is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
I’m a big fan of the mail order catalogs from the Ann Arbor, MI-based Zingerman’s, which sells all kinds of foods—cheese, cured meats, olive oil and even pecan pies. The pages completely eschew photography in favor of illustrations that curiously balance the whimsical and the intricate.
You’ll find a fair share of fun spot drawings of the sort that would enliven any catalog, but what’s more interesting is how Zingerman’s illustrators lavishly portray their food products. The leavened texture of breads, the specific patinas of cheese rinds, the marbled cross-sections of salamis…these details and more are all lovingly and painstakingly rendered by hand to give customers a very clear picture of the product they’re buying. Yet at the same time they’re highly stylized, too—the line quality of the drawings is exaggerated in its roughness and perspective is thrown out the window to an almost Cubist effect. It’s surely the weirdest combination of realism and artistic license ever put into service of a mail order catalog.
You can browse the latest catalog at zingermans.com.+