Some Light at the End, designed by Studio HMVD

Plus, the gradient-based weather app of any designers wet/humid/sunny dreams, a poster rebuke to the “complacency regarding climate change,” and a German exhibition that “adds to the cake” of representing overlooked women design practitionersFor more along these lines (and so many others) you can follow along all day, every day on Instagram @AIGAeyeondesignFacebook, and Twitter @AIGAeyeondesign.

  1. Some Light at the End, designed by Studio HMVD

Studio HMVD, a Brooklyn-based two-woman studio, recently finished designing a book about end-of-life care, written by retired hospice nurse Beth Cavenaugh—which it describes as “essentially What to Expect When You’re Expecting, but the death version.” The studio hopes the project will help open up the conversation around design and death; it created everything from cover-to-cover book design to typographic structures and custom artwork for it. Entitled Some Light at the End, the studio was brought in by Works Progress Agency and worked with illustrator Violet Mae Reed.

The design direction looks to expand the idea of opening up end-of-life conversations using artworks between each chapter that highlight a series of prompts that patients and their caregivers could ask each other to expand and open the conversation at end-of-life.To represent these moments of pause in an otherwise informationally dense book, we treated these pages very differently than the rest,” says Studio HMVD. Using decaying plant matter from around the studio as drawing tools, the designers created repetitive India-ink patterns. “We attempted to make the same mark each time, to reflect on how varied a life can be, though we are all part of humanity,” says the studio. The book also uses various rules, charts, and graphs to denote different content types to simplify complex and difficult information.

Special attention was given to Caregiver’s Tips—“something we felt needed to be highlighted for easy skimming”—says the studio. It adds, There were also a great number of bulleted lists in the original manuscript, which often felt more like a series of answers to a question rather than a list. We took these in an editorial direction, introducing the vertical rule to denote a shift in tone.”

2. Porto Design Biennale 2019

Porto Design Biennale 2019

The Porto Design Biennale kicks off next week in—you guessed it—Porto, Portugal, with its opening week running from September 19-28. This year’s event is centered on an exhibition entitled “Millennials—New Millennium Design,” put together by curator, teacher, and design critic José Bártolo. The overall theme of the event is “Post Millennium Tension,” with works and events loosely based around the idea of how design practice and theory have, or could, react to the rapid changes we’ve seen in life and tech over the past 19 years. Among its expansive lines of questioning are, “How do you update design to be socially current? How appropriate are research and teaching in design? How is the discipline of design projected and what realizable utopias does it project today in search for a better world?”

According to organizers, close attention will be paid to “Millennial designers, reflecting on what might characterize and differentiate a generation that is educated and integrated into the labor market in shifting circumstances, marked by new geographical scenarios, web 3.0 power, political rhetoric, the neoliberal crisis, the financial crisis,” and “the predominance of the prosumer… critical thinking, and collective action.”

The biennale takes three programmatic strands—Present Tense, showcasing Portuguese design in the new millennium; Design Forum, which takes a critical look at the political, financial, and cultural side of contemporary design; and Design and Democracy. The biennale runs until December 8, 2019.

3. Tom Sharp, Heretic and Modern Activity, poster for Rebel Art Auction: Bid for the Truth for Extinction Rebellion at Accept & Proceed

Poet Tom Sharp, formerly founder and creative director of design agency The Beautiful Meme collaborated with London-based print studio Heretic and graphic designers Modern Activity on a print for the Rebel Art Auction: Bid for the Truth to raise money for Extinction Rebellion (XR), being organized and hosted by creative agency Accept & Proceed. This is the trio’s first collaboration, and the poster features a poem by Sharp, which he says “explores complacency regarding climate change.” Set in Windsor Light Condensed, the poster takes the form of three unique prints using multiple colors that he says run “from cold to hot and paint-flung deep-sea creatures.” In-keeping with the cause, the materials for the prints were all found around the studio on the night it was printing—including Mirri board and a wood and aluminum signboard found in a pile of trash outside the space.

