Design Education

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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Motion Graphics

Moleskine Introduces Color

For decades, Moleskine has been renowned for its little black notebook that artists, designers, and writers carry with them everywhere to capture their first inklings of brilliant ideas. Other brands offer notebooks too, but only Moleskine, in iconic black with its external elastic band and ribbon bookmark, signals that you are an authentic and serious creative type. So, Moleskine’s announcement that it is releasing its notebooks and planners in four bright colors, in addition to black, is newsworthy. Insecure creatives may be reluctant to buy a color other than black.

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Packaging

Swedish Food Packaging That Delivers

Middagsfrid — a service that delivers wholesome fresh foods, menu plans and recipes to subscriber homes in Stockholm — has launched a line of its own branded products. Stockholm-based agency, Bold, designed the packaging in collaboration with illustrator Peter Herrman. To create a sense of an ideal world filled with preservative-free, farm-to-table ingredients, Herrman sketched a fanciful landscape with a giant cheese grater and mixing bowl tucked among the houses, along with grazing cows and other livestock, horse-drawn cart, fruit-bearing trees and flowers. The idyllic scene is printed on newsprint-like stock to mirror the humble way locally grown goods are wrapped and affixed with a simple red label. The look suggests quality and craftsmanship.

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Industrial Design

Project Aura Turns on the Night Light

Designed and built by Ethan Frier and Jonathan Ota, two industrial design students at Carnegie Mellon University, Project Aura is an ingenious solution for making bicyclists more visible at night. That’s the time of day when most bicycle fatalities occur. Thirty-six percent of these accidents happen at intersections. One reason is that while many bikes are equipped with headlights, taillights and reflectors, they aren’t very visible from the side – which means they can be clobbered at intersections or nicked from cars changing lanes without seeing them. Frier and Ota addressed that by installing RGB LEDs inside the rim of the wheels, and made them powered by a wheel dynamo that worked through pedaling. Not only are the lights visible from all sides, they respond to speed of motion, making the wheel lights change from white when at cruising speed to red when slowing down. The rim-mounted LEDs are self-powered (no batteries, motor or switches required), and can be seen from passing vehicles – a great safety idea for cyclists and a relief to motorists – plus they looked really sci-fi cool.

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Product Design

Food as “Protagonist” of Manga Plates

Manga Plate

As a senior project at the Kyoto Institute of Technology in Japan, designer Mika Tsutai came up with this manga comic drawing approach to decorating Japanese-style plates. It’s a sight-gag that really works best when dining Japanese style, where each dish is served on its own small plate, rather than served with side dishes and entrée placed together on one large dinner plate.

On Tsutai’s manga plates, the food itself becomes the “hero” or subject of the story — e.g., the fist drawing striking a pulverized food mass; the strawberry slices forming the woman’s earrings, a volcano erupting a red lava flow. The presentation is meant to be appreciated as a single visual image. Even the arrangement of plates imitates the panels of manga comic strips. This is just as Tsutai intended. “By placing these dishes in a particular manner, you can transform your dinner table into a story, just like that of a page from a Japanese comic,” he says. It’s an interesting concept for those who like to be entertained while eating, but it’s hard on the cook who has to plan the menu around the storyline. Via Design Boom.

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Architecture

A Red Building That Is Totally Green

A spectacular façade isn’t all that the Kuggen, an office building in Gothenburg, Sweden, is all about. It is totally sustainable too. Designed by Winngardh Arkitektkontor, the Kuggen was inspired by a cog wheel (hence its name in Swedish) and the saw-toothed edges of a leaf.

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