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The designer’s thirst-quencher served weekly

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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

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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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Kool Ade

Old school, retro picks
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Hanx Writer

Tom Hanks loves typewriters. "Everything you type on a typewriter sounds grand, the words forming in mini-explosions of SHOOK SHOOK SHOOK," wrote the actor in a 2013 New York Times editorial. "A thank-you note resonates with the same heft as a literary masterpiece." For those that seek analog charm without sacrificing digital convenience, there is Hanx Writer, a new app that turns your iPad into a maker of "pieces of graphic art with a singularity equal to your fingerprints" (Hanks's defintion of typewritten letters). No White-Out required.

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House Blend

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rOtring 800+

In 1928, rOtring debuted the world's first nibless fountain pen and laid the Bauhaus-influenced groundwork for a legacy in writing utensils. The latest addition to the German company's collection of cult creative tools is the 800+. Created to enable designers to "think on paper + think on digital,” the ultraprecise mechanical pencil doubles as a stylus. Rationalize the price ($85.00) by considering its unique hybrid nature—and all the time and energy you'll save not having to swap utensils as you go from paper to touchscreen.

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Book Brew

New and upcoming books
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Design and Content

Use the dregs of August to polish off your summer reading list and then make way for Design and Content, out next month from Princeton Architectural Press. It's the long-in-the-making first monograph of graphic design star and Pentagram partner Abbott Miller, whose creative genius manages to look just as stunning when channeled into a museum exhibition, identity design, magazine, iPad app, or, in this case, a 240-page hardcover book that is chock full of inspiring images.

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Hot Shots

Meet some creative people
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This Monster

In a world of slicker-than-slick children's apps (far too many of which seem to involve applying digital makeup to virtual faces), a quirky and creative standout is This Monster. Art director and graphic designer Julianna Goodman created the interactive short story ($1.99 on the App Store) after failing to find a digital version of cherished books from her childhood: handcrafted, thoughtful, and more like a poem than a video game. She filled the app with colorful, touchable-looking materials as well as original music and sound effects to weave a tale that stars color-eating monsters—iPad-savvy mutant progeny of Eric Carle's insatiable analogue caterpillar.

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House Blend

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Postcard Notepads

So many photos. So little time. Grab 24 or 36 of your favorite digital images and transform them into a postcard notepad, a utilitarian take on the photo album. It's one of the DIY papergoods offered by Los Angeles-based Paper Chase Press. Simply head to the website of the family-run press, bindery, and publishing house, select your size and paperstock, and upload away. Your sturdy, chipboard-backed notebook will be on its way to you within a couple of weeks.

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Magic Potion

Cool ideas & design solutions
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In Common Images

Photography meets philanthropy with In Common Images, a photobank with a purpose. Part of the broader Milestones Project, the Littleton, Colorado-based initiative allows photographers to "donate" images that businesses and organizations can license for their own non-commercial use. A portion of the licensing fee (currently $300 per photo) then goes to a nonprofit designated by the photographer. The concept of "uncommon photos for the common good" is catching on fast, with more than 70,000 images uploaded to the site so far.

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Magic Potion

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Found

Prepare to get lost in Found, a curated collection of photography from the National Geographic archives. The mesmerizing Tumblr was launched last year to celebrate the organization’s 125th anniversary and is still going strong with an inspirational mix of world culture and nostalgia. “Some of these photos have never been published before, others were in the magazine years ago but since then have rarely been seen by the public,” note the editors of Found. “Their beauty has been lost to the outside world.” Visit frequently and scroll slowly.

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