What’s Black-and-White and Red All Over?

Newsprint, pop graphics, and zigzagging pixilation are making waves in graphic design lately—all in stark black-and-white, with only occasional flashes of color (usually cherry red). Here’s some of the hottest stuff we’ve seen.

100 Best Plakate (100 Best Posters)

100 Best Plakate (100 Best Posters)

100 Best Plakate (100 Best Posters) exhibition catalogue

"100 Best Plakate (100 Best Posters)" exhibition catalog

As a onetime and future Berliner, I always keep a close eye on 100 Beste Plakate (100 Best Posters), an annual design contest for work made in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. You can’t beat this curatorial crew for finding some gorgeous, thoughtful work year after year.

The 2011 winners will be announced on June 28 with an exhibit at the Staatliche Museum zu Berlin. But even this sneak peek at the exhibition guide reveals much optical B&W goodness.

What I Wished For / What I Got wrapping paper by Under Consideration

What I Wished For / What I Got wrapping paper by UnderConsideration

Our buddies at UnderConsideration also have B&W(&R) fever. We heartily dig their wrapping paper What I Wish For / What I Got, plus the tie-in Twitter hashtag campaign. Finally, a boldly contrasting graphic statement that captures the sinking feeling of unwrapping a thoroughly ill-chosen gift!

I Heart Design by Steven Heller

I Heart Design by Steven Heller

I Heart Design, the latest book by Print contributor (and prolific design maven) Steven Heller, shows how B&W (with gray gradients and judicious splashes of red) can impart a bold yet balanced look.

Neenah Paper Color Paper & Texture toolkit

Neenah Paper Color Paper & Texture toolkit

RockPaperInk tipped us off to a new Neenah Paper Color Paper & Texture toolkit in bold B&W zigzags. Contrasting chevrons, slanted against each other, add to the energy as well as the polish. Slick, Neenah!

Coke Zero Euro Cup 2012, designed by Attik UK

Coke Zero Euro Cup 2012, designed by Attik UK

Even brand behemoths like Coca-Cola are experimenting with tilting their palette toward B&W. This Coke Zero branding campaign for Euro Cup 2012, by Attik UK, shows how a concentrated dose of Coke red really shouts (without straining its voice to be heard).

Illustrations by Nina Radenkovic for Appricot offices

Illustrations by Nina Radenkovic for the Appricot offices

Also nice: These B&W illustrations by Nina Radenkovic adorn the otherwise-spartan walls of the mobile startup Appricot. It’s a smashing backdrop for the creative work set to happen in this space.

Look Both Ways by Debbie Millman at Chicago Design Museum

"Look Both Ways" by Debbie Millman at the Chicago Design Museum

Print contributor Debbie Millman just opened a new exhibit at Chicago Design Museum, in its latest pop-up location in Humboldt Park. Debbie knows better than anyone how simple B&W handwriting holds its own as a graphic element. Her visual essays are emotionally complete with erasures, faltering line drawings, and tissued overlays.

From Sea of Love by Tahiti Pehrson

From "Sea of Love" by Tahiti Pehrson

From Sea of Love by Tahiti Pehrson

From "Sea of Love" by Tahiti Pehrson

The artist Tahiti Pehrsons‘s work revolves around intricate cut-outs into white paper. Pehrsons’s black is an absence of paper; her mounting collection of X-acto blades (above) is a testament to how much hand-labor goes into her pieces.

Carsonified.com

Carsonified.com

You can also soften the B&W—without losing its punch—by simply shading the white toward vanilla, as the UK design community Carsonified does. It makes the black read a bit softer, like a deep chocolate, and yet it still pops nicely against colors.

More proof of black-and-white’s softer side can by found over on Apartment Therapy, which recently highlighted some subtle B&W-striped walls (below).

Apartment Therapy on B&W stripes

Apartment Therapy on B&W stripes

Finally, here’s one way the B&W-newsprint look might evolve over time: through the renaissance of watery Xerox-machine colors. When GOOD magazine recently slashed its editorial staff (ugh), quite a few of the gang reassembled to start a promising new magazine called TOMORROW. This launch image plays with the palette of old mimeograph machines—I can smell that spelling test, freshly run off by Sr. Philomena right now!—and it’s mind-bendingly gorgeous. How is it that vanished technologies can be made to represent exciting new directions, just with a few well-considered tweaks? TOMORROW, we wish you cats well. May the force of future-newsprint be with you!

TOMORROW Magazine

TOMORROW magazine

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Find more color inspiration at MyDesignShop.com—with the book Color Inspirations, the Panton Color Specifier, or Leatrice Eiseman’s MP3 workshop on tracking color trends. 

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