Back by Swedish designer Ann-Sofie Back is a clothing label that I have only just discovered and I am mighty exited about it. This particular collection (Spring/Summer 2014) has been around for some time now, but I just love it too much not to share it! Back, the designer’s diffusion line, was formed in 2005 and has since become one of the most subversive and exciting labels to come out of Sweden. Taking cue from her atelier mainline collections, Back picks elements to further develop, elaborate or rework into the more fun, ready wear line.
It’s hard to find street-wear done well and at the affordable end of the scale. Back delivers on both accounts. Classic basics—the shirt, the leather jacket, the denim skirt, the relaxed tee, the sweatshirt—are deconstructed here, exaggerated there. Skirts and dresses that look like casually gathered sheets add rebellious air to the collection, while managing to retain the elegance of Grecian drapery. Gathered leather, elements of shiny plastic, wide elastic bands reiterating the brand-name, along with frivolously placed sweeps of tulle, combine a bout of 90s nostalgia with post-internet aesthetics. There is something here for the less adventurous too. Perfect sweats, structured denim, crisp shirts and clean-cut t-shirts complete the collection. These simpler garments complement the statement pieces with understated chic. I am particularly fond of the sweatshirts and skirts that look as though they’ve been folded over and stuck down by strips of tape.
If some stylistic elements seem familiar, maybe it’s because Ann-Sofie Back has also worked for Acne Studios and currently spends half of her time as creative director for Cheap Monday. Basically, Back has the Swedish fashion industry sorted! Check out some shots of Black’s Autumn/Winter 2014 here and you can snap up what’s left of the S/S 2014 collection here.
Photographs: Stockholm Fashion Week
For those of us who switched to Macs and never looked back, computer viruses are a threat we need not fear any longer. Our PC-bound cohorts, however, live on in fear, periodically bugged by anti-virus updates, (along with malware that pretends to be anti-virus updates!). I really hadn’t given computer viruses much thought in recent times, until I discovered Computer Virus Catalog—an online-based project curated by Dutch creative Bas van de Poel. The catalog,“an illustrated guide to the worst viruses in history,” is a brilliant collection of illustrations van de Poel has solicited from a pool of designers and illustrators. A brief, insightful description of the virus accompanies each image. In some cases, we even get a glimpse into the inspiration behind the creation of this malice—something that I have always found fascinating and puzzling.
The illustrative styles are eclectic and varied, with some participants responding to the name in a very literal way, others with abstracted compositions or a pattern. I love the idea of this project: it’s focused enough to give the illustrator some direction, while leaving unlimited room for expression; the subject matter lends itself to online publishing, which is simple and cheap; it has a clearly defined scope with enough past material draw from and, undoubtedly, more to come as new viruses are developed and unleashed upon the masses.
Contributors to the project include a couple of my favourites, Hort and Darius Ou, plus many other talented folk. Find the rest of the catalog here, and check out the work of Bas van de Poel, the man who started it all. He has teamed up with Daan van Dam to form creative duo Wonder Years, who have managed to do some awfully clever things in their one year of existence, such is the ingenious Dutch Become a Legend football jersey.
Blastto is an art director, graphic designer and illustrator by day, DJ by night. Born in Spain and currently based in London, he nails several illustrative styles, but his specialty lies in 3D-rendered illustration, which he contrasts with thick bold lines, patterns and simplified icons. There’s a heavy influence of the Memphis Group revival that has recently transpired in furniture, graphic design and beyond.
I have been really enjoying looking through his series of illustrations for Yorokobu magazine. Abstract blobby forms, harking back to surrealism, float in the air alongside sausage shapes and Greek columns. Three psychedelic-coloured shapes, vaguely resembling a smiley face, look like something out a nightmarish dream…Marble, grids and gradients all make an appearance—you only need to look through a few of his projects to be brought up to date will many of today’s visual trends. I find his work compelling and interesting and it’s quite refreshing to see editorial illustration that veers away from a literal, figurative representation of the text.
Besides editorial illustration work, Blastto’s portfolio includes the design of a couple of slick free typefaces, which you can find here and here, as well as identity and web design.
When I think of visuals associated with an LA film production studio, I think of over-the-top glitzy gold, heavily edited imagery and a mash-up of outer-glow and reflection effects straight from Photoshop 101. Thankfully, Blok Design didn’t adopt any of these elements when creating an identity for Lucky 21. Lucky 21 is a film production company that originated in Dallas, but has since set up a second studio in the competitive and fast-paced market of Los Angeles. This is a tough place for a small production company to take on but having a great identity to back their work is a great start!
The logo is simple and clean, set in energetic orange, and is supported by a range of bold, busy patterns. These are paired with a selection of adjectives and idioms that describe the company’s personality and approach. Bright colours are toned down with grey and plenty of white space. Chunky borders act as a device to help pull together the patterns on the the stickers and notepads, honing in the energy of the visuals. I like Blok’s approach of combining pop-art inspired patterns and strong statements to communicate the manifestos of the company. To articulate your brand so clearly and emphatically demonstrates a confidence, conviction and vision in what you do. And what Lucky 21 do seems like a whole lot of fun (and hard work)!
Blok are a design studio based in Toronto, specializing in brand identities and experiences, packaging, exhibit design, installations and editorial design. They have some great work—check it out here, and their website is beautiful to browse through, bonus!
The very talented Kimbra has created something quite different to per past offerings with 90s Music, the first single of her upcoming album The Golden Echo. I must admit that when I first heard the track, before the video release, I felt that my aural faculties had come under attack. It really didn’t gel, but then, it’s not supposed to! Some of the best music demands repeated plays before your ear accepts the challenge of a complex, brilliant composition.
Kimbra showcases her vocal range while pushing her eclectic arrangements to a new sonic universe of 90s bubblegum pop, glitch and R’n'B mash-up. The mixture of these different musical references in one song is discordant enough, but throw in some warped vocals and a maddeningly stop-and-start tempo and you are in for a roller coaster! The lyrics are cute and full of earnest youthful exuberance, reminiscing a high-school romance, set to the musical veterans of the 90s that Kimbra diligently lists in the song. She has written a really comprehensive and insightful post about the process of writing 90s Music on her blog, which I urge you to read.
Paired with the video, the music seems to make more and more sense, though the chaotic visuals are overwhelming. Kimbra goes through multiple costume changes and identities, with the back up of some amazing dancers and fun animated backdrops by amazing Argentinian studio 2Veinte. Everything shifts so quickly from one scene to another that grabbing screenshots for this post was a bit of a nightmare! Growing up in the 90s myself, this video sure brings back some memories. It nails a few different obsessions and fashion staples from the era, with a few references that seem terribly familiar but I just can’t put my finger on. Such is the nature of nostalgia—it’s often a general feeling that evades definition.
Kimbra is certainly not the first to utilize crazy costumes and animated elements in her video—the likes of M.I.A, Santigold, Azealia Banks and Major Lazer have been doing it awhile. But 2Veinte do it well and in perfect synch with the music. If you like this style you will love their reel.