Communication Arts Design Annual

We’re excited to announce our packaging design for Crown Maple’s maple sugar will be featured in the Communication Arts 54th Design Annual, set to release this fall. As one of the most prestigious and well-respected publications in the industry, recognition from Communication Arts is especially exciting for us.

Our Crown Maple syrup bottle designs were featured in the 2011 Design Annual, and our Crown Maple boxes were featured in last year’s annual. This recognition is a testament to Crown Maple, and their unceasing commitment to thoughtful, meaningful design. None of this would be possible without them.

New Work: Bond Poster

Every so often, we get the opportunity to design posters for our neighbors and friends at the Trylon Microcinema. This May, the Trylon showcases their “Best of Bond” series, presenting some of the best Bond films every Monday and Tuesday throughout the month.

Here is the poster we designed for the series.


We hope you enjoy it, but more importantly, we hope you go enjoy these films.


New Hire: Brent Schoepf

After a couple weeks of filing through over a hundred portfolios, resumés, and emails, we are excited to announce Brent Schoepf as our Studio MPLS intern! Despite his truly bizarre surname, Brent was a candidate with whom we made an immediate connection. Alongside strong illustrative skills, Brent is a talented photographer, musician, and an extreme sports aficionado. He is also a top-shelf human being with a charming personality and a contagious cheerfulness.

We’re incredibly excited to have Brent join our team. Take a look at some of his work here:

And last, but certainly not least, we want to thank everyone who applied for the internship position. We were blown away, not only by the number of applicants, but by the extremely high level of skill and talent that accompanied the applications. We were able to meet some really special people through this process, and we’re absolutely confident that many of you have very bright futures in the industry.

The “Learning” of Design

A February 15th New York Times op-ed piece by Lance Hosey entitled “Why We Love Beautiful Things” discussed recent scientific studies showcasing an apparently innate human attraction to good design. “Instinctively,” Hosey writes, “we reach out for attractive things; beauty literally moves us.”

Hosey points to three specific subjects in his piece as evidence: color (“merely glancing at shades of green has been shown to boost creativity and motivation”), geometry (the proportions of the golden rectangle are featured in some of the most beloved designs in history, and are “proven to speed up our ability to perceive the world”) and pattern (humans “invariably prefer a certain mathematical density of fractals” that “harken back to the acacia of the African savanna—the place stored in our genetic memory from the cradle of the human race”).

Designers almost always promote articles like Hosey’s because they support a shared, fundamental desire; namely, for the value of design to be better understood and more highly appreciated by the general public. We believe that good design truly makes for a better world. Articles like Hosey’s op-ed piece are invaluable to the dissemination of that cause.

The science behind our physiological preferences is, indeed, an important subject worthy of extensive time and energy. However, the digestion of this information—specifically when applied to the practice of design—must cooperate alongside a certain cultural understanding. Certainly there is more to an attraction to “good design” than merely a rekindling nostalgia for the experiences of our ancestors embedded into our genetic memory. If the attraction to “good” design is one that is, indeed, innately desired by the human race, how does one explain the limitless existence of “bad” design?

Even more important to the validity of these studies is the colossal issue of how we categorize “good” and “bad” design. Certainly we must have a concrete, ubiquitous definition of “good design” if we are to believe that our brains are naturally triggered by it, as Hosey proposes.

Soren Petersen, Ph.D., author, and design researcher proposes that, despite our shrinking world, design preferences are still, to a large extent, “formed by the context and culture in which we live.” To successfully express the unique preferences of their audience, Petersen says, designers need to “internalize culturally implicit values and translate them into visual cues.”

The scientific, physiological studies outlined in Hosey’s piece are incredibly important and valuable, not only for designers trying to champion their skill and trade as one with deep and lasting societal significance, but the work is also beneficial as it gives us a deeper understanding of ourselves: who we are, and what makes us human.

It is hard to argue with research and testing that show our cross-cultural, uniform attraction to things like symmetry and uniformity. However, there are deeper cultural issues that play incredibly important roles in our understanding of something as broad as design.

