Illustration

Milton Glaser: A True Design Legend

Designers, in my humble opinion, are a self-congratulatory lot. They constantly hold juried competitions and give themselves awards, produce publications to pat each other on the back, and freely call elder designers “icons” and “legends.” Copywriters, on the other hand, (of whom I count myself among them) never refer to anyone in the profession as a “copywriting legend” or “copywriting icon”. We don’t put out magazines reprinting the best corporate brochure text, direct marketing paragraph, or pithy headline. As a group, copywriters are usually unsung and ignored. That said, there is one designer who genuinely deserves to be called a “legend”: Milton Glaser. He is to be admired for his originality, talent, contributions to art and design, and because he comes across as a sweetie. That makes us happy to present this short video interview of Milton Glaser, put together by the New York Times.

Advertising

Land Rover Defender Passport

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It’s the end of the road for the Land Rover Defender, the UK’s original off-road vehicle. Introduced in 1948, the intrepid Defender became the vehicle of choice for safari guides, cattle ranchers and explorers of the rugged outback. But in 2015 increasingly tough emission standards finally put the brakes on production. Before we say goodbye to the iconic 4×4, let’s revisit one of the Land Rover Defender’s best ads, created by London ad agency, RKCR/Y&R, in 2011. The print ad shows an open passport bearing multiple passport stamps that overlap into the shape of a Land Rover making a steep uphill climb. The image embodies the go-anywhere, handle-any-terrain reputation of the brand simply, succinctly, and brilliantly.

Public Service Advertising

Cheeky Ads Raise Cancer Awareness

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How do you publicize something that is widely considered socially rude to talk about? It’s okay to urge people to get regular dental exams, annual mammograms, eye tests, and melanoma check-ups, but suggesting the need for a rectal exam is usually not well received (and often not meant in the kindest way). Yet colon/rectal cancer is the second most deadly cancer in America. Ironically, it is also one of the most treatable types of cancer if detected early through regular rectal exams. Meredith’s Miracles Colon Cancer Foundation wanted to bring these facts into the public discussion and asked the ad agency, FCB Chicago, to raise awareness through a public service ad campaign. FCB delivered the warning to Chicago commuters by selectively posting ads on the back side of bus seats. In this case, the placement of the ad is the butt of the joke.

Design Classic

Snapple’s Bottled Knowledge

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Did you know that drinking Snapple can make you more knowledgeable? For nearly two decades, Snapple has added “food for thought” to their beverages by printing Real Facts inside their bottle caps. Quirky and curious, these facts feature amusing trivia that people often read aloud to share with companions. Occasionally, the fact seems so unlikely that people have been driven to do their own research. Invariably, the Snapple fact is true. Snapple Real Facts have to be verified by two authoritative sources and approved by a legal team before appearing on a bottle cap. To date, more than 1,030 Real Facts have been printed – including the fact that “humans share 50% of their DNA with bananas” and “In the state of Arizona, it is illegal for donkeys to sleep in bathtubs.” Snapple Real Facts have become like the coveted prizes in Cracker Jack boxes to some nerds. When forced to choose between a Snapple and a Coke, they’ll choose Snapple because it comes with Real Facts.
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Illustration

Creative Process Infographics

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When designers and artists pick up self-help articles, many aren’t interested in learning to improve their InDesign and Photoshop skills. They just want to be reassured that their creative angst is normal. They want to know that they are not alone in their procrastination, self-doubt, and fear that their work is derivative and not original. That’s why we got a chuckle out of this comic by ilustrator Grant Snider, who lives in Wichita, Kansas, and is a practicing orthodontist and maker of web comics. His cartoons have appeared in publications across the U.S.

Technology

Cooper Hewitt Redesigns the Museum Experience

Last December, the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper Hewitt Museum of Design reopened its doors after being shut down for three years for renovation. Located in the old Carnegie Mansion in Manhattan, the new Cooper Hewitt has designed an experience that integrates interactive,immersive technologies into all of its exhibits. Now visitors can view digitized collections on large touch-screen tables, draw their own wallpaper in the Immersion Room, solve real-world design problems in the Process Lab, and use an interactive pen to save objects that they want to view more closely at home. The Cooper Hewitt not only shows how design has evolved over the past century, it is a living example of where it is going.

