The Atlantic’s Animated History

TheAtlantic.com has been running a series of charming infographics on topics ranging from hairstyles in the 20th century to the history of weapons over the ages. Created by Jackie Lay, a designer, illustration and art director for The Atlantic Magazine, the brief animated timelines combine flat-graphic illustrations with one inconsequential element in the picture showing subtle movement. A wisp of hair gently moving out of place. A cloud slowly passing across the sky. Steam lazily curling up from a hot cup of coffee. The movement isn’t part of the storyline, but it entices the viewer to pay closer attention. It carries the viewer into the next frame. Without that almost infinitesimal movement to grab the viewer’s interest, the image would be what it actually is: A still illustration. Animation doesn’t always have to be a full-blown Pixar-like extravaganza. Sometimes a little movement makes all the difference between stagnant and intriguing.
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Stop-Motion Visual Pun By PES

To get the humor in this visual pun by PES, the acclaimed motion graphics artist, it is best if you speak English. Sponsored by Lipton Iced Tea, the video centers around a homophone – meaning a word that sounds the same as another but has an entirely different meaning and spelling. Example: Flower and flour. In this case, PES based his pun around the homophone “mussel,” the shellfish that tastes great grilled and dipped in lemon and melted butter, and “muscle,” the body mass that men flex to flaunt how buff they are. It’s a clever visual pun, but only if the word for “mussel” and “muscle” are phonetically identical in your spoken language — otherwise, you’ll chuckle and wonder what that’s all about.

Milton Glaser: A True Design Legend

Designers, in my humble opinion, are a self-congratulatory lot. They constantly hold juried competitions and give themselves awards, produce publications to pat each other on the back, and freely call elder designers “icons” and “legends.” Copywriters, on the other hand, (of whom I count myself among them) never refer to anyone in the profession as a “copywriting legend” or “copywriting icon”. We don’t put out magazines reprinting the best corporate brochure text, direct marketing paragraph, or pithy headline. As a group, copywriters are usually unsung and ignored. That said, there is one designer who genuinely deserves to be called a “legend”: Milton Glaser. He is to be admired for his originality, talent, contributions to art and design, and because he comes across as a sweetie. That makes us happy to present this short video interview of Milton Glaser, put together by the New York Times.

Snapple’s Bottled Knowledge

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Did you know that drinking Snapple can make you more knowledgeable? For nearly two decades, Snapple has added “food for thought” to their beverages by printing Real Facts inside their bottle caps. Quirky and curious, these facts feature amusing trivia that people often read aloud to share with companions. Occasionally, the fact seems so unlikely that people have been driven to do their own research. Invariably, the Snapple fact is true. Snapple Real Facts have to be verified by two authoritative sources and approved by a legal team before appearing on a bottle cap. To date, more than 1,030 Real Facts have been printed – including the fact that “humans share 50% of their DNA with bananas” and “In the state of Arizona, it is illegal for donkeys to sleep in bathtubs.” Snapple Real Facts have become like the coveted prizes in Cracker Jack boxes to some nerds. When forced to choose between a Snapple and a Coke, they’ll choose Snapple because it comes with Real Facts.
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Chinese Signs of the Times

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Through the use of neon signs, Mehmet Gözetlik, Istanbul-based art director of Antrepo design agency, demonstrated how 20 of the best-known Western brands might be translated into Chinese.

In an interview with the International Business Times, Gözetlik pointed out that China is now the world’s largest economy and has a current population of 1.35 billion people. Yet, he adds, foreign companies take a literal and phonetic approach to presenting their brand, instead of considering how the logo translates visually and culturally. “Most of today’s Western brand identities are created by Western design companies, based on Western culture. It means we have two separated worlds, because of our DNA. So, there is more misunderstanding than we thought. We don’t actually understand many things we assume that are understood. We are like a person who misses the view while reading on the train. We are not aware of where we are coming from, going to or passing by,” Gözetlik said.
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NYC Subway Graphic Standards Manual
Becomes Kickstarter Sensation

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More than four decades have gone by since acclaimed designers Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda of Unimark International were hired by the New York Transit Authority (now the MTA) to modernize and unify the look of the subway signage, which by Noorda’s own account “was a mess.” Cluttered with varied typefaces of different sizes and rendered on different materials from mosaic tile to a paper sign stuck to the wall, the old signage system confused more than aided travelers. In its place, Vignelli and Noorda developed a cohesive subway wayfinding system designed to promote intuitive understanding — so much so that they promised: “The passenger will be given information or directions only at the point of decision. Never before. Never after.” It did all that and more. The New York Transit Authority’s wayfinding system is still considered a masterpiece of clarity, logic, consistency, and elegant modernist design.

The accompanying 174-page Graphic Standards Manual was as brilliantly written and produced by Vignelli and Noorda. One day in 2013, two young designers at Pentagram – Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth – stumbled upon an original copy of the manual in the basement of Pentagram’s New York office. The pair found the manual so awesome that they wanted to share it with friends, so they created a dedicated website (thestandardsmanual.com) and posted scanned pages online. The site instantly went viral. Within 72 hours, more than a quarter million people visited the site. Although delighted, Reed and Smyth felt strongly that an on-screen viewing didn’t do justice to the beauty of the real Standards Manual. To truly appreciate it, they felt people should see it full size in print, and they set out to produce a book with an introduction by Vignelli protege and Pentagram partner Michael Bierut and an essay by New York Magazine’s Christopher Bonanos, author of “Instant: The Story of Polaroid”.

