Interior Architecture

Lego of My Boardroom!

When Boys and Girls, a new Irish ad agency, acquired space in a Georgian office building in Dublin, it wanted to dispel the look of a stuffy law firm, but didn’t want the décor to appear juvenile either. A Dublin-based architectural firm called abgc took up the challenge by painting everything white, and then building a 4 foot x 9 foot rectangular boardroom table out of 22,742 pieces of Lego bricks, covered with glass, and surrounded by clear acrylic chairs. The effect is sophisticated yet playful, and completely reusable. If the ad agency gets bored with how the table looks, they can always pull the blocks apart and build something else.

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Brand Logos

Half of @Issue Logo Now in MoMA Collection

Given the fact that so many people emailed us articles about the Museum of Modern Art in New York “acquiring” the @ symbol for its architecture and design collection, we believe that others made the connection to us as well.

Actually, the origin of the @ symbol is rather murky. One theory is that it was invented by scribes around the sixth or seventh century as an abbreviation of “ad,” the Latin word for “at” or “toward.” Then @ resurfaced on the keyboard of the first typewriter, the American Underwood, in 1885, as a shorthand way of stating “at the rate of” on accounting documents. With the exception of bookkeepers, few people used the @ key, which apparently was the reason why an American programmer named Raymond Tomlinson decided to appropriate it in 1971 when devising a system to state the first email address. Tomlinson concluded that a succinct way to let email senders identify themselves was by separating the user name from the host computer from which it was sent with the @ sign. That made perfect sense and quickly became the language of the global email realm.

In 1994, when we were trying to come up with a name for our new business and design journal, the @ symbol seemed like a clever way of implying that we were at the cutting-edge of contemporary issues. Little did we realize that in 2009 when we launched ourselves as a magablog, we couldn’t register “@Issue” as our url and had to go with the annoyingly awkward “atissuejournal” if we wanted to keep some semblance of our name. But, in our heart, we will always be @Issue. Now, we are proud that half of our logo has been inducted into the MoMA collection – we’d be even prouder if MoMA would take the other half of our logo too.

Public Service Campaign

Mail a Letter; Rescue a Dog

Over the past century, dogs and a few cats have been a favorite image to appear on postage stamps. Worldwide, there are now more than 4,000 stamps featuring dogs. Perhaps coincidentally, both the UK and the U.S. are issuing commemorative stamps showing rescued animals. The British Royal Mail has just issued a set to mark the 150th anniversary of the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. All of the pets on the stamps were abandoned by owners and “rehomed” by the charity.

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Design Education

Design School Awards MBA Degrees

An ongoing complaint from both design and business professionals is the “other side’s” tunnel vision approach to addressing market problems. Yet it has become increasingly accepted that all roads to innovation lead through design, and that design strategy factors into every step along the path, from engineering and finance to product placement and the customer experience. Design-centered businesses are no longer an anomaly. It takes design thinking to solve business problems and vice versa – and to do it fast, because competition is no longer regional or national, it’s global.

So, it is reassuring to note that the California College of the Arts in San Francisco is awarding its first MBA in Design Strategy degrees this spring. The full-time, two-year MBA program is the only one of its kind in the United States.

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Typography

Avoiding Typographic Fiascos: H&FJ Offer Tips.

There’s an art to combining typefaces. When it is done well, the entire layout comes alive. Words become more legible, information feels organized and easier to understand, and the typography itself reflects a mood that is consistent with the message being conveyed. When it is done badly, it’s a jarring hodge-podge.

That’s why when we ran across this lesson on Hoefler & Frere Jones’s website, we had to bring it to you. (H&FJ, as most of you know, is one of the world’s foremost digital typehouses.) H&FJ’s overriding advice is: Keep one thing consistent, and let one thing vary.

1. Use typefaces with complementary moods to evoke an upbeat, energetic air.

The interplay between fonts gives them energy.


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Brand Logos

Logos…the Movie

“Logorama,” which won this year’s Oscar for Best Animated Short Film, is a movie made up entirely of logos. Remarkable in itself, this award is testament to the fact that logos have risen beyond tools for brand marketing and have become the most recognizable images of pop culture around the world. Written and directed by H5’s Francois Alaux, Herve de Crecy and Ludovic Houplain, “Logorama” is a 16-minute animated crime story that takes place in Los Angeles (where else?). Brand logos not only comprise the landscape, they are the heroes and villains of the film. The plot, which has shades of Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” gone seriously awry, revolves around a curvaceous Esso girl, a sinister Ronald McDonald, Michelin men cops and a dapper Mr. Pringles, with cameo appearances by more than 2,500 logos and corporate brands. At a time when brand advertisers pay huge sums of money to sneak their product into the scene of a feature film, even for a few seconds, “Logorama” turns the concept of brand placement on its ear.

Announcements

Delphine’s Show Opens at Smithsonian Today

An exhibition of “The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946” opens today at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C. It is curated by @Issue’s very own editor, Delphine Hirasuna, and based on her book of the same name, which was designed by @Issue’s very own design director, Kit Hinrichs.

The exhibition (and book) features art and objects made by some of the 120,000 ethnic Japanese who lived on the U.S. West Coast and were forced into barbed wire enclosed/heavily guarded internment camps for the duration of World War II. Allowed to take only what they could carry, they were sent to live in remote uninhabited locations in the deserts and swamps.

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Brand Language

A Banana With Personality

How do you brand a banana? It’s a generic fruit, like an apple or peach. right? If you live in the tropics, you can grow bananas in your backyard. Still, for the past 65 years, only one banana has a brand identity, not to mention, a name, a face and a personality – Chiquita.

