Beautifully Briefed, May 2022: Two on Type, Two on Photography, and Kottke

This month’s favorites cover a delightful new extension of the typeface DaVinci, Google’s updated mega-font, Noto, photographs of a desert aircraft boneyard from above, and mega-photographs of the Milky Way.

Before we get there, however, I wanted to wish Jason Kottke — whose 24 years of web sleuthing has been a source for items here on Foreword dating back to its original iteration in the ’90s — good luck on his sabbatical:

“I need some space to think and live and have generative conversations and do things, and then I’ll make something, but I can’t tell you what it is just yet.”1Alexandra Bell, NYT That’s the sort of energy I need to tap into for a few months.

Hear, hear.

The Beautiful DaVinci Italic

It’s Nice That points us to a new, extended version of the font DaVinci, done for Sydney’s Biennale:

“When you do this sort of type exercise — based on printed letters — it gives a very organic shape and form, in opposition to the very metallic sharp shape from type materials.” Furthering this organic look by pushing the fluidity curse at its maximum, Virgile ended with a design “which is very historical, yet with a contemporary twist.” 

Just look at those glyphs!

Makes you want to find an excuse to use it. But that’s not all: Flores is an incredibly diverse artist whose work both challenges and inspires. See more.

Google’s Noto

Called “A Typeface for the World,” Google’s Noto defines “megaproject.”

Noto is a collection of high-quality fonts with multiple weights and widths in sans, serif, mono, and other styles. The Noto fonts are perfect for harmonious, aesthetic, and typographically correct global communication, in more than 1,000 languages and over 150 writing systems. 

Google’s Noto font collection.

According to Google,

“Noto” means “I write, I mark, I note” in Latin. The name is also short for “no tofu”, as the project aims to eliminate ‘tofu’: blank rectangles shown when no font is available for your text.

While the font itself has been around for a few years — 2013 seems like yesterday in so many ways! — it’s updated regularly, cover 150 out of the 154 scripts defined in Unicode, and deserves attention from every web designer and type nut. Read more at Google or Wikipedia. (Via Kottke.)

Aircraft Boneyard, From an Aircraft

This is Colossal introduces us to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, whose desert conditions are ideal for storing — and scrapping — aircraft:

What happens when the military’s aircraft are end-of-lifed

The photographs are by Bernhard Lang — whom Colossal has highlighted before — and who has an incredible talent for finding patterns from above. See many more at his website.

Milky Way Photography

We don’t get many opportunities here in Middle Georgia, but in other, less populous (read: less light-polluted) places in the world, the Milky Way shines forth from the heavens:

Mountain, redefined.

The Guardian points us to the 2022 Milky Way Photographer of the Year, and many just wow:

Take cover . . . in awe!

Check ’em all out, be inspired to take one of your own, or simply be reminded just how big this system we’re a part of is. Enjoy.

Spring Book Design Coverage

For your May Day, please take a closer look at twelve great book covers — and a bonus thirteenth! — spotted during the first four months of 2022.

In alphabetical order:

Book design: David Drummond

Brilliant: actual text, printed (on a great color paper, too), with actual string, photographed on said print. Not only is it exactly right for the subject matter, it’s simply and beautifully done.

Cover design: Brianna Harden

Another great background color choice, this time highlighting the awesome colors chosen for Fiona and Jane’s illustrations. The hand-painted text is perfectly done.

Cover design: Alex Merto

From It’s Nice That, we have a nice feature on Alex Merto — whose Ghost Wall cover is a great example of plant life adding so much more: “the force of a river to the head,” to paraphrase Emma Donoghue’s quote.

Cover design: Anna Morrison

The typography, awesome little plane — the purse(r)! — the clouds, all of it: sky-high levels of good.

Interestingly, Fight Night‘s cover has gotten notice before:

Cover design: Patti Ratchford, illustration: Christina Zimpel

I can’t begin to imagine what caused the redesign, or why it wound up being so radically — 180 degree! — different. The old design wound up on some “best covers” lists (here’s LitHub’s October 2021 post, for instance); the new one has wound up on mine.

Cover design: Christopher Sergio

LitHub says this one has a very high “hang on the wall” factor. I can’t think of a better description — great stuff.

Cover design: Na Kim

Na Kim just can’t help but design the best covers: a wonderful, antique background complimented by brilliance. (Great typography, too.)

Cover design: Emily Mahon

It’s nigh-on impossibly to look at this cover and not flip it around to read the text trisecting the leopard. Take something simple, add the elusive more, get this. Yeah.

