Punch Cutting, with Boxing Gloves

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What a brilliant idea for a typeface! Ukranian heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko punches his way through all 26 letters of the alphabet. (No word on glyphs, though.) And it's from Monotype, and it's a free download unless you feel like paying for it, in which case the money is donated to an international literacy charity for children. Talk about win-win. Read more about it here.

Melting Teacups

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Artist Livia Marin's melting ceramics are haunting, as if they're trying desperately to hold on to their identity even as they dissolve into puddles, a nice merging of spilling the contents and breaking the container. They might make ya think about all the big stuff: permanence, impermanence, change, mortality...or you may just appreciate them as a really good idea.

Via MyModernMet.

A Better Pencil

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Japanese designer Akio Hayakawa has developed a fix for the wasteful feature common to all pencils—the graphite that runs the length of the entire thing, even though you can't use all of it as the pencil gets shorter and shorter. Around 20% of the graphite is eventually thrown away. In Hayakawa's Easy Pencil design, the graphite stops about two inches above the end of the pencil. Small quibble: a pencil really needs an eraser, no? These are my personal favorites.

Via Fast Co Design

Visualizing the Bestsellers

A PhD candidate in Astronomy at the University of Washington decided to compile a weekly visual record of bestselling bookcovers. So he wrote a script that grabbed the Top-10 covers every week (actually 4 weeks per month, 48 weeks a year) off of USA Today's web from 2000 to 2012.  Read more about it on his blog, If We Assume, and in the meantime here's a preview. Pretty cool.

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That's What the 80s Looked Like on the Subway

A while back I wrote this post about how photographer Richard Sandler's pictures of New York in the 80's felt really off to me—I had just moved back to NYC then and didn't recognize the place shown in his work, at all. Now this guy, Christopher Morris. This guy has captured EXACTLY what my NYC looked like back then. The scene ain't pretty but these pictures feel much more authentic.

Via MyModernMet.

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Irma Boom: Book Builder

I interviewed Dutch graphic designer Irma Boom for Designers and Books. Have a look here! This is a book she created for Chanel—the entirely white, embossed book is presented in a black box. No ink or binding boards to get in the way, just a mysterious and very tactile evocation of the world of Coco Chanel. “Boom: A Conversation with Irma Boom & Debbie Millman,” will take place on Wednesday, January 29, from 6:30–8:30 PM at Parsons The New School for Design, New York. The event is presented by AIGA/NY and Designers & Books and will be followed by a book signing for Irma Boom: The Architecture of the Book and a reception. For details, click here.

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Interior pages and front of box for No. 5 Culture Chanel, 2013, designed by Irma Boom. Photo: Courtesy of Irma Boom

Design + Nature/Part One

Artist Luke Jerram’s Glass Microbiology series is just amazing. The pieces are designed using a combination of scientific photographs and models in consultation with virologists from the University of Bristol, and made in collaboration with glassblowers Kim George, Brian Jones and Norman Veitch. Meditations on the global impact of each disease, the clear glass artworks challenge the familiar but artificially colored images of viruses depicted in the media. Viruses, in fact, are colorless because they are smaller than the wavelength of light.

The sculptures are held in museum collections around the world, and photographs of Jerram’s work are widely used in medical journals, text books and media stories. They’re highly regarded as useful representations of virology within the scientific community. Jerram sells the pieces in limited editions of five on his website, and also offers (surprisingly affordable) giclée prints. Too bad I discovered these too late to make my Christmas list! 

Click through for four examples, and check out Jerram's gallery for more.

Hunger Games: Catching Fire—Where the Future Still Looks Like the Past

I had some fun analyzing this movie, from a design point of view, with fellow critic Alexandra Lange for the Atlantic.com. Of course I wish the future looked less nostalgic, which is getting to be an oft-repeated lament. That said, I also wish there was more Penelope Tree-inspired eye makeup, we only got glimpses of it in the Capitol. Overall, It felt like this installment was mostly a setup for next 2 movies—not all that much happened. Looking forward to more and better next time! I guess I have a standing date for next Thanksgiving.

Tapestries from Leftover Binary Data

These tapestries look familiar, because most computer users have had the frightening moment when a memory glitch causes the screen to fragment like this. Phillip Stearns uses leftover raw binary code (regularly purged from RAM, not needed for anything) to create his series Fragmented Memory.  I really like that they are based on actual data even though they appear to be random patterns.

FastCo Design explains:

Every moment you use your computer, millions of 1s and 0s feed through the circuitry. Some are saved onto your hard drive, of course, but most are cached temporarily, routinely and permanently purged from RAM as more pressing information takes its place. The information dissolves in digital ether.

 

Fujifilm X Series: Nontoxic Nostalgia

I am generally not a fan of nostalgic design—for one thing, it's lazy and keeps us from arriving at newer, more original solutions. (If you want to hear the other things, I rant on here.) However, I really like these Fujifilm X Series digital cameras. Much smaller and lighter than a typical DSLR, they hold onto an iconic, classic camera-ness of form while providing all the advantages of digital function. Win-win.

Masazumi Imai, the chief designer of the X series, says it much better than I could: 

“When we were little, when we went into our father’s room or our grandfather’s room, there was an important-looking camera on the shelf, and we were told not to touch it because it was valuable,” Mr. Imai said. “We wanted to create that kind of look and feel.”

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Doesn't Look Like My New York

Interesting how artists can present a vision of something entirely at odds with your own experience of that thing—it looks familiar but very off at the same time. 

Photographer Richard Sandler's B&W, noirish pictures of 1980's New York City had that effect on me. I moved back to the city in 1984 after graduating from art school, and it was a raw, chaotic, often scary but always thrilling place back then. I recognize Sandler's city, vaguely, but these pictures look more like images I've seen from the 1960s. For me, it just didn't look like this, EVER. I guess we all live in our own little cities.