Back in 1944, Chiquita charmed consumers by turning a caricature of Carmen Miranda, the flamboyant Brazilian samba singer/dancer with the tutti-frutti hat, into its brand icon. Then to reinforce its slogan “Quite Possibly the World’s Most Perfect Food,” it created a little blue sticker that to this day it affixes by hand onto every single banana it sells.

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Industrial Design

Debugging Healthcare by Design

Hospitals are notorious for making people sick. In the U.S. alone, the government estimate says that one in ten hospital patients catches a hospital-borne infection, and such infections contribute to about 90,000 deaths in the nation annually. What’s particularly disturbing is that studies have shown that one-third of these infections are considered preventable. Thorough sanitizing of surfaces, for instance, has been effective against staph infections and gastroenteritis.

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Interviews

Another Lesson by Milton Glaser

What can we say, we have always been inspired by Milton. He is a born teacher that always inspires. In 2006, Chris from C. Coy shot this short video of Milton Glaser sketching a portrait of William Shakespeare and musing about how the act of drawing makes him conscious of what he is looking at and focuses his mind on the world around him. In addition to the thoughtfulness of his comments, it’s impressive to see that he draws confidently without ever pausing or erasing — or losing his train of thought.

Publishing

iPad Raises Questions, No Answers

Sports Illustrated and Wired are the latest magazines to demonstrate a prototype of how its online content could work on an iPad-like tablet. While dazzled by the possibilities, as someone in the communications design field, I started wondering about all kinds of practical production matters. This may seem silly but I wondered if reporters and designers would be “joined at the hip” creatively, assigned to sit side-by-side, desk-to-desk, in the editorial office and work in unison to produce “content”? It used to be that editorial and art departments were separate entities and sequential processes. And the interactive staff often was not even in the same part of the building. Now, more than ever, visual, interactive and editorial content have converged. How will that change the physical configuration of an editorial office?

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Design Quizzes

Is Your Company Traditional or Designful?
Take This Quiz and Find Out.

Transformation is in the air. Business leaders across industries are recognizing that “old school” management isn’t up to the task of nonstop innovation. As a result, companies that were once run from the top down are steadily shifting to a more networked style of management in which employees and customers play a greater role in driving innovation. Networked cultures tend to be more creative, more agile, and better able to anticipate the needs of customers.

How do you create a culture of innovation? By recognizing one simple fact: If you want to innovate, you’ve
got to design. Design and design thinking are the tools that create new products, new services, new business
models, new markets, and new industries. The best way to leverage innovation—as outlined in my latest book—is to build a “designful company”.

To find out where you are on the culture curve, take this simple test: Share a total of 10 points across each of the
10 pairs below. For example, if your company is more siloed than collaborative, you might score it 6 and 4.
When you’ve finished, add up the two columns to measure your progress. If your totals come out to 60 and 40, for example, you could say that you’re 40% along the path to an innovative culture.

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Sustainability

Shedding Light on Light Bulbs

Since Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb in 1879, designers have often used the familiar pear-shaped product as a graphic device to represent a “bright idea.” Think again, designers, because the European Union restricted the sale of incandescent light bulbs in favor of compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs in 2009. It also targeted the phase out of Halogen bulbs by 2016. Cuba and Venezuela actually started phasing out incandescent lights in 2005. Other nations have scheduled phase out plans – Australia, Ireland and Switzerland in 2009; Argentina, Italy, Russia and the UK by 2011, and Canada in 2012. A late adopter, the United States will begin phasing out incandescent lights in 2012.

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Information Graphics

The Annual Report Gets Personal

Just when traditional annual reports have all but disappeared in the business world, a guy named Dan Meyer in the beach town of Santa Cruz, California, has produced his own personal 2009 annual report in video format. A high school math teacher by day, Meyer aimed for the kind of accuracy that even an independent auditing firm would admire. On his blog, he credited his speed in getting his report out so fast to having a “working knowledge of a) the degree measure of angles, b) proportions, c) percents, d) coordinates, e) 3D space, f) modular arithmetic, and g) linear interpolation. “ He adds that he even calculated an integral.

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Product Design

Crayola Color Chronology

Stephen von Worley on Weather Sealed posted this chronological growth of Crayola colors from the line-up of original eight introduced in 1903 by Binney & Smith to the 133 colors available today. By von Worley’s calculations, Crayola colors double every 28 years.

For a product targeted heavily to consumers who are too young to read or to talk about the good ole days when reds were redder, it is interesting to note that Crayola has remained dedicated to innovation, upgrades and product naming. In addition to its standard colors, Crayola has launched specialty sets with names like Magic Scent and Silver Swirl. It has discontinued colors with low market appeal; apparently, Maize, Raw Umber, Blizzard Blue and Thistle just didn’t cut it with seven-year-olds. Other names, of course, had to be retired for political correctness. Prussian Blue was renamed Midnight Blue in 1958, Indian Red became Chestnut. Also, bowing to pop trends, Crayola introduced metallic FX colors like Big Dip O’Ruby and Blast Off Bronze, and glitter shades like Red Violet with Glitzy Gold Glitter (a name that rolls right off the tongue), and Silly Scents like Sasquatch Socks, Big Foot Feet and Alien Armpit. It had to discontinue regular scents like Chocolate and Jelly Bean because parents complained that kids found they smelled good enough to eat – and did.

All this effort makes Crayola even more endearing, especially when you consider that with just four colors – c, m, y, k – you can arrive at any color in the spectrum, and Crayola’s target customers aren’t so jaded that they’d reject a product because it’s “last year’s model.”