All posts tagged “Review”

Sling TV review: $20 has changed the way I watch ESPN

Sling TV hasn’t changed much since we saw it unveiled at CES, but starting Tuesday, Dish will begin sending out the first invites for its over-the-top internet TV service. For $ 20 (and without any commitments or other gimmicks), you get a smattering of channels led by ESPN that can be streamed live anywhere; when you’re mobile, you can watch Sling TV on your smartphone, tablet, or PC. At home, it’ll work with set-top boxes like Amazon’s Fire TV, Roku 3, and the Nexus Player, along with Microsoft’s Xbox One console and Samsung TVs. Within a couple weeks, Sling TV will be ready for its full-fledged consumer debut, and I’ve just spent a few days testing the service to see if it’s indeed worth making a switch from cable.

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ListenUp: Stevie Wonder’s tribute to MLK, the return of Björk, a South African supergroup and more in our weekly music review


Stevie Wonder: Happy Birthday
Introduced by American Congressman John Conyers in 1968, it wasn’t until 1986 that the third Monday of every January would come to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. The ridiculously long process for passing……

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The Supreme Court steps in to review Oklahoma’s lethal injection process

Following a botched lethal injection in April, Oklahoma has recently been under scrutiny for its execution process. Now, the Supreme Court has said it will review the state’s injection procedure to determine if it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, Buzzfeed reports.

The fumbled execution, in which death row inmate Charles Warner remained alive for nearly an hour after the injection was administered, has prompted Warner’s lawyers and three other Oklahoma prisoners to petition the Supreme Court to intervene. The petition argues for the discontinued use of the midazolam, the sedative currently in place as the first drug in Oklahoma’s three-drug execution cocktail.

The sedative midazolam will be reviewed

The Supreme Court ruled in…

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Mac Premo’s 2014 Year in Review: A clever, comedic short highlighting milestones and madness month by month

Mac Premo's 2014 Year in Review

For a year riddled with milestones, tragedies and epic world events, many of the most important moments will fade from memory and get muddled with time. Thankfully, Brooklyn-based artist and “stuff-maker” Mac Premo co-wrote, directed, shot and edited……

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Line Skis Magnum Opus: An on-snow review of one of the lightest, hard-charging, all-terrain skis on the market

Line Skis Magnum Opus

Ski design and construction innovation continues to give riders the potential to push the sport forward in ways that would have early pioneers stopped in their leather boots. While advancements have occurred across all categories, perhaps the greatest……

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Review: Shaughnessy x Brook

In this second of our year end reviews we’re looking again at publishing, this time focussing on books. Who better to speak to on the subject than the duo responsible for FFF-favourite Unit Editions – Adrian Shaughnessy and Tony Brook. With Manuals 2 [Unit 18] still flying off the virtual shelves we hear their individual reflections, highlights & predictions…

Tell us what it is you do, and why you do it..

AS/ I’m a graphic designer, writer and senior tutor in Visual Communication at RCA, and as one of the co-founders of Unit Editions, I’m also a publisher –but even after five years of Unit, it still sounds odd to write that. Me a publisher? Well, yes, actually. As for why I do what I do? Paranoia, fear and self-doubt.

TB/ I’m a designer at Spin and a (relatively recent) publisher with Unit Editions, I also collect graphic design and have curated a couple of exhibitions. I didn’t have any real choice about the design aspect, it is a vocation; I’m lucky enough to love what I do. The other three facets have happily fallen out of the first.

Can you both give us a couple of personal highlights from the year?

AS/ I’m not very good at looking back. I can barely remember what I did last week, far less think about what was happening in January. In my view, you only look back when you don’t have much to look forward to. There’s never been a time in my life when I haven’t had an immediate future stacked with deadlines, objectives and targets. When I’m in the old folks home with my hearing aid and pacemaker, I might start to look back. Having said that, I’d say that the success of our two Manuals books has been a highlight. Two weeks in Japan was also pretty good. Curating a show of 50 years of graphic design at the RCA was fun. But other than that it has been relentless work, work, and more work.

