Design Friday

Design Friday. Aaron Draplin’s Passion for Good Design.

If you are a designer, you need to watch the series of impassioned videos from Aaron Draplin below. Seriously.

This morning I got an email from a friend about a post that was over at Wanken yesterday. It’s similar to a video that I saw about a year ago on Vimeo of designer Aaron Draplin’s purchase of a motel sign in Sedalia Missouri.In this latest from Coudal, Draplin talks passionately about Farm Field notes. The design behind them, their purpose, and their impact on his design work.

Like Shelby White, author of the Wanken blog, I have to agree with him, “I believe we should all be doing our part to rescue the lost great design. This also goes hand in hand with sharing great design as well. That’s all I have for you now on this great establishment, but expect more on this memo book collection in the future!”

There is so much great design work that is lost, forgotten, or simply ignored. It is in many cases great design work that is indicative of the visual heritage that has helped shaped my design aesthetic. Unlike Draplin, I don’t collect enough of this stuff. Not in its physical form anyway, and that physical thing is important. Those pieces have a texture, a smell, a feel that can never be reproduced in digital format.

I love this series of short films. Draplin’s passion for this is so profound. It is something all designers should feel, and it is a great example of why we all need to collect and preserve our design history. There are more on Vimeo here.

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Design Friday. FRICTIONS.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish I was still in school. Every time I turn around I find some new work produced by a group of students that is absolutely fantastic. this video is no exception.

Frictions is a graduation project that was filmed and produced at l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. It mixes live action footage with stop motion photography and combines the two to visually tell a story through the movement of the dancer and his interaction with the colors around him.

The film was shot on a Canon 5D mkII against a blue screen and composited with the current background. This film demonstrates excellent sound design, choreography, cinematography, editing, and visual effects. My hat goes off to the entire team of students that made this work.

Directed by: Steven Briand
Choreographer: Clara Henry
Cinematographer and cameraman: Pierre Yves Dougnac
Music and sound design: Moritz Reich & Agathe Courtin
Visual effects: Francis Cutter & Benoit masson
Costume: 2WS – world wild souls
First assistant: Romain Daudet Jahan
Animation assistants: Nathalie Anne Boucher, Camille Chabert & Luca Fiore
Visual effects assitant: Sarah Escamilla

Design Friday, Lora Lamm.

Designer Lora Lamm, was born in Arosa, Switzerland in 1928. Educated in Zurich in the late 1940’s, her carer began when she was hired by the upscale Italian department store La Rinascente upon a recomendation from her class mate and fellow designer Max Huber.

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Often times Lamm has been overlooked in the vast history of mid-century European designers, but her contributions to the field can’t be denied. Lamm was a major contributor to the Milanese design style of Italy from the mid 1950s through the 1960s. This post-war period in Milan, distinguished by its intellectual and progressive attitudes, booming economy and companies open to new ways of communication, attracted many design greats from Switzerland, including; Xanti Schawinsky, Max Huber, Carlo Vivarelli, Walter Ballmer, Aldo Calabresi and Bruno Monguzzi.  All of which were  employed by the influential Studio Boggeri, founded in 1933 by Antonio Boggeri.

Many innovative companies such as Pirelli  and La Rinascente  followed in the footsteps of Olivetti by establishing internal advertising and communications departments which were open to creating relationships with a diverse group of designers. Additional companies including Roche, Glaxo and Dompé, Alfieri & Lacroix, Einaudi also hired emerging design talent for use in the development of their marketing and advertising promotions.

After studying at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich, and working for various agencies,  Lamm moved to Milan to work for Studio Boggeri in 1953 with the goal of finding interesting graphic design work. She received small assignments such as designing wrapping paper and packaging for confectioner company, Motta.

In 1954, Max Huber gave Lamm the opportunity to work for the advertising and communications department at La Rinascente. Huber was an established designer at La Rinascente, having designed their logo and introducing a new, integrated visual appearance to the company through the use of coordinated uniforms and a “house” typeface – Futura bold. Lamm’s contribution to La Rinascente included catalogs, posters, advertisements, invitations, mailers, packaging and other publicity pieces.

