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Matthew Grabelsky’s uncanny subway paintings

Commuters go wild in Matthew Grabelsky’s uncanny subway paintings



Urbanites know the subway is a prime location to spot the city’s oddities, and yet, a run-in with one of Matthew Grabelsky’s characters would be a particularly wild encounter. The Los Angeles-based artist has spent the last few years rendering human-animal hybrids that nonchalantly ride public transit. Sometimes snacking on a cracker or brushing up on some reading, the characters are surreal, uncanny additions to an otherwise mundane scene.


Grabelsky’s newest oil paintings, which are currently on view as part of Riders at The Brand Library & Art Center in Glendale, California, are hyperrealistic and laced with witty details like earlier works in the series. Set on the New York City Subway and London Tube, the portraits are narrative-driven and embedded with pop culture references. The artist shares:


“My goal is to create the effect of looking at a scene on the subway as if it were a diorama at a natural history museum. The images present richly detailed moments frozen in time allowing the viewer to closely inspect every element and make connections between them to read an overall story. In this world, people are transformed into part-animal to create scenes that are strange, funny, and endearing.”



Grace Ebert for ThisisColossal. February 2023

Five packaging design trends for 2023

Five packaging design trends for 2023 every creative should know



These five design trends are making waves in the world of packaging. We explain what they are and show you some of the best examples. Whatever area of creativity you work in, packaging design offers an instant window into the world of modern visual culture.


You only have to go as far as your nearest supermarket or specialist food store to see hundreds of brands using inventive aesthetics to grab attention in a crowded marketplace. And that can give you valuable insights into where the creative industries are right now.


To bring you the biggest trends in packaging design for 2023, we’ve teamed up with people who really know what they’re talking about: 99designs by Vista, a leading on-demand design marketplace.


With professional freelance designers in over 150 countries, the creative community at 99designs by Vista has a unique view of what’s trending globally, especially with small business clients.


Bird’s eye view


Before we get into specific trends, though, let’s start with a bird’s-eye view. Given the chaotic social environment, we’re in right now – from rising inflation to the war in Ukraine and the ongoing climate crisis – it’s not surprising that we’re currently experiencing an eclectic mix of trends in visual branding overall. But when it comes to 2023 packaging design trends, there are some identifiable themes that can tie them all together.


Above all, there’s a distinct sense of optimism, vibrancy, and fun as a necessary counterweight to the melancholy of this unique moment in modern history. A youthful nostalgia and sense of escapism is also a common thread, capturing the comfort of familiarity and the playfulness intended to inspire little moments of everyday joy. Read on as we explore five trends in packaging design for 2023.



1. Ecstatic colours


Bold, bright colours will help you stand out on supermarket shelves. But if everyone’s doing it, you may need to go a step further. Hence the trend for ‘ecstatic colours’: highly saturated, punchy neons that are equal parts playful, confident, and fearless.


We’re seeing this trend becoming particularly prevalent in drink packaging now.


2. Typographic scrawl



Typography has always been crucial to packaging, but there’s been a distinctive trend lately for hand lettering with a casual, scrawled feel. This creates a down-to-earth, DIY feeling that stands in stark contrast to the more polished, not-a-hair-out-of-place brands we know so well.


But in a world, that’s swiftly moving away from the slick, anodyne perfectionism of Instagram and towards the more anarchic and day-to-day vibe of TikTok and BeReal, it’s right on time. Often the beauty of this technique lies in its simplicity.

3. Sticker book aesthetics



Every child love collecting stickers. And this latest packaging design trend borrows from that impulse to appeal to our inner child, especially those nostalgic for the ’90s. By marrying sticker book aesthetics with dynamic use of colour, this floating style of composition crackles with irreverent energy. With its focus on bright hues, cute icons, doodles and the like, the vibe is also popular among Gen Z consumers. Stickers can make people laugh, and they are just magically fun!

