The 1977 EPA Graphic Standards System

Well, thanks to Kickstarter I’ll be dropping 80 bucks on yet another design book. The 1977 EPA Graphic Standards System is being reissued, and it is a gorgeous piece of graphic design. If you have seen any of the other Graphic Standards books that have been reissued, like the one for NASA, or the New York Metro, you know how these can be a valuable resource and source of inspiration.

Designed by Chermayeff & Geismar the book will be reissued as a hardcover book printed in 14 Pantone® colors. It will come with a slip-case and the reissue will also include 48 pages of photographs from the EPA-commissioned Documerica Project (1970-1977). If you want to see what you are getting for your money the video below gives you a brief history of the system and shows off the original book as well as the new reissue. For a bit of irony, Republican President Richard Nixon narrates sections of the video dedicating the founding of the EPA. I wonder if 47 years from now we will all be watching a video where President Trump kills it?

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Design is Future

When I began my design career a few decades ago, the majority of the work I produced was passive, printed material. Design was broken into a few various genres, but almost all of it was passive in some form or another. I started my career as a graphic designer, but over the course of time, thanks to technology that was being defined and invented in the late 1980’s my function as a designer changed. By that I mean the work I did went from I created something, people looked at it and I had no real feedback loop to determine the overall impact or experience that was achieved by the final piece. As computer technology changed the toolset I used to create visual images, it also changed the way people interacted with design, and began to blur the definition of what a designer is and the roles they play in business, product development, brand interaction, and ultimately what we call user experiences today. I no longer define my career as “Graphic Design”. Graphic design is simply one element of a multi-faceted set of disciplines that I practice on a daily basis. “Designer” is a more realistic term, because like so many in the field today, you are called upon to wear so many different hats, and develop work that interacts directly with business, marketing, engineering, advertising and more.

As computer technology changed the toolset I used to create visual images, it also changed the way people interacted with design, and began to blur the definition of what a designer is and the roles they play in business, product development, brand interaction, and ultimately what we call user experiences today. I no longer define my career as “Graphic Design”. Graphic design is simply one element of a multi-faceted set of disciplines that I practice on a daily basis. “Designer” is a more realistic term, because like so many in the field today, you are called upon to wear so many different hats, and develop work that interacts directly with business, marketing, engineering, advertising and more.

The 30 minute film below is from the “Design is Future Congresstival” held at Disseny Hub Barcelona each year in June. It showcases the main highlights and strong ideas from the 15 speakers that took part in the Design is Future 2016, as well as from the presenter and curators of the event. These individuals speak directly to what the role of design is in today’s world, and the impact it has. Design is no longer the last mile. The point at which someone says “Make it look good”. It is no longer styling, it has evolved for the better as more people have become aware of its impact in the last 20 or so years. The video is really worth watching if you are involved in any aspect of design. As Doug Powel, Design Principal and Director of Design Education at IBM says, “This is an amazing time to be a designer”, and I couldn’t agree more.

Behold The Shape of Sound.

Right now the only stereo system I have in my house is a Polk Audio Woodbourne system and it does a great job filling my smallish house with music streamed from my phone or tablet. I like it because it looks amazing, has a small footprint, good quality audio output, and only one cord. I hate wires. The thing is, I think I’m going to have to start saving for an upgrade because I just saw B&O’s BeoSound Shape, and I’m in love with the design of it. I haven’t heard it, I haven’t seen it in person, but the photos and the video look pretty slick.

 

 

BeoSound Shape is the design-driven solution to the prevailing issue of poor room acoustics in open multifunctional spaces. The damper tiles absorb sound waves rather than reflecting them, which not only improves your music experience but also actively improves the entire acoustic atmosphere in the room even when the system is switched off.

At the heart of the system are BeoSound Core, a connectivity hub hidden in one of the tiles that have the hardware for AirPlay, Chromecast, Spotify Connect, and Bluetooth 4.1, and support for Bang & Olufsen’s very own BeoLink system. The BeoSound Core also has wired inputs for Ethernet or line-in functionality, although the primary focus is on wireless streaming. A base kit starts at roughly $4,266 and includes eight tiles which include four speakers, two sound-absorbing acoustic dampeners, one amplifier, and one housing for the Core. The system is expandable up to 11 amplifier units each of which can support four speaker tiles, for a total of 44 if you need to fill a larger space.

Is it a good value for the money? Probably not. I know for a fact that for 4500 bucks you could pit together a sound system that blows this away, but that isn’t why I am interested. I want this because it doesn’t look like a stereo. Because there are endless custom configurations. And because my old broken down ears aren’t going to be able to hear that much of a perceivable difference. I really love the concept, and execution of this.

 

 

A Capsule of Memorabilia

If you are lucky enough to be in Italy this week you might want to take a train to Milan to check out the 2017 Milan Design Week. And if you do happen to stop in at Milan Design Week, be sure and check out the Capsule of Memorabilia from 3M and designer Patricia Urquiola. Based on the photos, it looks pretty spectacular.

Based on the belief that behind every memory, there is a story, and behind every story, there is a memory worth protecting, “A Capsule of Memorabilia” will give designers, creative professionals and thought leaders an experience of protecting memories into the future through a blend of architecture, design and innovative use of materials. 3M Design partnered with Studio Urquiola to bring the protection of memories to life using 3M’s Novec products which are designed to help protect, clean, preserve and cool products in smart, safe and sustainable ways.

