Archive for March, 2009

Environmentally Sound Waste Management

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Of the big three ecological challenges, garbage, land use, and carbon, garbage is perhaps the most tractable. But what with sorting, streaming, and less frequent collection, home waste management has, of late, become something of a chore. It has also become a bit ugly. Here we offer a selection of attractive garbage receptacles that, while they won’t solve the crisis, will help to make the solution more aesthetically pleasing.

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Clothespin Trash Can

? 2007: Hung-Ming Chen

An exceedingly clever design, the flexible spars of this plywood garbage bin adjust to allow one to reuse almost any size bag, paper or plastic. Simple, effective, and economical: get the original now and be justifiably smug when Ikea™ knocks it off at twice the price!

$29.95

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Garbo Eco Trash Can

? 1996: Karim Rashid cdnmapleleaf

Umbra has puts an eco-friendly spin on the 1997 Good Design Awards-winning Garbo trash can by Karim Rashid. Not only is the updated version made of 100% recycled plastic, it’s biodegradable and will likely break down in a landfill long before the garbage it once held.

Umbra Matte Blue Garbo (perfect for home office recycling): $12.95
Umbra Matte Green Garbino (makes a great bathroom organics bin): $7.95

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Calypso Compost Bin

? 2008: Rosti Mepal in-house

From classic Dutch / Danish manufacturer Rosti, a compact and stylish lidded compost bin in stain-resistant, dishwasher-safe white melamine. At about 8″ in diameter, it is nicely proportioned for the typical downtown kitchen.

$19.95

And while we’re on the subject of:

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Alphabet City 11: Trash

? 2006: John Knechtel cdnmapleleaf

From the MIT Press, Trash is the eleventh edition of Toronto editor and culture martyr Jon Knechtel’s acclaimed multidisciplinary journal Alphabet City. In a visually arresting volume from undisputed Canadian book design champ, Gilbert Li, a series of high-profile writers, artists, and filmmakers investigate the proposition that we are what we throw away.

Alphabet City 11: Trash: $22.95

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To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: info@swipe.com.

In the Shadow of Mies, from Toronto to Seoul

Monday, March 30th, 2009

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Exploring Tectonic Space: The Architecture of Jong Soung Kimm

? 2009: Fritz Neumeyer & In Ha Jung

South Korea’s most respected architect, Jong Soung Kimm, spent his formative years in Chicago, first as a student at the Illinois Institute of Technology and, after graduation, as an associate in the studio of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Our interest in Kimm’s work stems from his role as principal architect on the Toronto-Dominion Centre Banking Pavilion (commonly credited to Mies himself), the central lobby of the T-D Centre, and the Centre’s 54th floor Reception Hall. Unfortunately, this book, which had its genesis in an exhibition held in 2006 at the Architecture Forum Aedes in Berlin, focuses exclusively on projects created subsequent to Kimm’s return to Seoul in 1978. On the other hand, Kimm’s work over the past thirty years is stunning, from the Weightlifting Gymnasium for the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art in Kyongju to the Hotel Hilton International and the recently completed Headquarters of SK Corporation, both in Seoul. We would rather these works had been contextualized by the inclusion of material from Kimm’s time with Mies, but for those of us enamoured of Kimm’s Toronto work, at least now we know how the story ends. (2009: Stichting Kunstboek; ISBN 9783803006875)

Exploring Tectonic Space: The Architecture of Jong Soung Kimm: $59.95

Jong Soung Kimm at Aedes, October 2006, courtesy Architecture Forum Aedes

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To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: info@swipe.com.

Dinner with HAL

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Given Arne Jacobsen’s current stature it is hard to imagine that prior to the present Modernist revival this seminal figure in Twentieth-Century industrial design and architecture was little remembered by non-specialists. In fact, just fifteen years ago if you were looking for Jacobsen’s famous Cylinda Line from Stelton in Toronto your only options were Swipe and the (now defunct) Scandinavian Shoppe on Danforth Avenue. Today the line is readily available around town so we carry only the brilliant little ashtray, Jacobsen’s personal favourite, as a token of respect and affection.