4. Mascot variations



Brand mascots have always been a popular way of trying everything together, particularly on packaging when you only have fractions of a second to engage shoppers. But recently, we’ve seen designers respond to the increasing sophistication of consumers and move away from portraying mascots in the same rigid and inflexible style everywhere they appear.

5. Cartoon charm



There’s something immediately comforting and inviting about cartoons, and it’s not all about childhood nostalgia. While there are huge variations in cartoon styles, at its heart, the discipline is about minimalist lines, which effortlessly summon up the underlying essence of a product and the mood around it. Plus, they’re generally silly and a bit goofy, showing that a brand is approachable and doesn’t take itself too seriously.



Tom Way, November 2022.

Make your own paper models of retro computers and games

Reboot your nostalgia: make your own paper models of retro computers and games



Designer Rocky Bergen folds us back into the world of dialup and floppy disks with a delightfully retro collection of paper computers and gaming systems.


His DIY models faithfully recreate classic technology like the first Apple II complete with Oregon Trail or the more obscure IMSAI 8080 system and multiple Commodore platforms.



Grace Ebert, ThisisColossal. November 2022.

All images © Rocky Bergen


Finally, the Olympics has branding

Finally, the Olympics has branding as epic as the games themselves



The games’ first full style guide is longer than the Olympic Charter.


The Olympic Games symbol is one of the most recognised icons in the world. But perhaps strangely, despite logos and poster designs for each individual Olympics, and despite the measures it takes to protect its trademarks, the International Olympics Committee has never had a full brand identity.


Until now, that is. Some 125 years after the first modern Olympic Games, the IOC has developed a full package of brand assets, with colours, graphics, illustrations and three exclusive typefaces. As we’ll see below, there are more colours than you might think. But the branding is very much like the Olympics itself, vibrant, colourful, exciting and with lots of rules. In fact, the style guide – or guides – are among the longest we’ve ever seen.


The International Olympic Committee has presented an epic new brand identity for the Olympic Games ahead of Paris 2024. Of course, the Olympic rings themselves remain as they are, but there’s now a wide-ranging set of graphics, type, illustrations, and colours with rules on possible combinations, all designed to strike a balance between “tradition and modernity” for a visual identity that can exist both online and in physical pieces.


The IOC says it’s the first time it’s created a full set of graphics and typefaces to represent the games across all channels. To do so it worked with the creative agency Hulse & Durrell, on a project that started way back in 2018. It’s already begun using some of the new assets, but it’s now published its full brand guidelines, full-style guides. At 129 pages, the full document is longer than the Olympic Charter, but here’s a look at some of the highlights.



The new Olympic colours


One big change is that the Olympic colour palette has been expanded to include additional darker and lighter shades of the five colours of the Olympics rings. The colours of the gold, silver, and bronze medals have also been incorporated into the palette, along with rules about how they can be combined.



Olympics branding graphics and illustrations


The Olympic brand guidelines include detailed guidance for everything from illustration styles to photographyand infographics. There are 17 official hand-drawn illustrations. Created by artists Francesco Ciccolella, Abbey Lossing, and Karan Singh. the vibrant designs are intended to capture the spirit of the games and were conceived to allow a range of options for cropping to different applications.

There’s also a set of graphics inspired by the geometry of the field of play in various Olympics sports and pictograms depicting all the Olympics events. And there are plenty of rules and recommendations about each should be applied – a dream for anyone who loves directing brand guidelines.



The new Olympic typography


There’s a full set of brand type too. Fabian Harb and Seb McClauchlan from the type studio Dinamo and Julien Hérbert from Canadian design agency Principal were drafted in to develop three exclusive typefaces for the Olympics: Olympic Headline, Olympic Sans and Olympic Serif. The first, with caps only, is described as “bold, athletic and proud” and was inspired by typography used in the Tokyo 1964 and Seoul 1988 emblems.


The new Olympics branding is bright and vibrant and seems to gel well with the spirit of the games. It feels fresh and modern – but at the same time more in line with the Olympic tradition and legacy than the much-mocked Paris 2024 logo.



