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

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

Places To Visit: Barcelona’s Delicious Looking Praktik Bakery Hotel

Praktik Bakery Hotel

You know that underlying feeling of spontaneously running away from everything and living somewhere new and different? Those feelings have been stirring around for a while, particularly focused on the cities of Madrid and Barcelona. Through a little research and bit of Internet digging I stumbled upon the enticing Praktik Hotels, located in the Eixample district of Barcelona.

The Praktik Bakery, a hotel that has the fully operational Baluard Bakery at it’s heart, sounds like a dream come true to yours truly. You can imagine how enchanting it must be to wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through your window.

Praktik Bakery Hotel

Complimenting the delicious aromas is a cleanly designed hotel that’s lined with white tile and rustic brick throughout. The tiles in the bathroom (as seen below) are phenomenal as well. How could you not take a selfie with those luscious blues as the backdrop?

Praktik Bakery Hotel

Prakitk Bakery Hotel

Praktik Bakery Hotel

Praktik Bakery Hotel

Praktik Bakery Hotel

Praktik Bakery Hotel

If you’re one of those people prefer to drink your meals then perhaps you should check out the just opened Praktik Vinoteca who’s theme is centered around wine. A boutique hotel similar to the Praktik Bakery, here you’ll find an ambiance made up of warm woods decorating the space, a clear reference to the iconic wine barrel.

Bobby Solomon

October 21, 2014 / By

Jonathan Ive’s 25 Minute Interview with Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter

Jonathan Ive Interview with Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter

In the last 20 years, there’s no other designer who’s pushed the boundaries of industrial design than Jonathan Ive. His work at Apple has proven that considered design choices are critical to a successful product, as seen by a radical shift in the world toward design-focused first mindset. A few days ago Vanity Fair published the video interview of Jonathan Ive’s talk with Vanity Fair’s EIC Graydon Carter from their recent New Establishment Summit.

The interview is essential in my eyes, with topics covered like worries and joys of being Jony Ive, being a part of a creative team, the birth of a physical object, the seduction of “cool” features, that copying Apple’s designs is theft, and much, much more. My favorite line in the talk is one similar to what he said in the recent Vogue article about him, where he says, “Isn’t that curious? Because if you tasted some food that you didn’t think tasted right, you would assume that the food was wrong. But for some reason, it’s part of the human condition that if we struggle to use something, we assume that the problem resides with us.”

Bobby Solomon

October 20, 2014 / By

Are You In or Out? The Design Gangs Series by Matt Stevens

Design Gangs by Matt Stevens

North Carolina based branding designer Matt Stevens stumbled into a really fun person project recently, creating a series of “Design Gangs” which mixes “personal experience, a fascination with our shared design language/experiences, and a healthy dose of wanting to try some new techniques.” I’ve been watching his progress over on his Dribbble and it’s been rad to see him slowly grow and discover what the series is about.

If I had the choice I’d definitely be a member of the Revision Killers.

Design Gangs by Matt Stevens

Design Gangs by Matt Stevens

Design Gangs by Matt Stevens

Design Gangs by Matt Stevens

Design Gangs by Matt Stevens

Design Gangs by Matt Stevens

Design Gangs by Matt Stevens

Design Gangs by Matt Stevens

Bobby Solomon

October 20, 2014 / By

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