TB/ It’s been quite a year. I got to visit New Zealand through an invitation to talk at Semi-Permanent. It was a fabulous experience: I got to hang out with the legend that is Dean Poole from Alt group. Work-wise, seeing Manuals 2 in print has been incredibly satisfying, and launching the Spin website was a real highlight. Meeting up with Lance Wyman and Paula Scher was the cherry on top.

You collaborate on Unit Editions, how did that all come about?

AS/ I’d reached a point where I was fed up working with mainstream publishers and was beginning to think about starting my own imprint. I went to the pub with Tony and he said he was also contemplating starting a publishing venture. He had already done some self-publishing so he was ahead of me. But it made lots of sense that we combine our skills and use the knowledge and experience we’d both accumulated as studio owners over many years to start Unit.

TB/ As Adrian mentioned we had a fortuitous meeting where, after the shortest time, we realised that our ambitions were very similar and that our mutual interest and skill sets meant that we could make something work. There was a giant Unit Editions-shaped whole for books that balanced out (hopefully) beautiful design with rich visual and written content.

What changes, if any, have you observed over 2014 with regards to publishing and editorial design?

AS/ The most important thing for me is that the much predicted death of print (and the subsequent demise of books) has not happened. In fact, the opposite is true. Publishing is booming. The record business was blitzed by digital, but print publishing has coped with it much better. Yes, there are huge changes taking place. Newspapers and magazines are suffering, and like lots of people I know, I do a lot of reading online and I get most of my news and information from the web. But this has not lessened my interest in books. I’d also say that in the case of art and design books, nothing in the electronic realm –online, e-books, apps, etc. –comes close to surpassing the perfection of a good book. I’m happy to read books of continuous text –novels, etc –on an iPad, but art and design is better suited to that old fashioned combo of paper, glue and ink. It’s perfect technology. But there is one important proviso to all this –books have to have a reason to exist, and they have to be have real merit in terms of content, design and production.

TB/ The internet has enabled designers to share their passions and interestsin all aspects of creative endeavour. This definitely influences my approach in representing work that can be seen online in print. Our books take a respectful but determinedly contemporary standpoint. I see our job as bringing the subjects we choose to life and expressing their relevance to today.

Any curveballs hit you this year you just werent expecting?

AS/ Everything’s a curveball these days. I’m amazed at how much change there is in every aspect of life. I see it most plainly in education. I’ve been at the RCA for five years and even in that short time I’ve seen huge changes. The government wants to privatise all university education, and art schools are first in the firing line. This has resulted in a culture of fear in education. As regards working as a designer professionally, I’m glad I no longer have a studio. I take my hat off to anyone who runs one. It has never been tougher and I don’t see it getting any easier. There’s plenty of work, but budgets are tight as hell and opportunities to do good work are getting fewer and fewer.

Any must have recommendations for the print lover this Christmas?

AS/ I really loved Lars Muller’s Neue Grafik facsimile set. Very sensitively done and (almost) as good as the real thing. JG Ballard’s collected interviews Extreme Metaphors blew my mind. I keep going back to it –so superior to his novels. In the same bracket I’d mention An Encyclopaedia of Myself by Jonathan Meades. I also loved John William’s novel Stoner–and no, it’s not what you think it’s about. And anyone interested in writing (and design) should read Steven Pinker’s Sense of Style. It’s a guide to clear writing, but a lot of what he says is applicable to design.

TB/ I bought a stash of great stuff from the wonderful Steve Heller’s book sale. My favourite was a book on work by Armin Hofmann’s students. My book of the year would be Grafisk design: Henrik Nygren it is a really beautiful tome and well worth a forking out for.

With one eye on 2015, what have you got in the pipeline we can start getting excited about?

AS/ For the first time in our short history we have a “pipeline.” Just like a real publisher. What this means is that we are working on our next five or six titles. Up until now we’ve only ever known what the next book would be, but now we have titles lined up for next year and even into 2016. We’re going to announce the next three –maybe four –books in the New Year.

TB/ So little time so many books. There are some complete crackers lined up for next year, watch this space.

If Santa could bring you one thing this year what would it be?

AS/ A weekend off to do nothing but watch movies.

TB/ I’d put the old bugger in room 101 given the choice, but given that that’s unlikely, I’d settle for car tyres that don’t burst.

