Inspiration behind your Hex Series: “I’ve been obsessed with crystals and polygonal structures since growing crystals in a can with a blue vitriol solution and making hexaflexagons as a child. Although the geometry that was taught at school seemed boring to me.”

Kostya Sasquatch, graphic designer and artist

The 28-year-old graphic designer Kostya Sasquatch makes thick, vector-like graphics on a PC, all cartoon colors and geometric shapes, odd logotypes that create iconographies for systems that seem to exist only in the designer’s mind. (He has a whole series called Donut Control.) They’re the kind of designs that could be from anywhere, but they might not have looked anything like they do if Sasquatch wasn’t from Moscow.
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Behind the design team's desks is an inspiration board that serves as an unofficial guide to seasonal trends. Many of their cues are taken directly from the runway — mostly because it's often the kind of thing their clients call and request — but other times it's up to their intuition to know when to bring in a tie-dye print, or retire a Mod one. Art nouveau, for instance, was all over the recent Prada resort line, but the team had trouble selling it nonetheless. ("The client will go, 'I love this personally, but it's not our girl,'" explains one of the Printfresh designers.) So instead they've stuck more to ethnic and tribal prints for summer — trends with a bit more obvious momentum.

Printfresh, Textile Designers

It's easy to imagine the backstory of a Prada print: Miuccia has a concept for the season, and either a high-end Italian fabric vendor or her own design team supplies prints just for her. But consider a patterned polyester work shirt from Kmart, and you'd never guess that a RISD textile-design grad like Amy Voloshin might be behind it, translating those runway looks into something that appeals to mainstream Americans. It's an art unto itself: "I have a list of things I roll through in my head when I design for those clients: Is the print pretty? Is it scary, thorny, or edgy? If it is, it's not going to work."
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Williams's cat Cloud, whom his 10-year-old daughter Piper was responsible for naming. "People love that cat, man," he says. It sits atop the dining room table, a 13-foot-long number by German brand e15, whose work reappears several times throughout the house. "I really admire their design sense."

JP Williams, Graphic Designer and Archivist

Someone like JP Williams has enjoyed plenty of validating moments in his 20-year career as a graphic designer: Getting to study under one of his design heros, Paul Rand, at Yale; winning more than 100 awards for projects like his kraft-paper tea packages for Takashimaya; discovering that his collection of baseball cards from 1909 was worth enough to buy his wife and business partner Allison an engagement ring. All well and good, however none of it really compared, he admits, to the feeling of being validated by Martha Stewart.
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"At the end of the 1950s, both Marlene Schnelle and Ingeborg Kracht, who later became Dieter Rams wife, worked as photographers at Braun. Photography played a significant part in corporate communications."

Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams

The products featured in Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams will be familiar to any Rams disciple, but what struck us most about the book was a section devoted to Braun’s beautifully understated communication design and to that department’s fearless leader, Wolfgang Schmittel. He ran a tight ship — an in-house manual went out to each member of the design team with instructions on how to appropriately and inappropriately market the Braun product line — but as a result, the Braun image “differed greatly from the existing design forms of other manufacturers at the time, due to its clarity."
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"Abstract thought is a warm puppy" —Art Spiegelman: "There's a theory in art that good things come from your stomach and aren't thought about, and I disagree with that exclusion of thinking and of the senses. I like that Spiegelman doesn't exclude it. I used this quote as the name of a 2008 installation I made at the Center for Contemporary Non-Objective Art in Brussels."

Esther Stocker, Artist

It's funny to hear Esther Stocker talk about reading between the lines. The Vienna-based painter is known for manipulating spatial geometry using the framework of the grid — both on canvas and in her trippy 3-D installations — until the mind starts making linear connections that aren't really there, trying to find order in the optically illusive chaos. But that's not what Stocker's referring to. She's talking about Charles Schultz's Peanuts.
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A Color Study by Raw Color

It’s not unusual for a designer to become synonymous with a single project. Think of Konstantin Grcic’s galactic-looking Chair_One, or Stefan Sagmeister’s AIGA poster carved into his flesh with an X-Acto knife. For Christoph Brach and Daniera ter Haar, it’s more like eponymous: A project called Raw Color gave their studio its name (though it's since become known as 100% SAP so as to avoid confusion) and it has consumed them by varying degrees since they graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2007.
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As a print textile designer in the fashion industry, Annie Papadimitriou loves to work with existing patterns and shapes but then alter them beyond recognition. The final pattern for Circles was generated by experimenting in Photoshop with filters, layering techniques, and extreme scales. “In general my work is very colorful and busy,” she says. “For this project I wanted to do something different.”

