Collage by Mark Lazenby

One of the perks of being a columnist for Creative Review is that I get to have my words illustrated. Every month, art director Paul Pensom throws my inane missives at a different artist; I never find out who until the magazine lands on my doormat. This month, I was thrilled to see my piece on labyrinthine website The Visual Telling of Stories – which I liken to a cross-section of Terry Gilliam's head – aptly illustrated by ace collagist Mark Lazenby. It's worth having a delve into his portfolio for more cut-and-pasted loveliness. My favourites are these circular pieces, like petri dishes in which print cultures have been left to grow into new forms. 

Homage to Romek by Richard Weston

Something really rather wonderful has arrived in the post: the Marber Grid, recreated by everyone’s favourite design blogger (and bloody nice chap) Richard “Ace Jet 170” Weston, using nothing but cotton thread and map pins. Look at it there, being all rational and beautiful and pinny. It has immediately found it’s way into a permanent spot on my otherwise sparse desk. 

Update: Richard is now selling these to order on his site. Go get.  

Times Haiku

Okay, so this is a couple of years old now, but I'm a sucker for unintentional poetry. Times Haiku is a tumblr created by New York Times senior software architect Jacob Harris, using an algorithm that pulls unintentional haiku-able strings of words from NYT stories. And it is wonderful. As well as exposing lovely snapshots of zen hidden within popular culture, it also serves as an interesting news aggregator – I'd gladly pore over the morning's headlines in this format. 

Building block signage

Australian design studio Toko designed this charming building block signage for the East Sydney Early Learning Centre. Great idea, beautifully executed – looks like it was a lot of fun to put together too. And the don't forget to hold my hand sign is particularly lovely.

Tear Gun

After an altercation with a tutor, Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Yi-Fei Chen designed a gun that captures, freezes and fires her own tears – recently on display as part of Dutch Design Week. I'm not sure about the practicalities of this in an actual warzone, but I sure do like the brassy steampunk-minimalism design of the thing. 

Boby Trolley

You know when you see something so damn gorgeous, so timeless, so useful-looking (even though you're not entirely sure what you'd use it for)? It fits all of the aesthetic qualities you hold dear, the shapes and materials and versatility? And you see it in all the right places, from the permanent collections of MoMA and the Design Museum to the background of the rather fantastically-designed Oblivion? And you know, you just know, that you need it in your life?

Ladies and gentlemen, the B-Line Boby Trolley.

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Backrow

Here's a little something that's been lingering in my "must get around to at some point" folder for absolutely ages. Backrow. It's nothing really, just a crumb of an idea, but it's one that I keep coming back to: a simple magazine (or given that it'll be nowhere near profitable, probably more appropriate to call it a zine) with just one feature: a big conversation with somebody interesting about the films they love. Kind of like The Happy Reader … but not books. 

Right now, it's just a cover concept, an optimistic issue count and an idea. I have an actual proper BFI qualification in film journalism (yes, it's a thing) that is going to waste, so this definitely represents a professional itch needs to be scratched. 

Hopefully I'll catch up with this in 2017.

Type found on Flickr

I seem to be spending an awful lot of time wading through the Flickr Commons at the moment, looking to repurpose forgotten, obscure and wonderful images on new book covers. And oh my, what a treasure trove it is! A simple one-word search can bring all sorts of wonderments to the surface, even if they have very little to do with what you're looking for (this selection here were the result of a search for "theatre").

It seems cruel to cast the unwanted results back into the darkness of the Commons, so I thought I'd get into the habit of sharing the best discoveries on here. First up, a selection of type. For more details on each, the images link directly to the source. They've been tidied up a bit to get rid of all the extraneous details and scanning debris.

Enjoy. 

Peter Crawley will tear us apart

Illustrator and jolly nice chap Peter Crawley does some amazing things with a needle and some thread, but this stitched-soundwave interpretation of Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart is particularly splendid. Unfortunately, if you want to get your hands on it, it's too late – it's been snapped up by one Mr Peter Hook.

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Beyond the Brillo Box

Okay, this was bound to happen. I'm not even ten books into my Bowie Book Club thing and I've gone and changed my mind about one of them. This is the problem with this sort of theoretical self-initiated project – there is no absolute end point. It doesn't get signed off by a client, it doesn't go to  print, it doesn't appear in book shops. So there's always the temptation to delve back in and tweak. Or in this case, completely reject.

Every time I see my original red boxy effort for Arthur C Danto's Beyond the Brillo Box, it niggles. It just doesn't have that oompf that the subject deserves. I honestly don't believe I would bother picking it up whilst prowling the art and design shelves in Waterstones (one of my favourite pastimes). It doesn't look grabbable or, even worse, sniffable.

So I'm now officially replacing it with this design, which hopefully does tick those boxes.