idea ink is a series of Japanese books focusing on the theme of “ideas of the future”, published by Asahi Press and designed by Tokyo-based design studio Groovisions. The books focus on themes from gastronomy; environment and social issues to information graphics and even love and the quest for marriage outside of Japan. The graphic design for each book is clean and crisp, yet colorful and alive at the same time. A refreshing approach considering the excess of graphic information in a city such as Tokyo, yet still coherent with Japanese philosophies of simplicity and elegance in style. Groovisions also have Muji as their clients, another Japanese company notable for its minimalistic products. I particularly love the monoweight lines of the illustrations and the pastel color pallete. One of the things I love in Japanese design is the potency of “silent” designs, and to me this definitely falls into that category.
Categorized “Graphic design”
Munich based multi-disciplinary designer Aurelian Hallhuber, has recently completed the design of 0/1 – a strikingly minimal book and thesis project providing an overview of the different modes of representation and ways of which binary codes can be used in the field of visual communication. Hallhuber writes: Whether it be filled content, as a design feature or as an inspiration for creative processes, showing a strong reduction of the binary code, the possibilities are hidden in the smallest details of the visual world. This German designer clearly knows his craft, which makes this book a joy to read, if only from a limited online perspective. Beyond the beautifully embossed cover, I’m really liking the choice of typography too. Gorgeous work.
The contemporary cycling culture is really easy to embrace these days with beautiful graphic and packaging designs like James Greig, who is behind the clean and elegant brand and site, Cyclelove. It is a refreshing site that is actually less about bicycles and more about people and their bicycle lifestyles. And after I have spent too much time going through the photostream of all bike related images, the features on all bicycle paraphernalia, I found the perfect gift for fellow minimalist design-loving, bicycle-riding enthusiasts in this simple ‘Just Ride’ limited edition print of abstracted bicycle frames by Greig on heavyweight matt black paper with a white gloss ink, hand-numbered, and packaged in a custom CycleLove poster tube.
Lately I am much more interested in graphic design, so that is why today I bring you another piece of great minimalist rebranding for Norwegian Shipowners’ Association, in this case, a project developed by the Norwegian Neue Design Studio. Norwegian Shipowners Association has around 160 members – shipowners in the tanker and bulk transport sector, short sea sector and offshore activities. We wanted to create an iconic, simple and elegant identity that would communicate NSA’s universe as well as being serious, bold and forward-looking, showing NSA as a competent and global actor. Again I find this to be very effective work, with a great combination of simplicity and symbology, representing the open sea using just two rectangles in different blue tone colors. I hope to discover and share with you similar rebranding works that are just as impressive!
The design challenge for BRR was to capture the essence of Antarctica – ‘The Earth’s White Box’ whilst retaining both the integrity of the scientific research and capturing the visual beauty of this majestic continent. The BRR team realised that information on this continent was like an iceberg floating in the ocean. As icebergs reveal a small section of themselves above the horizon whilst concealing a greater part underwater, there is a large percentage of information that still requires investigating for the betterment of our planet’s future. This way the studio BRR explains the rebranding made for the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute, an entity responsible for developing, managing and executing New Zealand Government activities in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, in particular the Ross Dependency. The result is a clean and plain, but at the same time very effective graphic design work, made with a simple combination of geometric shapes to appear as icebergs in the sea, as well as using a monochrome code and sans-serif typography. Just perfect!
Today I wanted to introduce you to the gorgeous cloth-bound hardback catalogue for fine artist Arik Levy‘s Absent Nature collection. Beautifully and meticulously designed by Chicago based Bud Rodecker, this 128-page catalogue illustrates, in minimalist fashion, Arik’s simplistic sculptures of broken organic forms, which are supported by a well considered use and style of typography throughout. With the deboss on the front cover perhaps being my favourite feature, I must admit, Absent Nature is one of the most exquisitely designed catalogues I’ve come across recently.
