Mid-century modern is an umbrella term that describes the popular industrial design taste ranging from the mid-1940's to the mid-1970's across all disciplines—architecture, interior design, product design, and graphic design. It was huge shift in its time, orbiting around the desire to strip away excessive ornamentation and get things down to their most basic shape elements. Despite the changing aesthetics of the 1970's onward, it continues to endure—in the words gallery owner Patrick Parrish, "It’s been the new cool thing five times in the last 50 years."
Of course, no design era is the pinnacle of perfection. Elements of mid-century interior design can oversaturate our eyeballs—does anyone else completely overlook the Eames chairs placed in the corner of perfectly-styled rooms on Pinterest—and after living in post-Soviet East Germany for a year, I gotta say that the stark minimalism of Brutalist architecture can get really depressing in a snowless winter. (I also have to admit that sometimes even the word "design" is so overused that it feels like a gnat swarm to the face on a muggy day in August.)
Yet, I can't help but love the work of French-born, NYC-based designer Raymond Loewy (1893–1986). You probably don't know the name, but the guy was so prolific that unless you've been living in a cave, I guarantee you've seen his work. Let's take a look at some of his greatest hits.
I recently came across a great quote originating on Twitter by Stephen Fry concerning the debate on the analog-digital dethronement sequence: "Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators."
I'm a man neck-deep in digital technology (one prime example: I mostly draw digitally in Photoshop on a Cintiq tablet, which uses "brushes" coded to act like anything from watercolor to oil paints to graphite) and I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Fry. The more my surroundings convert to lines of code, sandwiched between a backlit screen and a power source, the more I want to balance it all out with things I can touch, taste, and smell.
Correspondence is one of those areas: I email and text a lot, but recently I've started to turn to my old friends at the U.S. Postal Service to send my most important messages, for the simple fact that nothing says "I care" more than a handwritten note. (Check out our post on the still-existing power of the handwritten letter for more on the subject.)
The only thing is, if I'm going to take the time to write someone a letter, I'm going to go the extra mile and forego the cheap printer paper. So, along with a good pencil or fountain pen, the number one item I need for this task is some good, high-quality stationery that looks like it came from...well, me. Read on for some of my favorite suppliers!
When I sat down to write about typography this morning, there was so much I wanted to say that the letters on my keyboard actually sat silent for a good few minutes.
We're in a golden age for typography. Gutenberg totally exploded Europe in the 1500's when he dropped the printing-press-with-moveable-type bomb, but even then, for the next 500 years, the spread of ideas and publishing were in the hands of a collection of specialist craftsmen and the people who hired them. (After all, producing physical objects is expensive.) Then, in rolled desktop publishing in the 80's and—combining computer hardware, software that included digital type, and the ability to effectively "print" on-screen and distribute to other screens instantly via the Internet—you've effectively got a second Printing Revolution happening right now, with type squarely in the middle of it.
Typography was once a niche element, but now we're up to our ears in it. As it is with any craft that takes a lifetime to master, thoughtfulness will set you and your message apart. The craft will give back what you put into it. Using typography in design is a lot like using salt in cooking: when it's used well, it contributes to a greater whole but goes largely unnoticed; when typography calls attention to itself, it's typically been used poorly.
If you've ever been putting together a quick flyer or PowerPoint presentation and wanted to put a little more thought into your font choices, but you feel like you're shooting blindly in the dark because you're not a trained designer, we've put together a quick guide for you.
We all have designs, and we all have ideas. And sometimes, they just have to get out of our heads and into the real world. Screen printing is a great way to ink art on just about anything from shirts to posters to wood. If you figure out how to do it right, it's the easiest way to create dozens of copies fast. So here's our look at the right gear and techniques you'll need to get started today.
One time, in an interview, I was asked, "What's the connection between all the styles of crafts and projects you feature on ManMade? What makes them of a kind?" After thinking for a second, it occurred to me that most of the things I'm interested in involve a similar process: take some materials, cut them up into different shapes and sizes, and then put them together in a more interesting way. Sometimes we do that with joinery, or hardware, or a sauce, but often, that work involves the magical power of....
The To Resolve Project is a different take on the New Year's Resolution: well-designed and inspiring creative mantras that give you a beautiful reminder everytime you switch on your smart phone or tablet. Whether you wanna read more, eat better, meet an exercise goal, or just be generally more creative and productive, you'll be good to go for the next fifty ringtone/wallpaper changes, at least.
Back in the day, the importance of a menu’s design was on par with the restaurant’s actual decor. Artists were hired to craft hand-drawn pictures, ornate fonts, and anything that would help sell the cuisine. While the art of the ornate menu has declined in recent years, the New York Public Library has archived over 7,000 unique restaurant menus from the city’s history.
How about some free stuff to start off your week?
Outside Open is offering a free poster featuring the NATO phonetic alphabet chart (you know, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot) for use on all your International Radiotelephony needs. It'll certainly come in handy on your next call with tech support and all future covert military operations, and also features semaphore delineation (pre-electronic flag letter signals for naval communication represented in a circle), Morse Code,
I dunno how you boys feel about interstellar travel, but I'm a hardcore sucker when it comes to anything relating to the subject. Whether it's a comical take on its treatment in movies or a serious treatise on the realities of the universe, I check yes every time. So you can imagine my excitement when NASA's subsidiary computing project, PlanetQuest, came out with these fake, retro travel advertisements for recently discovered planets.
Hardcore fan of your state? Or perhaps it just has a pleasing, graphic shape? Or perhaps you're simply looking for new awesome art to hang on your wall? Either way, check out this idea.
ManMade reader Donal McKernan is an expert in graphic design and dimensional sign-making at Danthonia Designs, a hand-crafted sign shop in Inverell, Australia.
Danthonia recently released a series of how-to videos, detailing the process to making a one-of-a-kind hand-carved wooden sign.
Head's up, fellow radio/podcast fans: Bradley Campbell did a bit of analysis into what it takes to put together a great piece of audio content, and diagrammed each show's structure on that most inspiring of canvases: the back of a napkin.
Iconic designer and graphic artist Milton Glaser - the mind behind the I ♥ NY logo, that Bob Dylan poster with the colorful hair, and the co-founder of New York Magazine - takes a look at the bottle and can labels of contemporary beer art.
"Typeset in the Future" is a new blog by Dave Addey that's "dedicated to fonts in sci-fi." For his inaugural post, he sets about dissecting the type in (what Chris thinks is) the greatest science fiction film ever made, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Released in 1968, the film represents breakthroughs in both set design and typography, of which it takes full advantage.