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October 5, 2014


Mystery of Communication

When the New York Times published a story about the prolific Kronos Quartet, we were floored by the sophisticated presentation that revealed the subtle communication between performers. Using the kind of 3D motion capture systems we often find in high-end, animated movies (think Gollum, Avatar, etc), Senior Graphics Editor Graham Roberts and the Times team filmed a performance and turned that footage into a gorgeous visualization rendered in flowing particle streams. We caught up with Graham to find out more about this intriguing project, Inside the Quartet.

A Better Relationship with Our Inboxes


Brandon Dawes' Six Monkeys, a collection of creations commissioned by MailChimp, is an ambitious attempt to change our ever-contentious relationship with email. He does this by focusing on the context in which we interact with the medium: "By placing email within our everyday physical spaces it may get us to look at the familiarity of email in a new light; we may even learn to love it again."

Lucy is an object that changes colour depending on the nature of an email received: you could, for instance, program it to turn red every time a message from your loved one is received. Nim is a simple wall switch that controls whether you send and receive all messages on your device. And Lana sends you an email of memories every time a stack of associated artifacts is moved in the physical world, mimicking the amazing feeling of a chance encounter with a meaningful souvenir.

The series genuinely makes you look at email in a new, human light. In Dawes' own words: "flawed but beautiful." And we're in love.


The Visual Reply: Answering Questions via Links & Images

Where are you from? What have you read lately that has changed your mind? What is your inspiration, religion, accomplishment, spirit animal? Varsity Bookmarking – a weekly interview magazine by Ben Pieratt – asks these questions to people he admires. The catch is that they can only respond using links or visuals (gifs included and highly encouraged). For example the imagery above are responses from his interview with Alberto Antoniazzi, a designer who remembers his pre-internet brain very well.

The simple goal of this digital publication is to make the interviews as fun to read as they are to answer and to provide a highly visual interview format for introverts. The design is wonderfully editorial but distinct and the content is addicting to peruse.

Creating a Book by Its Cover

In today’s literary world, designing the perfect book cover is a critical piece of the publishing puzzle. It involves extensive research, messaging, design, copyright and testing. Book covers are how people first connect with a book and yet they didn’t become influential until the 20th century.

So how do you generate a compelling ebook cover for books that don’t have one? And how do you align those with the millions of more modern books that do? That was the design challenge facing Mauricio Giraldo Arteaga of the New York Public Library Labs as his team prepared to launch an ebook-borrowing and reading app.

From embedded illustrations to computer algorithms, go down the rabbit hole with Mauricio on his quest for the ideal visual representation. We promise you’ll enjoy the trip.


The anti-facebook

Ello is a new ad-free community network built by artists and programmers that started out as a small labor of love but as word spread more and more people wanted to be a part of it. Responding to demand, they're now building out a more robust platform whose sole purpose is beauty, simplicity, and transparency. Enough said. 



Who hasn’t dug in their pockets and found an old ticket stub, restaurant receipt, scrawled note, or fortune cookie wisdom? That soft, wrinkled business card or bit of string can create an abstract roadmap of where we’ve been, who we’ve met and what we’ve done.

Many collectors save items that capture life’s landmarks or turning points - photographs, love notes or concert t-shirts. But what about all the minutes in the middle, the daily evidence of a life lived? This
visual diary records every day objects items found deep in pockets at the end of the day - an empty salt packet or a dry cleaning bill. At first glance it may feel frivolous but if we’re a sum of our experiences, why not capture the small moments between the major milestones?

morel we have purgers and packrats and this Tumblr blog sparked a conversation about why we keep or discard, and how we place value on the items we have.



"Most people are on the world, not in it—have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them—undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate."

John Muir
Naturalist and Author


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