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(Re)mapping the Ancient World

Imagine the world as a neat rectangle or oval, flat, with wavy blue water on all four sides. A river runs through it, horizontally. At the center is the Roman emperor, sitting on his throne. If you’re used to zooming …

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“Historic” Historic Preservation

I’m a big fan of architectural historic preservation and restoration, and have involved myself and my studio in the saving of three structures that faced imminent destruction. These include railway stations in Skokie, Il, and Scarsdale, NY, as well as …

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I Sing the Body Schematic

Taschen’s latest mammoth volume, Fritz Kahn by Uta and Thilo von Debschitz is about a German doctor, educator, popular science writer and information graphics pioneer whose work translating the human organism into accessible human metaphors and analogies, has all but fallen into oblivion. Here is an excerpt.

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The Forgotten Typographic Art of Price Tags

Next to cash register receipts, common price tags are arguably the most taken for granted pieces of graphic design. Many today are rendered by computer, so why bother showering them with respect. Some are, of course, handwritten without the flair of a true letterer. And most are stock designs that come from a few different business stationery outlets that sell various merchant necessities.

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Design Without Design

One of the most fascinating aspects about building a design history (especially graphic design history) is finding and tracing an artifact from the past to present. So many large and small companies and firms that practiced in some way or …

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The Century 21 of Kimono Design

In a world where everything looks the same in terms of big-retail fashion, it’s refreshing to come across this catalog of Japanese Kimono designs.

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History For The Price Of Peanuts

I can’t say I think of Planters’ Mr. Peanut as a source of historical data, but this colorful little “Paint Book” from 1935 would seem to indicate otherwise.

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Ludwig Hohlwein’s Fun In The Sun

“Man and Sunlight” is English title of Hans Surén’s book “Der Mensch und die Sonne”, published in 1924; one of many celebrating the German obsession with physical purity and hygiene, nude gymnastics and sun bathing. Surén advocated that men (and …

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Wallpaper (not the magazine)

While in Rome, design expert Steven Heller took note of the design in vintage booklets on how to hang wallpaper. Take a look at these charming examples.