When nations consider their exportable resources, design is often far down the list, but a 2008 study conducted by the Victoria government in Australia revealed that over $300 million in state revenue can be directly attributed to design-related exports. The state ’s design sector, centered in Melbourne, contributes $7 billion annually to the economy and employs more than 76,000 Victorians – this in a country with a population of just 21.5 million people. The study made apparent that design talent is a highly desirable and exportable commodity. The Australian creative industry could be as marketable abroad as iron ore and manufactured goods.
Australian designers have skills sought in many parts of the world, particularly in rapidly industrializing areas like neighboring Southeast Asia. In fact, the vast geographic size of Australia actually makes the flying distance from Melbourne to Singapore or Indonesia shorter than from Melbourne to Perth. As it is, many studios in Singapore are heavily staffed by Australian designers.
In this prolonged down economy, consumers are deciding that they don’t need to dine at the fanciest restaurant, buy a new wardrobe for every season, or even wash with the top-of-the-line laundry detergent. This trend was duly noted by Procter & Gamble, maker of the premium-priced Tide. With the Tide brand experiencing some of the steepest sales declines in its 62-year history, P&G looked for a way to compete with cheaper private label soaps by issuing a no-frills version of Tide. Instead of its continuous promise of “New and Improved,” P&G opted to remove some of the pricier cleaning additives from its Tide formulation in order to slash the cost by more than 20%.
Attaching the Tide name to this down-market soap, however, was fraught with peril. How do you make sure that Tide “loyalists” remain faithful to the higher-priced “true” Tide, while implying to thrift-conscious shoppers that this version — although not as good — had Tide qualities that made it superior to budget generics?
Augmented reality, or AR. If you don’t know of it, you should. If you haven’t used it yet, you will. What used to dwell in the realm of science fiction and extreme geekdom is finding practical application in all kinds of areas, including marketing, packaging, exhibits, sales demonstrations, technical training, maps, architecture and entertainment. The possibilities are just beginning to be recognized. Augmented reality lets the user see the world around him with superimposed computer graphics that appear in 3-D animation, visible from every angle and following the sight-path of the viewer. In its simplest version, the user can print out a high-contrast black-and-white pattern of squares and point it at a computer webcam. The webcam reads it like a laser bar code and sends a fully formed image back that appears to come alive right on the paper in the user’s hand.
Man, nature and machine have been brought together in the new “Harmony” advertising campaign for the third-generation Prius hybrid. Your eyes are not deceiving you if you think the landscape is alive with people. It is. Two hundred costumed extras were filmed and then computer cloned to create a surreal landscape made to look like over a million people. Evocative of photographer Ann Geddes’s pictures of babies fancifully dressed like fairies, flowers and bunnies, the Prius cast was costumed to represent blades of grass, puffy clouds, flowers and leaves. Conceived by Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles, with Mike McKay as executive creative director, the Prius commercial was filmed in New Zealand. Hideaki Hosono –better known as Mr. Hide (pronounced hee-day) — represented by The Sweet Shop production company, directed the human sequences. Nine different nature costumes were designed for the shoot, with 150 people forming the grass and water, 22 people for the tree trunks, 20 for the stones, 30 for the leaves, 20 for the clouds, 10 for the sun, 8 for the flowers, 8 for the butterflies and 23 for the autumn leaves.
In 1943, five years after it was founded and during the height of World War II, Walt Disney Studios put out an organization chart to explain how the company functioned. What’s fascinating is how it differs from org charts issued by most corporations. Typically, corporate org charts are hierarchical, with each operating division isolated into “silos” showing job titles according to reporting chain of command and ultimate authority. The CEO and SVPs get the higher positions and bigger boxes; the little boxes represent the expendable worker “bees.”
About 12 years ago, we presented a quiz titled “Alphabet Soup,” (Vol. 3, No. 2) to see if our readers could identify a company simply by the first logotype letter in its name. Since then, new companies, and whole new industries, have risen to the forefront. Some of the brands featured in that quiz don’t exist anymore. So, we have created a new alphabet quiz out of logotypes from some of today’s best-known companies. Keep in mind that the most recognizable letter is sometimes in the middle of the name. If you’re stumped, take a peek at the answers.
How do you beat the national retail giants at their own game? By being what they’re not – from the neighborhood. Challenged by Brooklyn native, Moe Issa, to design a store brand that evoked memories of the friendly grocer down the block, but in a contemporary, upscale way, Mucca Design focused on keeping Brooklyn Fare’s identity simple and personable. As Mucca says in its newsletter, “A unique strategy + one typeface + four colors + a lot of copy.”
We were going to do a post on the importance of thoughtfully designed and placed road signs, showing you some of the best. Then, we decided that these actual signs will get the point across just as effectively.
If you have something to hide, design badly and write poorly. Set the text in small type, no leading and wide measure, and use mind-numbingly dull legal language. This approach all but screams, “We don’t want you to read this, but we are required by law to tell you.”
Whether intentional or not, this is the impression given by credit card issuers when disclosing fees and terms. Cardholders who don’t immediately throw out these “envelope stuffers” are often stunned to read about a plethora of penalties, hidden fees and compounded interest. What’s more, the majority of card issuers also claim the right to increase APR or change credit terms “at any time for any reason.”