Visitors will experience a one-of-a-kind photo booth where they can take photos with friends and colleagues using the components of a camera submerged in Novec fluid. The photos will appear on a screen that is protected by Novec, and then visitors will be given the opportunity to preserve the image and share it digitally through social media.

“It is exciting to be at Milan Design Week to share the magic of 3M material sciences to celebrate design and explore innovative possibilities that make people’s lives better,” said Eric Quint, chief design officer at 3M. “We have partnered with Studio Urquiola for this installation and together explored what’s possible through material science – reminding the world of the importance of protecting our collective memories.”

The inspiration behind the installation is the critical nature of ensuring that our memorabilia, whether physical or digital, will live on into the future – from precious artifacts and irreplaceable works of art, to books in a library that are historical and unique, and data centers across the globe managing the communication and storage, of all the digital artifacts that make up life’s special moments. 3M Novec is the featured material utilized throughout the installation, helping to provide the peace of mind that our collective memories are secured and live on into the future.

“The qualities of the Novec products are fascinating and triggered our collaboration to express a bigger story in an experiential way,” said Patricia Urquiola, founder of Studio Urquiola. “The collaboration with 3M Design was inspiring because we shared similar values and a vision about how design and architecture can amplify the qualities of magic materials, and in this case how they can protect our memories in to the future.”

The “Capsule of Memorabilia” exhibit is located at the Central Plaza of SuperStudio and will be open through April, 9.

Hand Pressed Espresso

There is a scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief” where Grace Kelly, and Cary Grant stop for a picnic lunch of fried chicken and beers after eluding the police in the south of France. There is a romantic nostalgia about it that has always drawn me in. Not because of the picnic thing, although if Grace Kelly had asked me to go for a drive in her metallic blue 1953 Sunbeam Alpine Mk I and stop for a picnic, I wouldn’t have said no. I’m not sure where the feeling of nostalgia comes from, maybe it’s the idea of a leisurely way to spend time your best gal, and enjoy the countryside in the South of France. Ok I’m getting lost in my thoughts here. What got me going on this tangent was an email I got this morning for the Handpresso Complete Outdoor Kit. Seeing the machine in it’s carrying case along with cups, and napkins got me to thinking about two things. First the scene in “To Catch a Thief”. Second, wouldn’t it be awesome to have an espresso while

What got me going on this tangent was an email I got this morning for the Handpresso Complete Outdoor Kit. Seeing the machine in it’s carrying case along with cups, and napkins got me to thinking about two things. First the scene in “To Catch a Thief”. Second, wouldn’t it be awesome to have an espresso while hiking in the woods? OK the second thought is a lie. I’m not going to lug this up the mountain so I can have an espresso on the trail. I’m more likely to hike up and down the mountain and stop at the coffee place in town for a cup while I rest my feet and review the photos I took. I do like this thing though, and I kind of want it even though I have no practical reason for it.

From a design perspective, this is a thing of beauty. From the themo-molded EVA case to the cups, what is there not to like about the look of this? Even the Handpresso machine is a stylish little device capable of delivering a creamy espresso with 16 bars of pressure.

Handpresso was established in Fontainebleau, 55 km south of Paris which might be the reason it made me think of “To Catch a Thief”.

Day One

I don’t care who you voted for in the presidential election, or who you support now. I don’t want this post to turn into a political flame fest. The video below from Cyprien Clément-Delmas while political in nature is also a reflection of really solid editing, cinematography, and pacing. Shot in black and white on 16mm film, Day One is a reflection of the scene in Washington DC on January 20th, 2017. One of the things I really love about this is how the short film descends from calm to anarchy over the course of four and half minutes. It doesn’t choose sides or make a statement about who’s right and who’s wrong, it simply documents what is happening and edits it together in a way that builds tension and discord. This is a great visual lesson in how to edit and pace a film in order to create atmosphere, mood, and tension.

Shadows in the Windows

With summer officially just a couple of months away, and rebuilding the patio on my project list, I’ve decided that I should probably get new patio furniture to go on it. I was thinking about getting the typical teak and metal stuff, but then I saw this set of chairs designed by Italian designer Andrea Ponti. They probably aren’t very comfortable, but damn they are sexy looking. There is something about them that reminds of that mid-1980’s design aesthetic that was a reinterpretation of 1930’s Art Deco known as Art Deco Revival. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. Something about the forms, and maybe the color pallet. Anyway, I like them. I don’t care if you can’t lounge on them, or if the really aren’t that comfortable to sit on. They look great, almost like sculptural elements, or accents.

Ponti’s “Shadows in the Windows” is a project that portrays Hong Kong’s urban landscape through two symbolic elements: a window and a seat, in eight variations. The project is a metaphor of the architecture of urban density and represents the relationship among the individual, the product, and the urban landscape.

The window is the architectural element that best represents the concept of urban density. The seat by the window is a symbolic element that contributes to the representation of Hong Kong’s urban landscape. Eight seats, eight shadows in eight windows. The eight seats share the same design concept: a square window frame, the contour of a chair, clean lines, steel and ABS. Yet each seat is different and embodies a unique version of the design concept.

Shadows in the Windows will be introduced at 2017 Milan Design Week, April 4-9th, 2017, as part of the Superdesign Show at Superstudio Più.