Delight & inform

New York by Hand

Looking at a typical map of New York City, its impossible to get an understanding of the vibrant, complex layers of every nook and cranny to explore. British Illustrator Jenni Sparks doesn’t quite get absolutely every worthwhile milemarker into her hand-drawn map of NYC, but her fun, elaborate rendition is a fantastic visual representation of the city’s range of personalities. She includes well-known institutions like City Hall and the Theater District alongside small bars and restaurants, and cultural notes on Sex and the City and Bob Dylan.

Underground Stamps

In celebration of the London Underground’s 150th year, the Royal Mail released a set of special-edition stamps featuring famous artwork of the service. The stamps show the timeline of the development, from steam driven trains to the modern Jubilee Line Station. Using a mix of photography, graphic art and illustration, the set commemorates the triumph and change of the long-lasting public transport.

Urban Interventionists

Two artists breaking up the monotony of urban environments recently caught our eye. French artist OakOak capitalizes on the seemingly ugly elements of buildings and streets – the cracks in sidewalks, crumbling stones, and peeling paint – and builds from these elements to create larger, witty compositions. Spiderman swings from a long crack in a building, and a smokestack billows the “cloud” of a peeling wall. New Yorker Aakash Nihalani also challenges and shifts our perceptions of the seemingly mundane around us, using tape to create and highlight geometric patterns. Most recently, with his “Sum Times” series, Nihalani uses mathematical symbols to reveal equations otherwise unseen.

Penguin Personalities

Penguin Books’ little black, white and orange logo has become an icon for the publisher, established in 1935. So, it naturally serves well to be re-interpreted for a recent campaign, “More than just the classics,” representing the range of genres with playfully animated illustrations. The immediately recognizable, silhouetted animal becomes a well-trimmed hedge for “Gardening,” a buttoned-and-stitched craft version for “Hobbies,” and a delightful map for “Travel.”

Feeding Design

Proving how closely linked food and design really are, several designers have used food (real, drawn, collaged, etc) to explore typography. Barcelona-based artist Nuria Bringué Bergua created Food Type, a typography book on healthy eating that includes food cut into letters, spelling out what they are made of. Anna Gorforth baked an entire poster of gorgeous type biscuits. And Lucy Wragg illustrated an entire alphabet of delicious food-based letters.

Eat All About It

The next best thing to eating great food is, of course, reading about great food – and all the worlds that surround it. Others seem to like indulging as much as we do, as several small quarterlies and magazines revolving around food have made their way onto our tables recently. Wilder Quarterly looks at “life through the lens of the growing world,” and Gather Journal celebrates food and cooking through its basic forms, with beautiful photography and recipes. There’s White Zinfandel, which employs food as its creative “common denominator,” and an exploration of our visceral responses to it. And from Momofuku’s David Chang comes Lucky Peach, which presents a quirky, interesting, and delicious view of various topics around food with each issue (currently: Chinatown.)

(Image of Lucky Peach iPad App)

Pop-up Possibilities

London artist Sarah Bridgland cuts, pastes, and animates vintage magazine and book elements into lovely miniature stories. She painstakingly creates her pop-up worlds of nostalgia, bringing to life forgotten creations. She says, “Paper is a humble material that can be manipulated in extraordinary ways. It has its own qualities and behaviour patterns – it springs in a certain way, colours, fades and ages – and these are characteristics that I like to work with.”

Sticky Walls

For those of us who recall having an inexplicable fascination with stickers as kids, the appeal of Flat Vernacular’s custom sticker wallpaper is undeniable. Artist duo Payton Cosell Turner and Brian Kaspr will carefully, lovingly design and hand-stick thousands of tiny stickers to form patterns to adorn your walls. Their other papers are just as fun, like Toile de Derby – a classic toile, woven in with muscle cars.

Le Corbusier’s Eye

Le Corbusier is widely known for his modernist influence on our built environment, but a new book shows the way he used photography to craft and capture his vision. Le Corbusier and the Power of Photography collects the architect’s view of the world through the camera, as he uses the tool as a sketchbook. Another view of the master was recently revealed via photographs – color shots of Le Corbusier himself, taken in 1953 by Italian photographer Willy Rizzo. The rarely-seen images show him in Paris in his studio, with paintings, and in front of a blackboard sketch – all were on view in September at Le Corbusier’s Maison La Roche.

Playful Work

It’s a mantra close to our hearts. “We Don’t Work, We Play” served as the inspiration for a showcase of German typographers’ take on the phrase. All worked in interesting ways, playing with the terms in various styles. Many turned to materials for expression, from matches, sugar, and leaves to barbie dolls. A fun collection of work.

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