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We love design; it’s what we do and it drives us to nurture the partnerships we have with our clients. We believe that listening is critical, process is key, collaboration is vital, and that design is a valuable contribution to the world of business, art, and culture. The 21xdesign blog features anything from discussing recent projects, exploring antique books we love, to the technologies that drive our profession.

Shelf Life – Typo by Walter Marti

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Shelf Life – Typo by Walter Marti

This week we’re highlighting the book Typo by the Swiss designer Walter Marti. It’s a wonderful type & printing specimen book that was printed in Lucerne, Switzerland in 1957. This is a stunning showcase, not only of vivid typography, but also great printing techniques and selections of paper in the form of letterheads, envelopes, and business cards. The book is remarkable for being produced so soon after World War 2. In many ways, this book is a testament to the human spirit and the indomitable force of artistic nature and curiosity. The...

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Shelf Life – Godey’s Lady’s Book, June 1889

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Shelf Life – Godey’s Lady’s Book, June 1889

This week we’re taking a look at this beautiful vintage book called Godey’s Lady’s Book. These books were printed from 1830 until 1898 in our own city of Philadelphia. Louis Antoine Godey began the publication of these lady’s books in 1830, and he designed them specifically for the American woman. He wanted to keep the ladies of American informed as well as entertained. These books not only contained fashion and different patterns, they had stories, articles, sketches, even sheet music! As the popularity of these books began to grow, more influential writers had their work featured, such as Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

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Shelf Life – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Illustrated by Lynd Ward

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Shelf Life – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Illustrated by Lynd Ward

In the spirit of Halloween, we decided that this week Shelf Life should be devoted to what is probably one of the greatest and most enduring horror stories in literature. This week we’re talking about a beautiful edition of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, illustrated by one of our favorite illustrators Lynd Ward.

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Shelf Life – What Makes Day and Night by Franklyn M. Branley & Illustrated by Helen Borten

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Shelf Life – What Makes Day and Night by Franklyn M. Branley & Illustrated by Helen Borten

Teaching science to young children can be pretty challenging, especially trying to explain something as complex as the Earth’s rotation in the solar system around our sun. Franklyn M. Branley realized this and decided he was going to write a series of books for children explaining these scientific anomalies. In the series called “Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out” Branley explains different things such as earthquakes, the phases of the moon, gravity, and even humans exploring Mars! He uses simple language and activities for children to better understand these discoveries and get them excited learning about science.

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Shelf Life – Our Friend the Atom by Heinz Haber

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Shelf Life – Our Friend the Atom by Heinz Haber

The word ‘propaganda’ has such a negative connotation that people wouldn’t dare use the word to describe what Walt Disney was doing back in the late 50’s. However, that’s exactly what his book Our Friend the Atom was: propaganda. Released shortly after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Our Friend the Atom attempted to show the beneficial side of the atom as opposed to the destructive nature of them. The book is beautifully illustrated by the Disney Studios staff and art directed by Paul Hartley. With the help of German physicist and USC professor Heinz Haber, Our Friend the Atom showcases various scientists and theories around the atom and how we came to gain as much knowledge about them as we had at the time.

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Shelf Life – Lokis by Prosper Mérimée

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Shelf Life – Lokis by Prosper Mérimée

Prosper Mérimée was a French dramatist, historian, archeologist, and short story writer known for his love of mysticism, history, and the unusual. His most popular novella was Carmen which was later adapted into the famous opera Carmen by Georges Bizet. However, it isn’t Carmen we’re talking about today; it’s this gorgeous book called Lokis. Written in 1869 Lokis is a horror fantasy novella and one of the last stories Mérimée would write.

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Shelf Life – No Man’s Land by Blexbolex

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Shelf Life – No Man’s Land by Blexbolex

No Man’s Land is a book written and illustrated by the highly regarded French illustrator Blexbolex and printed by Nobrow Press. What makes this book so fascinating are the beautiful, albeit at times disturbing, illustrations captured by Nobrow’s printing process. Nobrow utilizes spot color printing, which is not too common process used only by a handful of printers worldwide. Spot color is a technique used in offset printing and is any color generated by an ink, pure or mixed, that is printed using a single run. More and more publishers these days are using digital printing processes since it’s typically cheaper, faster and the quality has improved tremendously over recent years. The beauty in this book is the simple harmony between the illustration and the complimentary printing style.

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Shelf Life – Normal Magazine Issue 1

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Shelf Life – Normal Magazine Issue 1

The eclectic designer Paul Davis art directed the magazine “Normal” back in 1986. It was billed as “A Quarterly of Arts and Ideas”.  Instead of following a strict format to be applied throughout the magazine, he instead decided to let each story dictate how it would be designed — a beautiful case of form following content. So each of the twelve or more stories has a unique typographical approach – right down to the page numbers. The magazine got mixed reviews initially. Davis said at the time: ”I work with young designers who are terrific...

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Shelf Life – The Psalm Book of Charles Knowles

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Shelf Life – The Psalm Book of Charles Knowles

This beautiful book was created by Charles Knowles when he was just 17 years old. Unfortunately, he suffered throughout his short life with an incurable disease, chronic nephritis. During his three years at the Putney School in Vermont his creativity blossomed. He selected eight of his favorite psalms, set all the type by hand, and cut wood engravings to illustrate each passage. He selected different colors of paper and ink for each illustration and printed 10 signed and numbered prints on a hand press. Tragically, less than a year later at...

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Welcome to “Shelf Life”

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Welcome to “Shelf Life”

When bookstores were commonplace, we would spend hours just wandering from one to another. Discovering a beautifully illustrated book or a unique magazine was always such a thrill (and remains so today) especially if we could make it part of our collection.
With the digital age and its accompanying distractions taking over our lives, I rarely get the time to browse the collection of books and magazines we have gathered over the years. There never seems to be enough time! When we were organizing the studio recently, it dawned on me that our book collection might be of interest to others. Maybe it would be interesting to take a look at what we have and show some items in this blog. This might be a new lease on life for these books and magazines that have lived a quiet shelf life for too long.

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