Cover design: Jim Tierney

Another fantastic example of plants adding more than the sum of their parts. The mottled green background and watercolor-style falloff is perfectly complimentary. Great stuff. (Except: This is one of those times when an editor or publicist somewhere says, “Hey, we need to add this quote at the top. Let’s do it without consulting the cover designer.”)

Cover designer … unknown. Credit where credit is due — when I can.

From the Banned Books Department, we have the 20th Anniversary edition of this difficult title rendered in a photo-based collage that’s nothing short of brilliant. Highest praise. Kudos, too, to Open Culture: The New York Public Library Provides Free Online Access to Banned Books: Catcher in the RyeStamped & More.

Cover design: Jack Smyth

Never mind the great brushed color blocks or boat-rowing-the-ocean above the title. This is here for the overlap between color and island. Shortlisted for the prize for intersection-of-the-year.

Cover design: Leanne Shapton

This illustration being in grayscale is, at first, a little off. But, of course, that’s exactly the point. I overuse “brilliant,” but it’s the best description. (See a note from the designer at LitHub‘s cover reveal.)

So, the bonus. No, it’s not the extra Fight Night, above, it’s a fictitious cover. That’s right:

Cover design: Anna Hoyle

In another It’s Nice That post, we have Anna Hoyle: “Judge her fake books by their comical covers.” Okay!

More book design updates soon — ’cause, here in Georgia, USA, we’re done with spring. Summer starts . . . now.

Additional sources: Spine, “Book Covers We Love” for January, February, March, and April, and LitHub, “Best Book Covers of the Month.”

Beautifully Briefed, Early April 2022: Eames Institute, Loony Backgrounds, and … Condor!

Three completely unrelated items for you this time, ranging from the serious and interesting through the loony and interesting to something of a whole different stripe.

The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity

Update 2, 25 Apr: Brand New discusses this logo, with the usual catchy title: The Fast and the Curious: Counterspace Drift

Eames Institute’s “curious” logo variations, discussed at Brand New

Update, 8 Apr: It’s Nice That has more: The Eames Institute launches with a curious, “Eamesian” identity, and a logo that observes

Original post: Practically everyone has heard of an Eames Chair:

A particularly awesome example of an Eames Chair (and ottoman).

What you might not realize is that the legacy Charles and Ray Eames left behind enriches our lives to this day. It’s a shame, then, that while their house is a mid-century masterpiece (and museum), much of their lives have remained behind closed doors.

For almost three decades, a barn-like building in Petaluma, California, contained remnants of one of the most iconic design legacies of the twentieth century. […] We created the Eames Institute because we want you to examine the archive of what you know—the collection of your experiences, understanding, memories, and questions—and connect to the provocations that call to you. We want you to tap into that same fount of relentless curiosity, and its power to shift your perception and open you to innovations and discoveries.

Now, however, there’s the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity. Awesome name aside, it introduces us to the more personal side of one of design’s strongest partnerships.

Items from the Charles and Ray Eames Institute.
Drawings from the Charles and Ray Eames Institute.

The website requires some interesting scrolling to get where you need, but the results are more than worth the time — and is one that earns (Eames?) its suggestion of satisfying infinite curiosity. Explore and enjoy. (Hat tip: ArchDaily, The Newly Launched Eames Institute Brings Insight into the Eameses’ Design Methodology.)

Loony Toons Backgrounds

Design You Trust: “Looney Tunes Without Looney Tunes: Existential, Surreal, And Creepy Backgrounds.” The post sends readers to an Instagram account, which I’m not going to link to, but the images themselves are fascinating:

Crossed wires, anyone?
Imagine who might run up to — or even get pushed off of — this cliff.
A nice, innocent factory. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

Next time I treat myself to a Loony break, I’m going to make sure to spend some time looking beyond the action and appreciate the backgrounds. Nice.

Condor Airlines Rebrands

Most of you have probably never heard of Condor Airlines; they’re mainly a European thing, a “leisure” airline associated with Thomas Cook, formerly owned and run by Lufthansa. (Here’s some history.)

It doesn’t particularly matter. What does is the bravado exhibited by management. Before, a typical airline logo — dare I say, typically Germanic:

Condor’s OLD livery.

Then someone said yelled, “HEY. WE DO VACATIONS. LIKE BEACH TOWELS. LET’S DO STRIPES.” The result:

Condor’s NEW livery. Wow.

Armin Vit:

The new livery has zero fucks to give and just plasters every plane with thick vertical stripes that go against pretty much every single assumed tenet of what makes a good livery. It doesn’t look speedy, it doesn’t look nimble, it requires a lot of paint, and by all other standards it is just plain ugly and I love it.

