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Sometime this summer Hemlock Printers contacted me to design their annual set of wrapping paper. I agreed provided they give me carte blanche over the design and they decided to trust me. I wanted to create something that was festive, but completely non-denominational, and not even "Seasonal". So no snowflakes, or Santa, or bells etc., and no red, green or gold. So I decided on a very bright yellow as my dominant colour, with silver.
I had a number of ideas for the theme of each wrapping paper, but I decided on doing something with kittens, trucks and big machinery, cake decorations, and flames. I figured that would cover a wide range of tastes and sensibilities.
They have a standard die of the container/box it comes in, and I designed that too. In the spirit of a surprise gift, there's very little indication on the outside of what's inside. It's very simple, plain white with four symbols on the front.
When you open it up, yellow, silver and black flames come from the sides, while the top and bottom flaps have perforated tags: again something to suit everyone.
Open it further and the whole thing is on fire on the inside, revealing the first of the wrapping paper sheets.
The box contains 2 sheets each of all four wrapping designs:
I've made a separate post for each of the designs so you can see them in more detail here:
Hemlock sent about 2700 of these out to their friends and clients across North America. If you're on their mailing list, I hope you enjoyed this year's wrapping papers. I had a lot of fun making them. Oh, and the good folks at Hemlock tell me they've received an overwhelming positive response!
This is the first of the wrapping papers I did for Hemlock Printers in Vancouver. It might be my favourite. I certainly had fun making it (beginning with ordering a mass of exciting cake decorations). As usual, the cake decorations are not photoshopped, nor are they glued: I placed them in place, shot them and moved on to the next.
Printed in CMYK with a flourescent yellow background with spot varnish.
And the full sheet:
This is the second of the wrapping papers I did for Hemlock Printers in Vancouver. It's a toss-up whether this or "Cake Decorations" is my favourite. It's called "Fire", and it's printed in CMYK and flourescent yellow.
The full sheet:
This is the third of the wrapping papers I made for Hemlock Printers in Vancouver. It's printed in flourescent yellow and black.
And the whole sheet:
This is the fourth of the wrapping papers I designed for Hemlock Printers in Vancouver. I've been wanting to do something with kittens for a long time (this uses stock photography from Shutterstock), so this was my chance: Kittens! Who doesn't love kittens? Printed CMYK with silver background and spot gloss.
The folded sheet as they first see it, above.
Some of the kitten twirls, below:
And the full sheet:
OK, this is it. This is the best thing I've made in a while ... that wasn't rejected, anyway. When the good folks at Lynda.com asked to do a documentary on me, that was fun enough, but when they asked for me to do an animation for the end credits, I was super happy, because not only did I get to do something I'd never done before, but I also got to honour the great people who worked on the video. (Original music by Reg Powell, as noted.)
I made it by creating all the frames in illustrator, and then handing those files over to Lynda.com to compile into a moving image. Magic! People often ask me about doing animation but usually they're thinking of something that grows organically ... you know, that growing swirling thing. I couldn't be less interested.
However, what I did want to do was show how I work with systems and parts. So the animations on these evolve into and devolve out of letterforms that are created from a pattern system.
The lettering is pretty much illegible until the last frame, when it comes clear, pauses, and then starts to disintegrate again.
There's alos a pattern transition between each credit.
Piles of fun, with thanks, as always to the folks at Lynda.com.
It is not uncommon for people to ask me to design a tattoo for them. My response is always "no" unless they're a personal friend of mine. However, when SwissMiss asked me to do a tattoo for her Tattly tattoos, I said yes, of course! Here it is on my wrist:
Incredibly, it stays on for a week or two ... although it hasn't been so long-lived on hairy arms. It's a strip of 4 tiles, and if you want to be inventive you could pattern it over a larger area, or cut it into smaller pieces for smaller tattoos.
You can buy it here, at Tattly tattoos.
Under Nike's NikeID project, they sometimes partner with Maharam for the fabric. This year, for the NikeID in the Japanese market, they used my Maharam "Centric" fabric (in all colours) for the NikeID Airforce One. Maharam, those sweethearts, had a pair made for me!
This is the art for an ad I did for the company Sunday, in the UK, with their tagline.
This number 17, made from toothpicks, was my contribution to a 17th birthday book of 17s, for Emily Oberman and Bonnie Siegler of the design firm Number 17.
