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.
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.
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, 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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!