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AJ Cutlery

? 1957: Arne Jacobsen

AJ cutlery was designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1957 for the restaurant in the Royal SAS Hotel in Copenhagen, a project on which he was also the architect. Manufactured in stainless steel by Georg Jensen, AJ has been in continuous production since it was designed. With its modern, simplified lines, AJ was deemed a sufficiently radical departure from traditional cutlery design that it was featured as a prop in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

AJ Knife (Serrated Edge): $41.95
AJ Dinner Spoon, Dinner Fork, Dessert Spoon, Luncheon Fork: $31.95
AJ Pastry Fork: $29.95
AJ Tea Spoon: $24.95
AJ Espresso Spoon: $21.95

AJ Cutlery Sets:

AJ 5 Piece Place Setting: $157.95
AJ 30 Piece Setting (for Six): $949.95

AJ Cutlery Serving Pieces:

AJ Serving Fork and Spoon: $127.95
AJ Gravy Ladle: $39.95
AJ Bouillon Spoon, Butter Knife: $36.95
AJ Two-Tined Serving Forks: $44.95
AJ Breakfast Spoon (set of 2): $59.95
AJ Café Latte Spoon (set of 2): $49.95
AJ Cake Server: $71.95

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Stelton Cylinda Line Revolving Ashtray

? 1967: Arne Jacobsen

Jacobsen was a notorious pipe-smoker and this ashtray was, in his estimation, the most successful piece in his formative Cylinda Line from Stelton. We concur. Beautifully finished, the piece is a study in aesthetic geometry. Rotate the hemispherical bowl and ashes and cigarette butts drop neatly out-of-sight into the cylindrical base.

Small Revolving Ashtray: $89.95
Large Revolving Ashtray: $129.95

For those interested in Jacobsen’s career, an excellent hardcover monograph entitled Arne Jacobsen: Arkitekt and Designer published by the Danish Design Centre in 1996 is available at Swipe for $69.95.

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To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: info@swipe.com.

Wham-O! (Need We Say More?)

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

For Swipe’s annual Summer Amusement, we celebrate the 60th anniversary of a consistently successful brand-driven company. Throughout the 50’s and 60’s Wham-O™ had an unbelievable string of brand successes: first Frisbee,™ then Hula Hoop,™ and finally SuperBall™. Wham-O was also early to embrace television as a promotional medium and, with the help of a series of zany commercials, managed to maintain momentum through the 70’s and 80’s with products like Hacky Sack™ and Slip’N Slide™.

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Wham-O Hula-Hoop

? 1958: Arthur K. (Spud) Melin & Richard Knerr

What set Wham-O apart from other post-war toy startups was their innovative use of plastics and pioneering use of modern marketing methods. In 1957 an Australian company was offering wood exercise hoops in American retail stores. The item attracted the attention of Richard Knerr and Arthur Melin, of Wham-O, who started manufacturing hoops out of Martex in a variety of bright colors. For months prior to Hula-Hoop’s release, Knerr and Melin promoted their product on Southern California playgrounds, where they would hold a demonstration and give a free hoop to the most co-ordinated boy and girl at each demonstration (rather cynically, they gave hoops to the most attractive boy and girl as well). When the product was finally launched in 1958 twenty million were sold for $1.98 in the first six months alone. Genuine Wham-O Hula-Hoops are still manufactured in Emeryville, Claifornia.

Original Wham-O Hula-Hoop in three sizes, each: $9.95

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Wham-O Pluto Platter Glow-in-the-Dark Frisbe & Classic Frisbee

? 1955: Walter Frederick Morrison & Richard Knerr

Frisbee started life as a college pie-plate toss game (the name Frisbie sic. originates wtih a Connecticut bakery) which was developed into a patented product, the Pluto Platter by W. F. Morrison in 1955. Morrison’s collaboration with Wham-O began in 1957 with co-founder Richard Knerr quickly renaming the product Frisbee™ base on the colloquial name for the earlier pie plate game.

