“Ballpoint” Exhibition CatalogThe ballpoint pen, patented in 1945, was the result of a quest by Hungarian journalist Laszlo Biro and his chemist brother Georg to put viscous printers’ inks in a handwriting device. As designer Angus Hyland writes in the introduction to this exhibition catalog, it is odd that the ballpoint’s use has been restricted to writing: “Perhaps it is its sheer popularity, its utter commonness, which has made the ballpoint too mundane, too familiar for any artistic purpose.” The accompaniment to an exhibition of ballpoint drawings by over 50 designers and illustrators, the catalog takes the form of a prosaic school exercise book with attached penholder. Inside, the graph-paper pages bloom with the results of hours of skilled ballpoint-pen draftsmanship. The works include a painstakingly rendered jungle scene by Stephen Doyle and a series of fighter planes named for different ballpoints by Roderick Mills. Baker enjoyed the visual references to an activity familiar to anyone who has sat idly doodling at a school desk. “I know the experience—high school, the stuff you did in your yearbook. They carried it through.”
Design Pentagram Design (London): Angus Hyland, partner; Charlie Hanson, design assistantClient The Gallery at PentagramMaterials Fenner Paper: Idaho Blue Sky 275 gsm (cover stock); Optimale Blanc Naturel 120 gsm (inside stock)Fonts 45 Helvetica Light; Typewriter Light
Review: Channel 4 2003 Annual ReportAimed at reflecting a diverse audience, the 2003 annual report for the British independent TV station Channel 4 comes in four different versions. The channel gets only 10 percent of the U.K.’s total television audience but reports that 75 percent of all viewers watch it at least once a week. Its wide array of programming includes a number of successful exports, such as Big Brother and Jamie’s Kitchen. Browns Design commissioned four graphic artists to represent a popular show for each of the covers. Depicting hypothetical viewers slumped on a couch watching telly, Elliot Thoburn, Luke Best, Gwyn Vaughan Roberts, and Lorna Miller respectively illustrated The Hajj, Wife Swap, The Deal, and the comedy Bo Selecta. Best’s Wife Swap cover, for instance, which is rendered in paper cutouts, crayon, and markers, portrays transfixed viewers and a dog performing some of the actions of the displaced onscreen spouses: spilling coffee and burning clothes with an iron. “It’s smart and imaginative, and the parameters are so clearly defined,” Baker said. “I can’t even imagine the sell on this. How did they get it through?”
Design Browns (London): Jonathan Ellery, Lisa Smith, designersClient Channel 4 TelevisionMaterials Uncoated paperFonts DinSoftware QuarkXPress
Fishwrap No. 4The cleverly named Fishwrap brings together editorial, design, illustration, and photographic talents from several departments at Art Center College of Design in a sexed-up literary magazine. Or as issue 3 editor Betty Threat describes it, Fishwrap is “the temporary transport for the writhing, gasping, tortured, gleaming creature inside…that is, the parts of ourselves that we were unable to conceal.” Connoisseurs of student arts publications will be familiar with the dangers of overambitious writing and derivative work, but the jurors found many beguiling features in Fishwrap. Pull quotes from short stories, for example, appear in color wells of full-page illustration and photography, drawing readers back to the tales. “I actually wanted to read it,” Lupton said. Added Baker, “It shows what a school can do without going down the obvious route.” Siegler commended the Fishwrap team for overcoming obstacles like warring interdepartmental egos: “A student collaborative project is hard enough to do,” she said.
Design Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, CA): Elizabeth Azen, editor; Caleb Kozlowski, Michael Etter, Caitlin R. Smith, Brody Larson, Aaron Frebowitz, Amy Etta Glaiberman, Elizabeth Azen, art direction and design; Heather Culp, photo editorClient Art Center College of DesignSoftware QuarkXPress
Walker Without Walls CampaignWhen the Walker Art Center closed for expansion in 2004, the midwestern cultural mecca launched a yearlong program of concerts, outdoor films, and miniature golf games in neighboring venues in the Twin Cities. For this decentralized version of the institution and its events, the Walker’s in-house design team provided an identity and campaign that draws from the visual language of street signs, board games, and maps. The resulting graphic “kit of parts”—different-sized, brightly colored, interconnected speech balloons resembling 1950s motel signs—was applied to existing collateral and the physical environment, such as overprints on souvenir postcards, napkins, the Walker’s letterhead and calendar, stencils on sidewalks, lobby walls, and advertising billboards. Baker commended the graphics’ liveliness: “It’s an identity working its ass off.” Siegler said she couldn’t think of another museum that left so strong a mark.