In 1956, Lamm designed promotional materials for the important Il Giappone exhibit, promoting new products being sold at La Rinascente from Japan. Using the screens of the exhibit as the major component of the campaign’s printed matter, Lamm created a geometric design of traditional Japanese colors. The playful and experimental nature of her work would translate into other designs, particularly when she started using her own drawing and illustration in her work.

Her works, are well-balanced, colorful, noticeable at a glance and generate a sense of wonder and excitement for the viewer. Light and whimsical posters and ads were appealed to a female audience, a goal for the department store. Lamm also used photography or photograms, but always considered the technical printing restraints of the era. Her designs still endure, looking as fresh and modern today as they did in the 1950s and 1960s.

Design Friday. Woolmark.

This post doesn’t really focus on a specific designer, as much as it focuses on fashion and the photographs taken for the Woolmark company from 1937 to 1987.

Back in 1937, Woolmark, then known as the International Wool Secretariat was established to research and promote wool. Over the course of the next 50 years they established a massive archive of black and white images, and press releases that capture both the fashion of the time and the style of fashion photography.

In the late 1980’s when Woolmark moved to a new headquarters, the entire collection was donated to the London College of Fashion and has now been released on the VADS website. Most of the images are directly from the International Wool Secretariat, but some represent the German, France, and United States offices as well which reflect the international scope of The Woolmark Company.

The collection holds a curated balance of both men’s and women’s wear, and each image contains information about the designer and the year it was taken. There are over 2000 digital images currently available. The entire collection can be found here at the VDS website. If you are a fashion designer, designer, illustrator, or artist that deals with period fashion, this collection is invaluable.

The images and metadata presented in the Woolmark archive are copyright of the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. They may be used for private research and study purposes only. Enquiries regarding reproduction should be sent to the address below but permission must also be sought from The Woolmark Company.

Design Friday. Irving Penn.

I haven’t been doing the “Design Friday” posts on a regular basis for a few months. They became a little to involved and time-consuming from a research standpoint. Obtaining images, and writing the fairly lengthy posts just sucked up to much of my time at night to keep it up. If you read them on a regular basis, I’m sorry that I have slowed down. The good news is, today I want to talk about photographer Irving Penn.

One of the most influential photographers of the second half of the 20th century, Penn has been an inspiration to me in more ways than I can count.

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Irving Penn studied at what is now the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, graduating in 1938. While at the University of the Arts he studied under Alexey Brodovitch with a focus not on photography but painting. After graduation a number of his drawings were published in Harper’s Bazaar, helping to secure a transition to photography as his dominant career path. Penn became known for post World War II feminine chic and glamor photography that had a signature look to it. A look that influenced many of his contemporaries and helped to define a style that is synonymous with the mid-century modern period ranging from the mid 40’s to mid 60’s.

While his prints are always clean and clear, Penn’s subjects varied widely. Many times his photographs were so ahead of their time that they only came to be appreciated as important works in the modernist movement years after their creation. For example, a series of posed nudes whose physical shapes range from thin to plump were shot in 1949-1950, but were not exhibited until 1980. His still life compositions are skillfully arranged assemblages of food or objects; at once spare and highly organized, the objects articulate the abstract interplay of line and volume. His later works are made on aluminum sheets coated with a platinum emulsion rendering the image with a warmth and maturity that un-toned silver prints lacked

Penn is constantly associated with Vogue magazine. His relationship began with the magazine in the early 1940’s. And while it was disrupted by the second world war, Penn returned immediately to Vogue in 1946, where he photographed continually for the magazine, making fashion pictures, still lifes, portraits, and clever, atmospheric confections that touched more or less directly on the world of theater. During 1947, the second year after his return, the essential Penn – what now might be called the historic Penn – emerged. The calm spareness of vision and manner in his pictures became breathtaking. When you see Penn’s photographs against the background of the various trilling, ornamental styles that had seemed to dominate fashion magazines at the time, Penn’s images seemed to represent a new beginning.

