Category Design

Long read: A heady, inspiring interview with Experimental Jetset

Last year, Collective magazine conducted an interview with Marieke Stolk, Danny van den Dungen and Erwin Brinkers, who are better known as the designers behind Experimental Jetset. They speak about they’re process working together, how you evolve as a designer, dislike of the term ‘target audience’, and much more.

In particular I loved their mentality, that they “don’t study theory; we live it”, which comes across in a very heady, sort of existential way. I’m not one to over-intellectualize ideas (you’ve read this blog, right?) and most of the time that stuff goes over my head. But you can tell that the guys from EJ, however deep their thoughts may be, really do live by their words.

We know, there are plenty of critics out there trying to make designers feel inferior, trying to prevent designers from making creative (and intuitive) use of theory, trying to force designers to think in a more ‘rigorous’ way – but really, to speak with Raoul Vaneigem, “such people have a corpse in their mouth”. They are supporters of a dead and rigid notion of theory.

Probably one of my favorite interviews I’ve read in a while, click here to read the full piece.

Found through Readdd

Famous city landmarks rendered in minimal line work by Studio Esinam

Famous city landmarks as minimal linework by Studio Esinam

Came across these killer prints by Studio Esinam over the weekend which have landmarks and other notable buildings rendered in a minimal line art style. The effect is a series of works that are filled with wonderful details yet can sit comfortably in the most simplistic of spaces. I’d personally love one of these prints for my bedroom which Kyle and I keep relatively white and clean. I feel like I can relax in there better because of it.

You can view all 10 prints by clicking here.

Tobias Frere-Jones illustrates the basic mechanics of type

The always inspiring Tobias Frere-Jones has started a new series of posts on the mechanics of type and so far it sounds perfect for the novice and expert alike.

This new series of posts will explore what I call “typeface mechanics”, the behind-the-scenes work that makes typefaces visually functional. It is what placates the stubborn oddities of human perception, helps or hinders the user, and informs long-standing conventions of design.

The first part is about vertical and horizontal position of type. Logically you’d think all the letters would line up perfectly though unfortunately our brains don’t work that way. Take a read and see for yourself.

Matt Cooper Shares His Experience Designing Line Icons

An Exploration of Line Icon Design by Matt Cooper

I enjoyed this post over on Medium by Matt Cooper who writes about his experience over the last 18 months designing line based icons. For a while there everyone was in a tizzy over whether or not line icons were legible or not though that fervor seems to have died down. Now we’re starting to see some well-executed icons in this style like the one’s Matt has made, which to me show the validity of line based icons.

If you’re curious to see more examples you should check out Designspiration’s collection of line icons. A plethora of icons to inspire your own work.

Siggi Eggertsson Makes Screensavers Cool Again with Saver Screensson

Siggi Eggertsson - Screensaver

The screensaver feels like an icon of the past. Sure, we all use the standard Mac screensaver with the photos of majestic looking animals or vibrant flowers, floating on mobile like strings that dance across our displays. Yet the screensaver feels like it needs a reinvention, a sprucing up if you will.

Icelandic designer Siggi Eggertsson has you covered with his new project Saver Screensson. Using his own drawings he’s created a screensaver that layers upon itself, creating incredible designs that shift and transform as the time passes. I’ve been using it since Friday and I can’t imagine going back to any sort of standard screensaver.

What The Canadian Flag Could Have Been

Arcade has a great piece on the creation of the Canadian flag as we currently know it, spurred by an effort to distance themselves from Britain during a political crisis in the 50’s.

In the summer of 1964, with construction of the groundbreaking Montreal Expo underway, a new national symbol was seen as key to the modernization of Canada. The creation of a new flag was meant to be a truly public and participatory process in which citizens were invited to take part in the profound reshaping of their country’s national image.

I found it fascinating that their flag was designed so recently. In my mind flags have such a provenance and iconic nature that they seem like they’ve been around forever.

Below is my favorite rejected flag design. I love the simplified version of the maple leaves, the gaggle of geese, and the Japanese aesthetic it embodies. In fact, when you do a Google Image Search of the image you see primarily Japanese sumi ink paintings. Anyone know who created this version?

Canada Flag Design - Japanese

The Craftsmen of Ireland


At the end of last year, I was delighted to hear that Jameson had invited me to Ireland to interact with some of their local craftsman, tour their incredible distillery, and—of course—enjoy some delicious Irish whiskey.

Never having been to Ireland before, I knew I was in for a treat. Telling friends and co-workers about my journey I was told stories about cozy, old pubs that buzz until late into the night, lusciosus green hills that seem to last forever, and encountering folks who were some of the nicest they’d ever met. This was one of the elements that still stands out so vividly to me: how kind the people are.


The first craftsman we visited was a burly man named Garvan de Bruir, a leather crafter working in the quaint town of Killdare. We drove almost directly from the Dublin airport to his studio and was greeted with a spread of sandwiches, salads, and good beer, which was much needed after a 14+ hour flight. Garvan’s kindness matched his creativity as we snacked in an impressive studio he designed himself, not content only creating objects with leather.



The De Bruir line of leather goods are fantastic, too. He makes a little bit of everything such as luggage, bags, wallets, keep-all trays, and, most surprising of all, bow ties. I believe hearing the words “leather bow tie” might induce a cringe amongst most but his design is flawless and, when you see Garvin himself wearing one, you suddenly see how well it works.


