By Nina J P Evans

Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Typographic Forms

Andrew Byrom demonstrates how his inspirations and studies of the everyday mainly interior objects are reinterpreted into tactile 3D textural typographic forms. These new typographic forms are clearly pushing the boundaries of conceptual typography, his works showing the physicality of letterforms and openness to the interrelatedness of design disciplines.

Byrom sees type potentials in virtually everything, in his design thinking he’s constantly striving to create things that could potentially form a complete alphabet the only possible restrictions are following the basic x-height or baseline typographic rules for readability, often this makes the projects more challenging and exciting, experimenting with different ways of manipulating materials. He seems to have fewer restrictions with regard to his designs from clients, when they see his stuff they can see the fresh and unique approach of his typefaces and design content around his typefaces. Rather than text elements being placed over photographs and illustrations to fit on the page, although his portfolio demonstrates a very disciplined graphic approach to design, with traditional print stuff from logos to book covers and menus.

The concepts behind his typefaces are familiar functional objects that are ubiquitous to all our home environments. Things such as chairs, the designer’s favourite source of reference (ref. The Genius of Design), he also makes the typefaces from things like handlebars, venetian blinds and a towel holder. Interestingly the type faces though handmade in to 3D forms are photographed for publications and or sometimes filmed, though not yet in 3D that could happen very soon:
I always design a full alphabet set, so my work functions in the same manner as most typefaces. Like any type designer, I want my letters to be arranged by others for their own needs. These communications may well be photographs (flattening the work back onto the page), but they might also be arranged in a built environment, attached to a wall, or flying in the sky!

 His personal website has a shop where you can purchase low relief folded aluminium numbers for doors interior or exterior. I really like the idea that these letterforms are being used within the context in which they were originally inspired:
Working in three dimensions so as to force myself to find new forms. My work does not recreate existing typefaces in three dimensions. Instead, I allow the constraints of materials and the limitations of creating physical structures with these materials‚ to help guide me toward new typographic forms.
Undoubtedly they are unique highly crafted pieces, it’s interesting and exciting at seeing how they can be as adaptively used as they are conceptualised and assembled.

Typefaces: Byrom Tss
Venetian Blind

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Phoebe Unwin: Anything can be a Painting

Aeroplane Meal, 2008 spray paint and oil on linen 97.5 × 107.5 cm
If I could transfer my digital abstract layered Photoshop pieces into an exciting array of fine art paintings, this is how I’d love them to be. There’s something very beautiful and fascinating, bold and confident about these I'm drawn to. Phoebe Unwin uses abstract shapes and colours with layers that are built up. Visual elements overlap endlessly, the Illusion doesn’t enhance the visual perspective; it forms visual connections and contrasts within the piece. The paintings are titled in a very generic fashion: Man with Heavy Limbs, or Day, because of this I think the viewer is able to create and interpret the pieces more personally.

“Unwin once said that she found it, ‘…exciting to think that anything can be a painting’ and indeed it seems that the most insignificant of objects are made subjects in her works.” The smallness of the subject matter is just like how the author Haruki Murakami describes the seemingly insignificant mundane, mixed up with contrasting sublime and profound thoughts.

Also looking at these paintings evokes the feeling of pausing or slowing motion, a bit dream like, maybe Phoebe Unwin uses different media to help maintain this illusion by combining: sprays, oils and acrylic mediums. Creating a beautiful blurring movement, it’s as if time is passing and in those few seconds you are caught in the moment.

Desk oil, 2008 aluminium leaf and spray paint on linen 183 x 153 cm
Man in Jacket, 2009 acrylic and oil on canvas 145.5 × 120 cm
Turn to Pastel, 2008 acrylic on linen 70 x 80 cm
Man with Heavy Limbs, 2009 acrylic, ink, charcoal & on glossy card & printed paper
Soft Person, 2008 gold leaf and acrylic on canvas 220 x 185 cm
Day, 2007 acrylic on canvas 145 x 125 cm
 Bicycle at Night, 2009 oil and spray paint on canvas

further reading Escape into life

Sunday, March 20, 2011

RGB - Carnovsky’s New Wallpaper

This gallery wallpaper instillation is very eye catching to say the least, as not only do the colours overlap and interplay forming a natural history printed animalscape. The wallpaper visually interacts with coloured filters over a light source, different printed animals appear and disappear depending on the control of the RGB light filters.

Reading CR’s comments; this being their most viewed article all year… is that people seeing this stuff are loving it, I was kind of taken in by the novelty initially, but that wore off leaving me feeling visually and mentally disorientated by it. Undoubtedly it’s impressive in a gallery space! Also, this would work brilliantly in places like The Natural History Museum, London. Then again LCD screens are getting cheaper offering the potential of 3D computer graphics, flourishing vector animations and infographic data visualizations. Creating much richer more varied interactive (educational) user experiences. So as a wallpaper product its uses are perhaps are a little limited, maybe that’s why the artist decided to agree to sell this to an exclusive Milan wallpaper company.

