September 1, 2014

Coco Chanel teaches us about type

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There’s a fantastic quote by Coco Chanel, that goes something like this:


“Once you’ve dressed, before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.”

As with many things, this sentiment can apply to more than just a lady’s outfit – for us it rings true in the world of typography. As Chanel rightly advises us, the key to a good composition is restraint.

Two massive trends in type design this year are minimalism and “mix and match” – while they seem like polar opposites, one rule applies to both - when you do it right it looks effortless, but when you don’t it’s very obvious.


Juice Meds + ® by empatia studio and Coffee Typography by Tomasz Biernat 

The thing about any kind of minimalist design is because there are so few individual working parts, each one has to work that bit harder. It’s not just about creating something with as few elements as possible – it’s about selecting and arranging each one of those elements exactly where it needs to be. Minimalist design can sometimes be regarded as easy or lazy by the uninitiated, when really it requires as much (if not more) skill as any other kind of design. The temptation to over-design is always there – to add just one more little tweak or small detail, always with the potential to throw the whole thing off-balance.


Effective Editorial Design by Caroline Henson


Colourplan branding by Made Thought 


Minimalist Euro2012 posters by David Watson

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Personal branding by Matthew Brooks

Mix-and-match type, on the other hand, has a whole other set of problems, that remarkably boil down to the same thing – if you put one little element in there that doesn’t belong, the whole thing gets thrown off balance. With so many personalities on the page, a designer has to work hard to keep everything in harmony by selecting typefaces and elements that play well with each other, not against each other. We have to select typefaces and accents with just enough contrast to create visual texture, while still maintaining the harmony of the composition.


Secret of Getting Ahead by Tom Ritskes


Seven Lovely Logics by Nico Lopez


On Photography by yours truly


Travel posters by  Vyacheslav Shestopalov

As one of our own Niceworkians likes to say, “Never trust a designer with terrible fashion sense.” So, in life and design, it’s Coco Chanel all the way. Keep it simple.

Not a designer, but interested in using beautiful typography to make your brand better?

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September 1, 2014

Deon Maas talks about Heritage at CreativeMornings Johannesburg

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Happy Monday, everybody!

If you missed our July session of CreativeMornings Johannesburg, shame on you. Go to a dark corner and think on your sins. But take a laptop to that corner, so you can watch this fantastic video of the talk. You are welcome.

Next month is Johannesburg’s CreativeMornings anniversary, and we plan to go BIG. Watch this space!




Deon Maas is an ex-journalist, ex-photographer, ex-radio show host, ex-TV talk show host, ex-Idols judge, ex-record company executive and ex-husband. He firmly believes that South Africans don’t give a shit about their heritage. He is also on Facebook, where he accepts all friend requests except those with no pictures or pictures of the old South African flag.

If you’d like to stay in the loop about CreativeMornings Johannesburg, you can make use of these handy-dandy newfangled social mediaz:

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CreativeMornings Johannesburg site
or just subscribe to our newsletter!

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August 29, 2014

8 things for designers to consider

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Does good design even matter? Of course! And who isn’t proud to show off a beautifully crafted piece of design – especially if you’re the one that created it. Here is a list of eight key things to keep in mind when designing anything from a logo, to a presentation and even an icon set.

1. Keep it simple


There’s no need to get all fancy and try to communicate absolutely everything. When designing a logo for example, one needs to consider what the logo will look like when it is scaled down all the way to say, 1cm. Is it still recognisable? Or will it look like a little ink blotch in the corner? Less is more. Identify what it is you want to communicate and stick to that one key point. Whether it’s typographic or icon based, keep it simple.


2. Prioritise the key message


What is the primary message you are trying to communicate? Once you have identified it, emphasise it. This is that your consumers with remember, so make sure it’s what you want them to remember.


3. Remove unnecessary clutter


This ties in with my first point, keep it simple. One should only ever include the elements necessary to the design and remove anything else that doesn’t really need to be there. This will refine your brand/packaging and as it is, the whole ‘minimal’ approach to design seems to be a current trend.


4. Maintain a level of consistency


It is no secret that a good brand identity is consistent across all of it’s platforms. A brand needs to be recognised through every point of contact, that way people can easily make connections to your brand, and you are achieving more brand awareness. With that said, take a look at the example I’ve used above, The University of Arts Helsinki, has a beautifully designed corporate identity that can easily be translated across multiple points of communication.


5. Make whitespace your friend


Many designers will tell you that white space (negative space) is a fundamental building block when it comes to layout. Among others, it creates balance, emphasis and increased content legibility. Make it your friend because it is a principle you should consider in anything you design.


6. Stick to a colour palette


Choose a colour palette and stick to it. Try to keep it to a minimum of 4-5 colours so that your consumers can easily identify your brand. If your having trouble choosing a colour palette, there are many websites that can help you. One of my personal favourites is designworklife, that has a feature called ‘colour happy’.


7. Be selective with your fonts


Keep your fonts consistent and to a minimum. Using too many fonts can often get messy and cluttered. Try stick to a heading/title fonts and a paragraph font. This will keep your executions looking clean and consistent.


8. Design first!


Design is important and you need to communicate this through all that you do. Design should never be an after-though but rather that first step in your planning stage and the governing factor to the rest of your roll-out. It is our job to show everyone just how important a good design is and what it can do for a brand.

Via: Virtuosi Media

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August 28, 2014

Animation 101 – The When and The Why

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As the resident animator, videographer and editor, Animation and video makes me very happy and giddy. That being said, there are times where Animation is the most effienct and visually appealing option, and there are times in which you really should assess and think of other options. The choice to decide when and if you should use Animation to craft your vision can be a tricky one, so here is a handy little post to help you choose when you should use Animation and the pro’s and cons of it in your workflow. LETS GET ON IT !