Wallpaper* Magazine asked me once again to be a part of their exhibit at the Salon del Mobile in Milan this year. They approached me to apply graphics to a Laser Sailboat.
It just so happens, I’ve always wanted a Laser.
I decided to avoid the obvious of working with organic forms to go with wind, water etc., and instead work deliberately against those forms. I wanted to make something that was incredibly distinctive in the water, and which would disguise its speed and versatility. To create an optical illusion of sorts, of something that looked like it didn’t belong in the water at all, much like the cubist patterns of WWI & WWII “dazzle” naval camouflage.
This is the finished boat, and the photo as it ran in the August 2010 “Handmade” issue of Wallpaper*. The photo is by Benedict Redgrove.
I worked with Sarah Douglas at Wallpaper*, James Lund Lack at Laser Performance, Alastair Goodall at Inchmere Design in the UK, and John Brooks at Hyde Sail in the Philippines.
And here’s the transom:
The sail, being a one-off*, was hand painted:
And here is someone in the UK taking it for a spin on a sad little English day before it was shot for Wallpaper. (Thanks to James Lund Lack for the photos.)
But here’s the good news! YOU CAN BUY ONE! Wallpaper is making a limited edition of 12, each for the small sum of £10,000. How can you resist? Order yours from Wallpaper* now!
It’s been making some … er … waves in the sailing community, too.
For this year’s Salon del Mobile in Milan, the highly inventive, active and innovative company droog decided to buy various lots of remaindered items from liquidation sales, and then offered the batches of unusual things to 14 designers to transform in some way. Things like glassware and safety vests and dog baskets and wooden spoons … none of it particularly nice, so it was a challenge.
From the lot I chose 2 items: a single wooden table, and 80 wooden folding chairs.
For the folding chairs, well, I had this wacky idea. I had just had my fingernails done in LA for the first time, and I was fascinated with how quickly and nicely the manicurist put designs on my nails. So I proposed to droog that we get 80 manicurists and get one each to decorate a chair. Incredibly, they went for it. In the end there were only 4 or 5 manicurists, but still.
This is the first time ever that I have done something that was only concept, in which I designed nothing, and touched nothing with my actual hands.
These were my instructions:
bright colours: pink, red, yellow, etc.
opaque colours: white or nail polishes with a lot of white in them: light blues, greens, etc.
neon colours (a whole chair in neon colours would be cool: it would glow in blacklight!!)
metallic colours: the more shiny-metallic they are, the more they will stand out on the dark surface. Silver, copper, glitter .. .I have found that even metallic dark greens and blues look quite good.
They can choose a colour “theme” or make it multi-coloured.
I’m not looking for works of art. Keep the designs simple and easy to make.
Flowers are very easy to make: 3- , 4-, and 5-petaled flowers
or little grasses, stars, abstract things with shapes and dots (I like this a lot).
Maybe there is some design they have learned that they are good at: a little butterfly or ladybug or something. Whatever they are, they should be small and simple, as though they were done on a fingernail … but there will be lots of them. I would prefer that they pick one or two little designs and just do that over and over, over the surface of the chair. Something they get good at and can do quickly and easily. NO big design pictures, no scenes or designs that would not fit on a finger nail … it should look pretty and delicate.
The Centraal Museum Utrecht bought one of these chairs, but droog still has a lot. The plan is to ship them to the droog store in New York, I believe, where they will be for sale, and more will be made.
Photos by Stefanie Grätz, courtesy of droog.
Wooden folding chairs
OK, for this year’s Salon del Mobile in Milan, the highly inventive, active and innovative company droog decided to buy various lots of remaindered items from liquidation sales, and then offered the batches of unusual things to 14 designers to transform in some way. Things like glassware and safety vests and dog baskets and wooden spoons … none of it particularly nice, so it was a challenge.
From the lot I chose 2 items: a single wooden table, and 80 wooden folding chairs.
For the table I had the idea that I wanted to print an overt “call to action” message on the table. Droog items can be pretty expensive so I imagined someone with quite a lot of disposable cash, and what it is I wanted to say to them … how I might possibly be able to influence them or their guests.
