For Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, the humble pencil holds special significance as an instrument of creativity. Traditionally, it has been the way that designers first give visual expression to raw ideas surfacing from their subconscious. The erasable-leaded pencil gives artists and inventors permission to test concepts, doodle and sketch without committing anything to the permanence of ink.
For decades, Art Center has used the pencil as a symbol for creativity and artistic endeavors. Each year it recognizes the outstanding achievement of alumni with Gold and Silver Pencil Awards. For its donor wall, it has made a display of oversized pencils etched with the names of donors to the College. This year when Art Center launched its fund-raising effort, it asked one of its most illustrious alumni, Michael Schwab (Advertising, class of 1975), to create a poster for the campaign. Although Schwab’s strong graphic illustrations have become the brand identity for countless companies and for the Golden Gate National Parks, he admits that being asked to create something for his alma mater was both a “proud moment…and daunting assignment.”
Describing a cupcake as sophisticated may seem like an oxymoron, but in the case of Sprinkles, it applies. Long the favorite finger food of preschoolers, cupcakes aren’t just for kids anymore. In fact, everything about Sprinkles defies how we think of cupcakes, beginning with the fact that the flagship cupcake-only bakery café got its start in upscale Beverly Hills.
When founder Candace Nelson and her husband decided to establish a cupcake business using all-natural, high-quality ingredients, they brought in Austrian modernist architect Andrea Lenardin Madden to design the shop and provide creative direction on everything from the retail displays and packaging to the look of the cupcake. Lenardin Madden avoided cutesy kids’ décor and designed an environment with the exclusive feel of a chocolate truffle shop or a Eurostyle cafe, with white oak paneling and wire bar stools for the window-facing counter eating area.
The cupcakes themselves were made to appeal to adults, with flavors like chai latte, ginger lemon and the wildly popular red velvet. Color-coded wafer dots on the swirled icing of each cupcake identify the flavor – an ID system carried out on the printed flavor cards too.
Let’s admit this upfront: atissuejournal would not have been our first choice for a domain name. Unfortunately, we couldn’t register “@Issue” and “at-issue” and “atissue” were taken.
Fourteen years ago when we were tossing around names for a journal focusing on issues that concerned both business and design, we wanted one that did not appear biased toward one point of view or the other. (I would share the rejects with you, but they are stuck on a 3 ½” disk.) Admittedly, we were short-sighted, but in our defense, the World Wide Web was just catching on at the time; most companies did not even have websites. Making the “@” sign part of our name struck us as clever and progressive. Plus it looked good as a masthead. Little did we realize that @ couldn’t be part of a domain name. You can’t even do a Google-search because everything with the word “issue” in it pops up instead.
So, in picking a Web address for our blog, we confronted the dilemma: Do we call ourselves something else and tell readers it is from the same people who brought you @Issue? In fact, it is @Issue under a different name. Or do we try to salvage the equity built up in the brand and call it atissuejournal? Obviously, you can see what we decided. Whether we made the right choice is open for debate. You all can weigh in. You can disagree and you might be right, but we are not going to change it. The print edition will forever remain @Issue. The blog domain name will be atissuejournal, and when you get to the site, the masthead will read @Issue. That’s our decision and we’re sticking with it. (sigh!)
For illustrator Craig Frazier, Drawords started as a welcome “relief from a day job where I’m given copy and am supposed to draw to it. Every stroke has to communicate something.”
“This is the reverse,” he says. Instead, as a way to keep his head and his drawing skills sharp, Frazier gave himself the assignment of producing a whimsical sketch a week, which he decided to email to contacts with an invitation to give it their own captions. “It was a way to connect with clients and give them a peek at the way I work and the way I see,” he explains.
The drawings were outside of Frazier’s commercial illustrations, experimental and surreal. He says that he discovered if he put enough “silly elements” in, then people let their imaginations take over from there. “They have come back with things that I would never have seen in the drawing. There is a collaboration going on that is very innocent and satisfying.”
Pie charts and bar graphs are the crude “stick” drawings of the Power Point world — unimaginative and dull, yet easier to grasp than spreadsheets and algorithms. But in the hands of designers, infographics can be so much more.
The adage “You can’t judge a book by its cover [jacket]” is only partly true. It’s not for lack of trying. The look of a book cover jacket is an important aspect of market positioning. It is what first catches the attention of retail buyers at major book fairs, reviewers and readers. It can persuade bookstores to display your book more prominently or, at least, give it more than “spine-out” (where only the spine title is visible) shelf space. It can also give readers a sense of the genre, subject and tone of the content. And, for the sake of truth in advertising, it shouldn’t over promise or under promise what the reader will find inside.
In the case of my book, “The Art of Gaman,” published by Ten Speed Press in 2005, coming up with the book title and cover jacket design proved as hard as developing the content for the book. The subject of “Art of Gaman” was fairly straightforward. It featured arts and crafts made by the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were forcibly removed from the West Coast after Pearl Harbor and imprisoned in internment camps for the duration of World War II. Since they were only given a week to settle their affairs and only allowed to take what they could carry, the objects they made in camp were largely fashioned from scrap and found materials. Tossed and forgotten in storage sheds and attics, most of the objects had never been shown in public until I started asking friends and family who had been in camp what they had saved.
