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The designer’s thirst-quencher served weekly

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Kool Ade

Old school, retro picks
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On Repasts Past

Order up some delicious inspiration with Menu Design in America, 1850–1985, published by Taschen. Design writer Steven Heller provides the appetizer, an introduction on the history of menu design, but the main course consists of almost 800 color graphics from vintage menus. And for dessert? Fascinating captions by the book's editor, Jim Heimann, who reveals the backstories of defunct establishments and calls out oddities such as the mention of "Eastern Oysters" on the menu of a San Francisco eatery. "The menu has gone beyond a mere element of a restaurant to a marketing tool, a branding opportunity, an indicator of cuisine, a barometer of taste, and a highly sought piece of ephemera," writes Heimann in his foreword. Creative types are sure to work up an appetite perusing the jumbo-sized coffee table tome, so avoid reading it on an empty stomach.

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Magic Potion

Cool ideas & design solutions
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Circle Up

Why should square and rectangular frames have all the fun? Advocating for a more well-rounded distribution of shapes is Hamburg-based Jo Marie Farwick, creator of "Everything Looks Better in Circles." The delightful Tumblr reveals the fetching results that only an angle-free profile can provide, whether in showcasing an Eames House Bird perched on a log, a beach scene, or a veritable army of kittens.

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Book Brew

New and upcoming books
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Collector’s Edition

At a time when nearly everything is available in bits, bytes, and pixels, print lives on in inspired packaging. Stuart Tolley brings together the most innovative examples in Collector's Edition, new from Thames and Hudson. The book spans the worlds of music, book publishing, and magazines to reveal extraordinary analog artifacts, from limited-edition box sets and deluxe editions made from specialist materials to handmade packaging and sculptural objects that incorporate digital technologies. Sprinkled among the inspiring work are interviews with the likes of Alec Soth, Dinos Chapman, and Stefan Sagmeister.

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House Blend

Interesting products
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Loomi

Let there be...Loomi! The modular, makeable, paintable, recyclable light is a design-minded DIYer's dream. It arrives in pieces: 33 quadrilaterals of sturdy matte card stock that can be interlinked to create lights of all shapes and sizes. "It's not that hard! Honest," promise the Brooklyn-based team of friends who developed Loomi—with the help an expired Danish patent from the 1970s and a successful Kickstarter campaign. "If you follow our instructions, you'll be up and lighting in about 20 minutes. And remember, you only have to build it once!"

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Font Fizz

Typography
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Comic Sans Criminal

Next time you encounter an egregious misuse of Comic Sans (i.e., pretty much anytime the font is used), get the offender into typographic rehab with Comic Sans Criminal. London-based designer Matt Dempsey created the cheeky online primer to explore the myriad inappropriate uses of the widely loathed font. Visitors get a bit of backstory on Comic Sans, a quick review of its acceptable and unacceptable contexts, and finally, the opportunity to pledge that they will exercise caution in all future use.

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Hot Shots

Meet some creative people
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For No Good Reason

The work of Ralph Steadman took a turn for the Gonzo in the 1970s, when the British-born artist and illustrator teamed up with Hunter S. Thompson to respond to "the screaming lifestyle of America." He never looked back. See the world through his creativity-crazed eyes in For No Good Reason, a documentary now available on DVD and iTunes. Made over the course of 15 years by director Charlie Paul and narrated by Johnny Depp, the film is an animated, image-soaked, and ultimately uplifting wild ride through Steadman's career and aesthetic.

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Font Fizz

Typography
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Typeradio

"Type is speech on paper. Typeradio is speech on type." That's the mantra of the must-listen-to radio channel on type and design. Tune in -- via the Typeradio Micro FM broadcast, MP3 Internet radio stream or podcast -- for font-themed questions, answers, performances, events, and talks online and onstage. Recent guests on the broadcast include leading creative minds from around the world, such as Rick Poynor, Paul Sahre, Simon Garfield and Irma Boom.

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Magic Potion

Cool ideas & design solutions
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Papirmass

Part magazine, part work of art, part social experiment, Papirmass (a play on the Danish word for pulp) wants everyone to have art -- the real thing. "Not the fake paintings sold at department stores or the same tired old posters every college student has," says founder Kirsten McCrea. "We want images to travel and people to get excited about seeing." It's a mission that the Toronto-based company is accomplishing by subscription. Every month Papirmass subscribers receive a new print with art on the front and writing on the back. Expect the unexpected, from collages and graffiti-inspired portraits to short stories and graphic novel excerpts.

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Magic Potion

Cool ideas & design solutions
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Bespoke Earbuds

Your personalized playlists deserve to be heard through tailor-made earphones. Treat yourself to a pair of Normals ($199, including shipping and tax), made using "nerdalicious software and 3D printing to sculpt each one-of-a-kind pair" by Normal. Ear measuring not required. The startup, located "on the elf-ear-shaped island of Manhattan," has created an app that makes getting fitted for your bespoke earbuds as easy as snapping a photo of each ear. "The result is a premium sound made for the strange pieces of cartilage on either side of your head," note the founders. "And no one else's."

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House Blend

Interesting products
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Eco Eyewear

A number of companies have made eyeglasses more affordable and even added a philanthropic "buy-one-give-one" twist, but what happens to all of those specs when they're replaced by more stylish models? Enter eco, a line of eyewear that is proudly "earth-conscious" as well as reasonably priced. The eyeglasses and sunglasses, available for men and women, are made from recycled stainless steel and repurposed plastic. But that's only the beginning of the brand's commitment to sustainability: eco plants a tree for each frame sold and makes it easy to donate unwanted eyewear.

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