I was at a birthday party held at a place in the old Brooklyn Navy Yard called Construction Kids and while watching the kids build objects out of pieces of scrap wood, I found these old graphic design tools hanging on the wall. Unlike the bins of supplies and building tools in the room that were in regular use, these rusted drawing tools were hung as a display. I know it seems so obvious, but sometimes it’s not until you see these objects arranged like artifacts that you realize just how many of these tools that we used to use every single day are obsolete. It’s not like I ever declared “it’s time to retire the T Square!”, but it did make me think about the fact that there is a whole world of objects, tools and art supplies that the girls might never even know about.
It seems really unimaginable now that newspapers and magazines were all physically laid out by hand in the form of boards and strips of paper back in olden times. It even seems crazy when I think about the fact that this was happening in my lifetime. One of my first jobs out of college was in the publishing industry in mid 90s Portland and for a year and a half, I cut strips of paper to be laid out on boards with wax that were then sent to a printer every week. I don’t think it was until I moved back to NY in late 96 that my jobs went all computer, though we were still making paper prototypes for clients and assembling them with an x-acto knife and rubber cement. I still use my x-acto knife and metal straight edge ruler all the time. They must be at least 15 years old, but I do sometimes think about those art supplies that I haven’t touched since: letraset transfer letters, the Staedtler drafting tools, Shaedler rules, my plexi triangle, the green ellipse templates. You can see many of these objects at The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies for those of you who might be too young to remember what any of these things are. Some of those tools I’ve kept in an old art box (I know I still have my calligraphy pens and I still have unopened packages of kneaded erasers), but most of the stuff has been lost over time in various moves across states.
Sometimes I miss those days. You worked with your hands a lot, physically cutting and gluing things, getting dirty, shaking canisters of film for developing, swishing paper that you just exposed to film in trays with rubber tipped thongs for developing, using actual tools that you held in your hands. It was art, it was messy. And it’s not just art and design, but music too – physically splicing audio tape to make loops, patching cords to make samples. We even made our own stereo speakers in school one year (so much math involved in speaker building and tuning). There’s still a huge interest in analog audio, but I feel like a lot of those old art supplies are relics now, gone like the rotary phone and those big volumes of Encyclopedias that we used as kids (let’s add the Yellow Pages and the fax machine to that list soon, please).
Maybe that’s why I stood in front of that wall at Construction Kids for so long, just kind of taking in the gravity of what those retired relics stood for. Things change all the time and we need to adapt. It’s true with everything, isn’t it? Technology, life, expectations, dreams, goal, even relationships with people…
Posted by Jenna | 16 Comments
Next year’s calendar is here! Available in our Etsy print store and our website.
Posted by Jenna | 18 Comments
There was a lot going on in the city this weekend. Seems like so many events are packed into the late September/ early October weekends and you have your pick of things to do. After a brutal week of many many cookies that ended in a very successful day at the Chile Festival where he sold out of most everything (almost felt like holiday cookie madness times), Mark finally got a day off. It’s good to end a crazy week with a great day at an event and feel like all your hard work is validated. People were lining up to buy the Chocolate Curry fudgesicles. They are slowly gaining traction every week and even though we’ll be wrapping up fudgesicle season very soon, we will definitely be bringing them all back next year.
Mark’s sister is in town briefly for a few days and we chose to spend Sunday down at the Dumbo Arts Festival. We’ve never been before and I definitely want to put it on my list for next year because we barely scratched the surface of this 3 day arts festival. Between throwing rocks into the East RIver at pebble beach, the playground and Jane’s Carousel, there were too many distractions in Dumbo for the kids even before we could even explore the festival. But after ducking into the carousel to escape an unexpected rain shower (with just about everyone else in Dumbo, it seemed) we did stumble upon the kids’ area where you could participate in all kinds of hands on collaborative art projects.
Oh, and October. Hello. Every year I think that September always feel like one of the shortest months. Am I right?
Posted by Jenna | 8 Comments
What is it about maps that are just so fascinating? I’ve been long obsessed with how the intricate network of streets create these complex patterns, totally unique to each city, and creating maps have often been a recurring theme to some of my work projects. I think that’s why I’m so fascinated by Claudine’s obsessive map-like maze drawings because of this long standing fascination with urban typography.
And then this book.
Lena is an artist and designer who I’ve known about and long admired for a really long time, but had only met earlier this year. We have quite a few mutual friends in common so I’d like to think that it was only a matter of time before we would meet. And when we did have dinner way back in the Spring, she was gracious enough to give me a copy of her book, Maps, a book she self published last year. Maps is a collection of beautifully hand drawn illustrated maps of 40 cities around the world, 20 here in the US and 20 abroad. She started making these illustrations back in 2004 for a magazine and they are wonderfully charming and peppered with landmarks and points of interest. It’s the perfect book to share with the girls because of their love of maps, no doubt fostered through nightly bedtime routines of looking at maps and atlases with Mark since they were babies. It’s also fun to look through different cities and talk about places we hope to visit in the future. I love Lena’s aesthetic sensibilities in everything she creates and this book, with her artistic interpretations of that urban typography that I love so much, is no exception.
Lena’s book is now available in store at Anthropologie.
Posted by Jenna | 12 Comments
What, it only took 2 years to get a Metric Kitchen Conversion Poster designed! But it’s here in 3 colorways (so far). I’ve gotten so many requests for a metric version of our popular Kitchen Conversion poster, but I think what was throwing me was that the use of graphics couldn’t really be translated in the same way. This poster is much more typographic with some references to the kitchen graphics used in the original poster, mainly as a pattern motif in the background.
Available now in our Etsy poster shop and coming to our website soon.
PS. Don’t mind the “mess”in our etsy poster shop. I’m contemplating moving the few photos I have left off to a separate website and just having the conversion charts on there. The whole shop just needs a massive reorganization…
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One of the places I wanted to visit on our trip to Seattle this year was the Public Library designed by Rem Koolhaas. I first became familiar with the work of Rem Koolhaas when I was working on the Harvard Graduate School of Architecture website redesign nearly 12 years ago, where Koolhaas is a professor. Also around that time, the innovative Prada store designed by Koolhaus had opened its doors in Soho. The Seattle Library is probably the nicest library I’ve ever been in. While the architecture of the NY Public Library is steeped in history, having recently celebrated its 100 year old anniversary and guarded by a pair of large stately lion sculptures on either side of its wide front steps, the Seattle Central Library is light and air filled with its steel and glass construction and built with sustainable materials wherever possible. Typography plays a big part in the design. Large signage anchors and identifies the different floors and sections of the 8 story building with bold san serif lettering, and there are some surprising and fun elements and bright pops of color, like the all red 4th floor and the neon yellow escalators.
I’m not really sure what took us SO long to check the library out, but it might just become a regular visit on our Seattle trips.
Here’s an amusing interview with Koolhaas along with an exterior shot of the library.
Posted by Jenna | 25 Comments