39.22.’s Wallpaper Designers

Long ago, wallpaper was reserved for royalty — a handcrafted thing made with high artistry and hung with equally high aspirations. But since then, with a few very recent notable exceptions, it's become the ambitionless cop-out of modern-day interior design, a failure blamed on wimpy printing techniques but which probably has to do more with a lack of imagination. Among those getting it right is the Athens-based design collective 39.22., which draws both its name and its stable of talent from its own geographical coordinates.
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For this hamburger made of wood, leaves, and treebark, Illenberger worked with a woodcutter, who turned the bun on a lathe. The brief was to comment somehow on an environmental topic. "My idea was to bring up the issue of McDonalds deforesting South America," she says, though she is not, in fact, a vegetarian. "I would have preferred to use wood from South America, but it was too difficult, so I had to use German wood instead."

Sarah Illenberger’s 3-D Illustrations

When Sarah Illenberger picks up the phone, the first thing she does is apologize: There's a loud, repetitive popping noise going off in the background of her Berlin studio, which turns out to be the firing of a staple gun. She doesn't say what her assistants are constructing with the staples, but judging from her past illustration work, it's likely they'll be built up by the thousands onto a substrate until their glinting mass reveals some kind of representational image — a skyscraper, maybe, or a ball of tinfoil. Almost all of Illenberger's work involves using handicraft to manipulate one thing into looking like something else entirely, and almost all of it entails such a meticulous construction process that there's no time to silence it for interviews.
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THIBAUD TISSOT
Describe your working process: "I have no general recipe, but I know I'm obsessed."

Neuland: The Future of German Graphic Design

The editors of Neuland, a recent compendium of up-and-coming German graphic designers, struggled with all the usual big, philosophical questions while putting their book together: What is German design? What is German? Who cares? If they were Ellen Lupton or Steven Heller, they might have spent pages upon pages ruminating on these issues. Instead, they did what any editors who are actually designers by trade might do — they asked their 51 subjects for the answers.
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“In a way, Best Made was actually a product of the recession,” says Buchanan-Smith. “I had to close my office and lay off my staff. I was living in New Jersey and I had this garage I’d always wanted to use as a workshop.” The first few prototypes were painted there; now the axes are forged in Maine by America’s oldest axe-maker then hand-painted here, in Buchanan-Smith’s Tribeca studio.

Peter Buchanan-Smith, Graphic Designer and Axe-Maker

Ah, the impotence of the urban dweller. Ever since the Best Made Company axe debuted this spring, you’d be hard-pressed to find a New Yorker who isn’t dying to snap open that wooden case and heave the Tennessee hickory–handled thing at… well, what, exactly? “At first I thought a lot of New Yorkers would buy them,” says Peter Buchanan-Smith, the New York–based graphic designer who founded the company along with his childhood pal Graeme Cameron. But it turns out the best audience for an axe — even one with a handle saturated in gorgeous shades of spray paint — is a person who actually might use an axe.
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Clothes Drying Rack 2006. With this, I had to go to the hardware store to buy the dowels. Ideally the things I build for Frances are made of the many pieces of scrap wood I keep in our garage. This was not actually a big hit — it ended up a bit too tall for her, but now it’s making a comeback as she gets taller.

Geoff McFetridge in Apartamento #04

The fourth and most recent issue of Apartamento, one of our very favorite publications, includes a special kids' supplement called Kinder, curated by Andy Beach, one of our very favorite bloggers. Apartamento bills itself as "an everyday life interiors magazine," and Kinder follows suit: There's an acid-trip of a coloring book illustrated by Andy Rementer; the Memphis-esque results of a furniture-building workshop for kids; and a story about a collection of objects that Los Angeles graphic designer Geoff McFetridge made for his daughter Frances, which is excerpted here in its entirety.
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In a Box by Swatek Romanoff

There are more than 20,000 instances of great graphic design housed in the AIGA’s online archives, but for every Pushpin or Chiat\Day, there’s a Swatek Romanoff — a firm that churned out loads of wonderful work in its ’70s/’80s heyday but that isn’t the subject of much chatter among today’s design circles. When we were first putting together ideas for this site, it was Randall Swatek and David Romanoff’s whimsical 1979 “In a Box” series that inspired this column.
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