One of the Brexit faces

Graphic Design, Inspiration

I am in love with Noma Bar’s work and I have showcased some of his illustrations before on the blog here. He is using very cleverly the negative space and symbols to bring forward the intended message. Once again he did it with a current topic of discussion, the Brexit, through a cover for the British daily newspaper “The Guardian”.

Cover by Noma Bar for The guardian publication

Cover by Noma Bar for “The Guardian” publication

This seems to express the disappointment for Great Britain leaving the European Union. First you see that the eye is shaped as a tear falling on what it seems to be the cheek of the British people, created out of the negative space of the EU flag. Then there are the curves of the face drawn in such way as to give the impression of an open mouth in a shout, which can be a symbol of the voices that voted to remain in the EU or the desolation felt after the results. With minimum elements, he manages to create a very powerful effect, don’t you think?

Interview with Tomm Moore

Inspiration

A very inspiring interview with Tomm Moore, an Irish director of the animation studio Cartoon Saloon with two Academy Awards nominations for The Secret of Kells (2009) and Song of the Sea (2014). What is really amazing is that both animations are entirely hand-drawn: The Secret of Kells is done on paper while for the Song of the Sea it was mostly used TVPaint.

He announced that the next film is called Wolf Walkers and the first images have been released on his tumblr. I am SO much looking forward to this one!

Song of the Sea, the most magical animated film

Graphic Design, Inspiration

Song of the Sea is a unique animation, directed by Tomm Moore and nominated for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year to the Academy Awards 2014. It wins you over through stunning visuals in a way that at the end of the movie, even if you liked the plot or not, you can’t feel anything else than mesmerised by the amazing artwork with deep roots in the Irish mythology and folklore.

Animation style

A nice surprise is that Song of the Sea is a traditional animation made up of hand-drawn illustrations. It strikes by its simplicity of execution with attention to symmetry that flows from natural lines and geometric patterns. As Tomm Moore states in an interview for Vox:

2-D for me just has a timelessness. It doesn’t age the same way that CG does.

Character design

The mythological creatures are as beautifully drawn as the backgrounds. An array of emotions is captured by geometric designs in clean lines. The characters are all built to showcase the legend of the selkies, that are living in the sea as seals but also on land as humans, similar to the mermaids. How not to be fascinated by eccentric and quirky characters that reveal stories of their own and bring emotions in flasks?

Colours

The palette of colours is wide, from pastels to vivid hues of blue and green to paint the sea. It is present the warm feeling of watercolours that draws you more into the story, making it feel “a bit mysterious” like Tomm Moore puts it, ending by saying that “it has a dreamlike feeling”. Dreamlike it is also the genius use of light that creates an even more magical, mesmerising atmosphere. All nicely embellished by the patterns on rocks and tree barks and the textures used on surfaces.

If you’re still not fully convinced, here’s what Tomm Moore himself says about his lovely animated film:

open yourself up to a gentler, modern fairy tale, to see something that’s more organic and handmade and full of heart and not so much of a commercial endeavour

Full of magic and emotion, this tale is visually incredible! Must watch if you haven’t already and please let me know your impressions!

Chineasy: The new way to read Chinese

Graphic Design, Inspiration

Developed by ShaoLan Hsueh and illustrated by Noma Bar, Chineasy is a visual-based learning system that teaches Chinease in a non-painful way and even more, quite creatively!

ShaoLan created a system of building blocks, compounds and phrases where the building blocks are basic characters and the compounds their derivates while phrases are formed by putting them together, side by side. Each building block is represented by a simple illustration that makes it easy to remember and the same illustration is adjusted in a way that makes sense to bring to life a compound. Below you can find some examples of the concept and also of the brilliant graphics that enhance the learning of one of the most difficult languages in the world.

I have learned about Chineasy last year at Design Museum in London where it was part of a 6-month exhibition following the nomination received for the Best Design of the Year.

It all started one year earlier in February when ShaoLan Hsueh gave a 6-minute TED talk to prove that even though the Chinese language seems to be to an outsider “as impenetrable as the Great Wall of China”, you can still “learn to read Chinese with ease”!

She then launched on July 23rd a project on Kickstarter that got funded in 10 days for £75.000, reaching 200% of the target in day 16 and raising in the end £197,630 from the contributions of 5,475 people that believed in this great idea. That seems like a successful campaign! 🙂

The Chineasy products consist of the Chineasy Book (physical and ebook), 60 Flashcards and 100 Postcards that can be bought from various online locations including Amazon. A second book will be released in Chinese New Year 2016 and I am sure that ShaoLan will come with many other surprises in the future given the fans that Chineasy gained during the time.

