Product Design

Irresistible Trade Show Treats

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Tokyo-based Nendo creative agency was just awarded “2015 Designer of the Year” at the Maison & Objet (M&O) trade show in Paris. Nendo won for designing a special chocolate lounge and candy named “Chocolatexture.” Instead of basing the names of the Chocolatexture line on the usual attributes – e.g., country of origin, flavor, percentage of cocoa butter content, technique, etc., Nendo based the names on shape. The nine different chocolates are about the same size, but differ in texture. The product names use Japanese colloquial terms to describe the specific shapes. Thus, “Tubu Tubu” implies tiny chunks of chocolate drops; “Goro-Goro means that there are 14 connected points; “Suka-Suka” means a hollow cube with thin walls, etc. The packaging features shape silhouettes as well.

The Nendo chocolate lounge was open for a limited time only during the M&O show in January. The design delegates who attended the event probably wanted to take the well-conceived packaging home to show their staff, but it is questionable how many were actually able to resist the delicious treat.
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Advertising

Schick Got You to Look

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Is the fact that an ad is memorable the same as it being effective? This is a discussion that I had with the young designer who works with me on this blog. He loved this Schick razor print ad, created by Y&R in Auckland, New Zealand. I found the furry creatures clinging to the models’ chins kinda creepy.

Young hip male designer argued: “It’s very effective; it’s gone viral.”

Old female editor said: Who are the target customers? Lumberjacks, mountain men and Arctic explorers? The average guy in an office doesn’t have that much facial growth. In fact, they like to have a little stubble like they were out partying all night and didn’t go home to shave.

Young design argued: It got you to look. It drew eyeballs to this ad.

Old female editor said: Show me what the men look like after they have shaved and I’ll tell you whether I like the product or not. Show me the sales spike.

And so it went. Here it is. The vote here is a tie. Is an ad that lots of people look at and tweet about better than one that shows the effectiveness of the product? The jury is out on our end. Decide for yourself.
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Advertising

The Face of Max Shoes Customers

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Except for the fact that this print advertisement for Max Shoes calls to mind the American idiom “Put your foot in your mouth,” it is a clever way of putting a face on different shoe styles.

Created by Swiss ad agency Jung Von Matt/Limmat, based in Zurich, the tagline for the Max Shoes ad campaign reads, “You are what you wear.” The model’s wrist is dressed up like a neck collar to suggest the type of wardrobe that works well with that shoe style. It also suggests the personality of the wearer and the social occasions for which it may be suited, and it gives the prospective customer a facial identity. It says a lot in a single shot. The campaign was art directed by David Hanselmann with creative direction by Alexander Jaggy and photography by Mierswa & Kluska.
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Pop Culture

A Game Made for Graphic Designers

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Years ago last century when I was communications manager at a forest products company, my boss used to call Kit Hinrichs “that gray designer” because he always managed to use 402 Gray in every job he designed for us. Then Kit outgrew his gray period and developed a fondness for 032 Red, which to him is the most wonderful red he’s ever seen. He didn’t use it on everything, but you knew he loved it. Now he is passionate about 123 Yellow. Never try to engage Kit in a discussion about using 035 Red instead of 032, or try to sneak it by him. He’ll know. The guy’s color perception is like a dog’s sense of hearing. Very keen and nuanced.

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Typography

Typography by the Homeless

Sadly, the sight of a homeless person holding a hand-scrawled sign asking for spare change has become all too familiar in cities around the world. Barcelona-based Arrels Foundation and The Cyranos McCann ad agency found a novel way to respond to such handwritten appeals. They created Homelessfonts.org to market typefaces drawn by the homeless in Barcelona to businesses for use in advertising and packaging. In different workshops, volunteer design professionals led homeless participants through various typographic exercises, which were then scanned and converted into usable fonts. The fonts are being sold on the Homelessfonts.org website, and collected funds are being used by Arrels to offer shelter, food, and social and health care services to the indigent in Barcelona. Arrels reports that about 3,000 homeless are currently in Barcelona, 900 of whom actually live in the street. Type design is an unusual charitable fund-raising initiative, to say the least, but it has given Arrels the resources to care for nearly half of the homeless in Barcelona.

Advertising

Cupcakes for Grown-Ups

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When you think about it, a cupcake is just a tiny cup-size cake, but for decades, it was thought of as just a treat for children. Serving cupcakes at a wedding or formal reception, say, would be viewed as gauche. In the 21st century, however, cupcakes have come of age. They come in “mature” flavors like chai latte and cost about what a small cake would. Public perception of cupcakes is changing, and Petits Gateaux, a cupcake boutique in Canada, is repositioning cupcakes as an elegant, sophisticated dessert suitable for grand occasions. Montreal-based creative agency Pheromone developed this print ad campaign for Petits Gateaux, pairing cupcakes with romantic and celebratory moments.

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Illustration

Je Suis Charlie

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First hearing that masked terrorists gunned down four French cartoonists in Paris yesterday seemed like a bad Monty Python joke. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. The brutal terrorist attack on the offices of the French satirical weekly “Charlie Hebdo” left the world shaken. The immediate reaction from editorial cartoonists and illustrators around the world was to express their grief, anger and insights with the most powerful weapon they had– their pen.
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Poster

Nordic Surfers Poster

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This poster was created by Spanish artist Xabier Ziriklain for Nordic Surfers Mag (NSM). The publication targets those who prefer “to surf the wild and raw north where the sea is rough and you need a thick wetsuit to survive in the arctic climate,,” according to the online plug for Nordic Surf’s film festival In Sweden. NSM’s slogan is “No palm trees.” Surfing in frigid Scandinavian waters while dodging glacial icebergs is a sport that involves a different kind of endurance than riding the waves in balmy Hawaii. Just getting in the water takes steely courage. Ziriklain, a mechanical engineer turned artist, is a cold water surfer himself. His collage of a fish wearing a shark fin (or is it a surfboard?) on its back is delightful – a little fish living out the larger-than-life fantasy of swimming with the sharks.

