Author: Author

I'm a designer living and working in the Kansas City area. I'm into art, design, music, food, adult beverages, auto racing, architecture and more.

No Branding Required.

There aren’t many brands that can get away with removing all brand identity from their advertising. McDonalds is one of them that can. The product is so ubiquitous that the purveyor of fast food can not only remove the golden arches, they don’t even have to show product.

McDonald’s has created a series of outdoor ads in recent years that have boldly expressed just how deeply the fast-food brand is embedded in our collective consciousness. McDonalds Canada created a series of outdoor ads that used cropped sections of the golden arches as a wayfinding mechanism. McDonalds France used a series of rain-streaked cityscapes to promote their delivery service. Although minimal in design, there is no doubt that this is McDonald’s. The latest from Leo Burnett UK, not so much.

This new series of posters from Leo Burnett for McDonald’s UK has taken renowned typographer David Schwen’s type sandwiches and created, well, type sandwiches.

There is no mention of McDonald’s anywhere on these yet you know exactly what they are from the ingredients listed. That is definitely a Big Mac and a Filet o Fish. This could be applied to the majority of the McDonald’s sandwich line with a similar effect.

“McDonald’s is a leader, only a handful of global brands can communicate like this. The redacted and graphic nature of this latest campaign exudes the confidence McDonald’s and its iconic products deserve.”

Pete Heyes, Creative Director at Leo Burnett.

It’s a pretty bold move and one that not many brands could pull off. A global brand like McDonald’s can get away with, and does with great effect.

Dyson Lightcycle Morph. Well Designed but Pricy.

When you hear the name “Dyson” the first thing that pops into your head is vacuum cleaners. Over the years Dyson has done an amazing job of advertising and marketing their vacuums and it has paid off for them. When I hear the name “Dyson” I think of the design. Industrial design and technology to be specific. Why? Because Dyson has always done a really great job of producing not only very functional products, but beautifully designed products as well.

They are a company that truly understands how form and function do go hand in hand, much the same way Apple does. Because of this, you end up paying a premium price for something that products from other manufacturers do with equal performance, but maybe not with the same quality of design and materials that Dyson offers.

Case in point the Dyson Lightcycle Morph, a new floor and task lamp from Dyson that looks at what lighting does, and how it affects mood.

the Dyson Lightcycle Morph employs local daylight tracking to offer customized solutions that mimic natural light. The lamps are connected to the Dyson Link App, allowing for full adjustability depending on the user’s task, age, mood, and local daylight.

“Task” for focused light, “Indirect” for less intense situations, “Feature” for dramatic lighting and “Ambient” for a warm glow that is designed to mimic candle light. These are the four general light settings the lamp offers. It also offers pre-set modes called “Study,” “Relax,” “Precision,” “Boost,” “Wake-Up,” “Sleep,” and “Away.” Users are able to save up to 20 custom light settings that can be controlled by a dimmer and
color temperature selection feature.

Here’s the kicker though. The lamps cost $650.00 and $850.00 respectively. So what do you get for that? Well, the LEDs are supposed to last 60 years, which if you amortize the cost over that length of time actually is an OK value. (provided the rest of the lamp lasts that long). You also get a lamp that is made from high-quality materials, with a built-in motion sensor to help save energy, integrated USD charging built into the base, and intelligent touch-activated slide controls.

“With the Dyson Lightcycle Morph, our aim was to challenge the fundamental conventions of contemporary artificial lighting and find a solution. So we developed a light that tracks natural daylight and intelligently transforms for different uses – providing the right light, at the right time, precisely where it’s needed,”

Jake Dyson, Chief Engineer.

It’s also a beautiful object in its own right. Thoughtfully designed by the Dyson team, and while that might not factor into a lot of people buying decisions, it will have an appeal for that audience that loves good design. There are truckloads of LED lamps available on the market, but in my opinion, this shows where Dyson’s design thinking extends beyond simply creating a nice looking LED task lamp.

One thing that most people don’t think about are things like packaging and assembly. How they are an integral part of the design process and the end-user experience. The video below shows how Dyson tackled this. Both the packaging and lamp assembly are done well. The packaging not only holds the parts, but it functions as an assembly stand for the base on the task lamp. (this isn’t the case on the floor lamp and in the video, the woman assembling her $850.00 is rolling it around on the floor. I think I would have put down a cloth to prevent scratches) The lamp goes together quickly and is on and ready to explore in minutes. There is some waste in the floor lamp packaging, but that’s to be expected since the vertical shaft is almost 48 inches in length. Overall Dyson did a pretty good job with this though.