So the table says “Get up from this table and go make a contribution to Doctors Without Borders. Donate enough that it hurts a little. Then come back to this table and enjoy your meal. Really, really enjoy your meal.”
(Choosing DWB as a charity was a tough call. I like what they do, but I hate the awkwardness of their name. Oh well.)
But no one likes to have an overt message in their face all the time, so it’s disguised as an attractive pattern. This way, I imagine visitors coming over for dinner, looking at the table, figuring out what it says, and then, yes, maybe … do you think they might …?
However, on the first day of the Salon, the Centraal Museum Utrecht bought one of everything in the droog collection … and there was only one table. So, now it’s in a museum, which is great, but it kindof defeats the dining purpose of the message.
Stay tuned however, for possibly more editions of the table.
Images courtesy of droog. Top image by Stefanie Grätz.
Maharam is a very high end fabric company, mostly for the trade (architects, interior designers) with “a strong focus on new technologies and cultural markers, often finding inspiration beyond the textile industry, including collaborations with avant-garde industry outsiders.” That would be me.
After wanting to work with them for several years, I have now been working with them on some things for about a year, some of which are not ready to be revealed. But these are: from Maharam Digital Projects, their new collection of wall coverings.
So far there are 3 designs of mine to choose from.
This is an old pattern of mine, which I revived and perfected for this project. I confess I was doubtful about the application, but clearly they know more about these things than I do because it looks terrific!
2) Pattern Plaid
This is a plaid in which not only do the colours cross at the intersections but little pattern units do as well. It’s bright and cheery.
This bird is one I drew years ago which has also been resurrected and patternized for the wallpaper. Giant, scrolly birds.
To see these on the Maharam website, or to order them, go to the Maharam Virtual Library and click on the binder (currently on far left) called Maharam Digital Projects, and then click on the index at top right, and scroll though to find mine. But be forewarned, you’ll probably get to the ones by Karel Martens and forget all about me and order his for your entire house. Not to mention all those other fabulous designs that I wish I had a palace for.
Photos courtesy of Maharam.
For those of you who missed my show at the University Art Gallery of California Polytech State University in San Luis Obispo, Here are some images. There were over 100 pieces shown, including my really bad first video (which looked OK projected on the floor, with the sound off).
Thanks again to everyone who helped put this together; in particular Jeff VanKleeck, who painstakingly drew my grid on pencil on the walls, and hung the show himself; to Charmaine Martinez; and to the students who helped out at the opening and hung the valentine letters from my “LOVE” banner.
Show at California Polytech State University
Jan 9–Feb 20, 2009
Todd Falkowsky of Motherbrand in Toronto approached me to design a … a … well, see, there’s this machine that squishes pennies, just like we used to do on the railroad tracks when we were kids (only it’s safer) and it has the ability to impress a new image into the penny, turning the penny into an oval copper thing. So Todd wanted to get 4 designers to make designs for this machine, and then set the machine out somewhere and give the proceeds (I think it costs $2, plus the penny) to an art studio for street youth.
I just liked the idea of squishing pennies … though, isn’t there a law against this? Doesn’t it come under “defacing the queen” or something?
Anyway, So I thought about what one might conceivably want to have on a copper thing that might mingle with your change in your pocket. Ultimately I decided on “Empathy”, because really that’s all the world needs is a whole lotta empathy, and I imagined that you might look at that Empathy penny from time to time and it might actually influence how you viewed a situation.
Then, for the design, I was interested in putting the “round” back in the distorted penny. Or maybe I’m just into circles right now (yes.)
Where can you get this? Only one location: at the Design Exchange in Toronto.
The three other designers were Douglas Coupland, Burton Kramer and Paul Butler, so if you want my design, make sure you turn the dial to the right position!
Vector Art / Copper
Last year Saks commissioned me to draw 25 snowflakes for their 2008 Christmas season. (I delivered a few extras.) Working with the marvellous Terron Schaefer once again, he encouraged me to be very loose and varied in my approach. I spent a number of days, sitting on my couch, in July, drawing snowflakes.