Read more or see images at Condor, see the Brand New post, or even hear from the armchair pilots at Airliners.net. Now: anyone got a beach?

Beautifully Briefed, Late March 2022: Type Museum, Toshiko Mori, and … Buick?

Catching up with a few unrelated stories that I’ve been meaning to post — including one pretty significant failure on my part, one potentially significant failure, and because not everything should be about fail, an extremely interesting and thoughtful interview.

Tiny Type Museum Sold Out

I was cleaning up open Safari tabs on my phone the other day — the detritus that results from checking things on the fly when out and about, often or never closed — and noticed that I’d sort-of bookmarked something for action and … missed it. Crap!

The Tiny Type Museum & Time Capsule, with specimens and those beautiful drawer pulls.

The Tiny Type Museum & Time Capsule is a celebration by journalist and printing historian Glenn Fleishman of type and printing, and an effort at preserving history for future generations to re-discover. Each custom, handmade wood museum case holds several dozen genuine artifacts from the past and present, including a paper mold for casting newspaper ads in metal, individual pieces of wood and metal type, a phototype “font,” and a Linotype “slug” (set with a custom message), along with original commissioned art, a letterpress-printed book, and a few replicas of items found in printing shops.

The Tiny Type Museum. (Bottom drawer.)

The museum includes a letterpress-printed book written for the project, Six Centuries of Type & Printing, in which Fleishman traces the development of type and printing starting before Gutenberg printed his Bible around 1450 up through the present day. This book acts as “docent” for the museum, providing insight into the stages in technological and artistic development that took place, and explaining the importance and nature of the artifacts. It also slides out neatly as part of a sled from the top of the museum case, and provides the visible name.

The letterpress book is still available: get your copy, or subscribe to the podcast. But even if you don’t, take a moment to appreciate the work that went into this — well done, indeed.

Buick’s New Logo

This one … I dunno. The race to do car logos flat black-and-white has seemed like a race to the lowest common denominator. (See previous coverage of BMW, Volvo, Cadillac, and more.) Below, Buick’s old (left) and new (right) logos, courtesy of Motor1:

The trademark filing for Buick’s new logo.

Thankfully, there’s been a leak — Instagram, natch, so no link here — demonstrating that it’ll still be in color:

From Instagram (alas): The new Buick logo in living color.

Still, not sure. Will have to see the official announcement and package that goes with it; Motor Trend suggests that it might be part of an EV-only future. Stay tuned for Brand New’s take, I guess….

Toshiko Mori

The former chair of Harvard’s graduate architecture program has given a great and wide-ranging interview to New Reader:

I think innovation doesn’t come in one huge leap. It’s a series of small steps. Accumulations of small discoveries, followed by incremental implementation. And then it all adds up. Innovation is not a single idea—it’s incredibly incremental and additive. Even these small discoveries can change the way we think about things very quickly. So I think every step of the way—problematizing “what are the issues?” and “what are the solutions?” filtering issues of sustainability, supply chain, accessibility, will eliminate many solutions which are not possible. And then you end up with small nuggets of potential. In a way it’s very systematic, innovation, and so is experimentation. It’s the elimination of what’s not possible and focusing on goals.

Toshiko Mori. Image courtesy of New Reader.

You know, history is not about the past, really. History is about the story of an individual interpreting history. Historians cannot be unbiased narrators. Every history is a story, and then yes, there are facts—which are important, but the way you connect facts and then make diverse narratives is super interesting. 

As you can see, Fox News provides false narratives, and a lot of times they skew the facts, and that’s a problem. It can be used dangerously, but it can also be used productively. I think that’s what makes history rich. It’s not about the past, it’s about projecting into the future. So when I teach students, I ask them to make their own story based upon their research. But it’s a story—so that’s kind of their own reality. And based upon that reality, they can develop diverse narratives and then communicate the story to others. It’s not as if you have different opinions, but you have different stories to share. It’s not about controversial opinions, but about the way we each look at life very, very differently—and that enriches everybody.

The whole thing is definitely worth a read: Archinect News called it a “nuanced interview,” and if anything, that’s an undersell. Please go, reflect, and appreciate.

Side note: New Reader‘s notes throughout the interview deserve special mention (see the red Greek letters and separate, well, sidenotes). Nice.

I Swear, This Title….

Kottke recently revisited a theme that’s been running for a few years now: titles with a swear — f*ck, in this case — in the title. According to Slate, the practice stems from the 2011 parenting title Go the F*ck to Sleep, and has accelerated over the years.

I’m more interested in the design of such a title. Bookstores, advertisers, and publicists demand that the swear never be completely spelled out, but that doesn’t restrict great design ideas. Here are a few of my favorites:

Love the fork. (So to speak.)
The less-is-more approach.
Whales as sardines.
Interesting choice with the capitals, or lack thereof.