Understanding where the market is and where it is heading is critical to every aspect of design and business. Savvy marketers look for clues everywhere and draw connections to launch new products, tailor their brand messages, and determine which industries will thrive. This intriguing video provides statistics that are shocking and thought-provoking…but what do they mean? What are the ramifications for commerce and design, mar-com and management? We don’t know, but we feel they are important to consider.
Corporate-speak, designer-speak, printer-speak. Industry terms defined.
Triple bottom line: In business, “bottom line” refers to the line at the end of a financial statement that shows net profit or loss. Now when companies calculate the bottom line of a product or program, they factor in social, environmental and financial results to determine whether the overall return was positive or negative. One out of three is no longer good enough.
Strikethrough: When editing in Word software, a strikethrough means a line drawn through text meant to be deleted. In printer-speak, strikethrough is a chemical reaction caused by putting an overall gloss coating over a spot dull varnish. Varnish neutralizes the gloss coating and stays dull while the rest of the sheet turns glossy. This technique gives designer the ability to make shapes or words appear ghostlike out of a solid color or create the effect of multiple finishes on an image.
Style and aesthetics don’t even enter the conversation when it comes to the hospital gown, a garment that only someone too sick to protest would agree to wear. “It makes you feel more naked and exposed than when you’re actually naked,” says one former patient. Another claims, “They’re put on patients to cow them and make them compliant.”
What’s obvious is that hospital gowns were designed only for medical convenience, with no thought to fashion or the dignity of the wearer. They are purposely thin to keep patients from overheating. Made of cotton so they can be sterilized by washing in boiling water. Loose and shapeless, so medical staff can check vital signs quickly and protect any sutures from rubbing. And open in the back for injections and trips to the bathroom.
This is a garment that flatters no one – and certainly not a person who is deathly ill. The hospital gown ranks No. 1 in things that need to be redesigned. We invite you to nominate others that should be added to this list.
Mattel’s Barbie doll, the beloved ingénue role model of every little girl, is 50. If she were a real person, she’d undoubtedly have strands of gray hair, a hint of midriff flab, and hot flashes. Given her propensity for the latest fashion, by today’s standards, she would also be considered shallow – the Paris Hilton of the doll world. Fortunately, Barbie will forever be the fantasy woman of our youth.
From a commercial perspective, Barbie is as successful and enduring as Oprah. She has outlasted Cabbage Patch kids, Beanie Babies, sock monkeys and Raggedy Ann.
With so many people feeling blue because their 401Ks have tanked, what color is likely to resonate with the public today?Color forecaster Laura Guido-Clark, who has consulted on the “skin” (color, material, finish) of everything from cars to computers, toothbrushes to carpets, uses a process she calls “climatology” to survey the economic, political, emotional and social temperature of the times to arrive at a palette that consumers will find satisfying and exciting.Guido-Clark tells the San Francisco Design Center’s 3DMagazine, “We are in a time of deep introspection and fear is running as an undercurrent, but hope is what keeps us going. Optimism is the polar opposite of despair, and we will see people drawn to colors that reflect that reaching out for a brighter future.Deep, vibrant and saturated colors such as raspberries, yellows, oranges, royal blues and purples are important. You are also starting to see a softening of the palette with grayed pastels — perhaps our way of landing softly in tough times. People are also being drawn to pliable materials such as wire and sculpted metals that show flexibility and a willingness to bend and change. We will be mixing more metals in unique ways and breaking rules as we come to terms with a new way of thinking. We also expect that earthy textures, woods, deep piles and fabrics with a rich, tactile surface will be more appealing as people seek to make their homes feel like they are cocooning and safe from outside forces.” www.lgcdesign.com
Meeting the right people is more important than meeting a lot of people. At least that is the opinion of trade events organizers. Recently BPA Worldwide, a global industry resource for verified audience data and media knowledge, surveyed 375 trade show exhibitors on factors they consider when measuring the value of hosting a booth at a trade show event.
Good design begins with considering what happens to the product at the end of its useful life. The materials and processes you select have ramifications beyond the marketplace and the consumer. Here’s a case in point.
Welcome to atissuejournal.com, the online version of @Issue: Journal of Business and Design. Like the print edition of @Issue, which debuted in 1994, this blog is intended to show how design has been used effectively to raise brand identities and contribute to business success. Our hope is to spur a dialog, provide food for thought, and encourage business and design to appreciate what each brings to the creative process. We plan to keep the blog content brief and topical, leaving the printed @Issue to offer more indepth, analytical coverage.
Our intention with the blog is to post frequent updates, but bear with us while we get up to speed. Story categories may change if we find they aren’t working. This is a work-in-progress that we hope will get better with each new posting. Also, indulge us for a brief while if we pick the “low-hanging fruit” and feature case studies of projects we worked on and know first-hand.
For us, @Issue has always been a labor of love, but we can’t survive without your support. To keep the blog alive, click on us regularly, tell your friends and colleagues to visit too, share your thoughts in the Comments box, and if you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please click on “Become a Sponsor” above and email us for more information.
Come back soon. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.