Cool Designs of the Week

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gf smith collection designThere may be no finer human creation than the paper book. The Internet’s a marvel, the combustion engine’s pretty nifty, but the time-honored tome transforms once-living trees into repositories of mankind’s knowledge that enlighten the mind as they engage every one of our senses. This week, we rifle through the pages of a graphic designer’s remarkable portfolio, lose our cool over an enormous swatchbook, and appreciate a piece of Japanese paper art that compels us to ponder birth and death in a unique way. (You will find previous Cool Designs of the Week right here.)

Graphic Designer’s Portfolio Design

When you’re a designer of any stripe, there’s a great deal of pressure to present your work in a stunning and thought-provoking style. Austrian graphic designer Lisa Neureiter chose an interesting approach that houses photos of her work, transparent pages and more between two wood covers. A handsome belly band completes the effect.

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GF Smith ‘Collection’ Swatchbook Design

Occasionally we are embarrassed by how quickly our head can be turned and our pulse quickened by a nicely designed swatchbook. One moment we can be talking a good game about downsizing and being all Zen, the next we’re lusting after a well-turned-out paper extravaganza.

GF Smith’s 400-page door stop “The Collection” is one of those volumes that sinks its teeth into our paper-loving soul and doesn’t let go. Showcasing 45 paper ranges created throughout the company’s 130-year history, the book is modeled after a dictionary in some ways, including thumb tabs for navigating the five collection categories, and a light-to-dark paper sequence for color comparison.

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‘Little Tree’ Pop-up Book Design

The Japanese tradition of paper craft is second to none, and continues to encourage a life of quiet reflection in a world increasingly at odds with such things.

Katsumi Komagata’s 2008 pop-up book “Little Tree” beautifully traces the life cycle of a tree and, in doing so, addresses deeper themes of life and death. As Brain Pickings observes:

“On each spread of this whimsical trilingual story — told in Japanese, French, and English — a different stage of the tree’s growth unfolds, beginning with the tiny promise of a seedling poking through the snow.”

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