Transit As Design Template

September 16, 2016

In London, there are companies turning out fine furnishings and accessories which celebrate the iconic design style of the London Underground.  These images are from Creative Review:

tfl-1

The bottom two items are inspired by the Piccadilly Line upholstery (left), and the Tube’s floor patterns (right).

My question is: Will anything Translink ever does inspire anyone to do anything creative?


A New Famous Logo

April 26, 2016

I spent a great many years in marketing, including the successful redesign and relaunch of an already successful brand. I am aware, therefore, of the problems inherent in product change; and I remain fascinated by the general art of marketing and rebranding in particular.

That being said, it is no surprise that I would really enjoy the story of changing the logo of one of the world’s iconic products — Guinness and its harp.

The new logo and typeface on the left; the old on the right

I’m sure that a great many Guinness drinkers will not notice — at least consciously — the subtle change in design and font.  But as the story tells so well, the implication of hand-tooled craftsmanship will be unconsciously appreciated.

Great work.

 


The Design of 2001: A Space Odyssey

March 17, 2016

Back in the late 1960s, I began work at MGM’s Borehamwood studios as a studio runner. These days, that position is usually called a Production Assistant or PA.

I was employed by the studio rather than a production company, and I was assigned each day or each week to work on whatever film shooting in the studio needed an extra body.  My main task, as I recall after these 50 years, was to run off call sheets each night and deliver them to departments around the studio. The call sheet is a vital document on a production, letting everyone know what is to be shot the next day, and detailing everything that is needed for the shoot and when it is needed.

This was in the days before computers or even word processors were everywhere.  Instead, the Production Coordinator for each production typed the document on a Gestetner stencil (hands up all those who remember that) and the stencil was run off on a small hand-cranked printing drum.  It was messy, tedious, slow, and the stencils often ripped, requiring repairs using, usually, nail polish to stick it back together.

I don’t remember too many of the productions I was assigned to, but I was lucky enough to see many of the action sequences filmed for Where Eagles Dare, and there was always the closely-guarded and then-unnamed Stanley Kubrick project to intrigue.  Kubrick’s production took up a great deal of the studio and its lot, and was, of course, the talk of the commissary each day.  As a studio runner, I was dispatched to numerous 2001 departments and got to see much of the art work and special effects being created.

Construction of the lunar monlith set (when the monolith design was still a pyramid)

Construction of the lunar monolith set (when the monolith design was still a pyramid)

This is all a very long prologue to draw your attention to a really excellent piece in Creative Review which examines the work of NASA visualizer Harry Lange whom Kubrick hired as designer for the show.  If you enjoy the movie and/or are intrigued by what were cutting edge designs, do take the time to read the article.

 


Ethical Design Manifesto

November 7, 2015

I have been reading about the Ethical Design Manifesto put out by Aral Balkan.  The Manifesto reads as follows:

Ethical Design

 

Design, don’t decorate · Design without ethics is decoration. Decoration makes inequality palatable, design challenges it.

Be diverse, not ethnographic · Design without diversity is imperialism. Diversity is not altruism, it is competitive advantage. A diverse team designing for themselves will meet the needs of a diverse audience. You cannot compete with a competent design team designing for themselves if you are designing for The Other.

Design the organisation, the product will follow · Ethical Design is holistic or it is nothing. Ethical Design is not what ethical designers do, it is the system of values and processes at the heart of ethical organisations. It begins with the design of the organisation itself.

Design your organisations so that your core values are respect for human rights, respect for human effort, and respect for human experience.

 

That’s it. Hard to argue with the philosophy, I believe.

Of course, this is merely the latest in an attempt to bring ethical design into practice. A Google search for “ethical design manifesto” reveals 47,000+ hits, many referencing ideas that go back to the Enlightenment. This current manifestation seems both clear and do-able, and I support it.


Small Spaces

November 28, 2014

For more than a decade, I have written short  fictions about people living in small spaces:  a couple who live on their balcony; a street person who makes a home in a doorway, for example.  My stories, and plans for more, are filled with the ingenuity required to live in such tight spots.  But nothing I had fantasized about prepared me for the real-life inventiveness of Gary Chang in Hong Kong as told in this fascinating piece from the New York Times.

Chang has managed to cram 24 different floor plans into his tiny 344 square foot apartment.

hongkongwalls

Using shifting wall units suspended from steel tracks bolted into the ceiling, the apartment becomes all manner of spaces — kitchen, library, laundry room, dressing room, a lounge with a hammock, an enclosed dining area and a wet bar.

hongkong-apartment

In the last two decades, he has renovated four times, on progressively bigger budgets as his company, Edge Design Institute, has grown. His latest effort, which took a year and cost just over $218,000, he calls the “Domestic Transformer.”

Incredible ingenuity.  I couldn’t possibly live in it, but I appreciate the design skills that have brought it about.

