Food for thought‘[...] do not think that good design can make a poor product good, whether the product be a machine, a building, a promotional brochure or a business man. But [...] good design can materially help make a good product reach its full potential. In short, [...] good design is good business.’
Thomas J. Watson Jr., IBM CEO

Books are tools to stimulate your senses and adjust your thinking

May 3, 2014, 4:58 PM

iancul-Psycho-Pass

When a show references Blade Runner, Philip K. Dick, George Orwell, William Gibson and then goes on to analyze the benefits of reading and paper books versus ebooks, you know you’ve picked a great one. Here’s the transcript:

“This city is like a parody of the sort of novels I used to read when I was younger.”

“Oh yeah, what kind, like a William Gibson book?”

“More like Philip K. Dick. Not as controlling as the societies George Orwell depicted in his work and not quite as wild as the ones in Gibson’s either.”

“Philip K. Dick, hm? Never read him. So if I wanted to check him out, which one should I read first?”

‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’, it’s a classic.”

“There’s an old movie based on that, isn’t there?”

“The content’s quite different. You should compare them when you have time some day.”

“Then I’ll go ahead and download it right now.”

“No. Find the paperback. Ebooks lack character.”

“Got all the same words, don’t they?”

“Physical books are more than the words they contain. They are also tools to stimulate your senses and adjust your thinking.”

“How do you mean?”

“When I don’t feel well, I’ll stare at a page for ever before realising I haven’t absorbed a word. When that happens, I try to understand why. What’s gotten in my way? On the other hand there are books I can take in effortlessly, no matter how awful I’m feeling. Why do those books draw me in? I think it may be a sort of mental tuning. It’s the feeling of the paper against my fingers, that familiar smell of pulp and glue, a momentary stimulation to my brain when I turn each page. These sensations regulate and focus my brain, they make it work better.”

“Wow, that’s discouraging.”

“Hm?”

“Why is it every time I talk to you, I leave feeling like there’s something I’ve been missing out on my whole life up to now?”

“That’s just silly.”

“I sure hope so.”

How great is that? How many shows have you seen, lately or not, that pose questions and ideas like these, making you stop to think for a while?

The dialogue is taken from the anime series Psycho Pass (episode 15). It goes on between Shōgo Makishima, the main antagonist, and his right hand man, Choe Gu-Sung. I’ve used the dub version for the quote, although I usually prefer anime in Japanese with English subs, as very few English dubs are good enough. The subs however have a better version for the penultimate line: “You’re reading too much into it” – a bit more serious, and I liked the reading pun (intentional or not).

The story has many cyberpunk elements, reminding often of Philip K. Dick’sMinority Report‘ (again, worth comparing the book with the film), and also of Ghost in the Shell (the series mostly, both produced by Production I.G., best in the game), Monster (similar ‘contrast’ between two of the main characters) and sometimes hints of Cowboy Bebop (due to the noir feel and two main characters reminding of Spike and Jet).

Definitely worth watching, plenty of food for thought (besides the thrilling action), the above quote being just one example of many. Be warned though, it’s not for the weak of heart, it often gets very violent, even if not gratuitously.

The top image is a screengrab from the opening of that episode. Needless to say, being a Production I.G. show, it’s a treat for the eyes, and not only.

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Igarashi Alphabets

November 25, 2013, 12:53 PM

This post was initially published on TypeToken.

Takenobu Igarashi is one of the Japanese greats, his work ranging from graphic design, industrial to environmental and even sculpture. He’s been a member of AGI since 1981. His book, ‘Igarashi Alphabets: From Graphics to Sculptures’ showcases quite a few of his typographic projects and experiments in both 2D and 3D mediums. His interest in three-dimensional letters and typography has led to projects like ‘Aluminum Alphabet’ (1983), ”Ori (Folded) Alphabet’ (1985), his impressive ‘MoMA Calendar Series’ (1984-1993) for which he’s drawn over six thousand different numerals (isometric, done before computers), ‘Transformable Alphabet’ (1981), ‘Mirror Alphabet’ (1981), ‘Scultpure H’ (1981) and many others.

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Igarashi’s philosophy is best summed up by his own words:
‘My approach to design and sculpture has always wavered between my wish to do something useful for society, and my desire to create something beautiful with my own hands. In my opinion there are three essential things in work: passion, challenge and discovery. Without that, work gets boring; with that, work is enjoyable. And artwork that is enjoyable also results in success.’

Have a look at the Igarashi Studio website for more projects.
You can also read his AGI profile.

Book details:
Publisher: ABC Edition Zurich (1987)
Language: English, German, French
ISBN-10: 3855041024
ISBN-13: 978-3855041022

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Tsunami, a beautiful illustrations-project

April 23, 2011, 2:27 PM

Tsunami is a laudable project started by the CFSL community, gathering illustrators and other artists to create works as homage to the March 11 Japanese catastrophe. The best works have been included in the Magnitude 9 book, which you can buy and help raise money for the Give2Asia fund.

There are so so many beautiful works, the techniques ranging from awesome watercolours, pencils, ink, photo-only, typography to even oil-like Photoshop paintings, like this ‘Island of the Dead’ reinterpretation (the classic painting, by Arnold Böcklin). Obviously, there are some child-like drawings too, but even some of those have their own touching effect. Be warned, there are 17 pages of entries so far, but most of them are really worth it.

