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Hard Format Showcases the Best in Music Design


Hard Format‘s website tagline says it all: “Reaching for the sublime in music design.” Whether we are conscious of it or not, design plays a major role in our music experience. Consider this: while browsing through a record store, we allow our eyes to take the lead. Pulling out the albums that visually attract our attention or engage us. Design is often the reason many leave record stores with a vinyl, CD or cassette of an artist they have never heard. This is the power of branding, of packaging, of art, and it is the central focus of Hard Format’s content.

Started in 2007 by Colin Buttimer and Justin Amphlett, Hard Format was a sort of resistance to the idea that physical media for music would vanish entirely with the eminence of technology and the threat posed by digital music. Essentially, it is an online space that showcases physical music design. Seven years have passed and though digital format is popular, physical media has held its own. In fact, cassettes and vinyl are making a spirited return.

Hard Format shares works from a variety of artists and labels. Buttimer on the site’s content:

Weekly posts, usually published on the weekend, concentrate on one release that’s physically photographed. During the week there’s sometimes a news item or two focused on music design matters. The focus of the weekly posts is on a design as a complete object – not just the front cover, but its scale, inner sleeve details, spine, label, the texture of the materials and so on. A secondary, occasional interest is the impact of use and the passing of time as revealed by dog-eared corners, marks, scratches and discolouration…

Read an Eye Magazine interview with Buttimer for more information, and be sure to browse Hard Format for design inspiration (and maybe to discover a new artist or two).

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