Animation adds more dimension and interest to otherwise static elements.

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August 26, 2014

3 Trending Typeface Design Styles

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Whether you call it a typeface or font, with so many typefaces being designed everyday globally, it can become difficult to choose the right typeface. Are you looking for a fabulous new typeface for your brand, maybe your website or a presentation you are delivering? Have a look at our 3 trending typeface design styles that may solve your typeface selection woes.


1. Geometric




Quincy Grotesque by Jan-Hendrik Wirth



Adam.CG Pro by Shrenik Ganatra


2. Wedge Serif



Scriba by Leila-Marie Jreige



Rabiola by Raphael Sathler


3. Art Deco



Brig by Filipe Rolim



Farray by Adrien Coquet

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August 25, 2014

Goodbye to Gizmodo’s “After Midnight”

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We all know it’s bad for your mind and body to work too late.

With that in mind, I was hoping to make this an inspiring blog post for my fellow midnight-oil-burners, but darned if I could find a single reputable source (on  the first page of my Google search, mind you – I am tired) that provided any evidence of what we secretly want to believe: working late is super healthy! So much for that.

Not to be discouraged, I went to my super secret source of late-night blogging material – Gizmodo’s fantastic “After Midnight” feature, dedicated to serving readers with the weirdest content on the web, suitable only for 2am viewing with cold coffee and 2-minute noodles. Much to my dismay, I discovered that as of the end of May this year, After Midnight is gone forever. So, for lack of fancy science or new weird video content, you’ll just have to make some tea and mourn with me. Goodbye, After Midnight.

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“Bo Ningen: Slider” by Marie Schuller – NOWNESS from NOWNESS on Vimeo.

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Maintenant il faut grandir / Time to grow up from Bruno Tondeur on Vimeo.

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the trip from antonio vicentini on Vimeo.

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カラスは真っ白 “fake!fake!” / A crow is white “fake!fake!” from wataru336 on Vimeo.

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August 22, 2014

5 Tips For Your Next Annual Report Design

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We take a look at the Annual Report of the KTG Group, designed by German based design studio, Sherpa Design. This is a beautiful example of an annual report, so we’ve taken five things that this design does very well, that you could try for your next annual report design.


1. Try a Newspaper Format

The large scale newspaper format gives a feeling of sophistication as if you were looking through a financial daily newspaper. The large scale format allows you maintain the amount of content, without being a thick daunting book.




2. Select an Uncoated Paper

The uncoated paper that this annual report has been printed on, creates an understated elegant touch, furthermore uncoated paper is a beneficial choice for the environment. Not sure what uncoated and coated paper means? Join us for a coffee and we’d love to show you.



3. Use Simple Infographics

Digesting a lot of information or graphs may become difficult. Infographics makes reading and understanding this information easier, by simply using pictures. Simple infographics such as the one seen below maintain a level of professionalism in your annual report.



4. Make use of a Drop Capital

A drop capital is the single large letter at the start of a paragraph. The drop capital has a pivotal function, that is to bring the readers attention/eye to the beginning of an article. It has the added benefit of being beautiful.



5. Design for Cross Platform Reading

In the time pressured world we work in, people tend to design a printed document, and the PDF is emailed to all parties that want an electronic version. Therefore images will cut off, type/font sizes will be to small to read electronically and this leads to a beautiful printed document not translating into a beautiful electronic document. Our solution is to design two versions of the document, one for print and one for electronic reading, optimised for tablets and/or smart phones.



Well, that is our five tips you could try for your next annual report design. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience in creating annual reports. The next time you decide to create an annual report give us a call or drop us an email and we will be happy to share this knowledge with you. All the best and happy annual reporting.


Via: Behance

Annual Report of the KTG Group Design

Sherpa Design

Thilo Schinkel

Johannes von Keutz

Henning Klimczak



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August 20, 2014

Branch Creative’s Creative Identity

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Oh goodie, just look at this brilliant Brand Identity crafted by Warsaw-based design studio Noeeko! Branch Creative now boasts a sophisticated identity system that seamlessly combines clean and succinct design with a little bit of fun. Each design element is strong enough to pack a punch on its own, and when put together, these perfectly fitting puzzle pieces build a clear brand picture. Seriously fun. (via ID)













If you enjoyed this wee little post, have a look at Nicework’s perspective on creating effective and communicative brands :

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August 18, 2014

Just Designing: Cross-Pollination in Design Practice

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Not so long ago, the Nicework team decided to start making a regular thing of presenting our ideas and experiences to each other – both to spread a little knowledge and brush up on our presentation skills. There are very few limits to what we can present on, as long as it seems interesting and useful, and everyone gets a turn.

When our delegation returned from the Design Indaba Conference in March, I was full of inspiration and excitement, and eager to throw my proverbial hat into the ring. You can read the full text of the presentation after the jump – make sure you have a cup of tea ready. A big one. Maybe make yourself a pot. If you read all the way to the end, I will give you a present.



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August 18, 2014

Xoliswa Sithole sets us free at CreativeMornings Johannesburg

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Happy Monday, everyone! To kickstart your brain on this chilly day in Jo’burg, check out documentary filmmaker Xoliswa Sithole’s enlightening talk on the theme of Freedom. You are welcome to check it out on the CreativeMornings Johannesburg site, or watch the video embedded at the end of this post. Enjoy!

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If you’d like to stay in the loop about CreativeMornings Johannesburg, you can make use of these handy-dandy newfangled social mediaz:

CreativeMornings Johannesburg on Facebook
CreativeMornings Johannesburg on Twitter
CreativeMornings Johannesburg site
or just subscribe to our newsletter!

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