New York Numbers

Advertising copywriter Nick Dilallo takes pictures of interesting numbers he finds throughout New York City and posts them to his Instagram account. Personally, my favorites are all of the aging, weathered sans-serif numbers in the Modernist style.

This one is not so vintage, but I think it’s fantastic:

I asked Nick what inspired this project; it’s the kind of thing you’d expect from a typographer but not necessarily a copywriter. He told me:

I take the photos myself — on my walk to work, on lunch breaks, on weekend adventures around different New York neighborhoods. I’m definitely not a photographer by trade; I’m a copywriter at an advertising agency here in New York. But I studied economics & mathematics in college, so I’m a bit of a numbers geek at heart. I how together they represent the diversity of New York. The different colors, typefaces, carvings, and positionings. Each photo tells a little story. And together, they tell the story of New York.

You can follow New York Numbers on Instagram.

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Weather Underground Redesigns

Earlier this week, 19-year old(!) weather site Weather Underground launched its biggest ever redesign. I make note of it here because I’ve been visiting this resource on a daily basis for at least fifteen years; it’s been an integral part of my morning routine for as long as I can remember, and I’m very grateful for it. The company posted a tour of the redesign — which is a big step forward from the previous version — here. It includes a timeline at the bottom that lets you browse some of the previous designs, none of which were as major as this new one. Congratulations to the team.

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Sketch 3 Released

Following up on my post from a few weeks ago, Sketch 3 was released yesterday. This video from Bohemian Coding provides a pretty comprehensive overview of the app, and it has a winning soundtrack, to boot.

Version 3’s debut also occasions a free episode of Rafael Conde’s SketchCasts that focuses on what’s new. And designer Jean-Marc Denis has an overview at Medium that includes several video clips demonstrating the new features.

The upgrade is US$49.95 from the Mac App Store.

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Car UX

Automotive user experience design is a field that seems poised to change dramatically in the coming decade as the “Internet of things” invades car interiors. To that end, user experience designer Min Seung Song is collecting images of the user experience details of contemporary automobiles. It’s a fascinating survey of the relative sameness of auto components and how little details can nevertheless make them look so unique from one another.

See the full collection at Car-UX.com.

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New York City’s Lost Type District

A nifty bit of detective work from Tobias Frere-Jones.

I was able to plot out the locations for every foundry that had been active in New York between 1828 (the earliest records I could find with addresses) to 1909. All of the buildings have been demolished, and in some cases the entire street has since been erased. But a startling picture still emerged: New York once had a neighborhood for typography.

Read the full article at Slate.

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Not Coming to a Theater Near You, 2013 Review

Not Coming to a Theater Near You, “a film resource that assumes a bias towards older and classic cinema,” is wonderfully designed by editor Rumsey Taylor. Their Two–Thousand Thirteen in Review is a superbly faithful digital translation of the independent magazine publishing style — it very nearly reproduces the physical grit of a brainy, obscure arts journal, printed in two ink colors on thick, uncoated paper stock, and sold in a West Village bookshop staffed by strung out philosophy majors.

Via Typewolf, which helpfully identifies the fonts used.

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Color Bias in Photographic Film

Photographer Syreeta McFadden recounts her pained personal history with photographic film’s historical inability to render the darker tones of her African American skin, a technical deficiency that, it turns out, was engineered into Kodak’s chemical formulations.

It turns out, film stock’s failures to capture dark skin aren’t a technical issue, they’re a choice. Lorna Roth, a scholar in media and communication studies, wrote that film emulsions — the coating on the film base that reacts with chemicals and light to produce an image — ‘could have been designed initially with more sensitivity to the continuum of yellow, brown and reddish skin tones but the design process would have to be motivated by a recognition of the need for extended range.’ Back then there was little motivation to acknowledge, let alone cater to a market beyond white consumers.

In addition, photo lab technicians were trained to process film to match “Shirley” reference cards — images of idealized, light skinned women like the one below. Of course, McFadden writes, “with a white body as a light meter, all other skin tones become deviations from the norm.”

This is fascinating, a powerful reminder that technology is rarely truly neutral, even though we often assume it is.

Read McFadden’s article at Buzzfeed. She also appears on this week’s episode of the public radio program “On the Media” to discuss the article.

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Brian Lovin on Design Details

Lovin, if that is in fact his true last name, is a product manager at Buffer. He’s been writing superb, succinct observations on particularly well designed details in various digital products at his blog.

His comments are keen and illuminating. What I particularly like about his posts is that they fully appreciate the power of transitional animations in these products’ interfaces. He takes great care to showcase examples of interfaces in action, like this example from the iPhone app Sunrise.

A lot of what the Web collects today from well-designed products is static screen captures. Those tell part of the story, but to sample the current breed of apps only in that way seems anachronistic to me; we are already knee-deep into an era of richly animated interfaces and yet our ability to capture and curate them, much less discuss and learn from them, seems stuck in an Internet predicated on pages instead of applications. Everything around the idea of animation in interfaces seems ready to take a big leap forward.

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Luca Zanier

Monumentalism captured by Swiss photographer Luca Zanier.

Ferrera water tower plant entry Luca Zanier
New York, by Luca Zanier
FIFA Executive Committee by Luca Zanier
Katrin Spectrometer by Luca Zanier
UN Security Council, New York by Luca Zanier

There’s plenty more at Zanier.ch — there were so many stunning images I had a hard time choosing which ones to share here. His best work is under the heading “Free Projects.”

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