Developed by two advertising executives, Richard Fine and Nathan Frank, the New York-based Help takes the anxiety and confusion out of finding a fix for mundane ailments. The actual products inside are not an innovation, but the package design is. Help starts with the basic premise that even typically healthy people need minor medical attention now and then. Reliable remedies have been available for years, but when you’re not feeling great, the last thing you want to do is read overly designed labels offering a dizzying array of curative promises.
Give the same creative brief to three different designers and you’re likely to get back three different solutions. Take for example the poster competition sponsored by the Canadian Council on Learning and the Canadian Commission of UNESCO to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and mark International Adult Learners’ Week last March. Sixty designers across Canada submitted their portfolios; three were commissioned to design posters around the theme “Learning is a Human Right.” Here’s what the three had to say about their design approach.
Internationally known poster artist Andrew Lewis in Brentwood Bay, BC, explains “Learning takes place deep inside our ‘grey matter’, which, in my mind, is not grey at all, but a fanned out Pantone book, not in any arranged order but an explosion of random colors. Sketching with colored pencils on paper, I developed this image where the left side is a flat range of colors that move right and literally left the page, or the mind. The original image was smack dab in the center of the page, so using scissors, I cut it in half and moved it over, then realized I could make a pattern, suggesting that we as humans become connected through the process of learning.”
A grand palace it isn’t, but for down-on-their-luck laborers who gather informally on street corners and in parking lots hoping that an employer will drive up and offer them a job for the day doing clean-up chores, construction or agricultural work, the self-contained Day Labor Station is a joy to behold. Basically a semi-permanent open box with a canopy, the compact shelter houses a restroom, bleacher seating, a kitchen cubicle to make food or sell it, an education/training space, and a meeting area where employers can interview candidates privately. The entire structure is built to be environmentally sustainable, using solar power, a fresh and greywater system, and green and recycled materials.
Editor’s Note: Over the past 50 years, Diseño Shakespear has had a transformative impact on design in Argentina. Founded by Ronald Shakespear, the Buenos Aires-based consultancy has left its visual imprint on several of Argentina’s most important public facilities, including wayfinding systems for the Buenos Aires subway, hospitals, the Temaiken Zoo and sports centers. This has earned Shakespear a global reputation, recognized in design journals, exhibitions in Europe and the U.S., and induction as a Fellow in the Society of Environmental Graphic Design in 2008. Between 1985 and 1992, he served as head professor at the University of Buenos Aires Division of Architecture, Design and Urbanism, and now with his sons, Lorenzo and Juan, and daughter, Barbara, serve clients through Diseño Shakespear. Here, Shakespear acts as our “foreign correspondent,” talking about the state of design in Argentina.
What makes the history of Argentina’s design industry unique and challenging?
The history of graphic design in Argentina cannot be understood without taking into account the context, the country’s history and, more recently, its social and economic policies. Argentina is a sovereign and federal state, fully cosmopolitan, and based on two founding ethnic groups — Spain and Italy- as well as minor migration movements from countries such as Poland, Germany, Peru, England, Paraguay, Bolivia, Wales, etc. A series of de facto rulers, economic breakdowns, historically rampant inflation, have made working in Argentina difficult for everyone and particularly difficult for designers, whose work depends mostly on factors associated with a nation’s prosperity and stability.
At a time when ads are becoming ever more elaborate and reliant on tech-driven special effects, this Jeep print ad campaign for Chrysler/Korea is inspiring for its spareness and simplicity. Asked to demonstrate how Jeep is designed for all weather conditions, BBDO/Proximity Malaysia, based in Kuala Lumpur, came up with a concept that showed how Jeep could bridge weather extremes, by picturing a Bushman and an Eskimo, a Husky and a Camel, and a Mountain Goat and a Crocodile. The silhouettes printed in Arctic Blue and Arid Tan overlap to form a silhouette of an olive green Jeep.
In San Francisco, the best retail window displays can be found in one of the most unlikely places – a hardware store. With four locations in San Francisco, Cole Hardware has been serving local do-it-yourselfers since 1926. It lives by its slogan: “Hardware for the soul.” That soulful spirit is visible in its amusingly artistic window displays created by the two-women visual merchandising team – Noelle Nick and Dominique Tutwiler.
Nick, an engineer who once worked at Bechtel, and Tutwiler, who majored in illustration at San Francisco’s Academy of Art, have literally turned circular saws, toilet balls, rubber gloves and other utilitarian objects into works of art. One display, which they titled “Louvre,” presented ornately framed “recreations” of Van Gogh’s sunflowers made from yellow-rimmed circular saws in a yellow vase and Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” from the Sistine Chapel made from two rubber gloves striking an imitative pose. Benjamin Moore paint dribbled onto a canvas paid homage to Jackson Pollack’s abstract expressionist art. These window displays are not a departure from Cole’s hardware products. Nick says that they are made entirely out of products carried by Cole.
Supposedly electric hand dryers found in public restrooms are better than paper towels because they are more hygienic, require less manufacturing energy, lower janitorial costs, and reduce landfill. Supposedly. However, most people who use hand dryers in public restrooms either punch the start button several times to evaporate residual moisture, walk out with damp hands, or complete the drying process by wiping their hands on their clothes. The conventional hand dryer is a candidate for the “bad design” award.