Keep up to date with Adrian and Tony, and of course Unit Editions. Cheers guys!

FormFiftyFive – Design inspiration from around the world » Features

Behance’s Year in Review

Behance's Year in Review

On a mission to “empower the creative world to make ideas happen,” Behance has quite the impressive online community. Their Year in Review reveals many of the amazing projects born from the digital portfolio platform. Looking back at 2014, photographers……

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Link About It: This Week’s Picks: Obama learns to code, an addictive digital spirograph, Behance’s year in review and more in our weekly look at the web

Link About It: This Week's Picks

1. Obama Learns to Code
Last year when President Barack Obama delivered a YouTube speech encouraging young kids to learn to code, he hadn’t actually had any coding experience himself. To kick off this year’s Computer Science Education Week, POTUS……

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Review: magCulture x Stack

It’s been another bumper year for editorial design and independent publishing – plenty of new titles hit the shelves (and blogs) in 2014 – and many events and initiatives launched or returned – all pointing towards an industry in rude health. We caught up with Steve Watson and Jeremy Leslie, two of the industry figures most passionate about print, to get their reflections, highlights & predictions…

Tell us what it is you do, and why you do it..

SW/ I send out a different independent magazine every month to a couple of thousand subscribers around the world. And I do it because I’m in love with the ideas and energy in the best independent magazines, and I know that there are a lot more people out there who would love these magazines if they could only discover them.

JL/ I design, write and publish. Most of my time is spent designing, working with clients on their magazines, apps and websites at the magCulture studio. Alongside this I promote creative editorial design via the magCulture website, conferences and other events. And we publish a few things – we just launched our first magazine Fiera in collaboration with Katie Tregidden. I do it because I find editorial design fascinating. Design in an editorial context is not surface, it is content.

Can you each give us a couple of personal highlights from the year?

SW/ Jeremy’s Modern Magazine Conference was really great – it’s fantastic that he’s able to bring magazine makers from all over the world to London for one big get together. And at the opposite end of the conference spectrum, I also had a fantastic time at Indiecon in Hamburg. It was the first time they’d held the event and it was a genuinely indie production – a group of young friends doing something because they really care about it.

JL/ Things to remember include working with Douglas Coupland on Kitten Clone; taking Printout to Bristol; eating at Noma; putting together a radio show for Pick Me Up radio; discovering Limewood with Lesley; collaborating with Vitsoe on the 620 Reading Room; helping design a live stage show to mark Maison Moderne’s 20th anniversary. And moving from home into the new studio space.

You guys collaborate on Printout – how did that come about?

SW/ Way back when I first started working for The Church of London I went from having one day a week for Stack, to having two days a week. I was really keen to experiment with magazine events, and I remember speaking to Jeremy at The Church of London offices and realising that we’d both been having similar ideas. We realised that this wasn’t going to be either a Stack or a magCulture thing, so we knocked some ideas for names back and forth and a few weeks later we were running our first ever Printout.

JL/ Steve suggested doing an event together when our paths crossed at the Church of London, and we dived in headfirst. That was three years ago; I don’t think either of us thought it could continue this long but it was one of those things that happened at just the right time, providing a focal point for the growth in indie mags. Whenever we think, ‘what can we do next?’, in comes the listings request from the Book Club and we sort an idea for it.

What changes, if any, have you observed over 2014 with regards to publishing and editorial design?

SW/ I’ve noticed a rise in the number of independent publishers that are engaging in big, important, difficult ideas. Colors has been doing it for years, as has Delayed Gratification, and it’s great to see The Outpost getting even better in their second year. But they’ve also been joined by magazines like Weapons of Reason (global challenges), Pollen (critical theory and philosophy) and Future Perfect (current affairs). Independent magazines are sometime criticised for being all about pretty pictures, but there’s a real desire in all these magazines and many more to engage in some heavy critical thinking. Pollen and Future Perfect also point to another emerging trend, of Australian publishers doing some great work. I think Kai Brach from Offscreen should get a lot of credit on that front, for sharing knowledge and helping other Aussies to reach a wider audience – I know he’s been a real inspiration. And I can’t talk about Australian magazines without also mentioning Brewster, Alquimie and Scrag End, all of which are doing very different and very interesting things.