CreativeBloq, Joseph Foley. September 2022

10 iconic logos with hidden meanings

These logos with hidden meanings are well-known, but have you spotted the secret messages?


There’s little that gives us more joy than logos with hidden meanings – the pinnacle of clever design work. It goes without saying that creative professionals are adept at spotting the intricacies of design and details other people often don’t notice. A weird choice of font on a shop sign. An expert use of motion graphics on an app loading screen. The list goes on.


But there are plenty of iconic logos you’ve probably seen a billion times and never spotted the genius hidden meanings contained within them. Of course, you all know about the FedEx arrow, and the Amazon smile. But there is a plethora of examples besides those.


In this post, we pick 10 of our favourites. How many of these logos’ hidden secrets had you already spotted? If this isn’t enough, check out these logo easter eggs. Feeling inspired?

1.Beats by Dr Dre

Launched in 2006 by rapper and music producer Dr Dre – the founding member of N.W.A. and the Svengali behind stars like 2Pac, Eminem and Snoop Dogg – Beats by Dr Dre remains the world’s hippest headphone brand.


The company’s logo was produced in collaboration with Californian creative studio Ammunition, and on the face of it, its design is pretty straightforward: a simple white ‘b’ in a red circle. Look at it another way, though, and it also represents the head of a person (the red circle) wearing one of the headphones (the white ‘b’).


This is an excellent use of minimalist abstraction that provides a nice little Easter egg for those who spot it, while the logo still works perfectly for those who don’t.


Founded in 1902, Goodwill Industries International Inc is an American non-profit providing employment, training and other community programs for people finding it difficult to get a job, such as veterans or those without an education. It’s best known for its massive network of thrift stores, as well as operating sister organisations across Canada, South America, and Asia.


Goodwill is upbeat, positive, and optimistic, and its logo fits right into that category. Legendary graphic designer Joseph Selame produced it in 1968.


What many don’t notice, though, is that this logo cleverly incorporates a smile in two places: both the main icon above the wordmark, and one within the wordmark itself. (Still can’t see it? Take a closer look at that first ‘g’.)

3.Tour de France

First held in 1903, the Tour de France is the most prestigious cycle race in the world. Consisting of multiple stages, it mainly takes place in France, but since the 1950s it has held sections in nearby European nations too.


The Tour’s modern logo was created by French designer Joel Guenoun in 2002, with its symbolic yellow-and-black palette and frenetic, cartoonish lettering. The latest iteration of the design was released in summer 2019, simplifying the wording and making subtle changes to improve legibility.


Our favourite element of this iconic logo is easy to miss: a neat little typographic sketch of a cyclist. If you still can’t spot it, look again at the ‘r’, the adjacent black dot and the bright yellow sun, and all will become clear.


Founded in 1871 as a rubber manufacturer, German company Continental is today one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of automotive parts. It operates in more than 60 countries and produces a wide range of components, but it’s probably still best known for its tyres.


The current Continental logo – an update of a wordmark dating back to the 1920s – was created in 2013 by Peter Schmidt Group. It’s a very smart, quite formal wordmark, but what you might not have noticed is how the ‘C’ and ‘O’ form the shape of a tyre. This is easy to initially miss, but difficult to ignore once you’ve spotted it.


Another German multinational, BMW stands for ‘Bayerische Motoren Werke’, or ‘Bavarian Motor Works’. Founded in 1916 to manufacture aircraft engines, the company now produces cars and motorcycles, and is a byword for class and quality around the world.


There’s a longstanding myth that BMW’s logo, originally designed in-house in 1927, represents a spinning aircraft propeller. But as we discovered, it’s in fact a mix of the logo of the Rapp Motorenwerke, from which the company grew, and the colours of the Bavarian flag.


That’s significant, because at the time of BMW’s formation there was a popular movement for Bavarian independence from Germany, which was much like the Scottish and Catalonian nationalist movements in the UK and Spain today. This phenomenon hasn’t gone away, either: in a 2017 YouGov poll, more than 32 percent of Bavarians supported independence. So now you know.