From the gallery spaces it is now available commercially as a wallpaper print for your homes, covering even the ceiling as shown in the pics in the Milan wallpaper shop (link below) showcasing the wallpapered rooms. The photographs in the Milan shop online are a bit different from the others taken by Alvise Vivenza, showing the same design looking visually much darker intensifying further my new loathing of it within a home environment.

In the comments below CR’s article I read this: “Fantastic—reminds me of the Ray Bradbury story, The Veldt, in which wall coverings come to life.” So immediately I researched Ray Bradbury’s short story and read it very eagerly, the analogy between the story and the wallpaper is spot on! The premise is: “delving into the issue of how modern technology can destroy the nuclear family.”
The walls were blank and two-dimensional. Now, as George and Lydia Hadley stood in the center of the room, the walls began to purr and recede into crystalline distance, it seemed, and presently an African veldt appeared, in three dimensions, on all sides, in color reproduced to the final pebble and bit of straw. ~ Ray Bradbury’s The Veldt
With the advances of modern technology there is definitely a darker side with usage and control. This story shows how children are strongly affected by their environment and role-play. A boy of ten and his younger sister have the ingenuity to manipulate their parents. The parents have lost to ability to stimulate their interests in anything other than the nursery. See in the visual adaptability by just looking at this wallpaper, but imagine if you could use mind control to manipulate it into different themes. In the story the children’s nursery is a room like this it offers visual simulations of everything that they think up… instantly gratifying, their thoughts and hones-in on their powers of imagination and their emotional well being.

I love how the children’s room is still referred to as ‘the nursery’, even though they’re older, it just forms more of a bond between their parents having connections with that space and simultaneously being so isolated from it. It also seems innocent and traditional. Looking at this wallpaper I get the same feelings exactly, the animals are enlarged textbook illustrations, overlaying colours in bright pinks and blues and yellows are seemingly vibrant and eye-catching. Yet, when the lighting changes by the RGB filters, the atmosphere becomes more oppressive; the animals crowded and more weighted. The bright pinks, blues and yellows of the previous unfiltered pictures disappear. The space appears differently; transformed into monochromatic red or green or blue intensely darken scenes, the animals are shaded in greys and blacks and almost trick the eyes into seeing movements within the piece, (even some of the mouths of the animals are now gaping open) that were previously hidden. Its sheer power visually transforms, entices and influences our perception.

All photographs: Alvise Vivenza

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nagi Noda’s Hair Hats

Nagi Noda was a creative visionary genius! These are her sculptural animal inspired hairpieces; shown in such a way as to provoke a delightful sense of shock and awe.

Forming a contrast to the hair hats the models are dressed very femininely in beautifully long flowing flouncy dresses. They pose with innate expressions that are similar to the animal’s temperament to emphasise the individual hair hats that they each adorn. Though not over played, creating a very striking composition as a whole.

The drama also plays out using colour psychology that ranges from pure whites and pastels colours to vivid yellows, purples and turquoise. The more vivid the colour and tonally the more wilder the hair styling and animal sculpture hair hat is. However, this is not always consistently true, as the lion hair hat model is wearing a white dress, and the brown bear hair hat model is in lemon. This mix up adds to the shocking unpredictably of the creations that are so perfectly sculptured out of real hair. This illustrates an interesting point in design… it teaches you to be formulaic, but also to know when to break out of the boundaries. I really like the visual dialogue between the group of models and the hair hairs they adorn, they are barley even noticing each other.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Air Bear

Street artist Joshua Allen Harris inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s most famous pose as The Girl in The Seven Year Itch (1955). Where she stands over a subway grating and her skirt blows up, as the trains filled with people pass below. The skirt flutters about to the joy of many photographers and New Yorkers standing by. In 2008 Harris creates the Air Bear made out of white plastic shopping bags and attaches it to the same grills where it dances gleeful, the white plastic shimmering is transformed into a little Polar Bear.


It literally became an overnight sensation due to the speed of Viral Media. This in turn motivated Harris to get going with creating a whole series of Zoo York style creations, like mythical creatures out of both white plastic shopping bags and black trash bags as they are larger in size. Testing the possible limitations of his art. As trains pass below the vents hot air is forced out filling the figures temporarily. They animate as larger as 15 feet very ingeniously! There seems to be something very magical about seeing something that appears to be as lifeless as a discarded trash bag transforming itself into a sculptural creature, such as: Nessie, Giraffe, Centaurian figure and the little Polar Bear. Periodically inflating and animating giddily and deflating gradually as the air runs out, but temporarily until the next train arrives. In some photos the creatures almost look as if they are interacting with the pass-byers, it is quite surreal! Though it’s not very well documented the best video is Nessie it’s amusing seeing the cyclists, roller skaters and the passing traffic stop looking ahead in astonishment.