I drew some like feathers, like antlers, with little people, one made all of houses, some like sparkly lights, a hairy one, a few like ribbons, some were complex and three dimensional, others simple and flat …
You know how it is, you do some work for something that won’t be realized for over a year, and you kindof forget about it. It’s not that I forgot, exactly, it just that I forgot what Saks does with things after I hand them over! And now the season of magic is upon us, and the snowflakes have been launched, and are turning up on bags and ads and catalogues and hats and … well, have a look:
The front and back of one of the catalogues (above and below):
Another catalogue showing the snowflake hat:
I supplied drawings, but they have been transformed into all sorts of other materials:
A page from the catalogue shows the boxes:
The bags, outside and inside … :
But get a load of this. They commissioned jewellers to make one-of-a-kind pieces based on some of the snowflakes:
More about the jewellery, here.
And I will be going to New York in mid-December and will return, I hope, with more pictures from the store.
View the Saks catalogue online, here. (Not sure how long that link will work: maybe not after Dec. 25 2008?)
pencil & pen drawings
July 2007 / November 2008
I can’t really take any credit for this. When I drew the snowflakes for Terron Schaefer at Saks Fifth Avenue last year, I didn’t know what, ultimately they would be doing with them all. But I was excited when he said they had commissioned different jewellers to interpret some of the drawings into jewellery. And I was super excited when I saw the results.
So here are the drawings and the pieces that were made from them:
This pendant, by Chopard, is one of my favourites: $77,200
And then this brooch, by Vendorafa, a very different—and faithful—interpretation of the same drawing, for a mere $17,750
Then, (this, by the way, was Terron’s favourite snowflake)
Interpreted as a brooch by Utopia, for $44,000
But the prettier version by Faraone Mennella, will cost you $64,000
My antler-snowflake …
Spawned this pendant by Marco Bicego, $27,230:
But I prefer the red enamel necklace by Roberto Coin, and the least expensive of them all at $12,500
Then, I was most impressed how the shading in this unspectacular little snowflake …
was faithfully interpreted by Gurhan, in this necklace for $32,800
This drawing looks like an unlikely pick …
but Dominique Cohen did an amazing job with it with these earrings (earrings!!!) for $55,000
Another weirdo drawing
And another great interpretation by Graff, a pendant for $38,000.
A rather nice drawing, if I do say so myself
and a very expensive ($81,600) pendant by Kwiat
The last I’m not sure of … tentatively this drawing is the inspiration … either that or they went off and did their own thing …
Temple St. Clair’s pendant for $17,500.
And if you really loved me you’d buy them all for me. Or at least the earrings. Pleeeease?
July 2007 / November 2008
The folks at Bunch started asking designers and others to fuck with their logo and submit the results, about a year ago. They nagged me for many months when I finally found some time and created this little piece of whimsy of which I am quite proud.
I designed a funny little animation of which these are just a few frames. The animation is on their site (click on my name, near the top of the list). And I know, i should have knocked the background out properly, and I’m hoping one day to fix it up and make a little non-Flash version (cuz i can’t figure out how to embed the Flash file on this site, and i fuckin’ hate Flash).
But to me its … I mean if you think you know me and my work, and you find this a big surprise, then I don’t think you’re quite getting it.
Last year I was contacted by Émilie Lamy at Pyramyd Editions in France (who also publish the design mag étapes) to have my work published as part of a series of small books called “design&designer”. I said yes. And thank you!
I also asked my fabulous friend, the acclaimed Debbie Millman to write the introduction. She said yes! Thank you Debbie!
The books are for sale. They don’t contain any commentary other than Debbie’s flattering introduction, but do contain lots of images.
Mine is the 66th title. Others include Niklaus Troxler, Pierre Di Sciullo, Massin, Ahn Sang-Soo, Geneviève Gauckler, Paprika, 5.5 designers, Ich&Kar, matali crasset, etc.
These design&designer books are worth picking up, especially if you’re curious about the work of international designers but don’t want to spend a bomb on books. The work of Ahn Sang Soo blew me away.
And here I am in the bookshelf. Right next to Massin (!!), and in some other great company.
An approx. 6-inch square, 120-page book of my work.
I actually did this back in September 07, but only recently found that the project is live. It’s all quite complex. Darren Wall from Faber books in the UK contacted me about this new project that they were doing creating one-off, on-demand books (see below). For this they were going to have a computer program generate unique covers based on border patterns that I would make.
The borders needed to go with a custom font designed by Michael C. Place, and although each would be different, they needed to have fairly distinct personalities for 4 categories: arts, fiction, children’s and non-fiction.
