Delight & inform

Fantasy Flowers

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At first glance, floral designer Anne ten Donkelaar’s creations may look like well-composed dried and pressed flowers. Incredibly, the designer actually creates her work from a combination of bits of dried flowers and cut-out images of them, collaged together to make otherworldly yet natural-looking and stunning results. She meticulously crafts each fantasy flower, and mounts them on pins raised an inch off of the canvas, providing depth and shadows to the flattened forms. The artist also does a series of compositions called “Broken Butterflies,” an endearingly sweet treatment of found, fallen butterflies.

Typographic Structure

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A new book from Thames & Hudson looks at the intersection of two of our favorite things: typography and buildings. Letterscapes, released this week, beautifully examines the use of typography in architecture and public spaces, looking at its history and analyzing its role in current structures. Included are David Kindersley’s British Library Gates, which are textured metal letters spelling out the institution’s name, as well as Lawrence Weiner’s New York manhole covers. All impact and alter our relationship with the built environment, reading while experiencing it.

Stone Paper

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We were surprised to learn that paper use has gone up in recent years, even with most people relying frequently on digital communication. Although recycling is up, we still lose many precious trees to the paper industry, so its interesting to hear about a new company creating paper from stone. Made from calcium carbonate, a natural by-product of limestone, and water, the paper is naturally white, waterproof, and can be wiped clean – lasting longer than its tree-made counterpart. The Italian company currently makes a collection of notebooks, and we’re curious to see where it goes next.

Statuesque

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In a masterful move to impart graphic simplicity to a complex subject, UK graphic designer Olly Moss rendered all of the 85 years of Oscar best picture winners as the famous statue itself. Asked by the Academy of Motion Pictures Gallery to include elements of each of the 85 winners in one poster, Moss personified the statuette with characteristics of the lead character in each film. Some are easier to decipher than others – we spotted the Godfather (twice), Dances with Wolves, Rocky, and Sound of Music immediately.

Drawing Life

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Indian press Tara Books recently published a wonderfully inspiring book by Indian artist and singer Tejubehan, Drawing From the City. The autobiographical book tells Tejubehan’s story through her gorgeous, hand-drawn patterned images – how she began her life impoverished, and moved through the country, singing, until finding art and drawing as a means of expression and income. Her personal, poetic compositions convey a unique visual power.

Paper Water Story

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A wonderful little collaborative project tells the story of where a drop of water goes, and where it comes from, via a lovely animated short. Paper engineer Helen Friel, masterfully cuts, shapes and forms paper scenes of the water droplet in pop-up book form, all of which is photographed by Chris Turner, and animated by Jess Deacon. The engaging film takes us on the journey of the droplet – from house to sink, to plumbing, to the cogs moving water through our city systems, and back into nature and the clouds, eventually returning to the beginning.

School of Life

Philosopher, professor and writer Alain de Botton is bringing his famed take on life – espoused in books, classes, and some great TED talks – to a very functional, wonderful level, with the “School of Life.” The school in Melbourne is open to the public, with classes like “How to have better conversations,” and “How to make a difference,” along with a one-day intensive on “Generating Creativity.” In addition to classes and intensives, there are communal meals and holidays, sermons (lectures), tours, and special events, like a session with an improvisation master. In the School of Life – there is something for everyone to learn.

Fatherly Love

The joys of fatherhood are being looked at in a new way, judging from a recent article in the Atlantic on dads embracing “parenting” over old norms of “babysitting.” And a new magazine, “Kindling Quarterly,” celebrates the lives of creative fathers, instigated by two new fathers who wanted to “present a thoughtful dialogue about fatherhood that is missing from our cultural landscape.” Issue number one includes features on father-ly style, a photo series on artist Dan Funderburgh and his daughter, and an essay on traveling through Istanbul with a baby.

Healthy Data

An ambitious competition posed by the government ‘s Presidential Innovation Fellows program asked designers to tackle an all-too-overlooked problem: the design of medical records. 230 individuals and groups, many from several top design firms responded with entries, showing the great possibilities in applying clean, simple information design principles to an often misunderstood area. In addition to presenting a better visual layout, the projects goals include: helping patients better manage health; enabling doctors to understand, use and share patients’ information; and helping family members and friends care for their loved ones. Team curators will select and refine a final design, which will then be shared on an open-source site for health-record companies to incorporate into their systems.

Love Letters

Font enthusiast Stephen Coles’ new book The Geometry of Type: The Anatomy of 100 Essential Typefaces is both a great resource for and celebration of type. Each of the  typefaces – many familiar like Gotham, Optima, and of course, Helvetica – is enlarged to expertly identify its defining characteristics. Information is given on each, along with its history, origin, and designer, as well as best uses. Full character sets are shown, along with best letters for identification. A terrific reference for both professionals and amateur type-lovers.

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