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No. 233: Designing for David Byrne, The Whitney’s Algorithmic Type, Lesser-known work from Miffy Creator Dick Bruna + More

Now that the hearts, flowers, and general sense of the smug-coupledom of yesterdays V-Day have dissipated, why not get that lovin feelin’ from a host of fabulous design projects that have caught our eye this week? They may not be romantic, but they sure are better than a bunch of crap petrol station flowers. For more along these lines (and so many others) follow along all day, every day on Instagram @AIGAeyeondesignFacebook, and Twitter @AIGAeyeondesign.

1
Emulsion magazine

Emulsion is a new publication that “celebrat[es] pluralistic and boundary-pushing art and culture.” Founded by artist Louis Morlet, the debut issue features the likes of designer Jonathan Castro; artist Mark Leckey; model, artist, and actress Tali Lennox (yeah, that’s right, her mum is Anni); and artist/model Wilson Oryema.

Morlet teamed up with Michael Opie O’Grady, who art directs the mag. The logotype and masthead use custom lettering with exaggerated ink traps that the team felt was “both impactful and suited the aesthetic of the magazine,” says O’Grady. “This was paired with a series of interchangeable E’s, which will be different for each issue, keeping it fresh and dynamic.”

The team adds: “As well as the typographic treatment, there’s a big emphasis on color, which we used to keep up the energetic pace and, in a number of cases, [we also used] the artists’ imagery to create backdrops for the interviews to support the identity of each feature.”

2
Lost Art, designs for David Byrne’s Reasons to be Cheerful project

A year back, David Byrne, former Talking Heads frontman and all-around superdude, commissioned the Australia- and Japan-based agency, Lost Art, to work on the creative direction for his Reasons to be Cheerful project, which began life as a series of talks and expanded to become a digital platform. The idea is that it “shines light on positive happenings around the world” (and, fortuitously, this happened to include the release of his album American Utopia.) Now, the team was brought back in to make new work that celebrates the first anniversary of the project. Spread that cheerfulness!

3
Programmed Typeface, from The Whitney Museum of American Art and Commercial Type

The Whitney’s current show, Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, is focused on instructions and algorithms, and so the institution’s graphic design department decided to create an entirely new approach to the exhibition text. Working with Commercial Type, it augmented three weights of the museum identity’s typeface, Neue Haas Grotesk, so that as it’s typed, a series of square alternate glyphs (including a, b, f, g, w, o and 1, to name a few) are replaced at specific instances throughout the text.

“The alternate characters themselves simplify the rules of their foundational characters by flattening the curves and filling the space the letter occupies within the word,” the team explains. “There is one governing rule for all styles, which is no two square characters will appear next to one another, they are always split (by chance or by design) by an original curved letter.”

4
Dick Bruna and Black Bears and Japanese Matchboxes at Katherine Small Gallery

Unless you have no soul, you probably love Miffy—the little Dick Bruna creation with more than a passing resemblance to a certain mouthless Kitty who arrived on the scene a little later. Now, Bruna’s work is being celebrated in something of an unusual context: its relationship to Japanese matchboxes. This is being explored at a show entitled Dick Bruna and Black Bears and Japanese Matchboxes at Katherine Small Gallery in Somerville, Massachusetts.

The show looks at the covers Bruna designed for around 2,000 mysteries and detective novels. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Japanese artists and designers were designing matchbox labels. “What do Dick Bruna’s covers have to do with Japanese matchboxes? Absolutely nothing—until they’re placed side-by-side,” says the gallery. “Only then does it seem the two must be related. But they aren’t. It’s just a contrived coincidence. But that’s OK. Comparing and contrasting are essential tools for seeing—and understanding what we see. This exhibition isn’t really about Dick Bruna or Japanese matchboxes. It’s simply about looking and making connections.” The show runs until March 8th, 2019.

5
B.A.M, White Cube redesign

London-based studio B.A.M. has created a new visual identity for contemporary art gallery White Cube, which has sites in London, New York, and Hong Kong. 

The new identity is used across invites, signage, the gallery website, and marketing communications. “We embraced the migration of White Cube’s brand from something which initially only existed in print, to one fully integrated digitally,” says B.A.M cofounder David McKendrick.

“We had an honest approach to this as White Cube’s identity was strong—it needed an evolution rather than a revolution.” The studio worked with type foundry Fatype, which produced a unique cut of its typeface Beausite. “This had to be a hugely versatile typeface that would work over all formats, from signage through to a digital invite being viewed on a smartphone,” says McKendrick. “Alongside developing the typeface, we developed a fluid grid and a flexible color palette. The grid is based on space and positioning as opposed to traditional paper formats. The color palette explored a subtle complimentary use of color as opposed to rigid set of prescribed Pantones.”

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