Peter Mendelsund Discusses Cover Design with NPR’s Fresh Air

Peter Mendelsund

World-class book cover designer Peter Mendelsund recently sat down with Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies to speak about his craft. The interview covers the why of a book jacket, why dead authors get the best covers, and the future of physical books. My favorite part was his anecdote on the process he goes through when he designs a cover. We should all beware creating “Frankenstein” designs.

DAVIES: And typically, how many versions will you make up?

MENDELSUND: Before I’ll show a jacket, I’ll tend to make a hundred and up various versions of a jacket for it. And that’s before I show in to an editor or an author. And when I show something, I tend to show one – the one that I think really works. I tend not to show multiple options because that sort of engenders confusion in people. And then there’s this kind of – there’s this kind of thing that happens where people look at the various things you’ve made, and they want to pull the aspects of the various comps that they like and put them together in kind of a – into a kind of a Frankenstein jacket. You know, take the color from this one. And the type from that one. And the imagery from that one. Can you make something out of that? One of the interesting things about jackets is that the material isn’t really transposable in that way. You know, one jacket works well with those components. You know, you bring in a different color, and all of a sudden, everything falls to pieces. So I like to show one thing only when I show the client.

Bobby Solomon

October 22, 2014 / By

Take A Sip Of The Debut Release From Gene’s Liquor

Laurent Gene's Liquor Delroy Edwards Los Angeles

Gene’s Liquor” sounds like a reference your mother would make regarding your Uncle Eugene’s drinking habit. Yet, that is probably the exact opposite of what Gene’s actually is: it’s a Los Angeles based collective focusing on retro leaning deep house. The debut release from Laurent (better known as IVVVO) is certainly intoxicating a simple statement of a back-to-basics approach to contemporary dance.

The release—GL001—is just three unnamed songs. The first track has made it’s way out into the world and it’s a song full of rattling attitude based in a basic back beat that last the entire song, framing handclaps, drum cues, knotted bass hits, light cowbell, high hat, and more. The influence of jazz is definitely present from the makeup of the song but it has been funneled through a Detroit vision of early techno. It ultimately lands among new house classicists like Medlar and Andres, which is a very, very good place to be in.

If this is your type of sound, Gene’s Liquor is a new label to bookmark then: they’re going to keep pumping more shit like this out. Moreover, you should also look into Delroy’s other label LA Club Resource. Catch “Untitled 1″ below.

KYLE FITZPATRICK

October 22, 2014 / By

A Client’s Desire for Lake Views and Privacy Lead to a Striking Japanese Home

Scape House by Kouichi Kimura Architects

Located in the beautiful surroundings of Japan’s Kansai region, Scape House sits on a hillside overlooking Biwa-ko, the country’s largest lake. With so many houses nearby it was important that this building could make the most of its view without opening itself up too greatly to the neighboring homes. Designed by Kouichi Kimura Architects, this recently completed home aims to incorporate as much light and scenery as possible through versatile living spaces and windows while still allowing its homeowners a sense of privacy.

Scape House by Kouichi Kimura Architects

Scape House by Kouichi Kimura Architects

Scape House by Kouichi Kimura Architects

While it seems that the focus of this project was very much based around creating a home that was comfortable, private and rich with versatile spaces, I have to say that I find the building’s sober exterior to be particularly striking. It’s slender, almost Tetris-like, shapes form a distinct look and its combination of different greys add variety and texture to a bold exterior.

Scape House by Kouichi Kimura Architects

You can view more images from inside Kouichi Kimura’s Scape House here.

Philip Kennedy

October 22, 2014 / By

The Desktop Wallpaper Project featuring Nancy McCabe

The Desktop Wallpaper Project featuring Nancy McCabe

Nancy M

When I come across a well-designed pattern I tend to marvel at the time and effort that must have taken place to achieve such perfection. In my mind I see it as an artist creating a jigsaw puzzle in their head without the photo on the box to guide them. One such master is Nancy McCabe, a surface designer from Chicago who runs No Ocean, a design studio that specializes in surface designs and prints. She sells her patterns for commercial uses such as fashion, home/interior, print and web design, as well as a beautiful series of graphic scarves.

For Nancy’s wallpaper we decided to go with her Ink Dots pattern. I love the texture and complexity, I love that it’s graphic and bold. I’ve had this on the background of my iPad for a week now and have received several positive comments, to which I responded, “It’ll be on the site soon.”

Bobby Solomon

October 22, 2014 / By

High Tide Creates A Stunning Golden Invitation for Women’s Luxury Brand, Honor

Stunning Golden Invitation for Honor by High Tide

Since my childhood the idea of the “golden ticket” has always seemed like a miraculous dream. Obviously I’m referencing the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and the way in which the children could get a tour of the fabled and mysterious factory. Which to me is why these invitations for the Fall/Winter 2014 runway show of women’s luxury brand Honor are so enticing.

Stunning Golden Invitation for Honor by High Tide

Designed by New York design studio High Tide, the invitation’s front side features a mirrored gold foil debossed with the Honor logo, which contrasts beautifully with the rich walnut wood on the back side. I can only imagine receiving one of these in the mail and how special you might feel, this shining, beautiful piece of design that been so meticulously thought out.