Note the over-arching theme: no, not that — the lack of photography. The vast majority of these titles are text based, supposedly because something competing with the swear would detract from the shock value. There’s a primary color thing going, too, probably for the same reason.

Most of the time:

Self-help, with style.

Something different for your day!

Beautifully Briefed, Early March 2022: Monograph Impresses, Monotype Trends, and Media Waste

Three diverse items in this round-up, from illustration to typography to whether or not ad-blockers are actually environmentally-friendly — along with a response that reminds us to look at the bigger picture.

Malika Favre (Expanded Edition)

CreativeBoom:

French illustrator and graphic designer Malika Favre has been impressing audiences for years with her minimalist work for publications such as The New Yorker, Vogue, and Vanity Fair. Now over a decade’s worth of her work has been released in a new monograph from Counter-Print, which contains a suitably stripped-back aesthetic.

Her style is distinctive; I’ve liked her New Yorker covers especially:

Malika Favre (Expanded Edition) in English

The book includes the illustrator’s own cover, and she had a big hand in designing the layout, too. CreativeBoom’s article is excellent — check it out.

Monotype’s 2022 Trends

It’s Nice That points us to the recently-released 2022 Type Trends Report from Monotype:

Monotype’s 2022 Type Trends Report cover

Throughout yet another “unprecedented year,” it’s safe to say that the macro trends influencing the type design community are nearly too long to list. Several socioeconomic, political, and cultural events continue to shape the way we approach creative work and how connect to each other online and offline.

Biodiversity’s relationship to type, varying type styles in a single logo, and thin serifs — the one I’m likely to use somewhere — are in this year.

New York’s Park Lane Hotel

The above example, from New York’s Park Lane Hotel, is but one they cite (see that whole, very lovely project at Brand New). Check out the whole report, and get trendy.

Perhaps we can convince Apple to go back to its also-lovely Garamond…?

Media, Trackers, Blockers, and the Environment: There’s a Problem

Did it ever occur that using an ad blocker in your browser is actually an environmentally-friendly move? No, I hadn’t put it together, either.1More from MIT on ecological impacts of cloud computing here.

70% junk. Surprise and shock (not really).

[U]p to 70% of the electricity consumption (and therefore carbon emissions) caused by visiting a French media site is triggered by advertisements and stats. Therefore, using an ad blocker even becomes an ecological gesture. But we also suggest actions web editors could take to reduce this impact.

An interesting study, certainly, with information that many of us already use and some suggestions for action in case we don’t. But…:

Another of Monotype’s 2022 Type Trends, appropriated for use here

Nick Heer:

I have qualms with this. The idea of a “carbon footprint” was invented by British Petroleum to direct focus away from environmental policies that would impact its business, instead blaming individuals for not recycling correctly or biking to work more. A “carbon footprint” is also a simplistic view of how anything contributes to global warming, and that it seems to be used here as a synonym for bandwidth and CPU consumption.

I’m not sure whether I’ve called out the excellent Pixel Envy2A sort-of Daring Fireball with Canadian roots, but this is an example of why I should.

That is where I think this well-intentioned study falters. Even so, it is absurd that up to 70% of a media website’s CPU and bandwidth consumption is dedicated to web bullshit. Remember: the whole point of web bullshit is that it is not just the ads, it is about an entire network of self justifying privacy hostile infrastructure constructed around them.

  • 1
    More from MIT on ecological impacts of cloud computing here.
  • 2
    A sort-of Daring Fireball with Canadian roots

Beautifully Briefed, Late February 2022: Photography, Font, and Furniture

A three-fer as we wind through this February: Peter Stewart, a really talented architecture photographer from Australia; VAG Rounded, Apple’s keyboard font and how it relates to Volkswagen; and a new site called The Apple Store Glossary leads to an interesting review of furniture in Apple Stores.

Peter Stewart

November’s Beautifully Briefed covered the 2021 Architecture Photography Awards shortlist, and one of the photographers is Peter Stewart, a self-taught Australian who wanders around Asia. Gotta say: he’s better than great.

“Hanshins Web” Osaka, Japan. 2019, by Peter Stewart

His eye for pattern and color is spot-on:

“Four Columns” Tokyo, Japan. 2019, by Peter Stewart

Archinect’s In Focus feature has a great 2019 interview that not only discusses the how and where, but also the why — including his thoughts on use of Photoshop and, perhaps most insightfully, how to thrive as a photographer in this crowded age:

The hardest part of being a photographer today is finding a way to stand out among the crowd. In just the past few years Instagram has changed everything and given rise to a sizable number of highly talented new photographers. We are inherently influenced by the work we see from others, and as such has given rise to a lot of popular trends and styles of photography which has brought about a bit of a copycat culture. The point is, I think it’s important to find your own themes and ideas in order to progress, and not to simply emulate.

