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The designer’s thirst-quencher served weekly

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House Blend

Interesting products
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Hem

From the design-obsessed people who brought you Fab comes Hem (Swedish for "home"), a new venture that is looking to bring high-end modern design to the online masses. The Berlin-based company, which ships to 30 countries, is not part of the flash sale fray: the focus is on original designs developed in collaboration with talents such as Sylvain Willenz, Luca Nichetto and Grain Design as well as those dreamed up in Hem's Helsinki R&D workshop and Stockholm design studio. Many of the furniture pieces and accessories can be customized with a few clicks.

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Mixed Drinks

Must-see places or events
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Atlas Obscura

There is something new under the sun, every day, all over the world. That's the core belief of the observant nomads over at Atlas Obscura, which aims to be "the definitive guide to the world's wondrous and curious places." Among the strange and singular destinations that the site allows you to virtually explore are Outer Mongolia's "Dinosaurs Fairyland" theme park, a handwoven bridge in Peru, and an 80-year-old house built out of newspapers. Navigate by region or category (Anomalous Islands, Microminiature art) or click "Random Place" for a quick hit of creative inspiration.

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Kool Ade

Old school, retro picks
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Stickable Pixels

Return to a simpler, eight-bit way of life, be the next street art sensation or just get your Ellsworth Kelly on with pixel art. Seattle-based startup 1x1 has taken to Kickstarter to make its colorful, self-adhesive squares a reality. A $30 pledge will get you a box of 14,800 pixel stickers that can be applied to glass, metal or any other smooth surface. Budding pixel artists have until November 5 to back the project.

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Hot Shots

Meet some creative people
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The Uncomfortable

What if useful objects were redesigned to be uncomfortable while retaining their original function? Athens-based architect Katerina Kamprani answers this question with "The Uncomfortable," an imagined collection of deliberately inconvenient everyday objects, from a concrete umbrella and toeless rainboots to a leaning chair and an inverted Oreo cookie. "The Uncomfortable started as a twisted sadistic design project," says Kamprani of her 3D visualizations and sketches. "It's a parasite in the world of materialism and design."

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Kool Ade

Old school, retro picks
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Eastern Blocks

News of a forthcoming film adaptation of Tetris, the addictive and iconic puzzle video game, made us all the more appreciative of the viral-sensation music video debut from Pig With The Face Of A Boy, also known as Donald Newholm and Dan Woods. Released a few years a go, their delightful "A Complete History of the Soviet Union Through the Eyes of a Humble Worker, Arranged to the Melody of Tetris," earned them the (self-applied, yet deserved) title of "world's best neo-post-post-music hall anti-folk band." Click and watch to see why.

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Font Fizz

Typography
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Typeface Memory

Put your font of font knowledge to good use with a round of "The Quick Brown Fox Jumps over the Lazy Dog," a typographical take on the card-matching game of Memory. Created by Fábio Prata and Flávia Nalon of Brazil-based Ps.2 Arquitetura + Design for BIS Publishers, the game includes 25 variations of the letter "A" in typefaces ranging from Akzidenz Grotesk to Zapfino. Players attempt to font-match their way to a win, along the way sharpening their knowledge of subtle differences between say, Univers and Helevetica. Up the educational factor by reading the fine print (font fun facts) on each card or delving into the companion booklet that examines the evolution of type design, locating in history each one of the fonts used in the game. For any design buff, it's a match made in heaven.

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Magic Potion

Cool ideas & design solutions
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Color IQ Test

How sharp is your color acuity? Find out by taking X-Rite's Color IQ test. It's as easy as restoring a checkerboard of color chips to their proper ROYGBIV formation. The first and last chips in each of the four rows are fixed. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: drag and drop the ones in between to arrange them in hue order. Once you're confident in your efforts, click "Score Test" to see where you fall on the color IQ spectrum. The site will also provide historical score ranges by sex and age bracket. The real challenge: achieving the perfect score of zero. Meanwhile, don't let a low color IQ bring you down—just blame an improperly calibrated and profiled monitor.

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Kool Ade

Old school, retro picks
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Boxful of Book Covers

We'll spare you the part about making book cover-based judgments and jump right to recommending that you crack open Postcards from Penguin. Cleverly packaged like a book, the boxed set of cards (none of which we can bring ourselves to actually slap a stamp on and mail) offers a visual tour of 70 years of British design through 100 covers of iconic Penguin paperpacks. Along with classics of American and British literature, the set includes vintage covers for more recent fare, including mod takes on the work of Mary McCarthy and Roald Dahl. The set makes a great gift for creative types who prefer critiquing covers to actual reading.

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Font Fizz

Typography
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Identifont

You can spot Helvetica a mile away and have an entire theory about why Woody Allen can’t bear to make a film without deploying Windsor Light Condensed, but where do you turn when confronted by a typeface of unknown provenance? Try Identifont, the Web’s largest independent directory of typefaces. Among the site’s multiple ways to filter information from hundreds of font publishers and vendors is its tool enabling users to answer a series of illustrated multiple-choice questions about the appearance of a particular font (even if a sample is restricted to a handful of letters in a logo or heading). What type of tail is the uppercase “Q” sporting? How is the question mark dotted? Click to provide answers and before you can say “ascender serif oblique,” Identifont will have winnowed down the nearly 10,000 possibilities to the very font you're seeking to name.

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Book Brew

New and upcoming books
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The Signs of Italy

Louise Fili has done it again. The designer of all things bello, including stunning packaging and branding for the likes of Jean-Georges, Tiffany & Co. and Sarabeth's, turns her Italophilic eye to signage in the pages of Grafica della Strada, out this month from Princeton Architectural Press. The chunky yet compact book is a photographic diary of sorts, revealing the most inventive restaurant, hotel, street, and advertising signs spotted by Fili over three decades' worth of Italian travels. "These signs chart the highs and lows of Italian typography, from a classically elegant gold leaf script for a Turin jewelry store to a very spirited (and unreadable) type rendered in orange and blue dimensional plastic letters for a shop selling doormats in Rome," notes Fili by way of introduzione. "From the sublime to the ridiculous, each and every one, in its unique way, is dear to me."

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