Stunning Golden Invitation for Honor by High Tide

Stunning Golden Invitation for Honor by High Tide

Be sure to look at the rest of High Tide’s work as well, an enviable body of work with an impressive roster of clients.

Bobby Solomon

October 22, 2014 / By

How LA Design Studio notNeutral Changed The Way We Experience Coffee

How LA Design Studio notNeutral Changed The Way We Experience Coffee

When a delicious meal has been set before you have you ever stopped and wondered if the vessels it is being served in are enhancing the flavors, smells, and presentation ability? Most likely not, but if you’re an obsessive barista working for the most well-respected small coffee chain in America, finding that level of perfection might be an idea you dwell on.

That the story of the Lino cup, a creation between ex-Intelligentsia Director of Innovation Kyle Glanville (who now runs my favorite coffee place Go Get ‘Em Tiger) and LA design studio notNeutral. Together they experimented to figure out a more optimal cup for coffee drinking.

The entire R&D process took over a year. Triangular-shaped cups intended to capture precious aromas were nixed (turns out, a triangular canvas makes for terrible latte art). Handles were shaped and reshaped. The cup’s interior curvature, or slope, was meticulously calculated, with notNeutral printing one 3D prototype after another for Glanville and his team to test in Intelligentsia’s lab. There, they pulled shots and poured milk, videotaping the entire process so, like coaches watching tape, they could replay the footage in slow motion and catch flaws in play.

“Sometimes the latte art would break,” Glanville says. “The flow of the milk would go under and bubble up on the other side, breaking the pattern at the top.” The slope was corrected. More prototypes printed. More milk poured. More tape replayed.

Food Republic has the whole story which I found fascinating. These cups are only the beginning with more on the way, including these Gino cups, which are double-walled glass vessels which they released just last week.

Bobby Solomon

October 21, 2014 / By

Dangerous Popsicles: Would You Eat a Cactus or HIV Shaped Popsicle?

The old chef’s saying is that you with your eyes, and artist Wei Li’s collection of Dangerous Popsicles puts this adage to the test. She’s created unique sets of ice pops, one based on assorted forms of cacti and one based on the shape of life-threatening diseases, each of which begs the question: Would you eat these?

Designer and artist Wei Li’s collection of cacti-inspired prickly popsicles are beautiful, yet dangerous. These popsicles intrigue people with their other-worldly looks while directly alluding to the unpleasant experience of being poked by a cactus. Imagine our tongues, one of our most sensitive organs, being “massaged” by these spiky surfaces. Will pain bring pleasure?

While trained in user experience design, the designer is less concerned with enhancing user-friendliness, and more interested in the aesthetics of user-unfriendliness, and even uselessness.

Building from the cacti collection, Li’s second suite of popsicles are inspired by life-threatening viruses. What might an HIV popsicle taste like? Or would you even taste one in the first place? By fusing repulsion and delight, Li’s work emphasizes that the eyes and mind can taste as well as the tongue. The popsicles are nothing but water and sugar, but ideas of deadly viruses and the spikiness of cacti stimulate a sensory reaction, even before the first taste.

What a fun concept for a project. I’m glad that there are people out there who choose to address peculiar ideas like this.

Dangerous Popsicles: The Aesthetics of User-Unfriendliness

Dangerous Popsicles: The Aesthetics of User-Unfriendliness

Dangerous Popsicles: The Aesthetics of User-Unfriendliness

Bobby Solomon

October 21, 2014 / By

Seams is a Playful Celebration of Ceramics, Color, and Process

Seams by Benjamin Hubert Bitossi

Seams is a collection of five molded ceramic tableware centerpieces designed by Benjamin Hubert Ltd for the Italian manufacturer Bitossi Ceramiche. This project came about as part of the studio’s research into creating mass-produced products with one off details by manipulating a traditional ceramic manufacturing process.

Seams by Benjamin Hubert Bitossi

In the ceramics world, seams are a common unwanted side effect created during the casting stage of manufacturing. Typically they’re trimmed off before the piece is set, but the studio thought that by including them in this work these small imperfections might actually enhance the final outcome. I think it’s a really nice touch and that the seams add a unique decorative detail that celebrate the process of how the work was formed. To get a better sense of this process you should check out the short animation below:

Seams by Benjamin Hubert Bitossi

Benjamin Hubert Ltd is a London based studio founded in 2007. Comprising of a team of industrial designers, researchers and engineers who work across a broad range of sectors including furniture, lighting, consumer goods, architectural installations and interior design.

Seams by Benjamin Hubert Bitossi

Bitossi Ceramiche are a world-renowned manufacturer of ceramic-ware who have been making work since the 1920s. Based in Florence, the factory have collaborated with a whole host of famous designers in the past including people like Arik Levy, Fabio Novembre and the Bouroullec Brothers. This collection was completed earlier this year and is Benjamin Hubert Ltd’s first collaboration with the company.

Seams by Benjamin Hubert Bitossi

Seams by Benjamin Hubert Bitossi

More projects from Benjamin Hubert Ltd can be seen on their website.

Philip Kennedy

October 21, 2014 / By

Google+