An Ultra-Minimal Deck Of Cards That Keeps Poker Night Clean

Joe Doucet’s Iota deck reduces suits to pure geometric forms.

Against all odds, playing cards are having a serious renaissance–amongst designers, at the very least, who seem to be increasingly fascinated with the creative possibilities inherent within a standard deck. We’ve seen typography trivia, icons inspired by WWII-era airplane spotter cards, and a staggeringly successful Kickstarter campaign which raised almost $150,000 (!) for a beautifully illustrated and expertly packaged set. Maybe there are a heck of a lot of Gin Rummy, Crazy-8s loving shufflers out there after all.


Reduce each of these examples down to the absolute bare minimum and you’ve got three sets of essential symbols: suits, numbers, and letters. Streamline those even further and you’ve got Iota, a new limited edition series from Joe Doucet. The New York-based designer will present the pack as part of Play, his themed exhibition during the NYC’s design week in May, along with seven other products–from kites to lights to rugs–aimed to bring a bit of levity to an industry which usually takes itself pretty seriously. “Last year I presented a completely theoretical exhibit on the idea of time. I learned a great deal in the process but it left me a little drained,” he tells Co.Design. “This year I wanted to take off the shackles of high design and have a bit of fun.”

Though the geometric motifs are incredibly simple, the iterative process to get them just right required incredible patience, commitment, and almost 15 rounds of refinement. “Stripping things down to the edge of comprehension is a very difficult task. Not enough is far from interesting and too much leaves you with an utter failure,” he says.

“Not enough” could also result in the occasional confusing moment at the poker table, one would think. At least the back of each card is marked with a single diagonal line to ensure you don’t inadvertently show your hand.

A limited edition of Iota decks will be available from the Wanted Design pop-up store during NYC design week, May 17th through the 20th.

(h/t MoCo Loco)