Other artworks that have been donated for the auction include new paintings, prints, sculptures, and objects by Anthony Gormley; pieces by illustrators Mr Bingo and Jim Sutherland; work by designer Christopher Raeburn; and images from photographer Rankin, among others. All the pieces respond to a brief to “represent the truth around climate change.” Rebel Art Auction: Bid for the Truth will take place at Accept & Proceed in London on September 13.

4. Add to the Cake exhibition at Schloss Pillnitz 

Add to the Cake exhibition

Add to the Cake is a rather brilliantly named exhibition at Pillnitz Palace and Park in Dresden, Germany. The show looks at “transforming the roles of female practitioners” by showcasing the gradual shifts away from the traditional erasure of female practitioners in design, architecture, and the arts throughout history. “Contemporary cultural constructs have us believe that not everyone can get a fair share of the cake, and that only a limited few can write history,” say the exhibition organizers, who add that “in the first two decades of the 21st century, [these practitioners] have regained visibility. In this pivotal moment, female practitioners have the chance to usher in an important transformation for their disciplines.”

The exhibition stems from the A Woman’s Work symposium, which took place at the Japanisches Palais in Dresden in January 2019, and gathered local and international perspectives on the present and the future of female practice. The current exhibition collects and develops themes that were first discussed during the symposium, and frames them alongside other objects and ideas developed by female practitioners as well as a participatory public program.

Among the artists and designers who have collaborated to show their work are Common-Interest (Nina Paim, Corinne Gisel) and Ann Kern (Basel), Chrissie Muhr and Ji Hee Lee (Basel/Berlin), Gabriel A. Maher and Ina Weise (Amsterdam/Dresden), Garrett Nelson and Anja Kaiser (Argentina/Berlin), Julia E. Dyck (Montreal/Brüssel), Vivien Tauchmann (Dresden/Leipzig), and Pinar and Viola (Istanbul/Paris).

Add to the Cake exhibition

Running until November 3rd this year, the show looks to heighten this visibility even further: “We can—and need to—add to the existing cake: infinite layers for an expanded canon,” the organizers say. “Adding to museum collections and to historical accounts, adding to collective memory and to possible futures. Most importantly, we must realize that ‘adding’ doesn’t mean ‘taking away’, but that it enriches the existing context with multiple, varied voices and perspectives.

Add to the Cake is an exercise in enacting the kind of transformation that design, architecture, and arts are about to experience.”

5. John Provencher of Haha, Weathergradient

John Provencher of Haha, Weathergradient

Designer and developer John Provencher recently got in touch about his pretty sweet new website for his studio Haha, which is a perfect distillation of his approach to forward-thinking, tech-focused dev work and smart design. The type shifts and morphs as your cursor moves around the homepage (which is both beautifully beguiling and somewhat frustrating), with a stark all-caps type style slip-sliding around the page against a subtle grey backdrop. The studio works across a variety of projects, both commission and self initiated, and according to Provencher, his new site’s main goal was to house and “practice new ways to work, document, and collaborate as a designer/developer.”

John Provencher of Haha, Weathergradient

One project which particularly caught our eye is Weathergradient, a self-initiated project in the shape of a site that takes weather apps into very designer-led territory indeed. The app generates the site’s gradient using local (in this case, Brooklyn) weather data, and we’ve been checking in throughout the day. Bearing in mind I’m in London, earlier this afternoon things veered from a pale lilac to psych-tinged green. Later on into the night, things had gotten a little more appropriately disco-tinged: it’s 1 a.m. here in the Big Smoke, and so the Big Apple has morphed (on this site at least) from a delicious purple to a vibrant bluish tint. What does the latter represent, you ask? 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with rain, winds at 2.6 mph, and 48% humidity, duh. The color and speed of the gradient varies according to such variants—quite how, we’ve no idea. But it certainly looks pretty.

Haha studio homepage