Wham-O Reflyer Frisbee

? 1955 (2009): Walter Frederick Morrison & Richard Knerr

Newly released for 2009, this 100% recycled polyethylene (60% post-consumer) version of the classic 110 g Fastback model is manufactured by Wham-O in their plant in Emeryville, Claifornia.

Original Wham-O Pluto Platter Glow-in-the-Dark Frisbee: $10.95
Original Wham-O Classic Frisbee: $3.99
Wham-O Reflyer Recycled Frisbee: $10.95

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Wham-O SuperBall

? 1963: Norm Stingly & Richard Knerr

SuperBall was created as a collaboration between Wham-O and chemist Norm Stingly in 1963. The product is still made from Stingly’s hard synthetic black rubber, dubbed Zectro™ in Wham-O promotional speak, and, while there are prettier high-bounce balls on the market, nothing bounces higher.

Original Wham-O SuperBall: $1.99

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To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at:info@swipe.com.

Cwoffee with Aunt Maira?

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Everyone loves Maira Kalman. She’s the cool aunt in the city that teenage kids run away to when they decide that their parents are hopelessly square. She’s embodies the civilized, thoughtful and sentimental qualities particular to New York City. You just want to take her to coffee and never come back. Conference organizers know this.

Maira was the M in M&Co and, while it is difficult to define each individual’s contribution to the output of the firm based on design credits alone, her illustration and inspiration crop up again and again throughout the M&Co and Colors years. With the death of husband and professional partner, Tibor, from non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1999, Maira has simultaneously kept his work in the public eye and established herself as a beloved New York cultural icon and, in diverse media, one of the most respected artists working in America today.

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Grand Central Station Mural: 1999

The breadth of Kalman’s interests and talents is awesome, ranging from brilliant children’s books, covers for the New Yorker, theatrical set designs, and a mural in Grand Central Station, to an entirely unpredictable bestseller in the form of an illustrated edition of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, and a newly launched New York Times illustrated blog, And the Pursuit of Happiness, following on the success of her earlier blog, The Principles of Uncertainty, published as a highly acclaimed book in 2007.

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What Pete Ate from A-Z

Smartypants (Pete In School)

? 2003: Maira Kalman

Typical of Kalman’s children’s books, the Pete series is so universal and yet so intensely personal that it’s hard not to feel like you’ve lived next door to Pete and the gang for years. What Pete Ate ranks as one of the most original and delightful alphabet books ever written and Smartypants (Pete in School) captures a child’s view of school as intensely exciting while being fraught with potential social disaster. (2003: Puffin Books; ISBN 978039923362351699 & 2003: Putnam Juvenile; ISBN 0399234780)

I was out walking the dear dog (who is a sweet meal ticket – two books about him, one New Yorker cover and a back page) and I saw 500 things that made me want to make art. – MK

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of John J. Harvey

? 2005: Maira Kalman

Among the most astonishing and heartbreaking children’s books ever written. An extraordinary tale of the heroism of ordinary people and the potential for seemingly trivial efforts and acts of kindness to be important beyond reckoning. We won’t even try to summarize here. (2005: Puffin Books; ISBN 0399239537)

Next Stop Grand Central

? 2001: Maira Kalman

Grand Central is the functional heart of the greatest city of the Twentieth-Century. A wonder made all the more wonderful because it is so much more than a wonder. Here Kalman offers a passionate celebration of “the busiest, fastest, biggest place there is.” (2001: Puffin Books; ISBN 069811888x)

What Pete Ate from A-Z: $20.95
Smartypants (Pete In School): $23.95
Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of John J. Harvey: $25.50
Next Stop Grand Central (paper only): $9.99

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Elements of Style

? 1959 (2005): William Strunk, E. B. White & Maira Kalman

This classic manual has conveyed the principles of plain English style to millions of readers. So what would possess an artist to illustrate the work and then spend several years in an effort to convince first, the original publisher and later, the authors’ estates to allow its publication? And why is the result so bizarrely engaging? (2005: Penguin Books; ISBN 1594200696)

Principles of Uncertainty

? 2007: Maira Kalman

Principles originally ran from May of 2006 to April of 2007 as an illustrated blog on the New York Times Op-Extra page. Like peeking into your favourite artist’s personal sketchbook, this sequence of thematic visual studies defies easy classification. It is a sort of stream-of-consciousness, existential meditation on life and death, love and loss. (2007: Penguin Press; ISBN 9781594201349)

Elements of Style: $34.95
Principles of Uncertainty: $35.50

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To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: info@swipe.com.