Our unique individual tastes and preferences are more than instinctual reactions based upon the genetic make-up of the human race; they are unique signifiers of our environments, our homes. And that is exactly what makes working in this industry so much fun.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Continue the conversation below!

Studio MPLS + JCPenney

There are exciting things happening at JCPenney. Studio MPLS has been lucky enough to play a part in the exciting transformation on a few different projects. One such project was JCPenney’s collaboration with Nigerian-born, London-based fashion designer Duro Olowu; the first ever fashion designer collaboration for JCPenney.

Duro for JCP launched on March 1st, to international acclaim. The collaboration features Duro’s signature aesthetic–bold, technical, and playful  prints, patterns, textures, and colors–applied to apparel, footwear, jewelry, and home goods. Many of the products have already sold out since last Friday’s launch.

We’ll be showing all of our work for the project on our new website, set to launch late this Spring. For now, shop the collection, and check out all of  the exciting things happening at JCPenney!

Attention Applicants

We have been blown away by the number of applications for the internship opening here at Studio MPLS. It has been such a humbling experience to see the incredible amount of top-shelf talent that is out there. We wanted to respond in gratitude to each and every one of you, but it has proven to be difficult, due to the sheer number of applicants we’ve received.

Please know, we are incredibly grateful for the time and effort you have put into your e-mail messages, cover letters, resumés, and portfolios. Please stay tuned to this blog as we move closer to making a decision on the position.

Keep up the great work. We have been so greatly inspired by you.

Big News!

First and foremost, we are looking for a graphic design intern to join our team! We are flexible with start time, but the internship will last three to six months, depending on the candidate. Last year’s summer intern, Christina Berglund, absolutely dominated her six-month term, and is now a full-time member of our team.

Here’s a crash course on our work culture: we have a very hard time taking ourselves seriously. We are fairly sarcastic. We are flexible with work hours. We eat out multiple times per week. We have a dog named Tom who has a lot of energy. Our work style thrives on collaboration. The ideal candidate has a portfolio with strong identity and package design pieces. If this sounds like you, please email (no calls, please) your resumé and portfolio, as well as your preferred start date to using the subject line: “Internship”.

Secondly, we are in the process of redesigning our website, and we are really, really excited about it. The new site, set to launch sometime in March or April, will showcase a bevy of new work that we haven’t been able to show for the past year or so.

That’s all for now; stay tuned for updates!


Dan, Allison, Ross, Andy, Christina, Tom

The Work of UntzUntz

Thank to a tweet from Steve Mino this morning, our eyes had the extreme pleasure of laying themselves on the beautiful work of Polish design firm, UntzUntz. We had not heard or UntzUntz prior to this morning, but, upon viewing, we were blown away by the incredible simplicity and elegance of the work. The table has been set; feast your eyes:

Visit their website to view more incredible work.

The Work of Jen Garrido

We’ve been featuring a lot of fine artists lately, and today is no exception. It’s refreshing to get inspired by visuals outside of the field of design and we think the paintings of Jen Garrido do just this. Applying color, then masking over it creates unique, fluid compositions and piques our curiosity with what is hidden underneath. She gives us a glimpse of color and saturation, and then conceals just the right amount. A reminder that there can be too much of a good thing and to edit our work carefully. These are beautiful and mysterious paintings. Thank you for the inspiration, Jen.

Forms & Shapes: The Work of Peter Skwiot Smith

Just in time for the weekend, we would like to share the inspiring work of St. Paul-based artist and designer, Peter Skwiot Smith. Smith is a designer at bswing by day, and by night a top-shelf artist, as clearly seen on his website, Forms and Shapes. To be frank, we’re a little obsessed with this work right now.

Smith has more work that can be enjoyed with a visit to his personal portfolio. Follow him on Twitter: @Skwiot.

If you know of an artist/designer to be featured on our blog, shoot us an email: hello (at) studiompls (dot) com. Happy weekend!