This hamster video actually started as a way for Los Angeles-based social media agency, Denizen, to promote its business of creating branded content for social media venues. They tried to convince their corporate clients to buy into some of their zanier concepts but found no takers. So, Denizen co-founders Joseph Matsushima and Joel Jensen decided to start their own YouTube channel to demonstrate the possibilities. The hamster idea seemed just goofy enough to succeed, but the making of the video was no picnic. Denizen had to bring in a hamster trainer, build a tiny table and chair set with a Thanksgiving decor, and get a food stylist to make miniature food. It took nearly a dozen people a month to plan, script and prep, and another 12 hours to shoot the hamster dinner. What started out as a new business recruitment tool became a YouTube blockbuster attracting millions of viewers. Denizen has made a series of hamster videos and even integrated a tiny hedgehog into the cast. For all creatures, large and small, happy Thanksgiving.
For those who fly a lot, it may seem that when you’ve seen one international airport you’ve seen them all. If you’ve disembarked in a jet-lagged daze, you wouldn’t know where you’ve landed from looking at the identical retail concessions or the runways outside. That’s not true for the new Tom Bradley International Terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport. It’s a great place to be if you have to wait around a couple of hours to board your flight. A 72-foot digital LED tower streams dreamlike sequences of cloudscapes and ocean waves and abstract graphics. Large digital LED screens respond to the movement of passengers, triggering images and sound inspired by travel destinations. The dazzling effects are so entertaining it almost makes you wish that your flight is delayed. The spectacular digital LED landscapes were created by Digital Kitchen in collaboration with MRA International, Sardi Design, Moment Factory, Daktronics, Electrosonic, Smart Monkeys, Inc. and Los Angeles World Airports.
When Icelandic Glacial Water rebranded itself, it shifted the focus from the generic word “glacial” and placed the emphasis on “Icelandic.” That made all the difference. Designed by Los Angeles-based Team One, the new logo, bottle and packaging establish a sense of place for the brand. The frosted label features the geographic shape of Iceland with a black logotype that looks like it was hacked out of shards of Arctic ice. Instead of a predominant mineral cobalt blue color, the new label is a translucent sapphire blue that evokes the pristine purity of Iceland’s famous natural resource. The back panel, printed in contrasting varnishes, reveals the tagline “Source of the Epic Life” as if visible through a veneer of frosty ice. The new design positions Icelandic Glacial Water as a premium brand – so much so that you wonder if it contains expensive vodka.
Rob Forbes, founder of Design Within Reach, has founded another company – Public Bikes. To introduce consumers to his new venture, Forbes recruited 27 world-renowned designers and illustrators to create art posters around the concept of “public.” All of these posters are being gathered into a book called “Public Works,” sold as individual posters, and shown in exhibitions slated for San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City.
Forbes, an avid biker, urban dweller and environmentalist, explains the impetus for his Public Works project was to bring greater attention to the critical issues of public space, access and livability of cities. “In recent decades, our cities have been evolving from manufacturing and industrial centers into cultural hubs,” Forbes says. “The 20th century movement that encouraged people to leave cities for the suburbs has now been reversed. For the first time in our history the majority of the world’s population lives in cities, and this trend appears irreversible….People choose cities for what they offer: connections with people, ideas, stimulation, opportunity, creativity, and diversity. Our public spaces should facilitate these connections, not stifle them.… We believe that more of our urban streets and sidewalks should be reclaimed for walking and bicycling, and that our public spaces should be developed for better human interaction and conversation.”
This video is not an ad for Nike+ FuelBand, but it is an offshoot project that fuses technology, human movement and music. The “Field” video is based on HTML technology and requires Google Chrome to let viewers control the experience through the use of a keyboard and mouse to change colors and dot patterns. Nike created it in collaboration with Dazed Digital Magazine and Nosaj Thing, the Los Angeles-based music producer, and FAIR, LA, the design/technology collective led by Julia Tsao. It was produced with Swedish interactive studio, DinahMoe.
Engaging users is also key to the Nike+FuelBand, a matte black rubber-coated wristband that tracks the wearer’s activity through a sport-tested accelerometer that translates every move into NikeFuel – a point system to measure progress against a pre-set goal. The wristband notes every movement – walking, running, jumping – and the amount of calories consumed. Each day users set the goal they wish to attain, and the LED display indicates how well they are doing by changing color from red to yellow to green. Users can upload the data onto their computer or send it via Bluetooth to their smartphone. The FuelBand changes users from passive to active participants in setting and meeting their fitness goals. It becomes a one-person sport challenging users to exceed their personal best.
For those of us who have been glued to the television all week watching the London 2012 Olympics, here’s a little quiz to do during commercial breaks. According to modern Olympic tradition, the host country for the Games is responsible for creating an emblem to be used on promotional materials, by sponsors of the Olympics, and on the uniforms of every Olympic competitor. Over the decades, these logos have integrated the cultural symbols and patterns, national colors and artistic styles of the host country into the design. See if you can name the year and location for each of these emblems. A bonus point if you can recite the Olympics motto. Click “Read More” for answers.
Famed rapper Ice Cube (aka O’Shea Jackson), who once studied architectural drafting, riffs on Los Angeles’s quirky landmarks such as the Cockatoo Inn and Five Torches, freeways and the Eames House for a video series produced by Pacific Standard Time, a collaborative effort among Southern California cultural Institutions to spotlight L.A.’s art scene between 1945 and 1980. Ice Cube avoids the lofty language of architectural experts and gives his take in terms that the street can understand. Talking about The Eames house, Ice Cube reflects that with Charles and Ray Eames “it’s not about the pieces, it’s about how the pieces work together,” and notes that they did “mashups before mashups even existed.” Way ahead of their time, he adds, “The Eames made structure and nature one. This is going green 1949 style, bitch. Believe that.”
When Dr. Martens celebrated its 50th anniversary, its agency, Exposure Communications, decided to launch a website featuring 10 contemporary artists interpreting 10 alternative music tracks from the past 50 years. Vanessa Marzaroli from the Los Angeles -based multimedia design studio, Blind, was asked to create the music video for “Lilac Wine” by the Cinematic Orchestra. Marzaroli captured the “sweet and heady” lyrics in the delicate, fluid lines of Spencerian calligraphy – a perfect melding of music and images.
“Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage” (Madagascar, a Journey Diary) is one of five animated short films nominated for an Academy Award this year. From a purely artistic standpoint this animated short by French filmmaker Bastien Dubois is compelling to view. Colored pencil and watercolor drawings come to life, so that viewers feel like they’ve stepped into the pages of a traveler’s diary. Dubois undoubtedly achieved this using a rotoscoping technique in Adobe After Effects — a process of drawing masks, animating the path and then using the masks to define a matte.
Bear with me. This is hard to explain. We got interested in this story because we loved the graphics and packaging for the new Museum of Unnatural History in Washington D.C., which isn’t a museum and not a real store either. It’s the Washington D.C. location for 826 National, a nonprofit tutoring, writing and publishing organization founded to assist kids aged six to 18 with their writing skills. It got its start at 826 Valencia Street (hence the name), a storefront location in San Francisco’s Mission District. To make the place seem “cooler” to kids, the 826 founders decided to disguise it as a “Pirate Store” and stocked it with pirate supplies like peg legs, message bottles and hooks. Kids loved it and sales helped support the tutoring programs.