Humuhumunukunukuāpua’a

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Look, I know it’s a stretch, talking about a fish, but really I just love the word humuhumunukunukuāpua’a. I like the look of the word, I like to say it out loud, I like that it means ‘trigger fish with a snout like a pig’. Humuhumunukunukuāpua’a (there, I’ve said it again) is Hawaii’s official fish, and its name is one of the longest words in the Hawaiian language. It’s a beautiful looking fish with distinctive colours—all yellow and black and turquoise with highlights of red and blue—that can fade to drabness when it feels threatened or become vivid when it feels safe.

Tulips

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The best bookbinding paste I have found comes from a small bookbinding shop in the NSW Southern Highlands. My recent visit to replenish supplies coincided with the annual tulip festival. While the tourist hordes were flocking to the gardens to admire the showy displays, the bookbinder remained unimpressed. ‘We’re Dutch,’ he said, ‘we’ve seen enough tulips!’

Carrots

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I used to think that carrots were orange, but it seems that orange carrots are a relative newcomer to the vegetable scene. The first cultivated carrots were purple and yellow, followed by white and red varieties. The orange carrot became popular in the Netherlands several hundred years later—according to one story, it was a mutant, bred to honour the Dutch House of Orange. I was thrilled to discover that there is an online carrot museum, which, as well as the history and recipes you might expect, features carrot collectibles, carrot artwork and—my favourite­—musical instruments made from carrots. When my friends and I drove through Bannockburn, Victoria, a couple of weeks ago, we stopped at a farmers market and saw this colourful array, and bought some for dinner.

Pistachio gelato

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This caught my eye because it is an unusual choice of colours to paint a building—particularly that shade of green, exactly the colour of the pistachio gelato from my local cafe—but I also liked those thin stark shadows from the awning supports and dangling wire, the black-edged shape against the clear sky, and the antenna and pipe sticking up in a way that, despite them being kind of out of place, make the facade more interesting.

Red crossing

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Pedestrian crossings are not usually red. This one wasn’t on a particularly dangerous corner and visibility was good in both directions, but it was certainly eye-catching — not only because it is brightly coloured (luminous even in the greyness of a cloudy day) but because it is weathered and patchy in that most fabulous abstract expressionist way. My experience of photographing it was interesting: in the city, no one would have taken the slightest bit of notice of me (let alone given way to me, a pedestrian), but in the small town where this crossing is located, every driver stopped to let me cross, and I had to keep waving them on.

Four posters

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I love this row of posters. They work on every level: they are colourful; they tell you everything you need to know in a logical order; they are free from superfluous embellishment; they are eye-catching and completely no-nonsense with their made-to-fit bold sans serif type; and they evoke memories of that pre-poker machine time when live music at the local pub was not the exception to the rule. Who wouldn’t want to check out the Shy Guys and the Lonely Boys, middy of whatever’s on tap in hand?

Green post

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Narooma is a seaside town located on the south coast of New South Wales. The name derives from the Aboriginal word meaning ‘clear blue waters’. The waters may certainly be clear blue, but so is the sky, making this green post on the harbour breakwater—with its motley collection of numbers that look like they were sourced from the local hardware store—stand out bright and sharp in the strong afternoon light. I have a particular fondness for Narooma. When I was about eight years old, on a summer holiday road trip, my parents were unable to find accommodation, so we opted for a quiet stretch of beachside parking and set up makeshift camp, me in the open boot of the car. When we woke, the previously deserted area was chock full of surfers and early morning swimmers, no doubt experiencing the clear blue waters for themselves.

PMS

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The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a standardised colour reproduction system. Pantone began as a commercial printing company in the 1950s, and the systemisation of their pigments and inks was instigated by newly employed part-timer, Lawrence Herbert, in 1956. The system, whereby each colour is designated a number, allows designers to colour match pretty accurately, regardless of the equipment used to produce the colour. I came across the Pantone Guides early in my design career, and could label the world around me by Pantone number. I subsequently lost much of that familiarity because my work took my in the direction of the CMYK world, but some numbers remain entrenched.

Blue and green

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Blue and green should never be seen unless they’re in the washing machine. Or so my mother used to recite on washing days when I was young. Years later I heard that ‘blue and green should never be seen unless there’s a colour in between’ and I realised my mother had made up her very own version of the old saying to entertain me. Either way, what a ridiculous notion that certain colours should not go together—although I doubt the painters of this facade chose green because it would look fabulous against a cloudless blue sky, nor that painting it one bright colour would make the gothic sans letter forms stand out so well.

Blue B

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I love everything about this: the shades of grey and silver in abstract shapes on the metal capping; the wood of the telegraph pole, dirty and textured and streaked with creosote; and most importantly, the bold sans serif blue B, startlingly clear and bright, attached with rusty rivets. The typeface looks like a cross between Gill Sans Bold (with its slightly smaller upper bowl) and Akzidenz Grotesk but is more likely a generic gothic sans concoction.