… simply the decent setting of type and the intelligent layout of pictures based on a rigorous study of content – DB

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Much has been made of Jan Tschichold’s time at Penguin and his influence on post-war British book design. However, modernist ideas and asymmetric layout only gradually supplanted Victorian and Edwardian design principles (typified by the inexpensive Collins Classic or the prestige editions of A. & C. Black) and did so through the efforts of many British designers and educators. Of particular importance was a group associated with the Central School of Art and Design in London, chief among them was Anthony Froshaug, who, alongside Herbert Spencer and Edward Wright, shifted the focus of the school’s curriculum away from the lettering tradition toward typography in the modern sense, focusing on legibility and a more austere approach, eschewing ornamentation in favour of clarity and subservience to content.

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Notes on Book Design

? 2004: Derek Birdsall

Among the most noteworthy of the Central School’s graduates of this period, Birdsall’s dedication to asymmetric layout, sympathetic use of grids, and flawless integration of text and image provide the clearest expression to the ideals of purity and structure inherent in Tschichold’s new conception of the book. Notes on Book Design presents 360 spreads from some 50 books, designed over a span of 40 years, ranging in scale from Penguin paperbacks to brilliant catalogues raisonné for the Yale Univeristy Press and recently, the complete redesign of The Church of England’s book of Common Worship. This is, quite simply, the most useful and inspiring book on non-fiction book design we have ever stocked. (2004: Yale University; ISBN 0300103476)

Derek Birdsall is also one of the coauthors of the lovely illustrated study Paul Rand: Modernist Designer.

Anthony Froshaug: Typography and Texts, Documents of a Life

? 2001: Robin Kinross, Editor

After Anthony Froshaug’s death in 1984 Robin Kinross was asked to help organize his archive, launching a project that would take Kinross more than 15 years to complete. Froshaug is renowned both as a designer and as an educator, first at the Central School, then at the storied Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm with Otl Aicher and finally at the Royal College of Art with John Lewis. An innovative approach to biography, this two volume book traces the life and work of England’s most passionate advocate of modernism in graphic design by presenting nearly 500 pages of original source documents, annotated by the editor. The first volume covers Froshaug’s work as a designer and printer and contains many of his writings on typography, the second volume provides day-to-day documents, from correspondence and personal notes to course outlines. (2001: Hyphen Press; ISBN 090725909x)

Pioneers of Modern Typography, Revised Edition

? 1969 (2004): Herbert Spencer & Rick Poynor

Originally published in 1969, Pioneers remains the only comprehensive English-language study of the multitude of twentieth-century avant-garde art movements in relation to the development of modern graphic design and typography. In the introduction Spencer describes the rationale for the work as follows:

Modern typography does not have its origins in the conventional printing industry. Its roots are entwined with those of twentieth-century painting, poetry and architecture, and it flowered quite suddenly and dramatically in the twenty years following the publication of Marinetti’s Futurist manifesto in 1909. – HS

Interestingly, in a review of Spencer’s work, reproduced in volume 2 of Anthony Froshaug: Typography and Texts, Documents of a Life, his Central School colleague seems less convinced of the influence of these movements:

What is not true, is to suggest that the random placing of letterforms, not ranged in lines, has anything to do with the proper business of typesetting, which is the arrangement of characters of constant body dimension from crown to sole of shoes, in words and sentences and phrases, divided according to the mode of their time – using the punctuation and syntax then accepted. – AF

(2004: MIT Press; ISBN 0262693038)

Unfortunately out-of-print is The Liberated Page, an anthology of articles drawn from Spencer’s ground-breaking journal Typographica.