Founded in 1984, Cisco Systems is a US technology conglomerate based in Silicon Valley. Most famously pioneering the idea of a local area network (LAN), it has recently started to focus on the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, and currently has a $221.3 billion market cap.


The name ‘Cisco’ is taken from the firm’s home city of San Francisco, and its original logo was a literal depiction of the famous Golden Gate bridge. In contrast, the current logo, designed in 2013 by local creative agency Tolleson, features short lines that appear to represent digital signals, like the ubiquitous Wi-Fi icon.


However, if you examine the steady evolution of the original logo across the decades, you can see these contemporary blue lines still actually represent the Golden Gate bridge, albeit in a much more minimal and subtle way.

7.Baskin Robbins

Founded in 1945, Baskin-Robbins is an American chain of ice cream and cake specialty restaurants with around 7,500 locations in nearly 50 countries. The company is best known for its slogan ’31 flavours’, the idea being that you can have a different flavour of ice cream for every day of any month.


The slogan originated from the ad agency Carson-Roberts, which later became part of Ogilvy, and remains in place today, even though the company has now introduced more than 1,000 flavours to its range.


If you look closely, you’ll see that the brand’s classic slogan has even been subtly included in the logo design, which was last updated in 2007 by Cliff Freeman & Partners. In case, you’re drawing a blank, the pink parts of the ‘B’ and the ‘R’ form the number ‘31’.


Known for its made-to-measure, salad-packed sandwiches, Subway has more than 41,500 locations in more than 100 countries. Founded way back in 1965 as Pete’s Super Submarines, the American restaurant franchise has recently capitalised on a consumer trend towards healthier fast-food options and has expanded rapidly around the globe as a result.


Subway’s current logo was designed in-house in 2016, and a spokeswoman explained that the yellow and green colours are “a reflection of the colourful array of fresh vegetables and other ingredients,” found at its restaurants.


More subtly, meanwhile, the arrows appearing out of the first and last letters of the wordmark (which also appeared in the previous logo) apparently represent the entrances and exits of a Subway. The underlying message here is that you don’t have to sit down at eat your sandwich at the restaurant; you can just grab it and eat on the go.


One of the oldest and biggest multinational companies, consumer products giant Unilever owns over 400 brands, ranging from Dove to Hellman’s. Founded in 1929 by the merger of a Dutch margarine producer and British soap maker Lever Brothers, Unilever did little to promote its own corporate identity to the public for many years, and its own logo was an uninspiring text-based wordmark.


That all changed, though in 2004, when Wolf Olins created the beautiful Unilever logo shown above. And while the pictogram it contains may look random, each one of them represents one of the company’s sub-brands (such as a lock of hair symbolising Unilever’s shampoo brands) or its corporate values (such as a bird representing freedom).


Launched in 1996 as part of Sony, Vaoi is now an independent Japanese manufacturer of PCs and smartphones. Originally standing for ‘Video Audio Integrated Operation’, the acronym was updated to represent ‘Visual Audio Intelligent Organizer’ in 2008.


To the untrained eye, its logo, designed by Timothy Hanley, looks simply like a stylised representation of the company name. In fact, it quite cleverly represents a fusion of analogue and digital technologies.


The left half of the icon is a wave signal, representing analogue tech, while the right half is a ‘1’ and a ‘0’, representing the binary basis for digital tech. It’s all a bit of a geek fest, admittedly. But hey, if you can’t geek out with a logo for a high-tech company, when can you?




Creative Bloq, Tom May. September 2022

A house designed for living on Mars

Forget about unrealistic renderings of Mars colonies that will never get built. This tiny house is so real it even has its own “Martian toilet”


“How do you think we should live on Mars?”


That’s the (very open-ended) question that was recently posed to more than 200 people in England. The answer has just landed in a public square in Bristol, UK—and it’s a two-story, solar-powered dwelling with a kitchenette, a hydroponic garden, and a “Martian toilet.”