Brand Logos

Chinese Signs of the Times

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Through the use of neon signs, Mehmet Gözetlik, Istanbul-based art director of Antrepo design agency, demonstrated how 20 of the best-known Western brands might be translated into Chinese.

In an interview with the International Business Times, Gözetlik pointed out that China is now the world’s largest economy and has a current population of 1.35 billion people. Yet, he adds, foreign companies take a literal and phonetic approach to presenting their brand, instead of considering how the logo translates visually and culturally. “Most of today’s Western brand identities are created by Western design companies, based on Western culture. It means we have two separated worlds, because of our DNA. So, there is more misunderstanding than we thought. We don’t actually understand many things we assume that are understood. We are like a person who misses the view while reading on the train. We are not aware of where we are coming from, going to or passing by,” Gözetlik said.
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Humor

Geico “You Can’t Skip These Ads”

Viewers hate YouTube preroll ads, those irksome commercials that run before you get to watch the real YouTube video you want to see. One survey revealed that 94 percent of viewers will hit the “Skip Ad” button as soon as it appears. But advertisers keep sticking their commercials up there, presumably in the belief that the few they don’t annoy will embrace their message fondly and run out to buy their product.

This brings us to the Geico preroll, created by The Martin Agency in Richmond, Virginia. In a YouTube ad campaign that can only be viewed as experimental, the car insurance giant crammed its ad message into the critical first five seconds, and then spent the next 60 seconds having the main actors freeze motionless, while absurd actions happened around them. The only mention of Geico was the brand name that stayed on the screen. I didn’t get it, but thought it was funny anyway. I watched it three times to see if I was missing a deeper message. The only thing that annoyed me was that a preroll ad for another product ran before I could watch the Geico ad. I hit “Skip Ad” on that one as soon as it let me.
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Viral Marketing

Awareness Is the First Step to Healing

Digital billboards are making it possible to connect with people in ways we couldn’t imagine a few years ago. To mark International Women’s Day last weekend, UK-based Women’s Aid worked with WCRS London to launch a billboard campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence. The billboard features an obviously battered woman with two black eye, swelling and cuts on her face. From time to time, she blinks sadly.

Using facial recognition technology, the billboard lets passersby heal the woman’s wounds by looking at her. The more people stop and look directly at the image, the faster her face heals and returns to normal. The facial recognition technology can register exactly how many people are looking at the poster and pick out their faces from the crowd and display them through a live-feed of the street.

Humor

The Cloud of Ignorance that Surrounds Graphic Designers

Chances are if you are a graphic designer even your mother doesn’t know what you do, and certainly your grandma doesn’t have a clue. Graphic design is a profession that baffles even business executives who hire graphic designers. Some believe that if they can get their office manager to learn InDesign and Photoshop, they could dispense with the need to hire a graphic designer and do everything inhouse for a lot less money. The lack of respect that graphic designers command is wonderfully presented in this video assembled from TV and film clips by Ellen Mercer and Lucy Streule, two graphic design students at Central Saint Martins in London. If you feel unappreciated and misunderstood, take comfort; you’re not alone.

Motion Graphics

Before Photoshop

Years ago the CEO of a company I was working for was hospitalized at the time the board of directors’ group photo had to be taken for the annual shareholders report. Another executive who was roughly the same built as the CEO was recruited to stand in his place. Later a photo of the CEO’s head was pasted and airbrushed onto the stand-in’s torso. It looked okay, but anyone who knew the CEO found something about his pose unsettling.

For another annual report cover, we had a shot of a logging truck traveling on a freeway past a forest of gorgeous fall colors. Due to reasons I’ve forgotten, the photograph had to be flopped, so the freeway sign made it look like the truck was driving on the wrong side of the road. If I remember right, a print had to be made of the photograph so the retoucher could fix it, and then it had to be converted back into a transparency.

