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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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Birdsnap

Toting around a thick field guide is for the birds. Identify flying creatures the modern way with Birdsnap, a new iPhone app that covers 500 common North American bird species. The free app was developed by researchers at Columbia University (the people that brought you Leafsnap!) and the University of Maryland using computer vision and machine learning techniques. Visual recognition technology can help to identify birds in photos you upload, and with a tap or two, you can automatically see visually similar species and learn how to distinguish them—or have the app generate a guide to local birds based on your location and the time of year.

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Book Brew

New and upcoming books
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Typewriter Art

In 1898, Flora F. F. Stacey used a typewriter to "draw" a butterfly, beginning a rich creative legacy that is dwindling with the introduction of each new digital device. Get acquainted with the medium's greatest hits in Barrie Tullett's Typewriter Art, new from Chronicle Books. The analog-themed anthology ranges from historical works (the Bauhaus was apparently chock full of typewriters) to contemporary art. We think it's a key addition to any creative library.

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Font Fizz

Typography
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Helveticards

Swiss style. International fun. That's the promise of Helveticards, a deck that plays it sleek with the help of Max Miedinger's famed typeface. The king, queen, and jack are dethroned (and defaced) by capital letters—K, Q, and J—while two corners of each card feature not numerals but words ("Five of Clubs"), a touch that creator Ryan Myers describes as "a tongue-in-cheek celebration of Bauhaus-style Swiss design." As for those that grumble about the cards' aesthetics trumping their functionality, the designer takes it all in stride. "Design for design's sake? Sure, to a certain extent," says Myers. "What isn't? If that weren’t the case, we'd all be driving tear-drop shaped cars. But, we appreciate individuality and beauty in color, texture and shape."

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House Blend

Interesting products
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Hanno the Gorilla

Conquer your cluttered desk and massive pre-summer vacation to-do list with the help of Hanno, a wooden gorilla created by designer David Weeks. The beechwood beast is named for Hanno the Navigator—the Greek voyager who explored Africa 2,500 years ago and is credited with discovering gorillas—and shares his namesake's bravery, strength, and curiosity. Weeks's jointed wooden menagerie also includes Ursa the bear, Lucy the crocodile, and Simus the rhinoceros.

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Magic Potion

Cool ideas & design solutions
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Curiator

A new online platform is bringing the functionality and ease of Pinterest or Tumblr to the world of art. Launched last month, Curiator is a digital, collaborative art collection: a place to keep track of your favorite art and discover an ever-expanding virtual collection of works. Founders Moenen Erbuer and Tobias Boonstoppel, veterans of AKQA and Google, respectively, created Curiator in part to gain a broader understanding of the artistic tastes of people they knew or admired in order to start their own art collections. "It’s about what you like, not about what we like," they say, "and definitely not just about what’s for sale."

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House Blend

Interesting products
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Sketchy Charades

If you've ever wished Pictionary would loosen up, you'll enjoy WhatchamaDRAWit, a doodling game that challenges players to imagine and sketch endearingly odd scenarios. The deck of 110 cards includes directives such as "Draw a Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy at a birthday party for the Easter Bunny" and "Draw an alien swimming in a bowl of pudding." Use the included 60-second timer to keep things competitive or take a more leisurely approach--we suggest cocktails and colored pencils.

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Mixed Drinks

Must-see places or events
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Archetypes

Are you more of a Caregiver, Creative, Intellectual, Visionary, Royal, Athlete, Spiritual, Tastemaker, Advocate, Rebel, Explorer, or Performer? Find out at Archetypes.com, a new personality test-meets-online platform that promises to help you understand who you are and then tailor the world (or at least the Internet) accordingly. Complete the site's eight-question quiz to identify your three strongest archetypes and then start exploring content and products tailored to your profile.

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Book Brew

New and upcoming books
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Design Trilogy Interviews

If you've enjoyed one, two, or all three of Gary Hustwit's design documentaries--Helvetica, Objectified, and Urbanized--you're sure to be mesmerized by his forthcoming book of compiled interviews. The 400 pages, gleaned from hundreds of hours (and 31 hard drives worth) of footage, are unedited glimpses into the minds of creative types from Paola Antonelli to Hermann Zapf. "What's striking to me is how wide-ranging the actual conversations are compared to the films, which seem kind of narrow in comparison," says Hustwit. "I'm actually excited--and a little frightened--about how it'll all work in one book...we'll see!"

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Hot Shots

Meet some creative people
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Dottinghill

Crowdsourcing and tattoos sounds like a dangerous combination, but not in the hands of Dottinghill. The site is serious about "skin accessories" (read: temporary water-transfer body tattoos). "We believe that temporary tattoos have been neglected as a great medium for people to express themselves artistically," say the Singapore-based founders. In addition to functioning as a marketplace, Dottinghill is a platform for designers to submit their original ideas for temporary tattoos. Submitted designs are scored by community members and selected designers are then compensated for the exclusive license to use their work, so they have skin in the game.

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Mixed Drinks

Must-see places or events
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Habit-Forming

'Tis the season for parental gifts and graduation presents. Check out the selection at MyHabit, Amazon's take on the flash-sale craze. You know the drill: hefty discounts on brand-name merch for a limited time. The Amazon innovations include a fuss-free interface, integration with your existing Amazon account and free shipping, at speeds that are almost disturbingly rapid. Launched with an impressive assortment of fashion brands, the site continues to build up its home and design section. Recent sales have ranged from cult brands (Lexon, MIU France) to oddball treasures (a robot lamp made from industrial pipes, an iPhone cover printed with axes).

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