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Business Strategy Behind Newell Rubbermaid’s New Design Center

Newell Rubbermaid’s new Design Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan, marks a monumental shift in the company’s design thinking and practices. This consolidation of design functions in a single location addresses how design in the 21st century has become a team activity that pulls in disciplines beyond design.

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In 2012, after Newell Rubbermaid adopted its Growth Game Plan strategy focused on four winning capabilities, including design and R&D, it brought in acclaimed designer Chuck Jones as its first Chief Design and Research & Development Officer to make the company more agile and responsive to consumers through design. Jones’ reputation preceded him, having successfully built global design and development teams that boosted sales and won awards for innovation at companies including Whirlpool and Xerox. Here, Jones talks about how Newell Rubbermaid is creating a brand-and-innovation-led company that is famous for design and product performance.
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@Issue Relaunches Itself to Be More Like It Was

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Next week @Issue is relaunching itself; not to become something entirely new, but to return to what we saw as our editorial mission back when we started in 1994. For the first 15 years of our existence, @Issue: Journal of Business and Design was solely a print publication dedicated to demonstrating how good design is a major factor in establishing brand distinction, product desirability, customer loyalty, and ultimately business success. We featured in-depth case studies on brands that used design skillfully, and positioned ourselves as a bridge between business and design. At our peak, @Issue enjoyed a circulation nearing 100,000, with an avid following of designers, mar-com managers, corporate executives, printers and the like.

Then in 2008, the financial market collapsed, and with it our funding. To preserve the equity of our brand, we decided to publish online, which we have been doing ever since. This relaunch of @Issue online is intended to reintegrate some of the content that we had in print. We aren’t giving up the features we learned to love online, but we do plan to introduce stories that are more educational in tone to become a resource for creative inspiration and a platform for the best in design. Please stay tuned.

Adobe Illustrator Story Tells It Like It Was

When Adobe Illustrator was being released back in 1987, skeptics abounded and the designers who would most benefit from the vector graphic software were most leery that it would destroy the profession. Adobe co-founder John Warnock remembers, “Everybody said, ‘You’re going to ruin good design because now anybody can do it.’” But Warnock believed differently, “The cream rises to the top. The creativity is in the designer. The creativity is in the person who uses the tools.” This brief documentary by Terry Hemphill and produced and directed by Ami Capen looks at how Adobe Illustrator transformed the world of design, so much so that younger designers today can’t fathom what it was like to work with leaky Rapidograph pens, rubdown text and other labor-intensive tools. That’s history recounted by aging designers who want to describe the hardship they endured and how lucky today’s generation is to live in the age of digital graphics.

Founding Fathers Stiff Flag Designer

As we celebrate Independence Day in the U.S., it seems fitting to give credit where credit is due to Francis Hopkinson, who substantial evidence shows designed the first American flag in 1777. Hopkinson, a New Jersey lawyer and signer of the Declaration of Independence, had a natural love of heraldry and art, and dabbled at graphic design (a profession that didn’t exist back then). During the American Revolution, Hopkinson was serving as chairman of the Navy Board’s Middle Department, when it got an urgent request to come up with an official banner of some sort that soldiers could carry into battle. At the time, the rebelling colonies were flying a flag that featured a variation of the British Union Jack in the canton surrounded on three sides with horizontal red and white stripes. (It looked like a knock-off of the British East India Company flag.)

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Visual Feast: The Art of Produce Displays

Of all the sections in a supermarket that have design display potential, the produce section is number one. Unlike branded packaged products such as cereal, ice cream and canned goods, fresh fruits and vegetables are set out loose without wrappers. They come in bright colors, different shapes, textures and sizes, and change frequently with the season. Speaking personally, I tend to judge the quality of a supermarket by the freshness and diversity of its produce. Nothing is a greater turnoff than limp leafy greens and overripe brown bananas. Artfully arranged displays emphasize the natural beauty of the fruits and vegetables, help shoppers instantly see the difference between each item to quickly pick out the red leaf lettuce from the Bibb, the onions from the radish, the bitter melon from the cucumber, etc. The marvels of nature’s bounty are a joy to explore. With a little effort at design, the produce section can become the star attraction of any food market. Shown here are a display of chard and bell peppers (photo by tretorn) from ICA in Tyresö, Sweden, and a display (photo by cool hand lucas) from Zupan’s in Portland, Oregon.

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A Perfect Gift of Pencils

Who would have thought that a box of No. 2 pencils could exude style, sophistication and Art Deco flair? But leave it to New York-based designer Louise Fili to use her mastery of typography, pattern, color and all things Italian to create a product that you would be proud to present as a gift – and thrilled to receive. Invited by Princeton Architectural Press to design a line of elegant gift products, Fili came up with a boxed set of 12 double-tipped pencils. Fili felt that the two-sided pencils seemed perfect, thus the name “Perfetto.” On her website, Fili explains that her design was inspired by her collection of 1930s Italian pencil boxes. “Our most preferred are the two-color, double-sided pencils, commonly in red and blue, for teachers to correct homework…red for a minor infringement, blue for a serious offense.” Fili says that they chose not to use blue because it was our least favorite color. Instead she says, “We opted for our signature red and black.” There’s no eraser because that would spoil the beautiful symmetry.