Notes on Book Design: $64.95, now: $34.95
Anthony Froshaug: Typography and Texts, Documents of a Life: $92.95
Pioneers of Modern Typography, Revised Edition: $41.95

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To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: info@swipe.com.

After 20 years I discovered that design is just language and the real issue is what you use that language to say. – TK

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Tastes change. Movements and ideas that once seemed sublime, when seen through the lens of time, often appear ridiculous … or not. Happily, the design and the professional practice of Tibor Kalman continue to offer inspiration to any young designer well enough informed to be familiar with his work. In the early 1980s Kalman, and his New York City design practice M&Co, pioneered the ‘no compromise, no apology’ approach to design that so many small studios now aspire to. More than a decade before the fashionable design manifestos of the late ’90s, M&Co consistently created iconoclastic, progressive and culturally relevant work driven foremost by the designer’s personal values (we will consider the formidable cultural contributions of his partner Maira Kalman in a separate post). As Editor-in-Chief of the Benetton™ magazine Colors, Kalman created a body of work that is among the most powerful in American graphic design history, before he was forced to leave by his (ultimately-fatal) non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1995. Kalman was also the prototypical design entrepreneur and produced a series of subtle product designs under the M&Co brand, a few of which are still in production from the Museum of Modern Art and Projects™ of Bedford, Mass.

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M&Co Wristwatches

? 1984: Tibor Kalman, Maira Kalman & Alexander Isley

Originally conceived as a line for ‘80 design retailer Sointu, the M&Co watch line was quickly brought in-house and became the most identifiable product bearing the M&Co brand. Watches were designed on a collaborative basis during studio downtime (thus the engraved motto “Waste Not a Moment”). The present versions are faithful reissues produced under license by Projects and feature a black electroplated aluminum case, Swiss quartz movement by ETA, a scratch-resistant mineral glass crystal, and a top-stitched, glove leather lined band with matching black buckle.

M&Co Askew Wristwatch: $147.95

Askew is typical of M&Co’s playful approach to the logic of analog time representation: as long as the familiar twelve is at the top of the dial, the location of the remainder of the numbers is irrelevant.

M&Co Ten-One-Four Wristwatch: $147.95

The first and most acclaimed of M&Co’s watch designs, Ten-One-Four again plays on the conventions of the watch face. From Maira’s sketchpad, the three random hours provide the minimum markings necessary to accurately pick out the time of day.

M&Co Bodoni Wristwatch: $147.95

The most traditional design to come out of the M&Co watch program, Bodoni celebrates the first great modern serif typeface design by Giambattista Bodoni in Parma, Italy in the late 18th century.

M&Co 5 O’Clock Wristwatch: $147.95

5 o’clock is the best time. Time to go for a drink. Time to go home. Time to see friends and family.

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M&Co Sky Umbrella

? 1992: Tibor Kalman

Introduced in 1992 and one of MoMA’s perpetual bestsellers, this witty umbrella sports an eternally cheerful sky designed by Tibor Kalman.

M&Co Sky Umbrella: $74.95

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M&Co Paperweights

? 1984: Tibor Kalman

A paperweight that empathizes with the fate of most of the paper it holds down. Made from rigid vinyl, silk screened and hand-crumpled so that no two are identical.

M&Co Paperweight, Legal Pad or Blueprint: $39.95

Unfortunately the excellent monograph Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist edited by Michael Bierut and Peter Hall for Princeton Architectural Press is, for the time being, unavailable. We have, for several months, hoped in vain for a swift reprint.

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To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: info@swipe.com.

