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.
We have all heard of the American dollar, the European Union euro, the South African rand, the Japanese yen, etc., but can you recognize currency symbols on sight? Are you aware that at least 24 countries use the “$” sign to denote that the number that follows has a monetary value? In this global economy, it has becoming increasingly important for designers, editors and proofreaders to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of money marks. Here are a few currency symbols. Using the number beside each symbol, see if you can match the symbol with the country that uses it. Note: Due to space, not all countries that share the same symbol are listed.
Of all the millions of photographs of superstar Michael Jackson, the photo of a single jewel-encrusted meshed glove encapsulated the voice, the moves, the artistry, the mystique of this incomparable performer. Jackson’s glove had become such a familiar trademark that one blogger lamented “the gloved one” is gone.
Designer:After initial research, I focused on the oratorio theme of St. Francis. Here, the composition of the title expresses the particular cross in the shape of a “T”, called the Tau Cross, used by St. Francis and his disciples. I photographed this statue at Saint Francis of Assisi Church in San Francisco, where I live.
Client response: It is a happy musical piece, therefore, this dark brown color scheme is too sad. The vertical – horizontal type does not allow easy readability in the street. The subject should not be too esoteric.
Young people entering the design profession sometime think that the ideas of seasoned professionals never get rejected, that the design is immediately embraced by the grateful client who insists on doubling your fee because it is so awesomely good. In your dreams!! Design is not called a “process” without reason. More often, there is give-and-take, client clarification and addition of new (and often pertinent) information, analysis and refinement, and sometimes your favorite design isn’t chosen.
In this case, we asked Swiss designer Jean-Benoit Levy, who works for clients worldwide and is a member of the prestigious Alliance Graphique Internationale, if he would share the behind-the-scene reasoning of a poster he designed for a concert performance of Le Laudi di San Francesco d’Assisi for Choeur Faller in Lausanne, Switzerland. Levy has been creating the graphics for this oratorio choir group for the past three years, in collaboration with its president Jacques-Henri Addor. For this concert, Levy presented his first sketches in December of 2008 and after 16 different versions, a final design was chosen in March 2009 for the May performance. We picked five of the concepts he presented and asked him to summarize both his and his client’s response to each.
Whether the delivery is graphic or spoken, Milton Glaser can be relied on to pare away the superfluous and focus on what’s relevant in the most direct, thoughtful and inspiring way. Today he celebrates his 80th birthday and a 60+ year career that is still going strong. A new documentary “Milton Glaser: To Inform & Delight” directed by Wendy Keys, now playing in select U.S. locations, provides convincing evidence that he is worthy of being called the most influential graphic artist of our time. It’s a must-see. And here’s something that we consider a must-read – a talk that Glaser gave in 200l to the London AIGA titled “Ten Things I Have Learned.” Great food for thought.
10 Things I Have Learned
by Milton Glaser
1. You can only work for people you like.
This is a curious rule and it took me a long time to learn because in fact at the beginning of my practice I felt the opposite. Professionalism required that you didn’t particularly like the people that you worked for or at least maintained an arms length relationship to them, which meant that I never had lunch with a client or saw them socially. Then some years ago I realised that the opposite was true. I discovered that all the work I had done that was meaningful and significant came out of an affectionate relationship with a client. And I am not talking about professionalism; I am talking about affection. I am talking about a client and you sharing some common ground. That in fact your view of life is someway congruent with the client, otherwise it is a bitter and hopeless struggle.
When people hear of a magazine called Meatpaper, they immediately conclude that it must be a recipe-laden publication for cooks or a trade magazine for those in the livestock and butchering business. Meatpaper is directed at neither. Actually, it is very hard to describe. Created by San Francisco-based Sasha Wizansky, whose background is fine art, graphic design and sculpture, the concept for Meatpaper started as an art project. About four years ago, Wizansky says she was struck by the realization that “everyone had a story to tell about their relationship to meat. I realized that a magazine would be a perfect way to explore this idea.”
Teaming with journalist/radio reporter Amy Standen, Wizansky self-produced what she describes as “the only magazine about the idea of meat – what we call the fleischgeist” — defined as “the spirit of the meat.” She says fleischgeist refers to “the growing cultural trend of meat consciousness, a new curiosity about not just what’s inside that hotdog, but how it got there, and what it means to be eating it.”
Particularly in this lousy economy, we are all victims…and victimizers. We are increasingly operating in a “used car lot” environment, where buyers feel it is their duty to bargain and don’t feel that they have gotten the best deal until they have eliminated virtually all profit from the sale. This video satire runs too close to reality for many, not just on the design-creative side, but up and down the line.
Editor’s Note: Alan Webber, who co-founded Fast Company magazine in 1995, has long recognized the role of design as the great differentiator in business. In his most recent business book, “Rules of Thumb,” Webber shares insights gleaned from his own life and work experiences over the past 30 years and distills them down to 52 rules of thumb. Webber’s rules aren’t the end of the discussion; they are the beginning, with readers invited to add their own rules. Here we reprint Rule #28. Webber’s other 51 rules are just as pertinent and interesting.
Rule #28 Good design is table stakes. Great design wins.
In the last few years since I left Fast Company and started traveling a lot, I’ve noticed a global leitmotif, as if the same piece of music were being played in different countries all over the world.
In Tokyo at a conference on innovation I sat down with an old friend, a business sociologist and strategist for leading Japanese companies.
“Japan used to be a low-cost exporter of manufactured goods,” I said. “But those days are clearly over. What’s Japan’s new national strategy?”
“We don’t think there’s a problem,” she told me. “Japan intends to compete globally on the quality of our design.”
It made sense to me. Japan has an exquisite sense of style and presentation.
This TV commercial for the new Honda hybrid, the Insight, is being aired in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Russia where the environmentally friendly car is being sold. Made by Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam, the TV spot appears to synchronize hundreds of Insight LED headlights, turning them into “pixels” to create animated images set to the tune of “Let It Shine” by Berend Dubbe.
Anyone who has ever been involved in designing or managing a graphic identity program (pretty much everybody in design and mar-com) has experienced fleeting impulses to rebel. Rigid rules and authoritarian orders run counter to freedom of expression and creativity. But identity guidelines are the foundation of branding. Consistent and repeated use builds brand recognition. And yet! Just once, wouldn’t it be fun to run the logo in pinstripes or push the corporate colors into a more punk PMS shade? Or tell the “identity police” that being forced to use the logo is a blight on your beautiful cover design?