

There’s just a few days left to catch painting trio Jonathan Meese, Daniel Richter, and Tal R’s exhibition The Men Who Fell From Earth at Kunstmuseum Holstebro in Denmark; but thankfully the show (and the work) lives on in a beautifully designed book created by Berlin-based Studio Martin Steiner.

The publication uses a classic but highly contemporary sans serif alongside gorgeous full-color images and thoughtful layouts that absolutely ace the tricky balancing act between well-designed and showcasing artwork. While you’re on the studio’s site it’s well worth having a nosey through the portfolio: a wealth of brilliant art book and publication design to be found.

3
Minisutra, Bianca Tschaikner

Austrian illustrator and printmaker Bianca Tschaikner has created a charming new interpretation of the Kama Sutra in the form of a tiny little book of miniature watercolor paintings entitled Minisutra. Tschaikner describes the wee tome as a “colorful, and at times queer circus of sex and fun, consisting of 34 funny sex positions you may or may not want to try at home, such as the ‘jealous frog position’ or the ‘love orchestra.’”

Inspired by the classic erotic Indian text, the illustrator felt it was high time she made her own take on sex and fun in the face of what she sees as “our sterile, commercialized, and often misogynist mainstream sexual culture,” instead looking to the ancient volume’s depictions of sex as “vivid, sensual, relaxed, and playful.”

4
Skunk Factory branding, Noise 13

San Francisco agency Noise 13 has created the branding for “street-style inspired cannabis brand” Skunk Factory, designing the packaging for the brand’s vape kits and cartridges. The branding is aimed at those aged 25 and above, and looks to showcase its “bold, ambitious, and unapologetic attitude,” according to Noise 13.

The repeated stripes and texts on the boxes look to mimic street signs, caution tape, and streetwear fashions.” The biggest challenges, according to Noise 13, “came from having to work with constantly changing regulations for cannabis packaging. Extensive research went into understanding child-resistant forms, tamper-evident tape, and highly specific legal requirements. We then had to figure out how to cram a lot of less-than-beautiful legal copy onto a small box while making it look cohesive with the brand and high-end.”

5
A book for the V&A Cast Courts, designed by Planning Unit

East London-based design studio Planning Unit has created a lovely new book for the Victoria & Albert museum (V&A) about its newly reopened Cast Courts. The agency had previously worked with the museum on its book A Souvenir, and the Cast Courts publication looks to present “a fresh perspective” on its collection of reproductions, also known as casts.

“We found the history of these casts fascinating—how they came to be, and in some instances became the only unscathed version of the art left—and worked closely with the curators at the V&A to bring each object featured in this publication to life,” says Planning Unit cofounder Nick Hard.

First opened in 1873, the Cast Courts were purpose-built to house copies of architecture and sculpture from around the world, and hold some of the museum’s largest objects, including casts of Michelangelo’s David and of Trajan’s Column, shown in two halves.

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