Children’s Books by Graphic Designers, Part 2: Bob Gill

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Bob Gill is one of the most influential figures in post-war graphic design and has the kind of biography that could easily be reimagined as a sitcom. Born in Brooklyn in 1931, Gill put himself through art school playing piano in the Catskills. In 1962, in Austin Powers’ London, he co-founded Fletcher / Forbes / Gill which today is known as Pentagram; in ‘67 he designed the first Beatles album cover for Apple Records; in ‘75 he directed a hardcore porno (Double Exposure of Holly) in New York; in ‘79 he created Beatlemania for Broadway (1006 performances); and in ‘81 he published one of the best-selling graphic design books of all time, Forget all the rules you ever learned about graphic design. Including the ones in this book. (unfortunately long out-of-print). And somewhere in between he created wonderful, whimsical children’s books, alone and in collaboration with Alastair Reid, the renowned translator of Borges and Neruda.

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A Balloon for a Blunderbuss

? 1961: Bob Gill & Alastair Reid

Gill’s most enduring children’s book, the illustrations for this classic ‘trade-up’ scenario are bold and exciting and the concept evokes perfectly a kid’s train of thought. (2008: Phaidon Press; ISBN 9780714848730)

An odd example of life imitating art is the widely publicized story of Kyle MacDonald who, through a series of internet trades, began with paperclip and ended up with a house. –David

What Colour is Your World?

? 1962: Bob Gill

How we see the world around us has a lot to do with the assumptions we bring to perception. Here Gill asks children to consider taking an artist’s view of colour as more of a creative choice than an immutable attribute. (2008: Phaidon Press; ISBN 9780714848501)

I Keep Changing

? 1971: Bob Gill & Alastair Reid

Are you brave or afraid, slow or fast, ravenous or full? That all depends on when you’re being asked. It is thanks to Edizioni Corraini in Mantua, Italy that this Gill / Reid classic is available, so this edition is dual language, English and Italian. (2008: Edizioni Corraini; ISBN 9788875701628)

Balloon for a Blunderbuss: $14.95
What Colour is Your World?: $14.95
I Keep Changing: $32.95

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To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: info@swipe.com.

A Forgotten Alchemy: Pencil + Paper = Letterform

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Doyald Young has taught lettering at the Art Center College of Design since 1955. Yup, 1955. So, a question that suggests itself: how can any graphic designer be anything more than an historical figure, or worse a nostalgic curiosity, after more than 50 years in the field? In Young’s case, by doing the kind of unique work that elegantly demonstrates exactly what has been lost in the successive waves of mechanization that have characterized the industry. Young’s logotypes and typeface designs are generated by a process of sketching that, while once commonplace, is now an almost complete lost art. Too often today logotype design consists of selecting a font from a three-screen Adobe Illustrator™ menu and then rationalizing the choice with a load of fatuous ‘brand-speak’. Young’s work reminds us that graphic art can be, well, an art.

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Dangerous Curves

? 2009: Doyald Young

With an introduction by Herman Zapf, this book offers a foundation course in font and logo design. We almost never cut-and-paste on this blog but, in this case, Young describes his work so nicely:

In Dangerous Curves I have attempted to show both emerging and expert designers how, in an age of computer-dominated design, the designer can turn to their very own hands for both inspiration and solution. The only way to create a logotype that is truly unique is for the designer to transcend the limitations of the available fonts and typefaces on the market. Dangerous Curves provides a roadmap for that very worthy endeavor. – DY (2008: Delphi Press; ISBN 9780967331621

Logotypes and Letterforms

? 1993: Doyald Young

In this beautifully produced volume dedicated to the form and design of logotypes, Young examines the development of 169 logos by reproducing some 300 pencil sketches. The highlight of the book, however, is a chapter which analyses the internal geometric relationships of the italic alphabet, using Young’s own Home Run Script as the example. This information is absolutely unavailable elsewhere and could reasonably be regarded as the philosopher’s stone of font family development. (1993: Design Press; ISBN 083063956X)

Fonts and Logos

? 2000: Doyald Young

A tremendously valuable reference, this overview of type design categorizes 377 fonts, analysing the structure, appropriate use and potential for customization of each category. An additional detailed chapter lays out Young’s own design process step-by-step. (2000: Delphi Press; ISBN 0967331609)

Dangerous Curves: $139.95
Logotypes and Letterforms: $99.95
Fonts and Logos: $112.95

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To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: info@swipe.com.