JL/ The happiest development is seeing independent mags maturing. The Gourmand, Delayed Gratification and Wrap have all upped their game issue by issue to reach beyond their indie roots and establish a middle ground between indie and mainstream. Then there’s the digital publishers and websites adding print to their mix; Pitchfork Review was an early example of this but all year there have been more, the latest being AirBnB’s Pineapple. On a less positive note there’s more repetition in independent magazine design. What’s the point of making your own magazine and not doing your own thing? Most independent magazines get that, but it’s disappointing some don’t. One of the things that first excited me about the independents was the way titles like Kasino A4 and 032c relished playing with the format, challenging expectations about what a magazine was. More of that please – entertain us!

Any curveballs hit you this year you just weren’t expecting?

SW/ The sheer number of magazines landing on my doormat! It’s probably got a lot to do with the fact that I went full-time on Stack this year, which means I’ve been blogging more, which means more people have heard about Stack, so more publishers have sent copies over, but I think there might be something else going on too. Certainly there’s absolutely no shortage of great magazines arriving, which is obviously fantastic news (if a little overwhelming).

JL/ The number of new independent launches. At the start of 2014 I set out to count new magazines as they arrived but couldn’t keep up. I’ve heard people say we’re reaching saturation point but despite the volume all I see is increased interest. How can you not be excited by oddball arrivals like Benji Knewman from Latvia?

Any must have recommendations for the print lover this Christmas?

SW/ QVED looks like it’s going to be really interesting – that’s in Munich at the end of February. We all know which magazine subscription I’d recommend so let’s not go there. I will say that for stocking fillers people should check out Cult Movie Cards from Human After All – the original Little White Lies design team has made a deck of illustrated playing cards, and they’re predictably gorgeous. Can’t wait for mine to arrive.

JL/ Cath Caldwells new book Editorial Design is a good primer for the subject and a nice companion to my Modern Magazine book from last year. I’m helping curate QVED again, the three-day editorial design conference held in Munich every February. The lineup is still being finalised but already has enough names to attract the print lover, including Walter Green from Lucky Peach, Ricarda Messner from Flaneur and Cathy Olmedillas from Anorak as well as US heavyweights Roger Black and Steven Heller. And even Steven Watson!

With one eye on 2015 – what have you got in the pipeline we can start getting excited about? – and anything (or anyone) we should be keeping an eye on?

SW/ I’m really excited about the Stack Live events I started last month. The idea is to turn every Stack delivery into a real world event, which brings the magazine off the page and into a bar or gallery or similar space. So far we’ve had the November delivery (Ryan from Hello Mr in conversation at The Book Club, with food provided by Root + Bone recreating their Rinse and Ramen story) and the December delivery (Andrea from Huck also in conversation at The Book Club, with Ocean Wisdom, one of the artists featured in the current issue, playing live afterwards). Both were really great nights and I’m looking forward to more experimentation next year.

JL/ A radical overhaul of the magCulture site; another Modern Magazine conference; big developments with our client, online project Aeon Magazine. And generally, more independent magazines. It’s been a quiet year for the big publishers, the only big launch was the dull Net a Porter mag. I sense next year might be busier in both good and bad ways.

If Santa could bring you one thing this year – what would it be?

SW/ A few days off!

JL/ The magCulture magazine shop.


Cheers guys! You can find Steve/Stack online via the sitetwitterInstagramFacebookPinterest. Jeremy/magCulture can also be connected with via his awesome blog, twitter & Instagram. The guys have kindly given us some discount codes for those last minute Christmas presents – use the code LUKESENTME in the StackMagazine store for a 10% discount on all subscriptions and the code Santaivebeengood in the magCulture shop for a 10% discount on all orders above £10 made before end of Friday 19 Dec.

FormFiftyFive – Design inspiration from around the world » Features

2014 It’s Nice That Annual: The beloved London publication’s hardcover review of the year in creativity

2014 It's Nice That Annual

The end of the year is as much about looking back as it is moving forward. And when the holiday music kicks up, the “Best Of” lists follow swiftly behind. Our friends at London-based publication It’s Nice That put together one of the most anticipated……

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