So this is what I provided, attempting to create something that I thought a computer program might be able to differentiate, somehow, while randomly interpreting. I think.
There’s a great write-up about the process by Karsten Schmidt, who was involved in the programming.
The results are as follows … the next 4 pics show the variety …
The following 4 pics show the variety generated from just the curly borders …
And then some from the angular borders …
More information on the books, and many more borders and books are viewable at http://faberfinds.co.uk/.
September 2007 / Spring 2008
This was a tattoo I designed for my friends Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez-Palacio, with the name of their first-born, Maya. It was a gift, in lieu of rattles or a stuffed toy.
I know what you’re thinking: will I do this for you? Sorry, No. Not unless you’re a friend of mine or you have gobs of cash. That may sound strange, but let’s just pretend I’m Joni Mitchell: “I play if you have the money or if you’re a friend to me …” Tattoos are very personal, so I either need to know you, or thousands of dollars need to lubricate the pain of a client-gets-what-client-wants job. Know what I mean?
Not that there was any pain in this on my part: that’s love for ya.
Photos by Bryony Gomez-Palacio.
It’s the New York Times Square love fest ‘08, with 10 banners by 10 New York designers + me, all with one word, and one word only: LOVE. They are up now in Times Square between 42nd to 48th St, from 6th to 8th Ave. until I am not sure exactly when, but probably not long.
Years in the making, almost as long in the promising, this ornament font which happens to contain letterforms is now available for you, yes you to buy and use until you become positively dizzy in the head (an effect which is almost guaranteed).
The font contains the 26 letters of the alphabet, numbers, a hyphen, an ampersand and a question mark, plus a whole ton of squiggly bits for making fantastic shapes and borders. Simply masses of entertainment value.
With the font you get a handy little instruction PDF to help you on the way (you need it—really). How much? For now, a mere $45. But there is one catch. The End User License Agreement has some limitations on its use (mostly that you cannot use Restraint as the sole or major design element in identities, major ad campaigns, or use it to manufacture products for sale without additional licensing—but please read the EULA).
Ready, Set, Buy it now.
(Jan. 2010: Something nice made with Restraint!)
These are more images of the Saks Fifth Avenue “Want It!” campaign. Materials designed by the wonderful creative team at Saks under the direction of the glorious Terron Schaefer.
Michael Bierut at Pentagram hired me to work with him on this campaign for Saks Fifth Avenue, and then I was fortunate enough to work directly with the lovely Terron Schaefer at Saks.
We started with the signature piece for “Want It!” and then moved on to the 18 individual “Want It!” items (9 each for men and women) ...
plus “Shoes on Eight” and a scrolly shoe for their new shoe floor.
On September 10th I attended the official launch of the campaign in the New York store, and I was simply amazed and overwhelmed by the abundance and variety of forms that my work appeared in throughout the store.
They made a giant, plexiglass shoe (made by Exhibitology Inc.) out of the scrolly shoe I designed for the eighth floor, which rotated on a pedestal on the main floor.
There are beautiful window displays outside …
The graphics appear on every floor of the store …
They put the swirly stuff on walls and surfaces …
cut them into carpets …
have them swirling around in lights!
Plus there were bags, catalogues, and ads in pretty much every fashion magazine I picked up. Amazing!
None of it would have been what it was without Michael, Terron and his wonderful Creative & Marketing team, and they have my heartfelt thanks.
I made this piece for Dane Baker as a 6-foot by 4-foot piece for his office at the Knoxville Voice in Knoxville, Tennesee. Yes, it says “Knoxville Voice” and no, you can’t really read it, but it ain’t signage, eh?
I have at last received my tote bag, made from the banner I designed for the Urban Forest Project last year. There were two made, so if you have the other one, I’d love to see a picture of it.
My banner design adapted to a Jack Spade tote bag.
Don Whelan at the AIGA/DC asked me—along with other notable design luminaries, such as Debbie Millman, Modern Dog, Jessica Helfand, Ed Fella etc.—to design a clock for their fundraising event.
They shipped me a kit of parts, and I took it from there.
This clock will go up for auction on Tuesday May 22, at the Galleria at Lafayette Centre in Washington, DC, sometime between 6:30 and 9pm.
Here it is in action.