“Artificial light is still a relatively new concept for humans. If you were to shrink evolution into 24 hours, artificial light would only have existed for around seven seconds.” Because of this, human circadian rhythms are still mostly in sync with the natural rising and setting of the sun. Lightcycle Morph’s adaptability moves beyond artificial light’s typical limitations to create a more realistic and personalized lighting environment for users.

Jake Dyson, Chief Engineer.

Will I be purchasing either of these lamps from Dyson? No, I won’t. I don’t have any need for either of them at this time. That doesn’t mean I can’t admire what went into the design and construction of the Dyson Lightcycle Morph. It really is a well thought out piece of industrial design that I bet quite a few people will pick up for their home or office.

Ed Ruscha and Jack Kerouac – Motorized Photographs Of Sunset Blvd. And Other L.A. Streets

Ed Ruscha has always been one of my favorite artists. When I was in Art School at the University of Kansas he had a heavy influence on the work I was producing at the time. Not so much his photography, but definitely his paintings and print works. The video above was Commissioned by The Getty Museum on the occasion of their 2019 Getty Medal to the painter, draftsman, photographer, and bookmaker, Ed Ruscha.

Produced by Matthew Miller the Getty Research Institute’s preservation and digitization of over a million images from Ed’s Streets of Los Angeles photo series. Miller then had Ruscha record a voice over for the piece using excerpts from Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road”.

I think this is a wonderful way to experience Ruscha’s photography of Los Angeles in a new way. If you are unfamiliar with Ruscha’s books I recommend checking them out. If you Google “Ed Ruscha Books”, you’ll be able to find them. Start with “26 Gas Stations”, or “Some Los Angeles Apartments”. They’ll give you a solid insight into where Ruscha’s head was in the early to mid-1960s.

Art or Ads?

Since 2010, Bombay Sapphire has partnered with the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation to showcase artwork from multicultural artists through its Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series competition.

To encourage votes for 2019’s competition, BBDO New York created a Google Chrome extension called Artifier’ that replaces banner ads with works of art. Viewers who see a piece of artwork that catches their eye can click on that painting to vote for the artist behind the piece of work. Voting ended on Nov. 7, but the extension is still available.

I really like what Bombay has done here. it’s a nice workaround if you don’t have an ad-blocker running in your browser. It promotes the artist competition, shows Bombay’s commitment to the arts, and it gets rid of all the targeted advertising that gets rammed down your throat with every browsing session. This is a subtle way to promote the Bombay brand without using heavy-handed advertising tactics. Plus my guess is that Bombay knows after most people install the extension, they won’t turn it off so it will continue to promote the Bombay brand all year. Clever.

Miller Lite The Original Social Media

During the height of the internet boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s one of my favorite TV commercials was the Miller Lite spot “Evil Beaver” produced by Traktor. Like so many ads at that time the commercial was completely insane and unlike any beer commercial being run at the time. The thing is though, it did its job. It was fun, memorable, associated the product with the brand and got people talking. And it was part of a larger campaign that tied everything together with a single tagline “Art Directed by Dick”. All of the Miller Lite spots were well-produced, clever, and really thought out, but “Evil Beaver is the one that stuck with me. (probably because it’s so off the wall)

FAst forward to 2019/2020 and Miller lite has scored another home run as far as I’m concerned. Working with DDB Chicago. they are playing into the current zeitgeist of people pulling away from social media and the backlash of fake followers, likes, and the overwhelming need for continuous engagement in these spaces.

Building on its campaign positioning of Miller Time as the ‘original social media,’ Miller Lite is bringing a limited number of its dark-coloured Offline Cans to bars across the country to inspire more drinkers to take a break from social media and spend time with friends over a beer. The limited-edition matte black cans will be available in more than 500 bars and taverns in 27 states starting this week. Miller Lite’s Offline Can will be supported by two new TV ads, social media (ironically) and a point-of-sale marketing campaign that aims to inspire drinkers to invite friends for a night out over Miller Lite.

In select bars where the cans are available, Miller Lite will reward some drinkers for going offline with their own Miller Lite Offline Can, where permitted and while supplies last. Using Facebook’s new ‘SideFlix’ technology, bar-goers can invite their friends to join them in putting down their phones and ‘going offline’. If the group collectively puts their phones down for 30 minutes, they could be eligible to receive a Miller Lite Offline Can. SideFlix is a digital experience using Facebook Instant Games and Facebook Messenger that offers friends the opportunity to share in a connected experience across their devices when they’re together in real life (IRL).