 

First published:  January 2009


The History of Typography

August 15, 2013

This is a wonderful animated history by Ben Barrett-Forrest that I was directed to on Twitter.


“New Forms Of Life”

February 15, 2011

It is worth spending a couple of minutes to watch this BBC video about a man in Holland who builds wind-powered “life forms” out of PVC piping:

What wonderful vision and creativity!

Thanks to the CBC for the lead.


One Beautiful Chair

November 25, 2010

I’m posting this for no other reason than that I think it to be a gorgeous chair and I wish I had one.  The image and report are from Luxist:

Certainly not a chair for the conservatively decorated home this Cappellini Proust Armchair by Alessandro Mendini is a re-edition of the 1978 original and is an absolutely beautiful style statement. I can’t take my off its endlessly flowing lines and the mesmerizing print that flows seamlessly over both frame and upholstery. Honestly it looks like something straight off the set of Alice in Wonderland.  The wooden frame is intricately carved and hand painted and is available in this light blue/grey/yellow color combination or black/green/red. Furniture might not be the most common gift idea for Christmas but this would be a great idea for a couple to give each other this holiday. $12,804


Sleep Pods

November 19, 2009

Here is a fascinating idea for urbanites like me who just feel like a nap wherever they happen to be:  Sleep Boxes

As the story says:

SLEEPBOX is a small mobile space (box) 2mx1.4mx2.3m (h). The main functional element in it is a bed 2×0.6 m, which is equipped with automatic system of change of bed linen. Bed is soft, flexible strip of foamed polymer with the surface of the pulp tissue. Tape is rewound from one shaft to another, changing the bed. If a client wants to sleep in maximum comfort, he can take the normal set of bed linen for an extra fee … SLEEPBOX is equipped with a ventilation system, sound alerts, built-in LCD TV, WiFi, sockets for a laptop, charging phones. Also under the lounges is a place for luggage … After the clients exit, automatic change of bed linen starts and quartz lamps turns on. Payment can be made on a shared terminal, which provides the client with an electronic key. It is possible to buy from 15 minutes to several hours.

Here are the possible locations for SLEEPBOX:

  • Railroad stations
  • Airports
  • Expocentres
  • Public and shopping centers
  • Accommodation facilities

In countries with warm climate SLEEPBOX can be used on the streets. Thanks to SLEEPBOX any person has an opportunity to spend the night safely and cheaply in case of emergency, or when you have to spend few hours with your baggage …

SLEEPBOX is intended primarily to perform one main function – to enable a person to sleep peacefully. But it can also be equipped with various additional functions, depending on the situation. Application of the device can be very broad, not only in the form of paid public service, but also for internal purposes of organizations and companies.

I can see all sorts of problems, but it is still a great idea in our services/entertainment/pampering culture.


Recycling Buses

November 5, 2009

In Atlanta, they have recycled three old city buses to create a cool bus shelter:

busshelter1busshelter2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even the seat is from one of the de-commissioned buses.   Great idea!

This is from SpaceInvading via coolboom.


507 Mechanical Movements

November 5, 2009

Here is a glorious find, with thanks to No Tech Magazine.  With a publishing date of 1868 (republished 1908) and bearing the title “507 Mechanical Movements:  embracing all those which are most important in Dynamics, Hydraulics, Hydrostatics, Pneumatics, Steam Engines, Mill and Other Gearing, Presses, Horology, and Miscellaneous Machinery“, this doesn’t have all the hallmarks of a winner.  But to me it is a joy to behold, for a few reasons.

First and foremost, it shows that virtually any mechanical problem can be solved by careful thought and precision engineering.  The vast arrays of industrial might and computational power we throw at issues today perhaps hide a lack of genuinely personal creative thought.   Not so in earlier days.  The thought processes required for this kind of solution making had to be transparent in the drawings and descriptions.  It is a reminder of what we achieved without all the trappings and destruction concomitant with modern consumer-capitalism.

mechanics

mechanics2

Second, the book is laid out exactly as required for this kind of information.   Images on one side, relevant text on the other; no jumping about.  And that good design is carried forward in this virtual representation.  The images are crisp and clear and navigation is a breeze (just click on a page to move forward or back).

Thirdly, having been manager of a technical writing group for many years, I appreciate the clarity of the text.  Everything that needs to be said is said well, and nothing that is irrelevant is allowed to intrude.

To me, this book is as well planned and well constructed as the movements it describes. I am glad to have found it.  Thanks again to No Tech magazine.


Good Looking

November 3, 2009

This week, Fast Company has featured a new book: New Packaging Design by Janice Kirkpatrick.  The book reviews packaging design from around the world.  The Fast Company review includes pictures of several of the designs, including the one I like best:

nepia_tissuesJPEG

This is a campaign image for Nepia tissues.

