Puma calls their new shoe container their “clever little bag.” Twenty-one months in the making, Puma and Yves Behar’s fuseproject collaborated to design more earth-friendly shoeboxes. They experimented with new folding, shipping and waste reduction techniques, but the improvements were more incremental than monumental. Finally they decided to get rid of traditional shoeboxes (the source of 21 tons of waste a year) altogether and look for an entirely new design solution.
The result is a “clever little bag” that uses 65% less cardboard than the standard shoe box, has no laminated printing, no tissue paper, takes up less space and weighs less in shipping, and replaces the plastic retail bag. The bag is also “stitched” with heat, instead of woven, thus reducing labor and waste. It fits compactly into a suitcase for travel, and afterwards can be recycled.
Puma also claims that the millions of shoes packaged in their bags will reduce water, energy and diesel consumption by more than 60% per year on the manufacturing side alone. Switching to bags will cut paper usage by about 8,500 tons; electricity by 20 million Megajoules; fuel oil by 1 million liters, and water consumption by 1 million liters. On the transportation side, Puma expects to save 500,000 liters of diesel oil. Also by replacing traditional shopping bags, the difference in weight will save almost 275 tons of plastic. Very clever, indeed.
Sometimes the medium is very much a part of the message. This public service display to warn people about the dangers of unsafe drinking water was created for Worldwide Day of Water by BDDP Unlimited in partnership with NGO Solidarities International. Essentially, BDDP constructed a “liquid poster” in the heart of Paris, using AquaScript technology. Developed by German artist Julius Popp in 2008, AquaScript’s proprietary computer and software system can be programmed to synchronize hundreds of magnetic valves to expel drops of water on command, forming any number of words and images out of pure liquid. Words literally rain down from spouts. Lately AquaScript displays have been appearing all over the world at trade shows, new product unveilings, casinos and nightclubs, and even as the centerpiece of posh parties in Abu Dhabi. It is still a novelty that causes people to pause in wonder, but when the technology is used strategically, as in this clean water campaign, it can add strength to the message and be more than the latest fascinating gimmick.
The goals of designing for a nonprofit are not much different than designing for a for-profit business. Nonprofits need to raise money, albeit for an altruistic cause. They need to build strong graphic identities, market their programs and convince the public that their good intentions will produce effective results. Yet many nonprofits approach marketing their organization half-heartedly, ending up with a look that is generic at best and sometimes sadly amateurish. Yes, they are hampered by low budgets and minimal staffing, but also at times by the misguided belief that if their materials look “too professionally done,” donors will think that they are squandering their money rather than applying it to the cause they care about.
The UK Space Agency, which was just launched on April 1, hasn’t even gotten off the ground, but its logo is already mired in controversy. Designed by Folio Creative, the mark features a stylized Union Jack with a red arrow soaring toward the heavens. Some have charged that it bears a striking similarity to one claimed by the Space Rocket Group in the BBC-TV sci-fi show “Doctor Who.” The response from Folio Creative was to insist that “There is barely a passing resemblance…. It is inevitable if you combine the Union Flag with a space theme.”
Although we certainly see how that comparison can be made, we also know how designers brainstorm ways to turn a name into visual shorthand. We can just picture the initial concept development discussions starting with designers jotting down every British icon that comes to mind – the British beefeater, John Bull, the Queen, Tower of London, Big Ben…to, I got it!, the British flag! Moving onto “space agency,” the images that come to mind are the planets, stars, galaxy, astronauts…or how about a space rocket! Combine the two and what you get is a succinct link between UK and space travel. The UKSA logo, however, is much more elegant than the “Doctor Who” logo, so we think the linkage is just a coincidence, not a ripoff.
Editor’s note:This is an excerpt from “Design Is the Problem,” the latest book by Nathan Shedroff, chair of the MBA in Design Strategy program at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Contrary to the book’s title, Shedroff presents practical, specific and executable solutions to designing for sustainability, covering topics from biomimicry and life cycle analysis to dematerialization.
Recycling is an important tenant of sustainability, but in order to be effective, products need to be easily disassembled into component parts and separated by material. If this is difficult, these products simply end up in the landfill instead.
The worst parts, in terms of recycling, are those made from two different materials bonded together, because they can’t be easily separated. The Cradle to Cradle framework designates these as “monstrous hybrids.” A good example of this type of hybrid would be milk and juice cartons that come with circular pour spouts and caps built into the side. The plastic cap and spout can’t be recycled with the waxed cardboard, and yet there are no easy ways for recyclers to separate these quickly. While this design is particularly convenient for some users, it makes recycling nearly impossible (a good example of opposing goals). The only way to recycle these is for users to cut the plastic spout from the rest of the container before placing them both in a recycling bin.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Last week five of the top U.S.-based magazine publishers joined forces to launch a multi-million dollar “Power of Print” campaign, extolling the advantages of ink-on-paper magazines.
Over the coming months, nearly 100 magazine titles owned by Wenner Media, Time Inc., Conde Nast, Meredith Corporation and Hearst Magazines plan to print 1,400 pages of “Power of Print” ads, reaching an average of 112 million readers a month.
Created by Y&R New York, the ads will appear in prime magazine positions, that typically would cost regular advertisers around $90 million. The ads will roll-out in May issues as full-color spreads boasting headlines such as, “We Surf the Internet. We Swim in Magazines” and “Will the Internet Kill Magazines? Did Instant Coffee Kill Coffee?” In June, another set of ads will feature covers of popular magazines embedded in text.
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.
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.
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.
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.