Dubbed the Martian House, the structure will open to the public next week and host a series of talks and workshops about sustainable living. Unlike the flurry of farfetched renderings of Mars colonies populating the internet, the Martian House is a tangible object that’s designed to get people to think less about colonizing space and more about living with scarce resources, and within your means in a constrained environment that isn’t driven by consumerism.


The Martian House was conceived of by artists Ella Good and Nicki Kent, who wanted to use Mars as a lens to focus on what we really need and how we want to live on Earth. It was designed by two British architecture and design firms: Pearce+ and Hugh Broughton Architects, which has designed several science research stations in Antarctica. The architects consulted with space scientists about the climate conditions on Mars and how those should translate into their design.


They also ran a series of workshops in Bristol, where members of the public could dream up their ideal home features in space, like an open kitchen, or a view of the Martian landscape. The most common request, however, was living plants. “They’re a living thing—they need to be tended and looked after, and you can eat them,” says Hugh Broughton Architects’ director, Hugh Broughton. “But it’s as much the caring as anything else, which is very therapeutic, especially in an alien environment.”


Naturally, plants hold a special place on the second floor of the Martian House. Together with a kitchenette, the “hydroponic living room” is contained within a pressurized, double-skin inflatable structure lined with gold foil. This comes with a window and a skylight, and the gold coating is meant to reflect the sun and reduce heat gain on the surface. (The temperature on Mars is cold, but Broughton says the equipment required for lighting and ventilation will build up enough heat inside.)


On Mars, the walls within would be filled with Martian eolith, a silt-like volcanic rock that’s readily available on the planet. The Bristol version, however, is filled with air. Meanwhile, the ground floor houses compact bedroom pods and a Duravit toilet with a heated seat, illuminated bowl, and an odour extraction mechanism because you can’t just open the window on a planet with so little oxygen. On Mars, this half of the house would be built underground, within Mars’s empty lava tubes. In Bristol, it sits in a boarded-up shipping container.


The Martian House was designed to withstand the red planet’s harsh climate (an average temperature of -80 degrees and high cosmic radiation), but this isn’t meant to be a NASA-proof house for Mars. “I’m sure there are technical holes, or someone would say ‘the rocket dimensions are this and your house wouldn’t pack in like that,’ but that’s not the aim,” says Broughton. “Its aim is to, as closely as possible, represent what a house on Mars would be like, but actually in the process to provoke questions about our own lives on Earth.”

Fast Company, Elissaveta M. Brandon. August 2022

Festival Vino Somontano 2022

The Somontano Wine Festival strengthens its position as one of the most important Wine Tourism Events in Spain



The event closes its twenty-first edition with the full support of the public for the Gastronomic Show, shows and tastings


The Somontano Wine Festival closed its twenty-first edition last 7th August with the satisfaction of the Somontano Designation of Origin, organizer of the event, for the “exceptional response from the public that has kept the Show as the star of the Festival, increasing its turnover, supporting the high gastronomic and oenological level of the Sample and filling the shows and tastings. This year, we said that it was going to be worth three times and it has, not only because we have not been able to celebrate it twice but also because of the commitment of all of us who do it and for all of those who come to the Festival and reinforce it as one of the most important wine tourism and food and wine events in Spain”.



The Gastronomic Show


The Wine Show continues to be the star of the Festival and, this year, it has increased its turnover by 4% compared to the 2019 edition. A particularly noteworthy figure for the concept of value that it reflects and because it results in having discounted the unspent amount in consumption that, for the first time, is returned in full.


In 2022, the Exhibition strengthens its status as a gastronomic showcase for Somontano and the province of Huesca with a high-level gastronomic offer offered by the twenty participating establishments and restaurants to the 30,000 people who have attended this food and wine event over the four nights of the Festival.