Peter Stewart, Archinect Interview

Check it out.

VAG Rounded and Apple

Daring Fireball is a daily stop for Apple geeks like me, but rarely does it cross into graphic design territory — except when it links to a Jalopnik article discussing how a Volkswagen font wound up on Apple’s keyboards.

Good stuff. (Bonus ’80s Dasher brochure siting, too.) Enjoy.

Apple Store’s Boardroom Furniture

Some Apple Stores have additional, not-usually-open-to-the-public spaces called boardrooms. And, as you might imagine, they’re filled with interesting stuff.

A new (to me, at least) site called The Apple Store Glossary has information and photographs of all aspects of Apple Stores, from the new Pickup area to the behind-the-scenes Boardrooms.

The latter started out as something called Briefing Rooms, intended for business customers and special events. However, they’ve evolved: more casual, more comfortable. And more interesting:

Apple Boardroom (Passeig de Gràcia store, Barcelona, Spain)

9to5Mac has a great roundup of these rooms we don’t see, from the accessories (bonus Eames Bird sightings) to the books, and perhaps most interestingly, the furniture.

Grab a seat, get comfortable, and get info.

Architecture in Music

New Zealand-based photographer Charles Brooks, who happens to have spent years as a professional cellist, brings us some astonishing inside-the-instrument shots, including this one:

1780 Lockey Hill Cello. © Charles Brooks

The Colossal post, where I ran across this, is definitely worth a read. But let me just add one thing: He’s using an L-mount (yes!) Laowa probe lens, an insightful choice driven by curiosity. Well done, sir.

His levitation shots are killer, too. And there’s behind-the-scenes (literally) stuff on his blog. Oh, and his logo is fantastic.

Score! (Sorry — had to say it.) Go visit.

New Website. Finally.

Housekeeping news: I went back to having an actual website in June, 2019; for a few years, I’d just used a photography hosting service, as photography was the vast majority of what I did. However, when book design again became an important-enough part of my work, I wanted to have a space to talk about it. I bought a WordPress template, added photographs, and posted it.

…But I never really liked it. From the beginning, I felt y’all deserved more: better typography, better photography, better everything. Like so many, however, one’s own stuff is always at the bottom of the to-do list. No longer.

I’d like to introduce the new version:

The new gileshoover.com, January, 2022

There were a few bumps getting here (naturally, I broke everything along the way; to say I don’t code is an understatement!), but with some tweaking notwithstanding, the new gileshoover.com is live. It’s got all-original photography, matched sans and serif font superfamily (Merriweather by Sorkin Type, a Google Font), much faster response time, open-source foundations, and so on.

Note that entries on Foreword are best seen individually, as you’ll see bigger photographs (or illustrations, graphics, etc.). Click on entry titles to get there.

Please explore.

Beautifully Briefed, January 2022: Airplanes, Architecture, and Typography

BB Jan22 header image

Happy New Year! Stephen Colbert called it, “an unprecedented third year of 2020.” Let’s hope it turns out better than that.

To that end, here are some neat things to catch your eye.

Airliner Photography, to the nth degree
MG - no bogies here

I’ve been a plane junkie since, well, forever; to this day, I watch YouTube videos of things flying around, often the big ‘uns. I follow Airliners.net’s Civil Aviation forum, and can tell you at a glance whether something sitting at the gate is a Embraer 190 or Airbus 220. So this new title by photographer Maxime Guyon has my complete attention.

MG engine

Very much looking forward to getting my hands on. Beautifully done, sir. (Via a great article at It’s Nice That.)

ArchDaily’s New Branding

Meanwhile, another subject I follow:

ArchDaily 2022

Arch Daily has already teamed up with Architonic, a site for products, last year. For 2022, they’ve rebranded and both sites are now linked with DesignBoom, one of the web’s original sites for design and architecture (since 1999!). Dezeen has more.

The Year in Type

Last but certainly not least, I Love Typography has a great roundup of 2021: The Year in Type.

The Year in Type, 2021

Enjoy, indeed.

My 50 Favorite Book Covers of 2021

2021 Favorite Book Covers

This post is late, because I had trouble narrowing my long list down . . . and then, when even the short list was too long, said, “heck, 21 is too few for a year with such superlative design.” So, instead of 21 for ’21, y’all get 50. Grab a delicious beverage, settle in, and enjoy.