As expected whenever there’s a Japanese-related contest, the Japanese sun is the most used symbol, but there are a lot of anime & manga characters present too: Astro Boy, Godzilla, Pikachu, Akira, mechas and many more. Plenty of samurais as well, Mount Fuji, kimonos, temples, toriis, ukiyo-e-like or Hokusai waves, bamboo umbrellas, koi fish, dragons, Noh-theatre and other folk-related characters.

Among these, it’s no surprise that Miyazaki’s characters are some of the most heart-touching: Totoro, Catbus, the Kodama or the Laputa Robot — all of them being nature protectors or spirits in their original stories. There’s even an over-whelmed Porco Rosso (or maybe he’s resting a bit between searches).

Here are some of my favourites:

• this touching Totoro, by Virginy Coste:

• another equally touching Totoro by Redec (you can visit his blog too):

• a simple-yet-strong one by Sylvain Guinebaud:

• one unrelated to Miyazaki, but nontheless beautiful, by Mista Benny:

• and last but not least, this beautiful Laputa robot, protecting Totoro (if you look carefully, you can see yet another Miyazaki character) — by Sébastien Vastra:

Many thanks to Florian Nistor for the find
— hopefully, you’ll get your website up & running soon, mate! :)

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Shadowing the invisible — art by Kumi Yamashita

March 13, 2010, 10:39 AM

Last year I had the pleasure of visiting both Tate Modern in London and The Pompidou Centre in Paris. The overall feeling that I got was that most of the modern art is born out neglecting the classic art, by going against it, breaking ‘the others” rules. Only few of the modern artists have come up with new, different takes on art. The rest are tied to the context, many times their art being nothing more than unestethic junk unless you know the artist’s historic background.

Such an artist is Kumi Yamashita, from Earth’s sister planet, Japan. Her work impresses through the gentleness of the subjects and especially through the maddening techniques used. Playing with light and shadows, thread, paper and many other materials, her installations manage to surprise, to awe the viewers. Take a look yourself:

Light, Aluminum, Shadow Permanent display at the 2nd floor of Nanba Parks Tower, Osaka, Japan.

Light, Aluminum, Shadow Permanent display at the entrance hall of Takikawa Hall, Hokkaido, Japan.


Constellation (Boy), 2007
Brads and Thread on Board
(the child is a young Muhammad Ali, all made from one uncut thread!)

Pathway, 2007

Clouds,2005
Light, Aluminum, Shadow
Permanent display at the 3rd floor of Stellar Place Sapporo JR Tower

Lovers, 1998
aluminum sheet, light, cast shadow

You can see more works on her website. There is also a japanese show (hosted by Takeshi Kitano :P) that had her as a guest, you can see it here, on Youtube.

And here’s a wonderful detail of “City view”:

(via Alecs Stan & booooooom.com)

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Enchanting minimalism — Jun's paintings

October 25, 2009, 12:11 AM

I can’t help but feel envy each time I see an asian artist that manages to express so well and so differently the light’s glow and its playfulness, nature’s vast array of colours, the shadows in their multitude of tints and shades, the feel of tranquility while looking around on a simple, normal day. All I know is her name, Jun, from the blog ii-ne-kore. Her website is in japanese, and sadly, in spite of the tons of anime that I’ve watched to this day, I still can’t read or speak the language :) But little does that matter, all you have to do is admire her work—no words are necessary.

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(via ii-ne-kore, thanks Simona)

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China admits no mistake—seriously

October 2, 2009, 6:46 PM

All is more than clear now: don’t ever fuck with China. They’re this serious:


An instructor aligns the formation of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Airborne Corps during a training session at the 60th National Day Parade Village on the outskirts of Beijing, September 15, 2009. (REUTERS/Joe Chan).

Don’t say you haven’t been warned!

(via Boston)

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Comic Sans — to hate or not to hate

May 2, 2009, 12:23 PM

A fun, interesting and tought-provoking short documentary about the typeface we all love to hate: Comic Sans. Makes you think that nothing must be taken lightly, especially when it comes to human perceptions (and design in general).

Here’s a challenge:
try designing a logo using Comic Sans (that’s not for a cartoon magazine, of course :P).

Comic Sans from Sam and Anita on Vimeo.

(via design observer)

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Must have samurai umbrella!

March 23, 2009, 1:09 PM

There is no doubt, if they have international shipping, I’m getting one! No one will stand in my way >:) If you’re interested too, get your own here, from ThinkGeek (Jedi fans, get your lightsaber umbrella here).

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samurai-umbrella

(thanks Andrei for finding it!)

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Keep spinning—Yehrin Tong

March 18, 2009, 2:32 PM

Eye-spinning illustrations and typography from Yehrin Tong.
(via reformrevolution)

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Mickey's Wave To Hokusai—by Jaybo

January 27, 2009, 1:14 PM

A very interesting—and funny—take on Hokusai’sThe Great Wave of Kanagawa“, made by Jaybo—aka Monk, a french graffiti artist who recently exposed his works as projections on the Berliner Dom.

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You can read an interview here. And if you’re interested, you can see some other Hokusai’s Wave interpretations here.

(sources: digesting design, iconiconic, style mag)

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