It was perhaps Penn’s portraiture and in still life photographs rather than the fashion images that Penn first found full confidence in his own style and eye. Several of his earliest memorable portraits, including George Jean Nathan and H. L. Mencken and John Marin, were made in 1947, as was his fun and whimsical Still Life with Watermelon, one of his triumphs of color photography. Beginning the next year in 1948 Penn traveled to Europe where made many portraits including many older painters and writers had been largely hidden from American audiences during the war years, as well as  younger artists who were generally known only to specialists. The portraits of artists, especially, were an adventure for the youthful Penn because he personally knew and admired their work. His 1948 photograph Joan Miro and his Daughter Dolores is in part an homage to the painting made ten years earlier by Balthus.

A collection of many of his most important works were acquired jointly by the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 1990. In 1996 Mr. Penn donated most of his archives and 130 of his prints to the Chicago Art Institute. The Morgan Library & Museum in New York acquired 67 of Mr. Penn’s portraits in 2007 shortly before his death in 2009 and exhibited them in 2008.

The critic Richard Woodward, writing about Penn in 1990, argued that he would be best remembered for the work he did for museum walls. “The steely unity of Irving Penn’s career, the severity and constructed rigor of his work can best be appreciated when he seems to break away from the dictates of fashion for magazines. Only then is it clear how everything he photographs — or, at least, prints — is the product of a remarkably undivided conscience. There are no breaks; only different subjects.”

Design Friday. Kim Høltermand, Deserted Cities.

There is something about photographs taken at night, and in fog, that can’t be matched. The atmosphere, the contrast or lack there of. Both environments can do so much to enhance the look of a photo, and both can be so difficult to shoot well. Kim Høltermand is a master when it comes to shooting images in fog shrouded environments.

In his new series “Deserted Cities”, Høltermand has created a set of stunning  images that are haunting and completely stunning. Beautiful compositions with images that are softened by the atmosphere, void of people, and surface a feeling of introspection and isolation within the space in which they are shot.

Copenhagen based Høltermand studied design and worked as a professional graphic designer for a number of years before taking up photography as a serious endeavor. He purchased his first professional DSLR just a few years ago, and since then his work, which focuses primarily on architectural photography has really taken off.

These images are a careful balance between positive and negative space, that beautifully capture a moment that will soon be lost as the fog lifts from its surroundings.

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Design Friday. Artrage for the iPad.

About a month ago my friend Tim turned me on to yet another painting application for the iPad, Artrage HD. I checked it out and bought it for the special intro price of $1.99. After installing it, I played with it some, but never gave it a full chance, because I never spent enough time with it.

Last night I sat down and finally gave the app some real hands on time and spent a couple of hours actually painting with it, getting to know the UI, and really checking out what this tool can do. The thing for me that separates this app, from others like “Sketch Up” is the look of the natural media tools it uses to resemble real paint. The mediums in its arsenal have better textures and look more like real paint, crayons, and pastels. It reminds me of the desktop application “Painter” from Corel.

ArtRage provides that satisfying experience of actually painting. It provides oil paints that smear and blend on the canvas, watercolor strokes that merge to create soft, wet blends, and each different tool and medium interacts on your iPad screen the way it would if  you were painting with traditional tools in the art studio.

The iPad user interface is well thought out and allows artists of all levels to unleash their creativity and to spontaneously draw, sketch, and paint on the iPad in a wide range of artistic styles.

Traditionally trained artists will readily adapt to the intuitive user interface of the iPad versions of their tools like watercolors, pencil, chalk, oils, palette knife and airbrush, as well as customizable surfaces for canvas and paper. Because of this everyone can feel comfortable getting started with painting and drawing using   familiar tools that look and feel like they should. Anything you create on your iPad is interchangeable with the desktop version of the Artrage application, and your files can be exported directly to your camera roll or shared on a variety of social networks.

One of the things I really like about this program is, it allows me to paint and draw in a loose fluid style, or really tighten things up if needed.