Design and Art

Visual art and design topics, reviews, articles and random posts on art and design related issues.

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.

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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.

The Minimalist Design of the Beoplay M5

I have to admit I have always loved the look of B&O design work. Their products really do look and feel quite amazing, and yes the sound isn’t too shabby either. Is it worth the premium price you pay? Maybe. It depends on what you value, and what you think is affordable. It’s kind of like buying a Rolex or Tag vs a Timex or a Swatch. Both tell time, some just do it with more swagger, flair and a refined set of materials and craftsmanship. I say this because Bang and Olufsen have launched yet another wireless speaker that really does look stunning. It will set you back about 600 bucks plus tax, and if you are thinking about outfitting a number of rooms in your humble abode you’ll be rolling north of 2 grand by the time it is all said and done.

Designed by leading Danish industrial designer Cecilie Manz, the Beoplay M5 speaker is a small minimalist piece of audio gear pumping out 100 watts of power from its diminutive case. Housed inside the 7-inch tall speaker are 1 x 5′ woofer, 1 x 1.5′ midrange, and 3 x ¾’ tweeters with a frequency response of 37 – 22.000 Hz. Is it the biggest badest speaker on the block? No, but it is quite lovely to look at and jam-packed with all of the latest technology allowing you to stream music to any room in your house, or to every room at the same time.

Like all of the BeoPlay line up the M5 offers you the option to change out covers, and I’m sure they will be offering some bright bold color choices in the future. Frankly I’m really loving the monochrome versions that they are showing off across the entire line these days. The top is a machined aluminum disc that functions as the main physical control unit for each speaker. You adjust the volume by running your finger across the edge. Tapping the aluminum disc will activate Beoplay M5 to join other music experiences going on in your home or sync up with other units.

Beoplay M5 uses Bang & Olufsen’s “True360” to create spatial balance no matter where you are placed relative to the speaker. Three evenly distributed tweeters, a front facing mid-range driver and a powerful woofer that fires its energy down towards a carefully designed disperser, provide a uniform dispersion of well-balanced Bang & Olufsen Signature Sound all around the room.

Is it worth 600 bucks? I have no idea, I haven’t actually heard it or played around with it. I do know that if I had a few grand burning a hole in my pocket I’d be tempted to pick up a few of them for various rooms in my house.

IKEA Furniture Is A Snap

IKEA has always been a company that has innovated. It shows in everything from the use of materials, to the adoption of solar power for all of their stores.  They are constantly pushing themselves forward, growing, adapting, changing as they bring new products to market. If you are familiar with IKEA furniture, you probably know that you will be using an Allen wrench, and a screwdriver to get the job done, but now thanks to the designers on the team, you might not.

KEA has recently introduced a series of snap together furniture using a new dowel and wedge system. The new joint is called a wedge dowel, and it’s specifically designed for wooden products. Products like the Lisbo table, for instance, have a small ribbed wedge at the top of each leg, which is then inserted into a pre-machined hole in the tabletop. the joint requires no glue and can be taken apart and reassembled multiple times without damaging the fastener.

IKEA recognized the fact that it included a lot of small fittings with each of their products. The number of parts is often a turnoff for customers, and a waste of resources. By incorporating the wedge dowel, assembly time decreases and IKEA saves money by removing all the metal fasteners.

The special design was initially introduced in 2014 as a proof of concept in the Regissör storage products and Stockholm cabinets. It was tested on these products for 3 years and now IKEA intends to incorporate the system into other pieces.

The Adventures of Orange, an Aperol Apparition.

There are times when I see a piece of work that I wish I could see in context to the environment, and the video below is one of them. Every time I am at a sporting event and I see the wrap around animation that rolls on those LCD panels that ring the stadium, I’m curious about the pre-vis planning that goes into developing them. And in the case of the video for Aperol produced by Buck, I’m curious not only about how they planned it out, but how they executed it, and what it looked like at the Australian Open. Think about this, you have an animation that has to play in sequence as it wraps around the court, starting at one point, and ending at the same point. And it has an aspect ratio of something like 1500 to 1.

So how do you set that up? How do you plan for delivery to something like a Cayin digital signage system, get everything rendered correctly, and make sure playback is seamless? So many questions, so little time.

With all that said, the animated piece below from Buck is once again a great example of the quality of work these guys do. It captures the Aperol brand so well, plus the casual and somewhat elegant feeling of a tennis open so well. There is a really fresh feel about the look with a retro nod to the late 1970’s and early 1980’s stylistically. The warm color pallet enhances the fact that when this was released it was mid summer in Australia, where an Aperol spritzer would be quite refreshing on a warm summer afternoon. It makes me wish I had been there

It makes me wish I had been there. Not only to see the animation in context but to imbibe a bit as well.

Uinta Golden Ale Packaging Celebrates Our National Parks.

Last year, the National Park Service celebrated 100 years of service, and to commemorate the anniversary Uinta Brewing is ready to release Golden Ale Park Series Beer. The rotating park series was brewed in celebration of the diverse landscapes across the United States and the over 84 million acres of natural beauty that our National Park system promotes and protects. The packaging is available with four different park-inspired packaging that reflects the style of travel posters designed during the height of the WPA era of the 1930’s. While the beer inside the can will remain the same, a refreshing golden ale with an ABV of 5.3% and notes of Wilamette hops and Crystal malts, the outer packaging will feature a rotating line-up of National Parks. right now there are just 4 parks represented, but hopefully they will release more over the next year. I love the design and illustration featured here. It’s a refreshing approach to a product area that can at times be predictable, even in the craft brewing segment.

can-line-up

“Many of the explorations that have inspired our beers have happened in and around National Parks and we’re excited to pay homage to that with this rotating series. We’re fortunate to have five National Parks within 5 hours of the brewery and hope that our Golden Ale encourages consumers to get out and explore those that surround them.”

Uinta’s Chief Executive Officer, Steve Mills