Thanks to the friends and collaborators who made 2019 a year of fun, chances to learn, and, of course, great design. Rather than tell you about the many projects we contributed to—see Instagram for a video summary—we thought we’d share some of our favorite things.
As you head off for what we hope is time spent with friends and loved ones, consider checking out the places, people, products, and experiences that elated us this year.
I’m also looking forward to watching how Diamond Schmitt handles the design of the Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center. Here’s to more Toronto architects remaking major global cultural centers.
Paul Kawai, Design Director
I’m gonna be the simpleton that recommends a TV show—and a pretty nerdy one at that! Damon Lindelof’s continuation of the 1987 comic series Watchmen (by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons) for HBO is maybe the closest thing to a perfect season of television I’ve ever seen. It is an adaptation, a continuation, and a reinvention of the original storyline—yet still enjoyable for an audience that hasn’t read any of the comics. What I loved most is how Lindelof and his team managed to build a narrative that thoughtfully, surprisingly, and even lovingly addresses so many relevant social issues while ensuring the show remains wildly entertaining.
Jessica Leong, Senior Designer
The Serralves Museum in Porto, Portugal, had so many inspiring exhibitions on view when I visited. Paired with its impressive architecture and impeccable grounds, it's a must-visit destination for anyone who loves the arts.
Closer to home, I was totally enthralled by Madhuri Vijay's novel The Far Field—a beautiful meditation on grief, nostalgia, privilege, and family history.
Tristan Marantos, Senior Designer
While doing some research for a keynote I was helping to design, I came across David Roberts and his incredible talk from last year's Copenhagen Fashion Summit. Not only are his ideas about sustainability important for us today, but also the captivating way he tells a story made a great impression.
Also, this summer my partner and I drove down the west coast of America, from Ecola State Park, in Oregon, to Ventura, California. For all the praise heaped upon the California coast, Oregon held its own. The 101 is lined with half-abandoned coastal towns, beachfront tourist attractions, and the Dunes National Recreation Center, which, the morning we visited, was entirely our own.
Lastly, this year I worked with Canada's longest-running community event. The CNE Archives is a stunning and underappreciated chronicle of design in Canada. The annual poster series, which began in 1886, is filled with beautiful works of art, like this one from 1927.
Sarah Paul, Designer
After encountering a podcast featuring a book by mycologist Paul Stamits early this year, I have been struck by how I see mushrooms everywhere—and how I’ve become a bit more aware of the habitats, tree species, and ground cover where these hardy fungi survive. This sense of discovery and learning is a constant reminder of just how much there is out there to learn.
I also became a Canadian citizen this year. My immigration story is simpler and less painful than others’, but I can attest that obtaining citizenship is a difficult, lengthy, expensive, and stressful process. That said, I’ll never forget the citizenship ceremony, in which three hundred new citizens from all walks of life gathered for a moment of relief, happiness, and pride. These ceremonies are public events; I encourage you to attend one.
Brian Sholis, Media Director
This year I went all-in on Pinboard, a “bookmarking website for introverted people in a hurry.” Run by one man and looking like its design hasn't been refreshed in its decade of operation, it's nonetheless the most efficient and useful web service I use. It's like having an auxiliary brain.
The San Francisco–based experimental guitarist Bill Orcutt has spent the better part of a decade reworking classics from the American songbook—sometimes radically. His new record, Odds Against Tomorrow, is a return to original compositions, and offers a newly pastoral counterpoint to the sometimes harsh solo-guitar meanderings for which he is known. Apple Music suggests I've played the whole album more than twenty times through.
Emi Takahashi, Design Intern
I was introduced to the Print Matters! shop while visiting a friend in Zurich this past summer. It began as a student’s thesis project before evolving into a storefront that gathers so much exciting, international, and independent publishing in one space.
I also loved Haruomi Hosono’s re-recorded and re-imagined interpretation of his 1973 debut album Hosono House. I’m a huge fan of the original, so it was an immense treat when this version came out unexpectedly earlier this year.
Hannah Vance, Project and Operations Manager
My women's cookbook club chose Alison Roman's Nothing Fancy in early November. It was perfect for a casual dinner party for ten—no fuss, totally delicious. After cooking from the book, I went to see Roman talk at Hot Docs. She was insanely cool and I'm now mildly obsessed.
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