Design Walker Art Center (Minneapolis): Alex DeArmond, senior designer; Andrew Blauvelt, design directorClient Walker Art CenterMaterials Printed matter; transtops; billboards; freestanding signs; chalk and stencilsFonts Helvetica Rounded; WalkerSoftware Adobe Creative Suite
Therapy Films StationeryPlaying off the client’s name and a perceived target audience of “eccentric and a bit warped” creative types, Mark Denton Design developed a unique mascot for Therapy Films, a London-based TV, film, and music-video production company. Letterhead, business cards, and packets of nuts feature a monkey wearing a Napoleon hat, suggesting a character in need of a little psychiatric counseling. Collateral items present colloquialisms for “insane”: Images of crackers, nuts, bananas, and cuckoo clocks bedeck wrapping paper, T-shirts, and promotional stamps. (The monkey stamps can be used for company mail, explains the designer, since many Therapy packages are delivered by hand around the Soho area of London: “Therapy inmates are encouraged to apply them liberally.”) “It’s a great package,” Siegler said, savoring the visual puns on the theme of insanity. “They took it and ran with it and didn’t stop running. It could have been unsuccessful really easily.”
Design Mark Denton Design (London): Mark Denton, designer; Oli Carver, image manipulation; Andy Dymock, typographyClient Therapy Films Ltd. (London)Fonts Flyer StraightSoftware Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop
Zembla MagazineZembla is named after the invented land of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Pale Fire and combines, according to its editor, “literary culture interests with the innovation and flair of a style magazine.” To live up to this promise, its designers—a pan-global team based in Sydney, Melbourne, and London, who also designed the award-winning web
site (see Zembla on the interactive design distinction page)—abandoned all fixed rules in favor of flexible type sizes and characters and a grid that appears “only when needed.” As Siegler put it, “It’s part of this new design universe, where every issue starts afresh, and every article starts anew in every issue.” The jurors enjoyed the vivacious form and content, which mixed fiction, art, and essays with offbeat interviews (in one issue, the long-expired philosopher Frederich Nietzsche answers questions) and reviews by authors of their own books. Baker liked the playful use of columns, adding that, for once, “The interior lives up to the cover.” Lupton agreed about the consistency of experimentation: “It’s pure, beautiful design.”
Design Emeryfrost (Melbourne and Sydney) and Frost Design (London): Vince Frost, creative director; Matt Wiley, design director; Anthony Donovan, designer, Sydney; Tim Murphy, designer, MelbourneClient Simon Finch Rare Books (London)Fonts Arete Mono; PalatinoSoftware Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop; QuarkXPress
Dsquared2 Fall/Winter 2004 CatalogA titillating and schlocky photo-comic, the Dsquared2 Fall/Winter 2004 fashion catalog struck the jurors as a welcome interruption to a category that lately has erred toward conservatism. “It’s not just a straight-up parody,” Siegler said, “they’ve invented their own thing: a mix of two genres, the comic book and video.” The catalog is sealed like a porn mag in a black plastic wrapper, which, when opened, reveals the fashions of Canadian twin brothers Dean and Dan Caten as worn by four buff male models and übermodel Naomi Campbell. Enacting a tale of betrayal, rescue, and revenge dubbed “Canadian Mountain Monsters,” Campbell and the boys appear in various states of stylish undress in video stills shot by photographer Steven Klein, punctuated by cartoon sound effects familiar to fans of Batman. “It’s over-the-top; the whole thing was shot on video like a porn film, which gives it a bizarre texture and narrative quality that is quite shocking,” Lupton said. “Porn about guys is so refreshing.”
Design Studio Giovanni Bianco (New York): Giovanni Bianco, creative director; Diego Chamorro, graphic designer; David Schnapper, graphic designerClient Dsquared2 (Milan)Software Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop; QuarkXPress
Blue Hill at Stone Barns PromotionsA working farm, educational center, restaurant, and recreational facility 30 miles north of Manhattan, the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture advocates sustainable farming and community-based food production. The jurors chose to combine three projects commissioned by Stone Barns—an identity, restaurant promotion, and press kit, by two different design teams—in recognition of the client’s clear and consistent message.
