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No. 232: The Netflix for Variable Fonts, a #Goals-oriented Productivity App, a Designer’s Ode to Airplane Mode + More

Hello and welcome to this week’s Design Diary, our collection of the five design projects and news that caught our eye this week.

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

Superfocus, by Sing-Sing

We’re diehard to-do listers over here at EoD—you’ll find us scrawling long lists in open notebooks, toggling tabs on impressively organized spreadsheets, and using apps that like Teux Deux. All of these methods have our undying loyalty, which is why we appreciate a line of copy on the website for Superfocus that reads, “Don’t throw away your sketchbook!” The new app from L.A. design duo Sing-Sing promises to “visualize all of the projects in your life, in one minimally designed and calming place.” But it’s not just another list-maker. Instead, it purports to help you with your longterm goals and bigger life projects—those things that aren’t quite as easy to tick off, or remember to maintain.

Here’s a nice little explainer of how it works:

Basically, the app’s genius is that it helps you visualize longterm goals and the progress that you’re making. You set the goal and the “action items” it will take to get you there, and it will lay those out in different views—charting the dates on a calendar, marking progress on a graph, showing your items in a trusty list view. Crucially, there are no notifications. The spacious, uncluttered design feels like a deep breath, and different view options—“super” view for an energizing color palette, a day view, and night view—pepper in some appreciated variety. All-in-all, it feels like a chill, long-view complement to any frenzied to-do list system you already have in place.

Vulture on the Instagram era of book covers

This week over on Vulture Margot Boyer-Dry discusses the way Instagram promotion has affected cover design. Centering around the cover design for Marlon James’ new, highly anticipated Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Boyer-Dry writes about the stylized Instagram culture around new releases and the blocky text and bold, intricate background patterns that make a cover pop on-screen. She couches this contemporary trend within a history of other book cover trends throughout the decades (with a nice mention of AIGA’s own long-running 50 covers competition):

“Since the beginning of print, covers have reflected the aesthetics, and the technologies, of their day. The 1950s, for example, saw the debut of Penguin’s classic vertical-grid convention in paperback design, in conjunction with the new popularity of books bound in paper. Into the ’60s, the advent of the Polaroid introduced realist images to the book cover, and the ’70s brought free-form design and psychedelia.”

The whole thing is worth a read.


Dinamo Pipeline, by Dinamo

The designers at Dinamo have given us just the thing we didn’t know we needed: the “Netflix for Variable Fonts” (official tagline). Pipeline is a website exclusively for streaming the type foundry’s variable fonts. On the info page, they assure us “it’s good TV,” and honestly, they’re right. It’s weirdly relaxing to sit back and watch fonts change weight. Give it a try. Afterwards, go to Dinamo’s Gauntlet for a more active role in actually animating the variable fonts yourself. We’re pretty into these single-purpose websites they’re producing over there.

Flight Simulator, by Soft Applications and Laurel Schwulst

Flight Simulator, a poetic new app from Soft, in collaboration with Laurel Schwulst, is now out in the world. An “ode to airplane mode,” the app encourages time offline by simulating a flight experience when you put your phone into airplane mode. The app will find your local airport and allow you to choose your destination from the flights leaving that day. For the amount of time the flight is in air, a plane will cross the screen as a gentle marker of how long your phone should remain in airplane mode. If you try to take your phone off airplane mode before the journey is complete, you receive a warning that the plane will turn around, effectively negating your trip into reflective, offscreen time. With a palette of gradient airplane window sunsets and a series of illustrated tokens that you can rack up upon completing your trips, Flight Simulator truly does “celebrate the best part of air travel: peaceful solitude.”

Netherlands ⇄ Bauhaus at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

It’s all things Bauhaus this year as 2019 marks the centenary of the renowned art and design school—which we’ve been celebrating with a series of articles (still ongoing). If you happen to be in Rotterdam, another solid way to celebrate would be to go to the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen to see the exhibition Netherlands ⇄ Bauhaus, which looks at the connection between the country and school through the display of 800 objects that range from art, furniture, ceramics, and textiles to photographs, typography, and architecture. As the museum points out in its description of the show, Rotterdam was the most important city for the Nieuwe Bouwen style (the Dutch take on the International Style), and “social housing projects by Rotterdam’s City Architect J.J.P. Oud caught the attention of many German architects, including Walter Gropius.” Marcel Breuer, an instructor at the Bauhaus, also designed the Rotterdam branch of De Bijenkorf department store in 1957. The connections are many, and the design objects look amazing. We’ve included a few below for those of you who can’t get over to Rotterdam this winter.

Netherlands ⇄ Bauhaus is showing at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen from February 9th to May 26th.

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