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No. 230: An ’80s Tribute “Famzine,” a Pulp Novel Typeface Resurgence, a Very Apocalyptic Slanted Reader + More

Here we are again at the tail end of a long week, with a brand new Design Diary, your guide to the best in design projects and news over the last seven days.

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

1
Applications open for the Design Museum’s 2019 Designers in Residence

The Design Museum in London has opened up submissions for its 2019 Designers in Residence program, one of the most high-profile residencies in the industry (we’ve made a guide to more of those here). The annual, seven-month program invites four designers to develop a project around a specific theme, using the museum’s collection and resources. This year they’re doing it up large with the theme of “Cosmic,” bringing “design into contact with science, ecology and the supernatural, and [raising] questions about what it means to be human,” according to the museum’s press release. The inspiration behind the theme is a forthcoming exhibition at the Design Museum about Mars, and an internal discussion about human colonization of other planets.

“There are issues of under-representation here, with movements like afro-futurism imagining a more inclusive future,” the museum further explains. “Meanwhile, the use of astrology, crystals, and meditation highlight our spiritual desire to believe in something ‘bigger’ than ourselves.” Sounds like an enticing kicking off point for a design project, particularly one with a commissioning budget of £6,000. Apply here before February 11, 2019.

2
Total Armageddon, a Slanted Reader on Design

Slantedthe long-running international design journal, is now publishing a design book. More specifically, it’s a book of its coverage from the first 32 issues of the magazine, alongside a handful of original pieces, all around the very good theme of “Total Armageddon.”

As they explain it: “In a world that feels like it is bursting at the seams due to overpopulation, climate change, economic downturns, strife, selfies, discord, and all-out war, we need somewhere to turn. Our mobile devices tell us that the Apocalypse is just around the corner… perhaps we just need to look the future in the face by examining the present and all of its designed faults, fractures, beauties, luminosity, issues, complexities, and cracked screens.”

Writers featured include Natalia Ilyin, Randy Nakamura, Steven Heller, Piotr Rypson, Silas Munro, Gerry Leonidas, Yoon Soo Lee, Kenneth FitzGerald, and Kiyonori Muroga. Typefaces include Edit Serif by Atlas Foundry and Beatrice by Sharp Type (an EoD fave, which we’ve previously covered on the site). Slanted is going for an 1,000 copy print run, and has taken the project to Kickstarter to raise the 10,000 euros needed to make that happen. Head over to their page to offer some support.

Slanted, Total Armageddon

3
Vox’s piece on Lydian, the pulp novel typeface experiencing a curious resurgence

Over on Vox’s vertical The Goods, Kaitlyn Tiffany has written a piece on Lydian, the typeface once synonymous with pulp novels that is all of a sudden absolutely everywhere. Created in 1938 by designer and children’s book illustrator Warren Chappell, Lydian is a humanist sans serif with “crisp, knife-cut-looking edges,” as Tiffany puts it, adding that it’s also a bit “witchy.” It’s the typeface of those familiar yellow and blue Nancy Drew covers, as well as a slew of other pulp novels from the 1950s. Decades later, Lydian popped up again in the credits of Friends. And these days it can be found on a ton of recently released books from commercial houses, from Mark Greif’s Against Everything to Crystal Hana Kim’s novel If You Leave Me.

Designer and assistant professor of communication design at Parsons YuJune Park makes an appearance in the article, saying, “I’ve been surprised to see it used for so many cultural institutions… although it does make sense from a formal perspective. There’s a sense of history from its calligraphic bones, but it also feels contemporary.” Best to head over to the Vox and read the entire thing.

4
Call for entries: 50 Books, 50 Covers

In other call-for-entries news, our sister site Design Observer is opening up applications for its annual 50 Books, 50 Covers competition. This annual event has been going on since 1923 (!), making it the longest-running survey of book design in American graphic design (and here are the archives to prove it). You can see the book covers that have already been nominated on Design Observer, then toss your hat in the ring until February 28, the final deadline. You’ll be in excellent company.

5
Rubbish FamzineNo. 8, “A Return to Forever 80s”

And now, a special Design Diary cameo from Eye on Design founder, Perrin Drumm:

It’s impossible to page through the latest issue of Rubbish Famzine without strands of A-ha and Tears for Fears running through your head. The magazine lives up to the title, with page after lovingly labored-over page devoted to the music two of its makers grew up on—presumably the same tracks they’re passing onto their two children, who take an equal part in creating each magazine along with them. No matter what theme the Rubbish crew takes on, the production quality is high and exciting; you never know what special sticker, or new signature, or tip-in or the next page will bring. It remains one of the chief inspirations behind the kind of visual “surprise and delight” we try to live up to in each issue of own Eye on Design magazine. Although unlike the Rubbish family, our editors don’t sit around the kitchen table and place hundreds of stickers across thousands of pages. This issue even comes with an original Rubbish family recording, pressed on a 45 in a beautiful shade of Pepto Bismol pink. These are the dreams magazines are made of.

While less focused, editorially, than previous issues, its unabashed love for the Top 40 hits of a bygone era is still a welcome, and much needed, respite; I find myself reaching for it when the day’s news comes in over the radio. Each spread is a signpost pointing you down a different road, each leading straight to nostalgia. Here’s Cyndi Lauper, reminding me of my high school fashion and hair goals. Here’s an ode to Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” which induces me to rewatch The Breakfast Club for the  837th time; it’s one of a handful of high school favorites I still haven’t grown out of, and like this issue, instantly transports me to a different time and place. 

What the devoted family of magazine makers behind Rubbish may lack in timeliness (as far as nostalgia goes, we’ve collectively moved well into the ‘90s now), they more than make up for with sheer enthusiasm and a kind of warmth that’s only possible when a tight knit unit joins forces to make something unique and personal.

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