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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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Plotly

Loyal to line graphs? Have a penchant for pie charts? Whether you stick to scatter plots or have been passing the winter by living vicariously heatmaps, you'll adore Plotly. Conceived as a way to share the fun of graphical data analysis, the still-in-beta platform is the place to import and wrangle data in any form, and then analyze, simulate, and graph your heart out.

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House Blend

Interesting products
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Boskke Cube

If you've ever returned from a trip to discover your favorite plant reduced to a parched pile of leaves, you'll want to treat your photosynthetic friends to the Boskke Cube. Designer Patrick Morris deconstructed the traditional plant pot and added an ingenious irrigation system to create this self-watering planter, which acts as a reservoir for a month’s supply of water. “The clear plastic body reveals the water, soil, and roots of the plant, allowing you to witness firsthand the mechanics of plant growth,” says Morris of the Cube, which comes in assorted sizes. “And great for all those travelers…you only need to water it once a month.”

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Hot Shots

Meet some creative people
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Designer Box

Thinking outside of the box is so twentieth century. Designer Box, a new take on the subscription service craze, taps international design stars such as Arik Levy and Aldo Bakker to create a unique and original object that is delivered to your door inside a numbered wooden box each month. A vase, a mirror, a candle holder...the ninth and latest box contains the Black Out Light, a nifty flashlight designed by 5.5 designstudio.

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Book Brew

New and upcoming books
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On the Road

New York's Hudson Valley is studded with artists and craftspeople, and Nick Hand met a bunch of them--by hopping on a bicycle. Conversations on the Hudson (Princeton Architectural Press) chronicles the British graphic designer's 500-mile, two-wheeled journey between Brooklyn and the Adirondacks. The new book is a charming mix of photographs and interviews with the likes of glassware designer Deborah Ehrlich, ceramicist Michele O'Hana, and stone carver Ted Ludwiczak. "On a bicycle you take everything in," writes Hand in the book's introduction. "You can stop anywhere, you don't miss a thing, and it's easy to strike up a conversation."

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House Blend

Interesting products
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Kung Fu Writing

Blazing gold Dixon Ticonderogas are no good for stealthy sketching or plotting sabotage in your most shadowy of Moleskines. For those covert tasks, you'll want to stock up on Ninja Pencils, available in highly trained packs of twelve from Perpetual Kid. The sleek utensils are all black, except for their Ninja faces and "Hi-Ya!" Use them wisely.

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Mixed Drinks

Must-see places or events
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Young Guns

The Art Directors Club is once again on the hunt for the creative stars of tomorrow with Young Guns. Now in its twelfth year, the international, cross-disciplinary, portfolio-based competition seeks to identify the young creative vanguard. By "young," they mean 30 or under, and by "creatives," they mean those doing great things in graphic design, photography, illustration, advertising and art direction, environmental design, film, animation, video, interactive design, object design, and/or typography. The deadline for entries is April 7, and a jury of past Young Guns will select the winners.

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Book Brew

New and upcoming books
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Super Graphic

The Venn diagram of comic book fans and graphic designers consists of circles that are nearly overlapping. Both circles include Tim Leong, who can instantly transform (perhaps in a phone booth?) from design director of Fortune magazine into an intrepid explorer of the comic book universe. In Graphic World (Chronicle Books), he has created a visual guide to the comic book universe through pie charts, bar graphs, timelines, and scatter plots that offer a fresh perspective on all things superheroic.

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Magic Potion

Cool ideas & design solutions
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Arts for Transit

Did you know that the New York City public transit system is filled with permanent artwork? The city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) teamed with the ace navigators at Meridian to put the hundreds of works of contemporary art found throughout the NYC Subway, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, and MTA bridges and tunnels in your pocket, provided that said pocket contains a smartphone loaded with this app. The entire collection of MTA-commissioned artwork is organized by subway (or railroad line) and by artist, from Alice Adams to Joe Zucker.

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Kool Ade

Old school, retro picks
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Honest Logos

What if a logo revealed the true nature of a company, as opposed to the image it aspires to present to the world? Such is the parallel universe imagined by Swedish graphic designer Viktor Hertz, who has created a series of "honest logos" for megabrands ranging from Apple (the text below the silvery fruit becomes "Appearance Costs") to YouTube ("CatVideos"). Some may have a future as guerrilla public health campaigns, aimed at too-frequent customers of McDonald's ("McDiabetes"), Camel ("Cancer"), or Marlboro ("Moneywaster").

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Mixed Drinks

Must-see places or events
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Aerial America

There's nothing like frigid weather, treacherous road conditions, and a full-time job to put the kibosh on that plan to take a cross-country road trip. Until you can drive the scenic route, get a bird's-eye view on Aerial America, an original series on the Smithsonian Channel. The new season, which takes flight on February 23, soars across Texas, Idaho, Utah, Kentucky, North and South Dakota, and Wyoming, revealing the resources of each states from the viewfinder of a helicopter-mounted Cineflex V-14 HD camera system.

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