My selections stem from books I’ve seen; the “best of” lists from NPR, The New Yorker, Kottke, and the BBC; and the best book cover lists from Spine, the Casual Optimist, Kottke, AIGA Eye on Design, Creative Review, LitHub, and PRINT magazine. When you’re done here, see how my list compares with theirs — a great many more outstanding covers await.

Please remember that these are my favorites — others might say “best,” but I’ve been in this business long enough to know that there’s always another great title you haven’t seen or read about, and I don’t want to disrespect any of the great book designers not on this list. I’ve tried to include design credit where I could (thank you to the folks who answered emails with that information), and I wish to stress that any mistakes (incorrect attribution, link not working, etc.) in the list below are mine.

My cover of the year is one of those combinations of photography and printed word that works on multiple levels. Okay, sure, it’s called Liar’s Dictionary, so I may totally be pulling your leg here, but:

2021 Cover of the Year: Liar's Dictionary

“We all peacock with our words,” one reviewer said: exactly right. I’m wondering about the direction of the shadow — some Monday morning quarterbacking, for certain — but otherwise, I’d be incredibly pleased to have this cover in my portfolio. It speaks to what I aspire to, which is the best photography and best graphics working in beautiful concert. Design by Emily Mahon. (Bonus: See a Spine write-up on Emily from 2017.)

With Teeth book cover

My runner-up for favorite cover of the year, this novel of a queer mother is immeasurably strengthened by this extraordinary cover. Great color, great type . . . just great. Design by Lauren Peters-Collaer.

The rest, in alphabetical order:

Abundance

The ability of this cover to catch your eye on a crowded bookshelf is undeniable, but it’s the amount communicated with seeming simplicity that makes it a winner. Design by Kapo Ng.

An Honest Living book cover

The progression of graphics here win on several levels, but the icing on this “exquisite ransom note” (thanks, Lithub) is the shadow from the silhouette in the middle. The use of so few colors is a huge bonus. Design by David Pearson. (He doesn’t seem to have a website, but here’s a It’s Nice That article.)

Awake book design

The combination of background image — the eyebrows are perfect — with the elements making up the overlays is wonderful. The wraparound text adds to the whimsy. Brilliant results. Design by Joan Wong.

Beautiful Country book design

This is just great: “struggle to survive” so prominently displayed, the fence and wall, what looks like a cop in the upper left, the guy staring straight at camera in the lower left, the “hurry up” notion of the mother and child, the colors of the collage, everything. Wow. Design by Linda Huang.

Brothers and Keepers book cover

This is another from the “simple is better” category. Great colors, yes, but little details, like the type and the subtle overlay of the graphs over some of that type take it over the finish line with style.

Concepcion book cover

Collage and type, yellow and green, all done beautifully well. Bonus points for the hints — just hints — at faces. Design by Lauren Peters-Collaer.

Curb book cover

Another with simple colors, but the strengths here are not only in the eye-catching type, but the repeating line drawings with their own curb . . . and that single lit window for the win.

Dear Senthuran book cover

Leopard! Wonderful pencil sketch! From the simple-at-first-glance category we have anything but.

Edge Case book cover

At the risk of repeating myself, this one seems simple. Until you realize that the tomatoes age . . . and spoil. (The vine’s awesome, too.) Edgy design by Na Kim. (Bonus AIGA Eye on Design article on her.)

Foucault in Warsaw book cover

“Memorable” doesn’t begin to describe this one; the upside-down painting is only the beginning. Design by Daniel Benneworth-Gray.

God of Mercy book cover

I’m going to go with chalk rather than brush to describe the type and especially flames, but either way, when combined with this extreme close-up, its perfectly-chosen duotone, and fantastic skin texture of this beautiful model, we get something close to amazing. Design by Sara Wood.

Gold Diggers book cover

In contrast to some, this one is not simple at all: deeply detailed and strikingly colored, this cover says “all-American” in a way only an immigrant can. Design by Stephanie Ross.

Great Circle book cover

Mentioned earlier this year, this title circles back because the artwork demands it. Cool white-type title, too. Design by Kelly Blair.

Hard Like Water book cover

The smile — and the shoes! — speak more loudly than the revolutionary themes so typical of Maoist-era settings. The perfect parody cover. Brilliant. Cover design by Matthew Broughton, based on art by Biao Zhong.

Harlem Shuffle book cover

Color, type, objects, the arrow, “a novel,” circled, the people and places . . . all add up to so much more than just the sum of the parts. Awesome.

Harsh Times book cover

Nobel prize, blah, blah. It’s the cover, darn it! Design by Alex Merto.