That was in the days before Photoshop. Because significant manipulation of a photograph was such a big deal back then, it used to be said that “the camera never lies,” Now designers are often overheard saying, “Don’t worry. We’ll photoshop it in (or out) later.” Photography has become an “impressionistic” art form. Seeing isn’t believing. Changes can be made in an instant on a computer by virtually any designer. The airbrushing and retouching professions have all but disappeared. Through Photoshop, a hybrid art form has emerged that is producing some incredible images. More and more, designers have assumed control of the photograph, and taken it out of the hands of the photographer.

Typography

Sweden Adopts a National Font

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Sweden has joined the ranks of a tiny handful of countries that have adopted their own national typeface. Called Sweden Sans, the font is very Scandinavian in its modern, functional, minimalist look. Created by type designer Stefan Hattanbach in collaboration with design agency, Soderhavat, the font is meant to communicate in a single Swedish voice and in a style evocative of the nation’s design taste.

Hattanbach describes the branded font as “very geometric and modern” and inspired by old Swedish signs that were popular in the 1950s and ‘60s. In an interview heard on PRI The World, Hattanbach said he was particularly pleased with the outcome of the letter “S,” which he explained is a “hard letter to make because it can really fall off and look unbalanced.” He thought that the straight down tail on the letter “Q” looked “pretty cool” too. Overall, Hattanbach felt that Sweden Sans could be described as “lagom,” a Swedish expression meaning “not too much and not too little.”

Sweden Sans does look versatile, but it is still unclear how broadly this national font will be applied. Will it appear on Swedish currency? On official government documents? On government office signage? If regular Swedish citizens decide to use it, will they be violating any legal restrictions. Or if they do adopt Sweden Sans as their default font, will it be viewed as a sign of national pride? The concept of a national font is intriguing, so stay tuned to see how it is used.
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Industrial Design

Designs That We Take for Granted

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The death of Kenji Ekuan, a Japanese monk-turned-industrial designer, last week is reason to recall his most iconic design — the ubiquitous red-capped Kikkoman soy sauce bottle. Omnipresent in Japanese restaurants and in most Japanese homes worldwide since it was introduced in 1961, the soy sauce dispenser is as much a dining table fixture as salt-and-pepper shakers. Globally, more than 300 million bottles have been sold to date. The teardrop-shaped bottle with a red plastic cap is synonymous with soy sauce. Ekuan reported that it took him three years and more than 100 prototypes to come up with the smooth contoured glass form that could be held firmly between two fingers and had a screw-on cap that integrated into its design a double-sided dripless spout. The choice of clear glass, too, made it possible to see how much soy sauce was still inside without unscrewing the cap. As with so many commonplace objects that we take for granted, Ekuan’s dispenser design deserves to be considered more closely and appreciated for its simple elegance and intuitive functionality.

Sustainability

The Idea Is Everything

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The beauty of this appeal by Oro Verde Rainforest Foundation is its humble low-tech innocence. It doesn’t smack of big budget glitz, high-tech digital manipulations, and pre-launch market testing. The idea is everything. Its charm is in its simple, direct, homemade look. A high school student could have produced it… but didn’t.

Actually, the campaign was created by ad giant, Ogilvy & Mather, in Frankfurt, Germany. Hand-written placards were posted on more than 600 trees in Germany and helped OroVerde raise cash donations by more than 27 percent.
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Brand Language

Students at Goethe University Discover Seoul

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Project K, a Korean Film Festival, has turned into a popular annual event at the Bockenheim campus at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. Dubbed “Four Days in Seoul,” the festival is co-hosted by the Korean consul general of Frankfurt; KGN, an organization of second-generation Korean Germans, and the University’s Korean Studies Department. In addition to screening Korean box-office hits and experimental, shorts, animations and indie Korean films, the festival features activities that give students a chance to learn about Korean pop culture and traditions.

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