Father Time

Old Father Time

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Every New Year’s editorial cartoonist depict the passing of the old year by drawing pictures of an elderly bearded man, dressed in a robe and carrying a scythe and often an hourglass. Who is this geezer and why is he resurrected by the media at the start of every new year?

The ancient Greeks called him Chronos (the root of “chronology”) and the Romans knew him as Saturn, son of Uranus (Sky Father) and Gaea (earth mother). In the middle ages, he was thought of as the Grim Reaper, but now we simply call him Old Father Time. In all of these myths, he symbolizes the inexorable flow of time, both its destructive and constructive effects. But even as his physical vitality dwindles, like an inverted hourglass, it is replenished with serenity, wisdom and the awareness of being part of a continuum. That is the gift of time. Happy new year.

Design Quizzes

Quiz: Brand or Generic?

How familiar are you with brand and generic names? Probably less than you realize. Some revolutionary trademarked products have achieved such market dominance that their name has become synonymous with an entire category of product or service. Particularly for breakthrough products, consumers spontaneously use the pioneer brand name generically, even when referring to later entrants in the field. Occasionally companies lose their proprietary rights to a trademark if they let competitors use the name as a common “descriptor” of a category of products and not linked to any one brand. At that point, the word can no longer be registered, a phenomenon known as “genericide.” In other instances, the trademark owner decides not to renew registration and simply lets the trade name expire.

This quiz challenges you to identify whether the name is: 1) trademarked (registered to a specific company), 2) generic (never trademarked), 3) genericized (once trademarked but now a common noun) or 4) former TM (trademark allowed to expire). Answers after the jump.

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Pop Culture

The Truth About Santa’s Reindeer

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For decades, ignorant art directors have perpetrated a big lie, reinforcing sexist stereotypes and insulting females everywhere. They have portrayed the gender of Santa’s reindeer as male, assuming that only male reindeer have antlers and the strength and endurance to haul a jolly fat man and a sleigh filled with gifts from the North Pole to all parts of the world all night. Actually, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the opposite is true. Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen are all reindeer girls. The Department of Fish and Game knows this for sure because although both male and female reindeer sprout antlers every summer, the male reindeer shed them after they have mated, usually by Thanksgiving. The female reindeer keep their antlers until after they have given birth in the spring. Hence, all of Santa’s reindeer drivers are ladies since they are the only ones with antlers in December. Had art directors been more thorough in their research, they would have figured this out, and they would have known that Rudolph’s (or Rudi, as she is known to friends) glowing red nose is not a facial deformity, but a stylish fashion accessory.

Typography

2015 Typography Calendar

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For the past 13 years, Kit Hinrichs has been indulging his fascination with typography by creating the “365” calendar, featuring 12 different typefaces, one for each month of the year. What makes him happy (in my opinion) is viewing each letterform as its own little sculpture — whereas combining characters into words and sentences distract from seeing typography as its own art form. For the 2015 calendar, Kit asked his design staff to nominate fonts that intrigue them and assembled a mix of traditional, avant garde, serif, sans serif, display, and script faces. Then for the 13th straight year, he cajoled me into writing the text. The 365 Typography Calendar for 2015 is now available for sale via Amazon, major U.S. art museums, and from Studio Hinrichs. The calendar comes in two sizes: 23” x 33” (58.5cmx84cm) for $44 retail and 12”x18” (30.5cm x 45.75cm) for $26 retail. Design professionals, particularly, love this calendar and display it prominently to prove their “street creds.” Order now.

Advertising

Lurpak: A Kitchen Space Odyssey

Created by Wieden & Kennedy London and directed by Dougal Wilson at Blink, “Lurpak Cook’s Range: Adventure Awaits” is the latest episode in a series of commercials that expose home cooks to the exhilarating universe that they have been yearning to explore. This 60-second epic journey opens to the majestic strains of the soundtrack from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” and closes in tightly on a mysterious landscape of bumpy cauliflowers, gnarled ginger outcroppings, an artery of pomegranate kernels, and membranes of flaky bread.

It’s bold. Challenging. Heroic. It’s all about butter and cooking oil! This ad for Lurpak, maker of premium Danish butter and cooking oils, is intended to inspire and encourage intrepid cooks to venture forth and discover new culinary frontiers, secure in the knowledge that Lurpak butter won’t let them down.

Viral Marketing

Moon Over Corona Beer

Winner of a 2014 Cannes Outdoor Advertising Award, this Corona Extra billboard campaign feels like a high school science project on steroids – e.g., drop a raw egg from 30 feet without breaking it, make a rocket that can shoot across a football field, build your own fog tornado. In this case, Corona and its ad agency Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago came up with a way to put a real crescent moon on top of a Corona bottle billboard.

It was all very clever and fun in a geeky way. The idea involved showing an open bottle of Corona Extra surrounded by the moon in its different phases. The beer bottle itself butted up to the top edge of the billboard. By calculating the angle of the moon at a specific geographic location, the time that it would be in its crescent phase, and other measurements, the creative team could precisely predict when the moon would rest on the bottle top like a wedge of lime. Such calculations, however, are typically beyond the ken of “right brain” advertising people, so they turned to experts at top universities and planetariums for help. The consensus was that on June 14 and June 15, 2013, the crescent moon would be positioned over the bottle top shown on the billboard at 15th Street and 9th Avenue in Manhattan. The historic lunar lime event was publicized online and via social media and created such a buzz that spectators came out specifically to witness the moon hovering over the Corona bottle. Such an occurrence is even rarer than a lunar eclipse.