Slate’s design blog.

Dec. 26 2014 2:00 PM

The Wire Poster Project

Graphic designer Oliver Munday was just another fan of The Wire when he decided to rewatch all five seasons of the critically acclaimed, much admired HBO series a couple of years ago. He was living in New York, but had spent 5 years in Baltimore as a student, and felt an extra connection to the real-life city at the heart of the fictional show. After watching David Simon’s television masterpiece again, he felt moved to memorialize that connection.

“I was compelled to try to respond to it in some way or create something as a fan,” Munday told me. He said that he had always been taken by the epigraphs at the beginning of each of the 60 episodes. He decided to use that collection of haunting, sometimes mysterious quotations to create a series of posters that would embody the spirit of the show and of Baltimore itself using typography and color.

As a point of departure, he looked to Baltimore’s Globe Poster Company, an institution founded in 1929 whose posters have been part of the city’s visual vernacular for decades, even featuring in an episode in the form of an old poster that reveals that one of the Wire’s main characters, Avon Barksdale, was once a boxer. (The Globe’s collection was purchased by Maryland Institute College of Art, Munday’s alma mater, after the printing company closed in 2010.)

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Dec. 24 2014 10:30 AM

Madrid’s Christmas Lights Take a Walk on the Moon


Christmas lights are most often based around the concept of starlight. But this year Madrid’s annual light installation has looked to the moon as the muse for an unconventional take on the holiday street light tradition.



Designed by Brut Deluxe, a Madrid- and Munich-based studio headed by Ben Busche, “Moon” is made up of a sequence of 31 light panels with images of the moon that function like a larger-than-life urban flipbook on the streets of the Spanish capital city.


Dec. 23 2014 1:47 PM

What a Beachside Obama Presidential Library in Hawaii Might Look Like

The competition for the future site of the Obama presidential library is down to four finalists who submitted proposals earlier this month. They include the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, which offered a multisite proposal built on creating an east-west cultural and civic corridor that would focus on urban renewal in the heart of the mainland.

Dec. 22 2014 1:25 PM

These London Designers Created Their Dream Rooms—in Miniature

What happens when you ask a group of contemporary British designers to create their dream rooms in miniature? London’s V&A Museum of Childhood asked a group of London-based designers from a range of backgrounds to bring their design fantasies to life for Dream House. Designers expressed their ideal spaces and fantasy rooms in 1-foot-square wooden boxes, which range from the aspirational to the whimsical to the fantastical. This charming exercise in style accompanies the exhibition Small Stories, a historic look at UK dollhouses that is on until September 2015 before it travels to the U.S.

Dec. 19 2014 9:06 AM

One Guru’s Approach to Decluttering Your Home—and Your Life

Marie “KonMari” Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up : The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is a best seller in Japan, Germany, and the UK. Kondo favors a radical approach to decluttering that advocates downsizing your stuff in one fell swoop, not in baby steps; insists that storage containers promote hoarding, not organization; favors streamlining not by room but by categories like books or shoes, no matter where they live in your space; and takes an emotional approach to helping people separate from excess possessions. One of the book’s most memorable catchphrases suggests that people seeking to streamline their lives “discard anything that doesn’t spark joy.” Here at The Eye, Kondo shares an excerpt from the book that argues that those unable to separate from joyless stuff suffer from an attachment to the past or anxiety about the future, and offers suggestions on how to get over it.

Dec. 18 2014 12:12 PM

What Do These New York Road Signs’ Odd Markings Mean?

What’s That Thing is Slate’s column examining mysterious or overlooked objects in our visual landscape. To submit suggestions and pics for future columns, drop us an e-mail.

One of the science fiction franchises I loved best as a child was V. Duplicitous alien lizards? Check. Cool, city-shadowing mother ships and laser-armed shuttlecraft? Check. Marvelously terrible special effects—such as the depiction of Diana swallowing a hamster—that I didn’t know enough to mock? Check. The 2009 V remake only revived my fascination with all things related to our new friends from Sirius. So when I saw the above signs on rural highways in upstate New York, the first thing I thought of was the Visitors’ logo—the at once futuristic and mysteriously spooky symbol that appeared on uniforms, posters and the noses of shuttles.

I wondered if the symbols on these road signs denote pre-designated evacuation points for Visitors sent to live among us. Since they vaguely resemble the lines that mark the entrances to airport runways, maybe they serve as warning about the kind of terrain lies immediately beyond the edge of the road?

Transportation guru Sam Schwartz (aka Gridlock Sam) told me that these signs are “completely foreign” to him and his team of traffic engineers. A colleague of Schwartz’s added that the signs don’t appear in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices—meaning, they’re not standard signs.

Dec. 17 2014 1:16 PM

The Many Meanings of the Hashtag (It Represents Lumber Yards on Swedish Maps)

Roman Mars’ podcast 99% Invisible covers design questions large and small, from his fascination with rebar to the history of slot machines to the great Los Angeles Red Car conspiracy. Here at The Eye, we cross-post new episodes and host excerpts from the 99% Invisible blog, which offers complementary visuals for each episode.

This week's edition—about the hashtag—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.

Dec. 16 2014 10:52 AM

This CMYK Puzzle Is Gorgeous and Mind-Boggling

A subtly gradated rainbow of CMYK shades broken into pieces, the 1000 Colours Puzzle is a gorgeous, mind-blowing puzzle.

Dec. 15 2014 12:07 PM

How to Decorate Your Hipster Beard for Christmas

The ugly Christmas sweater has met its match in the tacky holiday season fashion trend department: the decked-out hipster beard, dubiously strung with miniature lights and baubles.

Dec. 12 2014 1:48 PM

It’s National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. Every Holiday Tradition Has Now Been Commercialized.

An ugly Christmas sweater used to be a typical gift from a well-meaning relative. You wore the sweater to avoiding hurting anyone’s feelings or as an ironic holiday statement eccentric enough to stand out in a crowd.

Now the ugly Christmas sweater has become a kitschy holiday uniform, a popular theme for holiday parties, pop culture fodder for TV and movie character costumes, and talk show gimmicks like Jimmy Kimmel’s 12 Days of Christmas Sweaters. They now even have a made-up holiday invented to sell goofy seasonal knitwear to the masses.