Architecture

Fly Away Home

On the hard-packed sands of California’s Mojave Desert stands a surreal sight. Hundreds of decommissioned commercial jets are lined up row after row, in the middle of nowhere. Their engines are taped shut with Mylar to keep out drifting sands. This is a graveyard for retired jets, many of which originally cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build. Now they only serve as awnings for rattle snakes and reptiles that take shelter from the unrelenting sun. Some planes may be stripped of useful parts that can be reconditioned. Others may be bought by a third-world country or short-hop commuter startup. And still others will simply languish there for years – a kind of “Stonehenge” of the 21st century.

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Humor

Art History Homage…or Revenge
by Hold Your Horses

Having trouble relating Western art history to contemporary culture? Watch this video that the French-American band Hold Your Horses made for its track “70 Million,” produced by L’Ogre. Apparently, the entire video was filmed over two weekends in a parking garage in Paris. See if you can name the painting and the artist.

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Public Art Programs

London Elephants Join Public Arts Parade

This summer it wasn’t hard to see elephants on the streets of London; they were everywhere. Created to support endangered Asian elephants, the public arts campaign placed 260 brightly painted fiberglass elephant sculptures all over the city to highlight the plight of Asian elephants, whose numbers have declined by nearly 90 percent over the past century. Each elephant was decorated by a well-known designer, artist or celebrity and then auctioned off, raising more than four million pounds for 20 conservation charities in the UK.

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Sustainability

How Much Ink Does Your Font Drink?

Most designers know that typefaces like Poster Bodoni take up more physical space on a page than, say, News Gothic Condensed, and that choice of typestyle not only affects readability but the credibility of the message as well — for example, never, ever typeset the CEO’s letter to shareholders in Comic Sans. One thing that designers probably haven’t thought about is how much ink each typeface consumes on an office printer. Well, a Dutch company called Printer.com did. It compared 10 of the most frequently used typefaces on a Canon inkjet and a Brother laser printer (both set at 600×600 dots per inch), using Arial as the baseline font.

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Industrial Design

China’s Straddling Bus

Urban transportation planners everywhere are grappling with the question of how to move traffic faster, cleaner, greener and cheaper. They have urged people to ride bikes, telecommute, buy hybrid vehicles and mini-cars, but here’s a concept from China that is truly original – a super gigantic bus taller than an overpass that straddles the road creating a moving tunnel that regular cars can drive through. Bus passengers board on the upper level from elevated platforms, while smaller vehicles drive under and through the bus. Ultrasonic waves alert trucks too tall to fit to go around the bus on another lane. A stop light activates to stop cars in the tunnel when the bus needs to make a turn.

The “straddling bus” was exhibited at the 13th Beijing International High-Tech Expo in May and a pilot model is being built in Beijing’s Mentougou District by its developer Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co. Powered by electricity and solar energy, the straddling bus can carry between 1,200 and 1,400 passengers at a time and travel at speeds of up to 60 km per hour. Developers claim that it will reduce traffic jams by up to 30% on main roads and can be built in a fraction of the time that would be required to construct a new subway. The bus is also projected to save up to 860 tons of fuel annually, reducing carbon emissions by 2,640 tons. There is also no need to build a parking lot to house buses out of service; they can be left straddling the road.

Global Trends

Social Media Revolution Refreshed

We happened across a video on social media done by Erik Qualman and were blown away. Then we noticed that it was produced in 2009, which is so last year! Fortunately, Equalman Productions came out with this revised version in 2010 – probably also outdated, but less so.

The takeaway message is that traditional consumer research, advertising and marketing methods are quickly becoming ineffective and irrelevant. If we aren’t factoring social media into our marketing plan, we’ll be left behind.

Pop Culture

Dom Perignon Goes Pop…Art

Turnabout is fair play. Andy Warhol used pop stars, pop culture and pop products to create pop art, and now Dom Perignon has returned the compliment with advertising in homage of Warhol’s iconic silkscreen stencil style. The ad was inspired by Warhol’s March 8th, 1981, diary entry in which he talked about getting together with 20 friends and buying 2,000 bottles of Dom Perignon that they would keep in a sealed room until the year 2000. In an aside comment, Warhol wrote, “the running joke is who will be around and who won’t…” Warhol, who died in 1987, didn’t live to see the day, but he certainly drank plenty of Dom Perignon in his time.

Recently, Dom Perignon commissioned the Design Laboratory of Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design in London to reinterpret its famous champagne bottle in a manner that Warhol would love, using Warhol’s signature red, blue and yellow color combination.

Two questions: What happened to the 2,000 Dom Perignon bottles that Warhol and friends stashed away in 1981? And did anyone break them open in 2000 and toast in the new millennium?

Brand Logos

WWII Military Logos by Disney

Logos are not just for corporations and sports teams. During World War II, virtually every unit in the U.S. military adopted logos that they emblazoned on aircraft, ships, boats, jeeps, tanks, bomber jackets, trinkets, and bombs and torpedos. The main provider of such insignias was the Disney Studios in Burbank.

First asked to create a humorous logo for a Naval Reserve Squadron stationed at Floyd Bennett Field in New York, the Disney Studios quickly found itself inundated with requests to draw emblems for other military units kamagra online australia as well. Disney had to assign five artists full-time to the task, but never charged a dime. “The insignia meant a lot to the men who were fighting…I had to do it…I owed it to them,” Walt Disney explained later.

