What do you get when you combine a book editor, a graphic designer and a shared mission to render all of human experience in chart form? Pop Chart Lab, a Brooklyn-based company that has made a splash with its infographic treatments of the varieties of beer, the complement of culinary tools, a taxonomy of hip-hop and dozens more mappings of cultural touchstones. The founding duo of Patrick Mulligan (editorial director) and Ben Gibson (creative director) has expanded to include a small team of researchers, designers and soldiers that assemble, sift, cull and arrange massive amounts of cultural data into meaningful works of art and information -- their arty charts are available as prints as well as on T-shirts and housewares.
Meet Sabi, a company that aims "to transform life's small tasks into moments of joy" through better designed lifestyle and wellness products. From a debut line of Yves Behar-designed pill organizers and related accessories (vitamin pulverizers, sleek carafes), the Palo Alto-based company moved onto colorful, eye-popping canes created in collaboration with Rie Norregard. Now they've teamed with Barber and Osgerby’s MAP Project Office in London for a collection of bathroom storage and organization pieces made of modern materials. "We love seeing people use products they really enjoy, and we intend to keep making them," say the founders. "Who knows which flavorless product category we will innovate next?"
What if useful objects were redesigned to be uncomfortable while retaining their original function? Athens-based architect Katerina Kamprani answers this question with "The Uncomfortable," an imagined collection of deliberately inconvenient everyday objects, from a concrete umbrella and toeless rainboots to a leaning chair and an inverted Oreo cookie. "The Uncomfortable started as a twisted sadistic design project," says Kamprani of her 3D visualizations and sketches. "It's a parasite in the world of materialism and design."
Between Quirky and Kickstarter comes Mvstard, which aims to offer a new way to discover, shop for, and support design. Launched yesterday to coincide with London Design Week, the web-based platform was born out of a frustration with the current process for getting product to market. "We found it difficult to introduce new products at a sensible cost without scale, and tough to get scale without big investment," says founder James Coombes. "We believed there was a better way." Sign up to help solve the chicken-and-egg scale issue and directly support designers by committing to pre-purchase products you love. The opening selection includes an iPhone-charging desk lamp, a mobile made of varnished leaves, and a nifty cast-aluminum stool.
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.
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.
What do punk rock and Swiss modernism have in common? Nothing, unless you count Swissted, an ongoing project of graphic designer Mike Joyce. When not busy running Stereotype Design in New York City, he gives an international typographic style twist to vintage punk, hardcore, new wave, and indie rock show flyers, all of which are posted on his website and available to purchase in the form of prints and iPhone cases. "Each design is set in lowercase Berthold Akzidenz-Grotesk Medium—not Helvetica," notes Joyce, a stickler for historical accuracy. "Every single one of these shows actually happened."
Polish up your photography skills in time for summer vacation snaps with Magnum Stories, new from Phaidon. A visual journey through the past six decades, the book features the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Eugene Richards, Martin Parr, Inge Morath and 55 other Magnum photographers. Each is represented by a fully illustrated photo story of their choice and a text that takes readers behind the lens.
Fans of Pee-wee's Playhouse -- that is, everyone -- will recognize the distinctive creations of Wayne White, one of the creative minds (and voices) behind the show's puppets and insane charm. The designer, painter, puppeteer, sculptor and musician gets his well-deserved close-up in Beauty is Embarassing. The documentary, now available on platforms such as Vimeo and Netflix, not only examines White's deliciously madcap creative process, but also retraces his steps from childhood in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to parenthood in Los Angeles. "I hope audiences get that sense of joy that Wayne has about what he does everyday," says director Neil Berkeley. "That's the lesson I learned from him... spend every day doing work that makes you happy."
Drunk Jeff Goldblum. Kool-Aid Man. The Kraken. Get your friends to guess names such as these to triumph in Monikers, a snappy update of the classic party game Celebrity. Now up for funding on Kickstarter, the deck-of-cards-based delight is the creation of Alex Hague and Justin Vickers, who have tapped some of their favorite web writers, game designers, and illustrators for maximum zaniness. "There’s something amazing about how the jokes build up, so that by the end of the game, everyone is sharing the same depraved hive mind," says Hague, "and all someone has to do is make some obscene thrusting gesture and everyone immediately knows they mean Ruth Bader Ginsburg—or whoever."