Cover Notes: Mash x desktop

Published:  February 16, 2015

When preparing for the magazine’s redirection, we caught ourselves wondering who we could trust to create a cover that would take us into a new era of design culture and discussion. In the hope that they’d create something divisive, delightful and all-together unexpected, we handed the reins over to Adelaide-based studio Mash to give desktop a facelift.


The Initial Concept

The first concept was James Brown’s twisted moment of “hell yeah let’s do a desktop takeover, make all the staff wear lobster uniforms, and broadcast to design kids far and wide with propaganda whilst using just a hint of mind control via this new psychological anthropological disco cassette radio that has the sound of James Brown backwards saying – buy this magazine and eat greens,” you know, propaganda for good. It was a controversial concept here at MASH and over at desktop to say the least.

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Back to the drawing board

We thought it would be best to start fresh. Canning the original idea all together. We decided that an ‘ideological’ style cover was where we were headed. Something with a strong, simple idea, revolving around the theme of psychology in design. There were a few ideas floating around but these two were our strongest.

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Sketch 1: This idea is based around mind control. As designers and advertisers we often overlook the power we have in today’s society. You cannot escape day to day life without being exposed to a brand or advertisement that is trying to ‘sell’ or ‘tell’ you something. This sketch is our representation of this. Using the hands of a puppeteer and dangling letters give the notion of ‘we are being controlled’.

Sketch 2: You look at the face and think ‘this looks wrong’. But why? Why do we always have to follow the rules (arrows) and say something has to be designed in a certain way? Design should be about breaking the rules and finding new solutions. Not doing the same thing over and over.

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Sketch 3: We liked both the ideas so much we decided to combine them into one.


From this point we started to explore different methods of constructing our idea. By playing with paper, pens and collage. We produced many different directions.

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We really loved this particular combination of hand-drawn elements mixed with collage.


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We simplified this illustration down to something that worked well in the magazine cover format. The cover lines were added. We wanted these lines to interact with the illustration, almost becoming a part of it. Big typography that really jumped out.

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Final Cover

A few slight typographic changes and a background colour change was needed. We also had some more fun with the typography, really pushing it to the limits. The end result is something very fun but also has a strong ideological theme behind it.

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To get your hands on Mash’s cover, make sure to subscribe to desktop.


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