Design

It’s Not That I Don’t Like You. Sometimes I Just Don’t Feel Like Talking To You.

Last month I started to work on the backyard landscaping now that almost all of the updates to the house have been made. The patio is getting rebuilt and the back fence run is getting replaced later this year. I didn’t want to do a full privacy fence across the back so I decided to go with a 4-foot high wood fencing system from Home Depot. Now I like my neighbors, but there are times I want to sit on my patio not have to look at them or have them look at me. The solution is this series of tall planters designed by Fabien Joly. (sorry folks the link takes you to a Flash based website.) IRF is a collection of tall planters that have rectangular shapes and thin and high profile which makes them ideal for patios or terraces where you want a bit of privacy. Each planter is constructed of fiber cement and they come in a variety of colors ranging from bright green and blue to charcoal gray. With the tallest planter coming in at just under 4 feet tall these seem like a perfect solution to have a little bit of privacy while making the patio look better.

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John Carpenter’s First Music Memory.

A couple weeks ago Device pushed out to Vimeo a wonderful little animated short.  The film is narrated by John Carpenter, as he explains his first music memory. The animation is really nice with great transitions between the scenes using the current frame to morph into the next scene as the story unfolds. The limited color palette and subtle textures help to frame the narrative as it unfolds, with all of it drawing you in and holding you captive for a minute and a half. Great stuff, and like all good stories it got me to thinking about my first music memory. I was sitting in my bedroom upstairs with the window open, and my mom was playing Harry Belafonte singing “Midnight Special” on the record player in her studio. The studio window was open and the sound just floated out across the yard

I was sitting in my bedroom upstairs with the window open, and my mom was playing Harry Belafonte singing “Midnight Special” on the record player in her studio. The studio window was open and the sound just floated out across the yard and upstairs. It was summer. It was warm, and I was sitting in the sunlight on the floor playing with Lego. I was 3 or maybe 4. I hadn’t started Kindergarten yet, so I know I was younger than 5. I know I heard music before that, but this is the first time that the total experience stuck with me and permanently burned into my memory.

W + K Sao Paulo’s New Identity System

Most people think of branding as a logo. And most people think of a logo as visual identity. A logo is one component of your visual identity system which makes up one part of your brand.  A great example of this is Weiden and Kennedy Sao Paulo new visual identity which is shown in the video below. They break down the inspiration for the logo design and then show how it is translated across a series of touch points as part of a larger identity system. No this doesn’t establish their branding. Branding is much larger than just a logo, visual identity system or editorial voice. Branding encompasses everything that establishes a relationship with a product, company, or service. The example in the video is one hell of an awesome logo and identity system though.

A Little Monday Fun.

About 15 years ago I worked in the marketing and design department for a large midwestern based bank. Like most financial institutions, the marketing materials were conservative, and not very adventurous which was driven partly by corporate policy, and partly because the people running the department weren’t exactly visionaries in terms of design, advertising, and branding. That’s why when I saw the video below for Comdirect Bank I started grinning from ear to ear. There is no way this would have flown at my former employer, even if it is a spot aimed at recruiting UI designers. If this had been executed at my former job, by the time the committee running the project got done with it, and a thousand people hand commented or asked for changes this spot would have been a talking head in a yellow shirt giving a 15-second pitch. A pitch that probably would have appealed to an accountant, not a UI designer. Watch the video. It has no editorial, no voice over, just some really nice animation that was built using Cinema 4D, and it works. I tried to find additional parts of the complete campaign but came up with nothing. If I find additional images or a specific site, I’ll post an update.

We were honored being asked by the German bank, Comdirect, to create a short animation for an online campaign — aimed at attracting and recruiting UI-designers.

Our idea was to create a bunch of action-reaction based animations. The very first concept was based on the idea of pushing, shifting, scrolling and clicking various buttons triggering a diverse mix of animations. We then worked up different metaphors for dealing with money and at the same time used keywords the client had provided us. During the process, the client fell in love with all the little “reaction” stories so we ended up stitching them together to create a seamless narrative — open to interpretation and detached from conservative visualizations so often associated with banks.

The color palette is based on the new CI of Comdirect, predominantly anthracite and grayscale. Yellow acts as the highlight color with a gradient to green drawing the viewer’s attention to the stories’ heroes. The environment is based on dots, points, and circles inspired by the visual language used in the world of stock markets.

Our software package was Cinema 4D and Octane renderer. The edit and compositing were done in Adobe Premiere and After Effects.

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?

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.