Hex book cover

The first of two skulls on this year’s list, this one made up of perhaps the least-hexed thing imaginable.

House of Sticks book cover

This one’s on this list for its subtle brilliance: the watercolor lines, the great typography choice, and integration of the photograph. Nicely done.

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House book cover

One the one hand, a simple photograph-and-title book cover. On the other, it’s beautifully cropped, the reader/viewer catches the “look,” and it’s complimented with great color choices. Long title served oh-so-well.

In book cover

You don’t see almost-blank covers every day, and this one, especially, makes you want in. (Sorry.) Brilliant.

Intimations book cover

I. Want. To. Have. Taken. This. Photograph. (And then done this cover.)

Kennedy's Avenger book cover

This type of cover is actually very difficult to accomplish well, and here, it’s . . . well, accomplished.

Look For Me and I'll Be Gone book cover

Brilliant on so many levels. Design by David Litman.

Morningside Heights book cover

Color and type compliment the awesome choice of suit and hat here. One of those covers that demands the reader/viewer pick it up off the shelf and explore. Design by Kelly Blair.

My Monticello book cover

The painterly elements here lead the reader/viewer to the correct question: “what is this about?” and, guaranteed: it’s not what you think.

Nectarine book cover

This made a bunch of best-of lists this year, and I gotta say: it’s one accomplished scribble. Brilliant. Design by Dave Drummond. (Bonus: Dave Drummond has a write-up from PRINT.)

Nobody Somebody Anybody book cover

The best riff on “upstairs, downstairs” seen in a long, long time.

O Beautiful book cover

Watercolor, in every sense of the word. (Cloudy drips, too.) O-so-beautiful. Design by Young Jin Lim.

O book cover

Oh — wait a minute. Stick-on that isn’t, quite, combined with peeling and what seems like staring add up to a favorite. Design by Gray318.

Pessoa book cover

From the simple-but-not dept., we have another brilliant entry, with great color choices, type placement, and the best — some might say, “Iconic” — “a biography” stamp ever. Love that the smallest photo is peeling, too. I’m actually envious of the talent displayed here! Design by Yang Kim.

Reparations Now book cover

I hope it comes out in the relatively small photograph, but this is actually paper cut. Great choices, great colors.

Silent Winds Dry Seas book cover

Like a dreamily lace curtain, the overlay on this painted shore brings what could be nice to the level of sublime. Having a cool title helps, too. Winner.

Skinship book cover

Wow. This cover violates so many supposed rules, yet succeeds on so many levels — absolutely brilliant. Design by Janet Hansen.

Stranger to the Moon book cover

The simple-yet-not cup floweth over with this one; its scant 96 pages encompass dystopian political fiction that wins national awards and deserves something this strong. Design by Janet Hansen.

Summer Water book cover

Illustration rules, in a foreboding style that suggests anything other than a Scottish summer. Lovely slim type is complimented perfectly by the script at the bottom. The title is actually Summerwater, by the way — I missed the hyphen at first — but ultimately I’m not sure it matters. Design by June Park.

Tastes Like War book cover

The ingredients on this cover, together with splattered red, suggest more than food, racism, and a parent’s problems, yet this is a title I’d definitely pick and and spend time examining — all thanks to great design.

That Old Country Music book cover

An absolutely perfect photograph highlights a stack of great choices.

The Copenhagen Trilogy book cover

The old-time portrait it taken to the next three levels. Fantastic. Bonus points for an unusual type choice (type name, according to site name). Great, great design by Na Kim. (See also the PRINT write-up on this title.)

The Divines book cover

The photograph cropping alone brings this title to the table, but when combined with the aged background, the white dots perhaps suggesting a past shot through with problems, and the desiccated flower suggest something so much more. Design by Mumtaz Mustafa.

Open and Nev book cover

Sure, impressing Ta-Nehisi Coates and Barak Obama means impressive fiction — but it deserves a cover with star power, and this design by — absolutely delivers. Great stuff.

The Ghost Sequences book cover

The second skull on the list, this “house built by memory in-between your skin and bones” requires a second look, then a third. Deal me in. Design by Vince Haigh.

The Haunting of Alma Fielding book cover

Great type complimenting great illustration choices, sure, but those feet . . . .

This Thing Between Us book cover

Surreal smart speaker — no kidding. How does one design a cover for that, exactly? This way. Design by Sara Wood.

This Wound is a World book cover

“[C]ut a hole in the sky / to world inside,” this volume of Native American poetry suggests. The cover does just that.

Three Novels book cover

“Another few cuts of paper,” he said with such casualness. Ha! Design by Tom Etherington.