The Italian minimalist designer, architect and teacher Angiolo Giuseppe Fronzoni needs little introduction. Not least because we recently featured his wonderful Quadra Lamp design. Today however, I am introducing you to a book by Ester Manitto on the teachings of Fronzoni. The book, titled A Lesson With AG Fronzoni – From teaching design to designing lifestyle, written both in Italian and English, is an act of gratitude from student to teacher and also an invitation to others to contribute to the reconstruction of a story of human and professional experience of the highest value and of great current relevance. Ester Manitto permits us to enter the world of AG Fronzoni’s workshop school, founded in Milan in 1982. The workshop school trained and directed its students towards the practice of continual research into the essence of form in life, nature, art, architecture and design, and a respect for learning by doing. The art direction and layout of this minimalist book, which has been beautifully illustrated, was designed by Genoa based creative studio Artiva Design. You can order the book for only ¢18. Something I will most definitely be doing.
Nocturnes is a unique box set of six books with silkscreened covers in a slipcase by the new photography group AM projects and published by dienacht Publishing. It is the first AM project and explores six different photographic journeys into the night. This idiomatic object is published with varying papers – depending on the artist – one even has an enormous fold-out poster. All come originally fused together spinally and will be presented as a box set. It is a landmark – in terms of design and printing (as well as in terms of photographic content) – in photo book publishing. The impressive minimalist design of this box set was produced by German graphics design studio, Fluut. I’d really like to get my hands on copies of these books. Beautiful work.
This is Real Art is a London-based advertising, design and branding agency and they strike a chord with the beautifully meaningful design for the Privacy International prospectus. Privacy International is a human rights ‘watchdog’ organisation, an NGO focused on fighting against unlawful privacy intrusions by government and businesses. The prospectus outlines the current work and future targets of the organisation and is packaged within an embossed cover that doubles as an envelope, keeping the ensemble minimalistic in function and design. The perforated cover even keeps the content private until physically opened by the reader. Beautifully simple, mindful and inspiring work.
Korean-born Heesang Lee is a graphic design student at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She has redesigned the packaging of the popular model-building essential, the X-Acto blade, giving it a clearer, easily recognizable presentation of the types of blades available. My focus on this new design is consumers can easily know what they need at a glance. Firstly I redesigned X-Acto logo. The ‘X’ is a stenciled letter that becomes a symbolic mark for X-Acto knife. Then I simplified information of the package, the numbers in the center are the blades number, and the back illustrations show the shape of blades. As we usually identify the blade by the shape more easily than the number of its type, Heesang has prioritized the information that the consumer needs first. Taking into account that there are over 14 types of blades produced by X-Acto, I think she has successfully achieved a more efficient and sophisticated packaging in its minimalist redesign if we recall what the existing packaging is.
Today I would like to share a few quotes and diagrams from a book to which I often return to when needing a simple but meaningful pick me up during the design process. 101 Things I learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick has been around for a while and many of you might have already heard of it or even own a copy. For those of you who don’t, may this be a sneak preview of what is inside. The book aims to: Firm up the foundation of the architecture studio by providing rallying points upon which the design process may thrive. One of my favorite quotes: Architecture begins with an idea. Good design solutions are not merely physically interesting but are driven by underlying ideas. An idea is a specific mental structure by which we organize, understand, and give meaning to external experiences and information. Without underlying ideas informing their buildings, architects are merely space planers. Space planning with decoration applied to “dress it up” is not architecture; architecture resides in the DNA of a building, in an embedded sensibility that infuses its whole.
Amsterdam-based graphic designer and illustrator Tim Boelaars has a series of limited-edition screenprints based on his sets of icons for everyday use, printed as different colored posters of 18” x 24”. Tim has drawn a lot of attention to his unique iconography work, with an established technique of bold, geometric, monospaced line work that illustrates a range of whimsical yet quirky commonplace things (well, except for the weaponry series). While each and every object may not be absolutely minimalistic in their portrayal, the arrangement of the icons in a monochromatic, perfectly ordered and straightforward fashion is very elegantly simple. Photography by Tim Boelaars, featured image from The Noun Project.