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Film

A Very Short History of Film

Feature films are a universal language as the media design students from Hannover, Germany, who put together this animated video prove. Felix Meyer and Pascal Monaco picked 35 of their favorite blockbuster movies from over the decades and distilled them down to an iconic sight or sound from each. The answers don’t seem to be posted anywhere online, so you might have to email them to find out if you guessed right.

Illustration

From the Eyes of Immigrants

What does it feel like to be a stranger in a foreign land? If you could communicate in the simplest, clearest language, what do you want others to know about you? Established in Berlin by two women from Argentina – one an artist, the other a journalist, Migrantas is a collective project that helps immigrants in Germany give voice to their concerns.

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Environmental Graphics

The New Library

Over the past couple of weeks two separate stories appeared in the news. One was a report by Amazon that for the first time its e-books outsold its hardcover titles. For the quarter, Amazon says it sold 143 e-titles for every 100 hardcover books.

The other story, which appeared in San Francisco Bay Area newspapers, was about the town of Walnut Creek’s new library, which incorporated 17 original works of art at a cost of $300,000. The neighboring town of Lafayette (population 25,000) spent roughly $400,000 on paintings, photographs, sculptures and prints when it rebuilt its library last year. The local paper described this new crop of libraries with conference rooms, fireplaces, computers and cafes as “community living rooms.” Libraries are not just repositories for books anymore. Some public libraries are redefining their role by positioning themselves as knowledge centers free and open to the entire community – not a museum, not a school, not a social club, but a place that bridges the digital divide and draws together those who share a love of art and learning.

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Packaging

Tale of Two Kleenex Packages

Repackaging is a popular way to refresh an existing product, and sometimes capture more off-season sales. Take the case of Kleenex tissues, which enjoy the greatest sales during cold and flu season, but during the warmer months, not so much. Kleenex looked to spur year-round demand by designing packaging with decorative seasonal themes. Last summer it introduced wedge-shaped “fruit” boxes at Target stores. Offered with colorful watermelon, orange and lime illustrations done by Los Angeles-based artist Hiroko Sanders, the novelty boxes were a huge hit with customers who wanted to add a happy slice of summer to their décor. This year Kleenex has extended its award-winning fruit packaging to major retailers nationwide.

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Advertising

Sapporo Legendary Biru Commercial

If you have to take a bathroom break, do it during the program because you won’t want to miss this TV commercial for Sapporo Beer – or “biru” as the Japanese would pronounce it.

Developed by Toronto-based Dentsu Canada, the commercial represents the Japanese beermaker’s first full-scale ad campaign in Canada. Co-directed by Mark Zibert of Sons and Daughters and Gary Thomas of Crush, the film was shot on location in Guangzhou, China over the period of a month.

A mythological tale of how Sapporo beer is crafted, the two-minute film has an other-worldly epic quality like “Lord of the Rings.” It combines photography, animation/CG, and 2D art/matt paintings onto geometry, developed by Crush’s Sean Cochrane. Three dedicated artists were assigned to create each of the transitional rooms, with illustrations by James Zhang guiding the way. The cast too was composed of authentic trained martial artists, taiko drummers, and sumo wrestlers, along with actors playing samurai warriors and geishas. All in all, it’s an elegant departure from the “male-bonding, jock-humor” beer ads shown on American TV.

Advertising

Point, Click, Shop

From Gizmodo comes this report of how the façade of an entire building in a Tokyo shopping district has been covered in a pattern of QR codes that can be read by smart phones. The N Building AR project by Teradadesign and Qosmo lets passersby view the QR code on their cell phone to enable the display of all kinds of information, including store offerings and interactive ads. It will even allow users to download coupons and make reservations. This is an intriguing concept, but it may meet consumer resistance. Without in-your-face advertising, it may be hard to draw the attention of people who don’t want to be bother holding their cell phones up at QR patterns on a building to see what they have to say. Still, like many other inventions that were initially discounted as futuristic fantasy, QR codes as a communication device should be ignored at your own peril. In recent years we have seen too many “safe” communication design/marketing professions disappear for lack of demand. If QR advertisements on buildings and billboards catch on, who will that affect, how will it change our jobs, and how do we get ahead of the trend rather than be trampled by it?

Packaging

Coke Appeals to Fashion

Of course, every brand wants to suggest that its product is the rage among trend-setting consumers. But Coca-Cola is doing more than just suggesting that it is fashionable to drink its product; it is linking its brand to the world’s top fashion designers and putting its name on beauty products too.

Last fall Coca-Cola Light and eight renowned Italian fashion designers — Donatella Versace, Alberta Ferretti, Anna Molinari for Blumarine, Veronic Etro, Silvia Venturini for Fendi, Consuelo Castiglioni for Marni, Angela Missoni and Rossella Jardini for Moschino — teamed up to present specially decorated contoured bottles for the opening of Milan Fashion Week. Showcased at a Coca-Cola Light “Tribute to Fashion” runway event, the original bottles were later auctioned by Sotheby’s with proceeds going to aid the victims of the devastating 2009 earthquake in Abruzzo, Italy. Collectible bottles were also produced in limited edition and sold in Europe. Some are even finding their way onto eBay.

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