Have a look on the Chineasy Facebook page as it is daily updated with quizzes and new phrases, building a strong community of learners. You’ll be welcomed if you’d like to give it a try and you might catch up in no time!

As learning and visual communication are my main interests at the moment, I could not be anything but deeply fond of this project that makes so obvious the role of visual communication in the learning process.

What is your opinion: do you find this a strong example of innovative design?

Clever works by Noma Bar

Graphic Design, Inspiration

Born in Israel, Noma Bar is an artist, illustrator and graphic designer that studied graphic design and typography at the Jerusalem Academy of Art & Design. He moved to London in 2001 and he has exhibited worldwide, winning various design awards.

His graphics are very flat and constructed from geometric shapes with bold colours, conveying powerful messages through exquisite simplicity or as he states:

“maximum communication with minimum elements”

Cleverly using the negative space, his work is always thought provoking. You need to look at his graphics more than once because each of them is telling a story usually by hiding an image into another image. He talked about this in December last year at The Culture Show – France 24.

“I’m trying to create a story, I’m taking the viewer from one point and he evolves with my work and people see things, they change their mind, they go back, they discover more, there is a mini-journey, a mini-script.”

Therefore, his work is all about exploration and discovery, enticing to looking closer and searching for clues and meaning.

“I’m trying to find the spark, when something is there and it’s not there”

Very impressive is his project entitled Cut the conflict for which he engaged the social community to contribute with materials from countries living in conflict. These have been gathered by the artist and brought together in works that embody both war and peace, finding with this concept a way to make them live together peacefully.

One other project I am absolutely in love with is Chineasy by ShaoLan where he contributed as illustrator. This is a project meant to teach Chinese characters in a fun and easy way through simple illustrations that Noma Bar created with his brilliant clarity.

He is also the author of two books: Guess Who? The Many Faces of Noma Bar and Negative Space, the first one presenting witty caricatures of celebrities, political figures and cultural personalities and the other the dualism between negative and positive space, a dominant in the artist’s work.

See more of Noma Bar’s work on his Facebook page where he regularly uploads new graphics to feed your mind and soul. And let me know what you think about it, aren’t you wondering how does he do it?! 🙂

Chemex-coffeemaker

Well-designed objects: Chemex coffeemaker

Inspiration

Chemex coffeemaker strikes by its simplicity, being considered one of the best-designed objects of all time, and it has been invented in 1941 by Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, a German chemist that immigrated in the United States in 1935. His straightforward statement is just delightful.

“A table must be a table; a chair must be a chair; a bed must be a bed. When, in 1938, the personal desire for coffee came up, my aspect simply was: A coffeemaker must make coffee, and then I applied my knowledge of physics and chemistry.”

The object is part of New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s collection where you can find another 22 inventions out of the 300 patented by Schlumbohn. Its form is inspired by the Erlenmeyer flask and it is made of glass, wood, and leather.

Chemex-coffeemaker

It continues to be manufactured today by Chemex Corp. with prices ranging from 35 EUR to 100 EUR so having a work of art and, dare to say, a piece of history in your very own kitchen can easily be a wish fulfilled 🙂

If there is any doubt on how to use it, you can check out below a very nice and handy video with instructions.

Also worth mentioning is that James Bond was cool enough to use it, as the coffeemaker has been featured in several movies including “From Russia with love”, as well as our friends from “Friends” and the promiscuous Don Draper in “Mad Men”.

What do you think? Do you agree that this is a good example of functional design?

Doors I’d like to open every day…

Inspiration

There have always been something with these massive doors that draw you in like there’s some mystery you have to solve. It may be their grandeur that makes you feel little and vulnerable or paradoxically their welcoming arcades with friendly curves. It’s almost like you know there’s danger awaiting for you but still can’t help yourself to explore..

In my wanderings today on the streets of Bucharest I have captured these two wonders. I love the metallic colours, the geometric pattern, the sense of history and the feeling of promise.

Romanian Cultural Institute | 38 Alexandru Alley, Bucharest, Romania

Romanian Cultural Institute | 38 Alexandru Alley, Bucharest, Romania

Beautiful House | 40 Blvd. Lascar Catargiu, Bucharest, Romania

Beautiful House | 40 Blvd. Lascar Catargiu, Bucharest, Romania

I would make a series of the doors I’d like to open every day… therefore, I will update this post with new findings, please share as well your favourites!