Warmth book cover

“Beautifully rendered and bracingly honest,” one of the reviews says. The cover, as well. (Plus, lines.)

We Run the Tides book cover

The color choices here, combined with the illustration, suggest something soothing, yet catch the eye in a way that demands attention. The mystery within does, too, from practically the first sentence. Here because I know I wouldn’t have done it so well.

Zorrie book cover

Climbing that ladder’s going to take a minute. But then, that’s what it’s all about . . . .

On to 2022, everyone! Thanks for surviving 2020, 2021, and continuing to read — here, and behind your favorite book cover.

Beautifully Briefed, December 2021: Holiday Edition

Beautifully Briefed, December 2021

It’s the yearly wrap-up and the holiday season! Recap and Rejoice!

Hermès Does Windows

“Journey of a Lifetime” is this year’s window display for Hermès — yes, Hermès should have an accent, but I can’t seem to summon it today fixed! — so let’s go with a picture instead:

Hermes window display

All in paper. No, let me repeat that: it’s all paper. (Well, perhaps some glue.) From artists Zim and Zou. Here’s another, one of their earlier works:

Zim and Zou, previously

Read more at This is Colossal about the window and the church. Nice.

Yule Ogg

While we’re on the subject of the holidays, check this out:

Yule Ogg

That’s right, it’s one of those four-hour Yule log videos — but with a twist. Those are wooden type pieces going up the flame. Check it out, along with the backstory, at It’s Nice That.

Top Architectural Photography Projects

Closing out, we start the year’s “best of” round-ups, this one Dezeen’s top 10 architectural photography projects of 2021:

Soviet (Asia) Photography

Above, Soviet architecture, central Asia, by Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego. Below, Structure Photography by Nikola Olic:

"Poetic" Architecture Photography

The latter is called “poetic,” a description I’d completely agree with. The Mother Road, USA, by Hayley Eichenbaum (previously mentioned) is there, too. Enjoy.

That’s it until after the holiday. Around the first, stay tuned for my favorite book designs of 2021 and more. Take care!

Letterpress Typeface from Plymouth Press

Letterpress type, digitally

James Brocklehurst is leading a new kind of innovation method for typography, harking back to the good old days of the letterpress. The technology uses scanned letterpress prints for each letter, and through scripting, randomly cycl[ing] through a range of alternate letterforms whilst you type.

The font uses OpenType scripting to automatically cycle through a range of alternate glyphs for each character, giving a ‘random’ appearance as you type. (Alternates can also be chosen manually in supported applications.) Very nice, and if you jump through some hoops, some neat results:

Letterpress type, digitally

It’s display only — no numbers, limited punctuation — but absolutely worth the download. And did I mention it’s free? Go!

(Via It’s Nice That. Thank you.)

Washington Post’s Best Book Covers 2021

WP Best Book Design 2021

The Washington Post has an article from book designer Kimberly Glyder with her favorite book covers of 2021. Her bio:

Kimberly Glyder’s studio specializes in book design, illustration and lettering. Her work has been featured in the AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers show, the Type Director’s Club Annual Exhibition, Print magazine, American Illustration, the American University Presses Book Jacket and Journal Show, and the New York Book Show.

Check her “best of” at the WP, and stay tuned for more 2021 lists next month.

Cadillac and Mercedes Logos: New — or Not (Updated)

Cadillac and MB logos

NOTE: See my previous car logo redesign coverage regarding BMW, Mini, etc., and more recently, Volvo.

Update, 7 December, 2021: Brand New has, as usual, done a superlative job of discussing the new Cadillac logo. See their post here, remembering that they’re subscription now — possibly the best $20/year available.

Original post follows:

Cadillac has updated their logo, their first redesign since 2014. First, though, some history:

Cadillac logo history

The mid-century look, with the “crowned” logo, might be my favorite:

Photo by Jill Refer
Photo by Jill Reger

As seen in the last line above, the 2014 logo is a simplification of the 2000 logo, sans the “old-person” wreath, and I thought quite successful:

Fast-foreword (ahem) to 2021, and the monochromatic, flat-logo thing is in full swing. The latest “old-person” target is the Cadillac script, replaced with another trendy item, a custom “Cadillac Gothic” font.

Cadillac Dealer, 2021

Not only that, but there’s the new trend among luxury automobiles — mere cars aren’t good enough — of illuminated logos;

Cadillac illuminated logo

It’s Nice That has more on Mother Design’s new take on Cadillac.

Mercedes, on the other hand, has just celebrated the 100th anniversary of the three-pointed star. Then:

MB logo, historical

Now:

MB logo, now

When it’s done right….