Plus, apparel brand Outdoor Voices launches a content website and “zine,” Cita Press gives public domain books a proper cover design refresh, and esports company Andbox gets design-chic with new branding for its merchandise arm. For more along these lines (and so many others) you can follow along all day, every day on Instagram @AIGAeyeondesign, Facebook, and Twitter @AIGAeyeondesign.
The Recreationalist by Outdoor Voices
Outdoor Voices, the activewear brand particularly apt at capturing the zeitgeist, has design we can appreciate. That’s not just when it comes to its tastefully minimal, matchy-matchy, brilliantly colored casual sportswear, either: the branding is also very on-point. OV has recently unveiled The Recreationalist, a website and limited run print zine that will serve as content marketing for the company. It includes features like “Doing Things With” profiles and “Take Ten” interviews (interviewees include Braulio Amado and Theo Martins), as well as city guides. The design is a nice throwback to early design-led blogs like The Selby, with the hand-scrawled, illustrative type. There are also some excellent layouts and design elements, like the moving collage of photos in the features and the circles, underlines, highlights, and other markups throughout.
- Approvednotapproved.com by Dame Products and Unbound
Turns out that, despite living in New York for more than five years, I am not very good at guessing what ads are appropriate for its subway riders. I wouldn’t say that’s my fault—their decisions are pretty strange! An ad for breast augmentation with the words BIG covering part (you know which part) of a nude woman? That’s fine. A well-designed, very Millennial Minimalist ad for a vibrator? Nope, not approved. Facebook and Instagram’s ad guidelines are equally mystifying. You can try your hand at figuring them out via an online quiz on the recently launched Approvednotapproved.com.
The site is a joint effort from Dame Products and Unbound, two sex wellness companies focused on products for female pleasure (and two participants in our roundtable discussion on branding for that market). Both companies have had difficulties advertising their products online and IRL. In June, Dame filed a legal complaint against the MTA subway system in New York for declining to run their ads while running other sexual wellness ads (like, for example, ones for supplement company Hims that advertise for erectile disfunction meds). The website and game aim to help people “understand how advertising guidelines might disservice your needs.” We have to admit, it’s a pretty effective way of getting their point across—no strategy can win this game, it’s truly baffling what is deemed appropriate or not.
3. Cita Press
Books in the public domain are a beautiful thing—they’re free for use by anyone, often because the book has outlived its copyright protection status. This makes for a lot of classics that are now in the public domain, including titles like The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft. And as the genius platform Cita Press has noted, that also includes many of the early feminist classics that first addressed gender equality in literature. A “feminist, open-source, digital library,” Cita provides access to these public domain books by female authors, repackages them as lovely looking eBooks, and helps provide an enjoyable reading experience.
Cita was created by Colombian graphic designer and editor Juliana Castro, and if you head to the site its obvious that the press is dedicated to good design. The website is great, with an eye-catching font and pop-up images when you scroll over highlighted text. And Cita works with collaborators to design brilliant new book covers for the resurrected older titles (here is its first collection). The site also provides an easy online reader so that visitors can read the books right in their browser, and it includes a ready made template so that you can print and bind the book yourself. Long live the commons!
4. Look Both Ways: The Illicit Liaison Between Image and Information
Hot on the heels of our roundtable discussion with curators about exhibiting design and typography comes an intriguing new show on text-based art at School of Visual Arts in New York. Curated by Debbie Millman, the exhibition draws largely from her own collection of typography works, and includes artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Shepard Fairey, Dave Eggers, Deborah Kass, Jenny Holzer, Miranda July, and Kim Gordon. Paula Scher’s “You Me” woodcut will be on display, as well as Edwin Schlossberg’s silkscreen “As Words, Tidal Gestures Series.” The works aim to show how “words, text and information influence art, design, literature and music.” Nice to see text and type hanging as the artworks, not just delivering information via the museum placards. Plus, who wouldn’t be intrigued by the “illicit liaison” in the show’s title? Sounds scandalous.
5. Andbox branding by Mother
A couple of things we’ve learned this week: New York has a “social gaming” scene. There is a multimillion dollar esports organization called Andbox that was founded by Sterling.VC (an investment fund backed by the ownership of the New York Mets and Sportsnet New York) that runs and organizes social gaming events in the city. And now, this big money esports organization has an apparel line headed by Maxwell Osborne of Public School. We know this because Mother Design did the branding for the apparel line, and they sent us over a peek. It’s looking good: the logo is a cubed AND, which Mother has also animated in a series of applications. The colors seem to draw from the neons of old school, early computer games and ANSI art—including cyberpunk-esque terminal green. All in all, it’s classy branding for gaming, which truth be told, doesn’t have the best record for classy branding. If you’re looking to wear it on your body, you can find the Andbox clothing line here.