Alexander Isley Inc.’s identity is based on a system of logos and design elements drawn from imagery of fresh produce and livestock. Lupton described it as a tour de force “trying to convey a new attitude in the food business and give it a face.” She added, “It has that country-fair letterpress feel but is modern. It’s not a joke, it’s respectful.” The “carrot promo,” by Barber & Roan, is a three-part direct mail piece to encourage return visits to the restaurant; it begins with a spring mailing of carrot seeds and ends with a winter mailing of carrot cake adorned with a “thank you” tag. The press kit, also designed by Barber & Roan, is a box containing cards that reveal Stone Barns’ “farm to table” philosophy. Baker commended the finely tuned identity, which is incorporated into the promo and press kit. “In other hands it would have been parodied and over-the-top, but at this size you come to realize there’s a lot of restraint there.”
Press Kit and Carrot PromotionDesign Barber & Roan (New York): Vicki Latimer Roan, Laureen Barber, principalsClient Blue Hill at Stone Barns (Pocantico Hills, NY)Materials Press Kit: Carnival Vellum duplex; ribbon; wooden curls; custom Kraft tape; wooden crate; mailing label on Strathmore. Carrot Promotion: Recycled paper; glassine; ribbon; Cougar natural; Strathmore Label stock; natural chipboard; custom Kraft tapeFonts Copperplate; Engravers Gothic; Engravers Roman; Mrs. EavesSoftware Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop; QuarkXPress
IdentityDesign Alexander Isley Inc. (Redding, CT): Tara Benyei, art director; Alexander Isley, principalClient Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture (Pocantico Hills, NY)Materials Mohawk recyclable fiber papers; soy-based inksFonts Scala SansSoftware Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop
Six Feet Under: Better Living Through DeathA lugubrious volume for fans of the critically acclaimed HBO television series set around a Los Angeles funeral home, Six Feet Under: Better Living Through Death was applauded by Siegler as “a true marriage of form and content.” As its designers explain, the aim was to echo the show’s tension between “what is above the surface and what is below.” The book slides out of a stiff semi-opaque box, revealing photographer Gregory Crewdson’s well-known shot of the characters seated around a table in a dining room mysteriously overgrown with flowers. Inside, a collection of artifacts created by the designers includes childhood photographs of the characters and journal extracts. “It pretends that the show is reality and it’s about this universe,” Siegler said.
Design Design: mw (New York): Yael Eisele, designer, art director; Allison Williams, principal; JP Williams, principal, creative directorClient Melcher Media (New York)Software Adobe Illustrator; QuarkXPress
Publikum CalendarDuring Milosevic’s regime in the former Yugoslavia, the local FIA Art Group launched a calendar as an outlet for artists, designers, and illustrators to project a “message of optimism.” The calendar survived the socio-political turmoil of the next 12 years, and then FIA invited an overseas team to design the 2005 version. The New York?based studio Karlssonwilker accepted the commission on the condition that its partners, Hjalti Karlsson and Jan Wilker, could visit Belgrade to “breathe Serbian air” and “order breakfast in a Serbian bakery.” They designed the calendar a page a day, in situ, producing a work that represents a new genre in the team’s estimation: “performance design.”
“It’s pretty ambitious, the scale, the international quality,” Lupton said, noting the difficulty of assembling such a project. The calendar’s functional role—matching up dates and days of the week—is mostly ignored (weekends are faintly hinted at) in favor of the designers’ enthusiastic and idiosyncratic impressions of Serbian sunrises, women, and graphic motifs; a 3-D computer rendering of a bust of Tito; and an arbitrary phrase book printed on stickers. “Every page is a new discovery,” Siegler said. “And we love the stickers. Really, you put stickers in something, you have me. I’m all over it.”
Inc. (New York): Hjalti Karlsson, Jan Wilker, art directors and designers; with the help of Frank DeRose and Pete SussiClient Publikum/FIA (Belgrade, Serbia)Software Adobe Creative Suite CS; LightWave 7.5