The digital bracelet with which the tapas and wines were paid, the main novelty of the Festival, has represented an important advance in the commitment to innovation and sustainability and is valued by both the Denomination of Origin and the attendees and will be maintained in the next editions with small improvements detected in the start-up of the system.


The shows


Remarkable has also been the response to the cultural offer of the Festival. Edition after edition brings to the Barbastro Congress Center the best shows that tour in Spain on these dates. This year, three of the four shows have reached capacity and one of them has had a second performance due to high public demand. More than 2,000 people have attended the theatre and have highlighted the quality, great staging and level of the magician Yunke, the play “Champions of comedy”, the tribute “Totally Tina” and the show “Currents” by the Mayumaná group at the stage of the Somontano Wine Festival.


The tastings


Since its first edition in 2000, the Festival’s programming has included a complete program of tastings that take place during the four afternoons of the event. This year, the cycle has had all the places covered: 168 people who, depending on their tastes, enjoyed, on Thursday, August 4, the tasting workshop “Fiesta Somontana” with Santi Rivas, leader of Colectivo Decantado, organized with the Youth Area of ​​the City Council of Barbastro and aimed at young people from 18 to 30 years old and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the “Tastings 3×3”: “3 wines, 3 pairings”, “3 varieties, 3 styles” and “3 wines, 3 vintages”.


The proposals of the wineries


The wineries of the Denomination of Origin have proposed different visits, activities and wine tourism experiences, completing the Festival program during the mornings and afternoons of its four days of celebration.

Naturvillan, a self-sufficient, off-grid A-frame greenhouse home

Naturvillan is a self-sufficient, off-grid A-frame greenhouse home in Sweden



Naturvillan- Minimal environmental footprint, reliable energy sufficient solutions


Sweden-based company Naturvillan creates homes that aim for minimal environmental footprint, fitted with reliable energy efficient solutions, ecological materials, protective climate shells, automatic irrigation and ecocycle-systems giving back nutrients from wastewater to the in-house garden plants. Offering four different types, the company is currently selling Atri, a unique building, steady on the ground and stretching towards the sky.


Atri is a climate-smart A-frame greenhouse villa with its own system for heating, electricity, water, and nutrient recovery completely off-grid.



The A-frame design references the surrounding mountains


Naturvillan includes highly engineered systems and components, which have been developed by years of working and living in nature houses. Located on the shores of Lake Vänern, the house features mile-wide lake views and a natural plot with beautiful rock slabs.


The design language of the natural villa was based on following the tapered, pointed triangular-like peaks of the conifers. The shape gives, up close, a very strong visual architecture with a very stable base directly on the mountain. The house then decreases with the height where the house blends in among the treetops and harmonizes with the landscape, which from a distance gives a naturally conceivable humble impression.



Built to operate completely off-grid


The house has a continuous axis where you can see through the whole house and its view already in the entrance. Air and light enter from several directions. Inside the house, the architecture is well-thought-out for close interaction between houses, greenhouses, nature, views, togetherness, and private rooms.


Atri has been built to be operated completely off-grid. During summer, the solar cells provide electricity to the battery that drives the house and heats hot water. In winter, a wood-fired kitchen pan provides heat and hot water, with a hob and oven for cooking. It is required that the homeowner keeps track of how much energy is in batteries in relation to the owner’s lifestyle. If necessary, the power plant needs to be run to top up the battery.


In the darkest winter, depending on lifestyle and the house’s current battery pack, it is estimated that there will be a need to run the power plant for a couple of hours every other day. In the event of prolonged absence in cold winter, there are various options to prevent the temperature in the house from falling below freezing.


Drinking water is available from the property’s own drilled well. The principle is that nutrients and water in the wastewater are recycled and purified in the greenhouse’s plant beds, where macro and microbiota interact with the plants’ root systems. The industry is converted into fruit and vegetables, whereby the cycle ends with the return of food to the homeowner.



Designboom, by Juliana Neira, July 2022

Photography: Marcus Eliasson, ERA Hus & Hem