Gelati

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The handwritten ‘gelati’ reminds me of how writing looked when we used to use squeakers for mocking up design concepts. I was never particularly adept with the squeakers—I much preferred (and was better at) sizing headline type. We would trace individual letters from the type catalogue, use the photocopier to enlarge or reduce, cut the words up to manually letter-space them before photocopying them again. All before marking it up for the typesetter. Groan! Who would wish for a return to those days! Nostalgia aside, I love this scene—the (I’m hoping intentional) humour in the half-hearted attempt to cover ‘veterinary’, the very gelati-like colours of the plastic furniture and the gaping cartoon maw of the yellow bin.

Balzano

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John Benson is a stone carver whose inscriptions appear on several Washington DC monuments. He has designed and carved gravestones for the likes of Tennessee Williams and Lillian Hellman, and his architectural inscriptions grace an impressive multitude of art museums, memorials, courthouses and the like. However he came to my attention because he designed the well-named typeface Balzano, a lively upright script font.

Wataah!

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Our kitchen tap started spurting water from a place where water was not meant to spurt, so we called the plumber. Luckily it was a quick and easy fix to replace the tap, but when the water is shut off it brings to mind those times when we have had to go without water for much longer than the short time it was off today. Not so long ago there was some major problem with a supply pipe and the whole Inner West was without running water for almost two days—which makes you realise just how often you turn a tap on and how important water is to daily life. I am also reminded of this bottle of drinking water, a souvenir from the Columbus Circle Wholefoods. I liked the packaging so much I wanted the other colours too, despite the ridiculousness of carrying empty plastic water bottles home half way around the world!

Broadway

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The typeface used in the Miami Vice logo is Broadway, a decorative Art Deco typeface designed by Morris Fuller Benton for ATF in 1927. In the actual logo—as opposed to my rendition of it—the typeface was customised for the word ‘vice’. The logo is as 80s as Sonny Crockett’s shoulder pads and hairdos, but it occurs to me now, after watching the final episode recently, that its design was more considered than I realised, a complement to Miami Beach’s famous Art Deco district where much of Miami Vice was shot. Miami Beach was the first twentieth-century neighbourhood to be recognised by the United States National Register of Historic Places. There are 800 structures of historical significance, most built between 1923 and 1943. They feature pastel colours, porthole windows, ship-like railings, curves, glass, chrome and terrazzo. Miami Vice has been credited with raising the awareness of the architecture, and many buildings were renovated in the 90s, post-filming, turning what was once a poverty-stricken and crime-ridden area into a tourist destination.

Miami Vice

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The unseasonal spring clean that started in my office has taken on a somewhat scattergun quality. One minute I’m throwing out old magazines (they have gone! what a relief!) and the next minute I’m putting the office clean-up on hold while I sort through my wardrobe. And dusty old videos—where I came upon the last episode of Miami Vice. I loved Miami Vice, and when I watched this recording—so old the ads had 7-digit phone numbers and the tv station hadn’t started using an ID bug—I was reminded how ahead of its time it was and how influential it has proved to be. Even now, while much of it was so dated, it exuded style and originality. This is the staggeringly fabulous closing shot of that final ep.

No good story

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Just about everything about this handwritten chalkboard appeals to me. I caught a glimpse of it while driving and immediately had to circle the block to park because the next day’s soup might have been different! It’s piquancy, it’s humour, and even it’s typo gave me cause to smile. It was a hot day, but I resisted the lure of the cool dark interior to sample the fare because, after all, the sun wasn’t yet over the yardarm.

Cigarettes

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It seems that fewer people smoke these days, and there is much less evidence of cigarettes being sold. In Australia the displays of distinctive colourful packaging have long gone, and apart from those gruesome health warnings I can’t even recall what a pack looks like now. This is the window of a general store on the Kula Highway in upcountry Maui, and I don’t know if they still sell cigarettes or not, but I’m pleased this old sign has not been removed.

Dahlias

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It’s Sydney Royal Easter Show time again. This year I am very pleased to be the recipient of a blue ribbon for my cased-in binding. I left the making of the book till the last minute—the glue was barely dry when I delivered it to the arts and crafts hall—so the photograph will have to wait till later. Meanwhile, after my stint on the NSW Guild of Craft Bookbinders demonstration table yesterday, I spent the afternoon enjoying the rest of the show. I watched dogs rounding up sheep and horses rounding up cattle, admired fruit cakes and sultana cakes and pumpkin scones and jars of lemon butter and marmalade. And this colourful display of dahlias with their ribbons, certificates and handwritten labels.

Bar

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I know they’re not sheep, and I know it doesn’t say baa, but that’s where my mind insists on going with this. Hard to know if they’re implying meat market with this signage, but it was shaping up to be a busy Friday night, the boys already arriving in their hotted up cars. Despite the rather good write-up on the food here, we took the quiet way out – Thai takeaway and a cold beer, back on the verandah of our hotel room, overlooking the (cattle-free) garden.

Signal

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My imagination ran riot when I saw that the Signal Hotel in Werris Creek was for sale. Eighteen bedrooms plus an additional manager’s residence, close to transport and shops, the darkly romantic Mount Terrible in the distance, and only four hours from Sydney. All this and more (!), but what I really wanted was ownership of this fabulous sans serif signal, stark in the harsh afternoon sun, white-on-white with a drop shadow and half broken just so, as if a designer had already got to it.