We were given the opportunity to make leather aprons for ourselves using De Bruir designs. Watching Garvan and his apprentice work looked simple but in actuality is a lot like watching cooking shows on television: “I can do that, no big deal,” you say in your head. As I learned, leather crafting is not simple. Thankfully we had expert teachers who led us through process with ease as we chatted about other small leather good brands from around the world. It was two days of hard work that led to a beautiful product that should last me forever.

After this, we took off for the town of Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city and home to a number of glass blowers. Waterford might sound familiar and that’s because it was the home of Waterford Crystal. Well, that was until 2009 when they declared bankruptcy and laid off most of their artisans. Still! That didn’t stop companies like The Irish Handmade Glass Company from filling the void with their very in-demand skills.


If you’ve never seen glass blowing in person, it’s hard to fully understand the beauty of the process. We were treated to Richard Rowe showing us how a master glass blower goes about his craft, tranforming globs of molten glass into precious pieces of art in minutes. It’s an intimdating craft that has an element of danger—or at least you think this from the view of a spectator, which is a part of it’s allure.




The last leg of our trip was a tour through the Jameson Distillery in Cork, a facility that’s been around since 1795. The distillery is indicative of what I saw a lot of in Ireland: a rich history and heritage now being augmented with contemporary design and architecture. As you walk around you’re overwhelmed by the age of the place, that has been the brand home for hundreds of years.



They’ve been plying their craft, slowly but surely moving toward the present and future of whiskey. The grounds are mostly lined with old building made of stone and wood, like a Dickensian setting of some sort. This setting continues in the past until the near end, where you’re guided to the new wing of the facility a state-of-the-art complex that resembles a Bond villains lair (but in actuality, distills golden, whiskey goodness).


They even have (what I would call) a whiskey labratory officially titled the Irish Whiskey Academy. It offers a number of courses on the history of whiskey, how it’s produced, and—yes—extensive tastings. The tastings were particularly interesting because of the variety of flavors and nuance a whiskey can take on. Some had fruit notes, some where quite smokey; others were younger and thus quite potent, a specific taste for specific people. Getting to soak up the details of a whiskey like that is not something that happens very often—especially in such a storied place like the Jameson Distillery.



In all, Ireland was a fantastic place to visit. The weather was warm, the people were warmer, and the whiskey never stops flowing. You can’t ask for much more than that.

Sonos Doesn’t Have A New Logo, It Has A Beautiful New Visual Identity

Bruce Mau Design's New Sonos Logo Isn't A Logo

It’s been nice to see Bruce Mau Design’s work for Sonos get the recognition it deserves, the team has done a beautiful job. Of particular note has been how the lines radiating outward from behind the logo resembles sound waves thanks to the moire pattern used – except it’s wrongly being called a new logo. By many. The Sonos logo hasn’t changed, only the visual identity has been refreshed. From Bruce Mau Design:

This new iteration of the Sonos visual identity advances the idea of the modern music experience – not singular or monolithic but a rich diversity of expressions. Performance imagery from Sonos Studio, new product photography and the introduction of three big graphic tools that can be mixed and remixed, deliver a creative and variable language while still providing the stability of a recognizable system.

As designers we should do our part in educating the folks who don’t understand on the difference between logo design and visual identity. At the very least it’s good for people who aren’t as fluent in design speak to understand what it is we do exactly (and why they’re paying so much for it). Hat tip to Bryan Byczek for pointing this out.

Bold, Folksy Branding for Mibici, A Used Bike Non-Profit

Really like the boldness of this brand identity for Mibici, a small non-profit that brings used bikes from the U.S. and distributes them in rural communities in Costa Rica. It was created by Pupila Sestudio along with with Matti Vandersee who did a great job of making a non-profit that may have gotten list visually stand out from the pack. The hand-drawn bike illustrations are especially charming.

Bold, Folksy Branding for Mibici, A Used Bike Non-Profit

Bold, Folksy Branding for Mibici, A Used Bike Non-Profit

The Top Title Sequences Of 2014

Art Of The Title Top 10 Title Sequences Of 2014

Good title sequences are much rarer than they should be, an aesthetic often only considered by those making the opening credits of a Bond movie or the show True Detective. Title sequences are about setting a tone and style for a show and do so by doing either very little or a lot. The episodes and show may chance but the title sequence is the one item that ties everything up, alluding to what an audience knows and will find out if they stay tuned.

Art Of The Title knows this best and, to celebrate, they selected their top ten favorite title sequences of last year. The selections span from video games to movies to television shows and even promotional sequences. While just ten sounds paltry, their picks span a variety of styles and forms. For example the brilliant opening sequence for the decent game Alien: Isolation not only falls into an homage category, echoing the original Alien, but set the tone for a decidedly creepy (yet glacially slow) game. It’s place at number ten points out how stellar a year it was.

It’s a good little list, considering many of the titles were part of wonderfully considered and executed design efforts in entertainment (which is a rarity). There is even the wacky inclusion of “Too Many Cooks” which is just as absurd as the video but—hey—it truly is at its heart a title sequence.

Read the full list and see all the sequences in question by clicking here.