Greetings, Earthling

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Greeting cards are among the last examples of formulaic civility that remain in widespread use. Noting the recent explosion of interest in handmade objects (twenty-something knitters on the TTC and the whole Etsy universe) we at Swipe see a desire to revive traditional cultural forms and modes of sentimental expression. And we like it! We offer three categories of greeting cards here at Swipe: letterpress-printed cards by small manufacturers, where possible; note cards with designs by graphic designers represented in the books we sell; and relatively inexpensive offset-printed cards, locally designed and manufactured.

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Hello Lucky Letterpress Cards (e.g. I’m Sorry / Jackass)

? 2003: Eunice Moyle

The most recognizable of the letterpress producers we carry, Hello Lucky was founded in San Francisco in 2003 by sisters Eunice and Sabrina Moyle, offering custom social stationery printed on a vintage Vandercook (though one imagines that most of their production is now job printed). Regardless, H.L.’s designs and concepts are the best we’ve seen, incorporating vintage cuts and digital revival wood type in a completely fresh and clever way.

Snow & Graham Letterpress Cards (e.g. Congratulations / Robin)

? 1998: Amy Graham Stigler

One of the first in the market and still among the most successful of the new American letterpress card manufacturers, Snow and Graham of Chicago (founded in 1998), produces smaller unique cards in a readily identifiable fussy but kinda’ sweet style, often featuring patterns assembled from typographic ornaments.

Hello Lucky Letterpress Card with Envelope: $5.95
Snow & Graham Single Letterpress Card with Envelope: $4.95
Snow & Graham Box of Six Note Cards and Envelopes: $15.95

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Sweetbeets Letterpress Cards (e.g. Cityscape)

? 2007: Lisa Zuraw cdnmapleleaf

Now, this is the real deal: a designer in Hamilton, Ontario hand-printing on an antique press on 100% post-consumer recycled stock. Local, handmade and super cute.

Sweetbeets Letterpress Occasion Card with Envelope: $5.50
Sweetbeets Letterpress Notecard with Envelope: $3.95

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Charley Harper Notecards

? c.1970: Charley Harper

We offer inexpensive blank notecards with Charley Harper’s iconic wildlife illustrations available as sets or individual cards.

David A. Carter Pop Up Note Cards

? 2006: David A. Carter (warning: this site is rated :o for total hokiness)

Delightful blank notecards from abstract pop-up master David A. Carter (of One Black Spot fame) available as sets or individual cards.

Alexander Girard Notecards

? c.1972: Alexander Girard

Originally created in the early 70’s for the Herman Miller™ Environment Enrichment Panel program related to the Action office system, these lovely folk-art-inspired images now grace inexpensive blank notecards.

Charley Harper Single Notecard with Envelope: $2.95
Charley Harper Box of 20 Notecards
and Envelopes: $18.95
(Wave, Curlycue, Clicker, Blossoms, Dots & Spots, or Paisley)
David A. Carter Single Notecard with Envelope: $2.95
David A. Carter Box of 8 Notecards
and Envelopes: $21.95
(Very Long Hello, Beguiled by the Wild, or Winging It)
Alexander Girard Single Notecard with Envelope: $2.95
Alexander Girard Box of 20 Notecards and Envelopes: $18.95

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Kate and Birdie Occasion Cards

? 2008: Gloria Wall cdnmapleleaf

Founded by lead designer Gloria Wall in Winnipeg in 2007, Kate and Birdie offers carefully designed, offset-printed greeting cards. With the volumes produced by the large American letterpress greeting card outfits, claims that their cards are “hand printed” are basically meaningless. While they are offset, at least Kate and Birdie cards are locally printed on 100% recycled stock with renewable power.

Kate and Birdie Single Occasion Card with Envelope: $4.50
Kate and Birdie 8 Boxed Cards and Envelopes: $15.95

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To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: info@swipe.com.