From the launching of Air Bear as a viral video, the project has grown—as so has the concept of the original idea. Becoming the most famous and resonant of Joshua Allen Harris’s creations so far. The idea has been developed into a short environmental film titled Polar Bears. NY Magazine notes, “Several different sites have commented upon how sad it is to watch it die over and over again. The parallels to the issues of climate change are striking as one watches the figure of a polar bear melting out of its element.” Seeing the animation in this context—it becomes very poignant indeed! The ending of the video concludes with the words—“Help save the planet. Ride, don’t drive.” With a link directing viewers to

This project is very encouraging proving that a clever idea, inspired by the movies, can create with the aid of feedback from blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Such a message so resonant can influence and reshape the direction of our lives.

Street Art: Joshua Allen Harris’ Inflatable Bag Monsters (via NewYorkMagazine)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Plastic Bags on Subway Grating

This edited short film observes a row of plastic bags floating in mid air; affected by the subway trains below passing through the tunnels in and out of the station. People are walking in and out of frame obliviously. As the lighting decreases they reflect the colours from near by lit building cars and neon signs and warmly glow.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Stepping into Bubble Gum

Love this little project by Christoph Niemann I think it’s witty and entertaining in the most playful way… It questions the basic concepts of design and recognition, by simplifying an idea abstractly; and making sense of it by clever visual arrangements, now it all seems so simple! He explains:
During the cold and dark Berlin winter days, I spend a lot of time with my boys in their room. And as I look at the toys scattered on the floor, my mind inevitably wanders back to New York.
I Lego NY. here in the New York Times

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

David Levinthal: Barbie!

Though you wouldn’t think it to look at her, today Barbie is 52 years old. Here are some pretty adorable (even if you're not into Barbie you will love them) Polaroid photographs by David Levinthal featured in an exhibition at GERING & LóPEZ GALLERY 730 Fifth Avenue New York, NY. They were created to celebrate Barbie’s 50th birthday. I think they're the best to date being much more subtle and more stylised than how she's typically portrayed. The press release quotes:
A familiar and often polarizing image, the Barbie doll has served as a figure of the idealized female form and the quintessence of glamour as well as a taboo symbol of the oppressive currents in society that have affected generations of American youths.
These dolls showcase the height of post-war fashion from 1959 to the early 1970s. “Couched in the style of early high fashion photographers such as Irving Penn and Richard Avedon.” Posed in front of solid vibrant coloured backgrounds as to eliminate a sense of scale and comparison to other objects, compositionally they are perfectly framed. The lighting is evocative of fashion portraits of that era, creating a more polished Breakfast at Tiffany’s styling—suggestive of being a high-climbing socialite. Fashion photographs of that time showed the same sense of stiffness when striking a pose; seeing Barbie  photographed as a model rather than a doll makes her seem a little more real. “The subjects of these photographs are not toys, but rather representations of popular culture.” Using iconic figures like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn David Levinthal’s photographs embrace a sense of sexuality and glamour.

David Levinthal (Polaroid Polacolor ER Land Film, 24 x 20 inches)
Photographs from the exhibition online at GERING & LóPEZ GALLERY 

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Want It!

In January 2009, but still notable, Saks Fifth Avenue hires Shepard Fairey and Cleon Peterson to design the spring marketing campaign. The campaign posters are inspired by Russian Constructivism, that began in 1919 onwards. “What we do every day, really, is propaganda,” said Terron E. Schaefer (the senior vice-president for marketing at Saks). Shepard Fairey states: “I thought it was a fun campaign for Saks with a lot of provocative irony.” Mitchell Markson says:
Consumers who once believed ‘bigger was better’ and ‘more was more’ are now downsizing expectations and resizing their needs—less may actually be the new more and social purpose the new social status for both brands and consumers. 
I agree that now we are choosing to shop for less, selecting fashion designs that are socially and environmentally responsible.

Some might say that Fairey is selling out by doing such commissions. However, he states: “I took on the Saks job to support the people in my studio.” Others are critical of Shepard Fairey's style by saying that it's not very original. I disagree… my only qualm is that I would have preferred seeing some small evidence of text on the posters that embraces the consumers social purpose, but hey maybe that’s written on the fashion labels. Interestingly his style is very apt for the American audience! (Link below) quotes:
America and Russia are very similar, especially in their understanding and conception of space. Both countries are huge countries with huge horizons and huge skies. And, both countries have long cultivated an interest in cosmic space and not only by scientists and inventors, but also by poets and painters. 
One thing for is sure about Fairey’s stuff is that it's not going to be ignored! Design isn’t just about style. There’s something very clever and current about adopting a style and developing fresh content, as a way of responding to today’s needs.

Mitchell Markson - Social purpose becomes the new social status in Business. link
Cosmos y vanguardia rusa en la Fundación Botín en Santander. link (translations in English)