K.H. Drescher—Berlin Typo Posters, Texts, and Interviews

Plus, new 3D illustration work from Simoul Alva for the New York Times, beautiful branding for a Mexico City restaurant, and brainteasers for your morning commute (don’t pollute!). For more along these lines (and so many others) you can follow along all day, every day on Instagram @AIGAeyeondesignFacebook, and Twitter @AIGAeyeondesign.

Elly’s restaurant branding, Futura 

When we visited Futura’s atmospheric Mexico City offices back in 2017, those designers had, hands down, the best recommendations for food and drink in the city. That’s likely because the agency has done the branding for most of them. Latest in that roster is Elly’s, a new “high-end” restaurant with branding that’s like 1930s cocktail lounge meets RoAndCo, with bright, flat colors, and simple line illustrations. Eyes, hands, and mouths adorn the restaurants business cards, boxes, and menus, the latter of which opens with a cut-out cocktail glass on the front. The idea was to evoke nostalgia as well as playfulness, with the abstracted illustrations based on the chef, Elly’s, childhood memories. “We used a serif typeface with contemporary details for the editorial, counterbalanced with a play of longhand elements, reminiscent of the playfulness of the graphic,” the agency says. A+ for that art direction.

K.H. Drescher—Berlin Typo Posters, Texts, and Interviews

In 1962, Karl-Heinz Drescher joined the Berliner Ensemble, the theater founded by Berthold Brecht and his wife, the actress Helene Weigel. Under Weigel’s direction, Drescher produced the theater’s graphic design for 40 years, alongside commissions from other institutions like the Akademie der Künste der DDR, the Maxim-Gorki-Theater, and the Deutsche Staatsoper in Berlin. His works total around 400 posters (about one third printed with letterpress), and yet there’s not much known about Drescher today. Markus Lange discovered Drescher’s prolific output while researching his Master’s in the university archive of Burg Giebichenstein, and has now made a book of his work with Slanted Press, which looks excellent.

Lange filled us in on some interesting backstory: while printing the posters for the ensemble, Drescher worked with Druckkombinat Berlin, a print shop located on the border area of Berlin. “It was only thanks to his good relations with the printers that he was allowed to visit the production rooms in spite of the prohibition and the inspectors,” says Lange. There Drescher came across wood, lead, and brass types that had been all but forgotten, and used them in his work. He also became interested in type outside of the GDR (East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic) that was harder for him to access; with the help of a photographer friend, he smuggled a sample book over the wall from the West and created adhesive originals that he then produced as clichés that he used to print posters. Not the latest technology at the time, but Drescher didn’t care—he was dedicated to creating something new using whatever means were available to him at the time. By the looks of that book, we’re grateful for it.

Brainteasers, Fieldwork Facility 

Did you know that air pollution degenerates our cognitive ability? We didn’t—though it doesn’t much surprise us that smog would be detrimental to our health mentally as well as physically. To alert the public to this fact, the Hammersmith & Fulham Borough Council in London paired up with design firm Fieldwork Facility to create a campaign called Brainteasers: series of puzzles and mazes in the form of supergraphics posted up throughout the borough. The goal is to keep minds stimulated and, apparently, each one is simple enough to be solved in the time it takes to walk them by.  So: “What runs but never walks, has a bed but never sleeps, has a mouth but never eats?” Take another lap if you need to.

Simoul Alva, 3D illustration and animation 

Simoul Alva

We’ve been impressed with Simoul Alva since she was in undergrad—so much so we’ve previously solicited her advice on how to land a good graphic design internship, before she’d even graduated. A little more than a year later, and Alva is out of school and has freelanced for clients like Sagmeister & Walsh, the New York Times, Wired, and Wieden+Kennedy, as well as worked with Pentagram and Samsung Research America. Suffice to say, she’s been busy. And while she was starting to experiment with 3D illustration and automation last time we checked in, she just sent us a trio that she created for the Times that show how far she’s come. In particular, we love the one illustrating a piece by John Herrman titled “Slack Wants to Replace Email. Is That What We Want?” with a shiny, new Michael Bierut-redesigned Slack logo knocking over a domino line of email logos. We’d say Alva is going places, but that seems like old news by now.

Separated, by Shira Inbar 

If you were at New York Art Book Fair the other week, we hope you stopped by Draw Down Books table, where Shira Inbar’s publication Separated/Separados was going fast. The bilingual broadsheet is comprised of posters created by 31 graphic designers that respond to the migrant children who have been separated from their parents and detained at the Southern U.S. border. “I asked them to respond in the way that felt the most intuitive and honest to them: some created posters that speak directly about the children’s separation we’ve been witnessing through the media, while others chose to visualize separation in a way that is more abstract and formal,” says Inbar.

An opening essay written by Dragana Kaurin, the founder of Localization Lab and a human rights researcher operating to change the way design and technology are used to treat refugees and immigrants, addresses the role that art can play in understanding such injustices. The whole publication is printed in orange and blue, two “opposite colors,” that both compliment each other and provide the strongest contrast possible—a play on the idea of respecting each others’ differences instead of drawing borders and forcing separations. And the contributors are so good we’ll just put them all here: Bráulio Amado, Laura Berglund, Chris Bruffee, Erik Carter, Dark Igloo/Jake Longoria, Lorenzo Fanton, Laura Coombs, Dora Godfrey, Elizabeth Goodspeed, Raoul Gottschling, Yotam Hadar, Jerome Harris, Shira Inbar, Chantal Jahchan, Jonathan Katav, Mika Khandpur, Nicole Killian, Joyce Kim, Kellie Konapelsky, Raphaelle Macaron, Leanna Perry, Tala Safié, June Shin, Sally Thurer, Rich Tu, Richard Turley, Benjamin Tuttle, Gina Moreno Valle, Kelly Walters, Daniel Zender, Zipeng Zhu.

All proceeds go toward the support and benefit of detained migrant children in the U.S. Go on, get yourself one.