Both DDB and Miller Lite saw the potential to leverage this technology to encourage and reward ‘device-down’ connection when friends spend time together over beers. Miller Lite is one of the first brands globally to utilize Facebook’s SideFlix and this is a first-of-its-kind experience for Molson Coors Beverage Company. Created by DDB Chicago, Miller Lite’s new 15-second spots, meanwhile, focus on missed connections — people staring at their phones instead of interacting with friends. Like the first ‘It’s Miller Time’ spot, ‘Followers’ that began airing in fall, the new ads finish with the tagline: ‘Here’s to the original social media.’

Sometimes You Have To Toot Your Own Horn A Little.

I have been maintaining this blog site for more than 10 years now, and it has also been a place to showcase my portfolio and resume for freelance and contract opportunities. For the last 5 of the 10 ten years, I’ve been posting to Modular 4, I’ve been saying to myself I really need to create a separate site that is exclusively focused on the work I’ve been doing and remove the portfolio and resume form here. Unfortunately, life just always got in the way. I’d think about it, procrastinate, fiddle around with a new site layout, get caught up in something else, forget about it, try to come back to it and never actually get anything done.

Well, guess what? I finally got off my butt and got something done. The new site for Wade Johnston Graphic Design features projects that I have worked on over the last 10 plus years, and services offered. It took me long enough, but the site is finally live. So I’m tooting my own horn and saying I’m open for business. That’s a bit of a lie though, I’ve been open and doing design business for the last 30 years. That doesn’t mean I’m not open to new opportunities though, so if you need design and advertising help give me a shout. I’ll be updating the new site regularly with new featured projects and projects that showcase specific skills, so if you are interested check back every so often. I’m also in the process of connecting the new SquareSpace site to my social media accounts so new pages and posts should start populating publically soon.

I’ll continue to post here but within the next few weeks, the menu items for my portfolio and resume will be removed. This website will continue to be what it has been for the last decade, a place where I can sound off about whatever I want, however, I want. If you have been one of the people that have read my posts here over the last 10 years, thanks. I really appreciate it.

If you hop over to the new site, I hope you like what you see.

Furniture Lust to Kick Off 2020 – The Woolsey Smart Desk

Four years ago I was lucky enough to be chosen for the IKEA Home Tour when they were here in Kansas City. My video got me a home office makeover that turned out really nice. All of the furniture was supplied by IKEA and the Home Tour Squad spent 3 days redesigning my office. Part of the office makeover package was a sit/stand desk that I have used ever since. BEKANT.

I have to admit I have mixed feelings about the BEKANT Desk that I’ve been using since it was installed. I’ve had to replace the drive solenoid on it twice now, and the controls to raise and lower the desk can be a bit temperamental at times. The slightest variation in pressure and the desk comes to a stop. The work surface is ample, and the motor raises and lowers the desk in a fluid fashion which is nice. The problem is that the desk feels a bit on the cheap side, and when you spend 8 to 10 hours a day sitting or standing at your desk, you begin to think about better quality, or how you can hack your desk to make it feel like a higher quality piece of furniture. The other thing that pops into your head is “Should I just replace it with a better quality desk?”

Yawn

The thing I find true about most sit/stand desks either look like they were designed by an engineer with no value on aesthetics or they have a very traditional look that doesn’t really fit with my personal style. What I want is a really nice piece of furniture with solid cable management, features, with a modern flair. So, I began my quest and while cruising the internet today I came across the “Woolsey Smart Desk” by Sean Woolsey.

The Sean Woolsey Smart Desk is available in two different materials – walnut or white oak allowing you to choose a material that works best with your current office or workspace. The Smart Desk is filled with all sorts of features I love. Cable slots so you can charge devices in the drawers out of sight. The motor control is hidden in the right drawer helping to keep your workspace tidy. The control unit also allows you to program 4 specific stop heights for different users. (very handy for me. I’m 6 foot 4 and my wife is 5 foot 4″) The motors that drive the desk give off very little noise (BEKANT is loud as hell) There is a built-in surge protector. It has a built-in QI Charger for wireless charging. Oh, and did I mention it’s absolutely gorgeous?

Click through to Vimeo to see the entire series of videos on the Smart Desk.

Just look at it. The shape is subtly rounded. Drawer hardware is removed so that the front of the desk becomes an uninterrupted shape. The monitor riser is unobtrusive. Cables are hidden away out of sight. It’s simply stunning.

Clearly, nothing has been left out when designing the Sean Woolsey Smart Desk with real attention to detail in the materials used and the little design touches which set it apart. Sean Woolsey wanted to include everything for the busy professional to stay organized with a luxurious yet functional design that offers everything you will need to keep yourself motivated and creative day in, day out.

I just need to figure out how to afford this. At $3000.00 it’s a hefty investment for sure. If I plan on dropping that kind of coin on a desk it’s going to need to become a family heirloom and something I plan on using for the next 20 years.