America has never quite embraced modernism on a basic, day-to-day level. Minimalism is viewed at pretentious or suspicious. What is this company trying to hide?? If a product doesn't smack you in the face with "They Live" levels of propaganda, it shouldn't be trusted.
UK supermarket, Sainsbury's, got right to the point. Frozen peas and carrots? Green circles, orange squares. Sainsbury's Salad Cream? It's salad cream. If you have already decided you need salad cream in your life, what else do you really need to be told? The fonts are simple (helvetica bold, naturally), decorations minimal, proclamations of healthy, organic, or bespoke, nonexistent.
Visual design collector/hero Jonny Trunk was given unprecedented access to the Sainsbury supermarket's vast design archive — perhaps the most incredible collection of modernist, minimalist packaging ever assembled. Thank god Sainsbury's had the foresight to preserve EVERYTHING so Trunk could gather it all up and share it with the visually polluted world. Sit back, crack open a room-temperature grapefruit shandy, and bathe in the relaxing glow of uncluttered honesty. — Trent
James Jean's Rebus is an inspiring collection of fine art and commercial pieces. The way he combines mixed media with representational and abstract styles is truly impressive. Although currently out of print, any book of his is worth owning, from the Fables cover illustrations to his postcard and poster books. — Nate
A handsome hardcover with a gold-debossed title and design elements houses this fun assembly of pop culture character silhouettes. Known for his design work with reimagined film posters, Olly Moss's book does a great job combining an 1800s aesthetic with today's cult icons. See if you can guess them all. — Nate
I first picked this book up for its collection of brilliant and garish cover art of horror paperbacks from the ’70s and ’80s. It didn't take long to realize that Grady Hendrix's commentary is just as humorous and captivating as the illustrations. His knowledge of the subgeneres, authors, and artists makes this book worth its cover price. — Nate
A kaleidoscope of cover art for library music. Originally produced for TV, film, and radio, library music wasn't made commercially available until reissues came about in the last decade or so. This is a great peek into a dizzying array of art and design from the heyday of the best soundtracks you’ve never heard. — Nate
One can't live completely in a cold, sterile, minimalist landscape. Nature is a wonderful, beautiful, cluttered mess and humans are even worse. The desire for overwrought ornament is an inevitable part of the human nesting experience. We can't help ourselves, we humans are the bower birds of the advanced world. But in all that hoarding, assembling, and displaying, there is much to appreciate. James and Karla Murray have been steadily documenting the visages of small business throughout NYC for years. After decades of remaining in place, these inhabitants have inadvertently amassed a history of ephemera that should never have lasted beyond their expiration dates. These are time capsules of fonts and layouts, trends and visual identities that no four-year stint at Parsons could teach. And the human hand is unavoidable –— a lot of love and care went into these life-size dioramas, from the hand-lettered neon sign to the handwritten "shoplifters" sign. The work that the Murrays have done, preserving this overlooked and bypassed part of human history, cannot be overstated. We expected the Parthenon would stand forever, but now we can live with the glory of Capitol Fishing Tackle & Cutlery for eternity as well. — Trent
Langdon Clay spent two years roaming the streets of New York and New Jersey at night, photographing parked cars. What might sound at first like a dull exercise produced a monograph of bittersweet portraits, faded grande dames clinging to High Society through the rust, Bondo, and duct tape. But this was a time when your car meant something to you, a source of pride, an appreciation for design and style. At first take, these monoliths seem abandoned and lonely, but on further consideration, one realizes there's a reason why the owners can't quite let go — maybe this is the last time this level of grandiosity will ever be possessed; or, because of the inherent beauty and scale of design, there's something here worth preserving and clinging on to for as long as mechanically possible. And then maybe a bit longer. — Trent