Wonderwall, a Japanese interiors firm, and Groovisions, a graphic-design firm, brought a high-concept approach to a tissue box for Nepia. Each one looks like a mottled brick; when stacked, they look like a wall. The fluffy tissue contrasts with the industrial-looking tromp l’oeil.

Creativity doesn’t need to be complicated.


Small Spaces

January 25, 2009

For a decade, I have written about people living in small spaces:  a couple who live on their balcony; a street person who makes a home in a doorway, for example.  My stories, and plans for more, are filled with the ingenuity required to live in such tight spots.  But nothing I had fantasized about prepared me for the real-life inventiveness of Gary Chang in Hong Kong as told in this fascinating piece from the New York Times.

Chang has managed to cram 24 different floor plans into his tiny 344 square foot apartment.

hongkongwalls

Using shifting wall units suspended from steel tracks bolted into the ceiling, the apartment becomes all manner of spaces — kitchen, library, laundry room, dressing room, a lounge with a hammock, an enclosed dining area and a wet bar.

hongkong-apartment

In the last two decades, he has renovated four times, on progressively bigger budgets as his company, Edge Design Institute, has grown. His latest effort, which took a year and cost just over $218,000, he calls the “Domestic Transformer.”

Incredible ingenuity.  I couldn’t possibly live in it, but I appreciate the design skills that have brought it about.


Have Gun, Will Travel

November 10, 2008

America’s a tough town.  And what better way to face the challenges than to start the day with an egg in the shape of an automatic pistol?

gun-egg-fryers-urban-trend2Only in America, eh?


Not Built For Comfort

October 18, 2008

In London this morning, there was an auction of Modern & Contemporary Design — furniture, sculpture and other doodads.

The 45 lots took about $2 million, almost half of which went for a single item:  ‘Orgone Stretch Lounge‘ by Marc Newsom.   This is a 6 foot long aluminium and enamel creation.  And, to be honest, I’d prefer the Alien Sofa and save myself almost a million bucks.


Alien Sofa

October 14, 2008

I adore radical style.  And I think this alien-inspired sofa by Lithuanian designer Jonas Jurgaitis is certainly radical.

I really like the idea of it.  But it would need the right room to set it off.

Thanks to Yanko Design for the lead.


Arts and Design

September 26, 2008

The New York Times Online has a review of the opening exhibition at the NY Museum of Arts and Design.  The review is decidedly mixed:

The shows resemble an art seminar-cum-food-fight — an amazing cacophony that is by turns dismaying, enervating, infuriating and invigorating.

But, in the end, is recommended.  And I would certainly take a turn through if it were to come to Vancouver.

There are two parts to the show:  The first is called “Second Lives:  Remixing The Ordinary” which uses the post-modernist cliche to take lots of small parts and make a larger whole.  It is a cliche these days, but that doesn’t mean the work is bad or ordinary.  I rather like this version of an old classic called “Sound Wave” for example:

The second part of the show seeks to introduce some elements of the new permanent collection and some promised donations.  The reviewer notes that:

I’m against museum deaccessioning, but around a third of the promised gifts on view should be tactfully declined.


A Rotating Bath-Shower?

September 4, 2008

Let’s have the designer explain what this is all about …

This wouldn’t work for me, but I do appreciate radical design.

Thanks to CubeMe


The Value of Design

June 11, 2008

Great examples of industrial and furnishing design can be very expensive.  But they don’t make the sort of money that fine art pieces do, for a number of reasons.  Phillips de Pury in New York seeks to change that with an auction tomorrow night.

The auction catalogue indicates the kind of prices they are expecting for lamps, furniture, shelves, tables, teapots, etc.  Lot #1, for example, is a “rare” side table by George Nakashima from 1976.  From the catalog image it looks like the sort of thing a cottage vacationer might knock off one weekend from driftwood on the lake.  Expected price range:  $25,000 to $30,000.  A similar table by the same maker is looking for $90,000.

I love this piece:  a brass and ebony “important and rare” three piece set by Marianne Brandt from the 1920s.  Anticipated price, $250,000 to $300,000.  And then there is Lot 96:

Made of aluminium and oak by Charlotte Perriand in about 1950, this is a fine example of the kind of Geometricism that governed much of 1950s design.  But is it a fine enough example to be worth the projected price of $600,000?  (Contrast and compare with Lot 144, a single shelf anticipating $100,000).  The same designer (Perriand) has a blocky Ikea-style table looking for $42,000 (Lot 98).

The central banks of both the US and Canada have this week declared themselves concerned with price inflation.  Looking at this catalogue, I fully understand what they mean.


Making Modesty Beautiful

June 6, 2008

My wife came up with this gem of a video about Rabia Z., an award-winning designer of clothing suitable for religiously modest Islamic women. She shows how creativity can thrive in any environment.

Her desire, as she says, is to “make modesty beautiful“. And she succeeds.