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The designer’s thirst-quencher served weekly

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Font Fizz

Typography
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Pixel Comic Sans

Ah, Comic Sans MS--iconic, timeless, the apex of typographical evolution--could it really be possible to improve upon such a perfect specimen? Yes, according to the forward-thinking, technology-driven types at OKFocus. The New York agency has given the world Pixel Comic Sans, "an exquisite Open Type Font that you can use for all your fantastic computer-based projects." Free to download, the delightfully raggedy alphabet was created through a labor-intensive process of degradation: what began in Photoshop as 18 pt Comic Sans MS was rasterized, brought into Adobe Illustrator, made into a vector, and last but not least, brought into Fontographer. Pixelated pleasure at its finest.

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Font Fizz

Typography
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Experimental Calligraphy

With a little tracing paper, a handful of beveled-just-so pens, and some elbow grease, almost anyone can manage something resembling calligraphy. If you're ready to take your fancy lettering to the next level, pick up a copy of Calligraphy: A Book of Contemporary Inspiration, out this month in paperback from Thames & Hudson. Teed up by typographic legend Adrian Frutiger (who wrote the introduction), renowned calligrapher Denise Lach looks to the natural world for details, textures, and motifs that serve as inspirations for more imaginative letterforms and calligraphic images that leave the boring ol' standard of legibility dazzled and stammering in their curlicued wake.

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Magic Potion

Cool ideas & design solutions
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Off Pocket

Now that we have fact-based reports confirming that people in dusky trenchcoats are monitoring our every communication from a couple of blocky high-rises outside of Baltimore, we can embrace our paranoia and stock up on accessories to thwart eavesdroppers. Our latest discovery is the Off Pocket, a privacy case for mobile phones designed by Adam Harvey and Johanna Bloomfield. Drop your mobile device inside its silver- and nickel- coated nylon cocoon and the signal is instantly zeroed, blocking all incoming and outcoming wireless communication: untrackable, unhackable, undistractable.

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House Blend

Interesting products
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Loop

It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, but then there's the matter of finding a suitable holder. Dan Black and Martin Blum of London-based black + blum illuminate the situation with "Loop," a range of swirly candelabras available in satin or chrome steel as well as textured black cast iron. "The forms can’t be developed in a sketchbook or on the computer as the free-flowing wire is not symmetrical or regular in any way," says Black of the sculptural designs, inspired by the Fibonacci curve. "Working with metal, we twist and bend it until the form is just right and looks balanced and intriguing all at the same time."

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Book Brew

New and upcoming books
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Site Specific

Olivo Barbieri spent ten years capturing cities of the world in large-format aerial photographs. A new book reveals his slightly surreal views from above in stunning detail. Site Specific, published this month by Aperture, offers a bird's-eye view of 36 cities. Follow Barbieri's lens as it swoops over Venice, plays fast and loose with details in London, and finds elegant pastel chaos in a phalanx of Shanghai freeways. Along the way, his approach to photography evolves along with the spaces he records in playful, thrilling, and dramatic detail. It's the stuff of urban legends.

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Kool Ade

Old school, retro picks
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Old Sport

And now for something completely different: Baz Luhrmann's 21st century take on The Great Gatsby, recently released on DVD, gets a "supercut." Editors at Tribeca Film scouted the latest cinematic adaptation of the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel to find all of the utterances of the "old sport" that peppers Gatsby's speech, turned up at least 43 (for the record, we counted 45 in the book), and strung them together into this mesmerizing video. "After a while, the 'old sports' start to tell their own twisted tale of lost love, delusion, and desperation--or something," say the editors. "Enjoy! Just don't turn this into a drinking game." Bottoms up, old sport.

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Font Fizz

Typography
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KernType

Are you a kerning pro? Put your typographic knowledge to the test with KernType, a fontastic online game created by interaction designer Mark MacKay. Your goal: to achieve pleasant and readable text by distributing the space between letters. When you're done nudging, your solution is compared to the "typographer’s solution" and rated on a scale of 1 to 100. Once you've mastered KernType using clicks (of the arrow keys or a mouse), grab an iPad and try your hand at finger-kerning.

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Book Brew

New and upcoming books
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Designers & Books

"Reading is like working a muscle," says designer Carin Goldberg, "the more one exercises the muscle, the stronger and more supple it gets." Our personal trainer of choice is Designers & Books, which since 2011 has been serving up the reading recommendations of creative luminaries ranging from Milton Glaser and Maira Kalman to Deborah Berke and Wendell Castle. The site recently launched a redesign site with expanded content, novel navigation tools and design book giveaways. And stay tuned: A community book list (add your favorite titles) and an online book fair will bow in the coming days.

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House Blend

Interesting products
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American Flat

The term "Affordable art" evokes stale still lifes, amateurish portraiture and bland canvases destined for hotel rooms. A new e-commerce site is looking to change all of that. "I wanted to create a brand that was not for the art investor but for the art lover," says Giorgio Piccoli, founder of New York City-based Americanflat. His company aims to "produce museum-quality, exclusively curated wall art from impressive, hand-selected artists, while making that artwork accessible and affordable for everyone." The tightly curated online gallery keeps costs down by partnering with like-minded artists and using a cost-effective giclée (digital printing) production process. The result is high-quality, ready-to-hang wall art that starts at $90.

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Magic Potion

Cool ideas & design solutions
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Architectural Travel

The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century Architecture and The Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture are inspiring sourcebooks, but as with many authoritative, lushly illustrated volumes, it is impossible to fit them in your pocket (unless you have very special pants). Fear not, culture-conscious traveler, because Phaidon has released The Phaidon Architecture Travel Guide App, an iPhone- or iPad-ready resource that's yours for $3.99. With some 1,500 projects (cherrypicked from both atlases), the app can be browsed by location, project, practice and building type. Plus, the bookmarking options make it easy to create a "To See" list of architecture marvels around the globe.

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