Publishing

The Art of Book Cover Design

Designing a book cover is an exercise in balance. The image or graphic has to distill the story without giving away the plot. It has to create “shelf presence” to entice shoppers to pick up the book for a closer look. It has to avoid false advertising, but can’t be boring, even if the content is. It should give shoppers a sense of the genre – suspense, sci-fi, romance, self-help, current events – but imply that the author has a unique and fascinating take on the subject. While it is true that “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” it is also true that you can design a cover that makes shoppers want to buy the book. This video from Random House features interviews with book designers from its publishing groups (Random House, Knopf Doubleday and Crown) providing insights into the complex process of creating compelling, eye-catching and meaningful book cover jackets.

Sustainability

The Scoop on Poop

It’s tempting to turn this story into a string of crappy jokes, but the subject is no laughing matter. In Seattle this week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted a two-day “Reinvent the Toilet” fair, attended by scientists and entrepreneurs eager to demonstrate their wares. To put these inventions to a credible test, the Foundation placed an order for about 50 gallons of fake poop. The Gates also offered over $3 million research grants, which were part of a $370 million grant initiative to improve the world’s water, sanitation and hygiene.

According to the Foundation, four out of every ten people around the world have no place “to go.” That adds up to 2.6 billion people without access to a toilet. Poor sanitation results in half the world’s hospitalizations. It is the cause of 2.5 million cases of diarrhea in children under five and 1.5 million child deaths a year, according to a United Nations report. Even in industrialized nations, the amount of water consumed each flush puts pressure on the environment.

In sponsoring this cash competition to come up with a toilet of the future, the Gates Foundation set several requirements. The toilet must operate without running water, electricity or a septic system. It must not discharge pollutants, preferably capture energy or other resources, and operate at a cost of 5 cents a day.

This week’s toilet fair resulted in some very promising solutions, including using soldier fly larvae to process human waste to produce animal feed. Other approaches turn human waste into charcoal and fuel. In announcing the cash prizes for the best designs, Bill Gates said, “If we apply creative thinking to everyday challenges, such as dealing with human waste, we can fix some of the world’s toughest challenges.”

Although coming up with the next toilet isn’t as glamorous as, say, creating the next Eames chair, it shows that design runs deeper than cosmetic solutions.

This video was produced by Loaded Pictures, with illustrations by Jay Bryant.

Advertising

Getty Presents Life in 873 Images

How do you convey to designers and publishing customers that you have a stock photo/illustration for any and every subject, medium and use? In the case of Getty Images, it has more than 38 million stock images in its database to choose from. The question isn’t if Getty has the right image, it’s how you want to tell the story. This 60-second marketing video by Brazilian ad agency AlmapBBDO zips through 873 stills from Getty’s archives piecing together a universal tale of life, from first love to old age. Each frame is up for a fleeting nanosecond – kind of like life itself.

Public Service Campaign

Death to Violence

Chicago-based commercial photographer Francois Robert has a unique way of seeing things that most of us don’t see. About 20 years ago, Francois and his Swiss designer brother, Jean, made us aware of anthropomorphic features in inanimate objects such as padlocks, mops, door knockers and light switches, and photographed these expressive faces and presented them in the book, “Face to Face.”


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Posters

IDA Congress Adopts a Global Perspective

IDA Poster 1

For its first-ever International Design Alliance (IDA) Congress in Taipei this October, the organization put out a worldwide call for a poster design. The response was particularly nice. Here are four by Helmut Langer, James Chen, Katsunori Watanabe and Kazumasa Nagai.

What’s intriguing about the IDA Congress, themed “Design at the Edges,” is its cross-disciplinary approach, encompassing industrial design, communication design and interior architecture/design, and its big global-issue program, covering economic development, the Internet, biotechnology, urbanism and international migration. Nothing lightweight about the topics. Not what you expect from a design conference. If the speakers stay true to these subject categories, it may be the first design conference that truly focuses on the role that design can play in addressing the major problems confronting the world today.

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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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