Apr 16, 2012 at 14:02 in The Design Disease, What The World Would Look Like If It Was Run By Graphic Designers | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Most design blogs post loads of images of nice graphics design work. I'm not really into that, but I often think that most you are. I listened to Start the Week last week. I hate Start the Week. But I might like it if it was pictures of nice graphics design work.
So here's a few pics from The Design Disease Flickr pool. If you like this, I might time a post to go live every Monday morning at 7am. Or I might get bored.
There was this building was I was quite taken by. It gives the impression of being so precarious.
And then there's this wall of gum.
Actually called Gum Wall it's apparently the 2nd germiest tourist attraction in the world, the Blarney Stone was the winner.
I was strangely attracted to it. It was the colours. Designers can see past all those germs if you have colours like these.
Lauren sent me this lovely thing in the post which I'm only just getting round to sticking up here.
WARNING: These photos aren't as nice as the ones AceJet takes.
It's from an exhibition Tobias Frere-Jones held in Melbourne of his collection of photos of NYC signage. It's fucking gorgeous.
Since 2002 he's been documenting the lettering of NYC. Here's a pixelly explanation here.
Lovely stuff. Thanks Lauren.
Image thanks to David Zülke.
This afternoon Matt twittered
That bit with the hash symbol is called a hash tag. It's a little thing which makes it really easy to search Twitter for particular subjects. Conferences love them. Humans use them when discussing TV programmes, #apprentice or #bbcqt for example. They are also used for memes.
Matt may not have been the first to use that tag, but he's the first one on the Twitter search. (Twitter won't let you search people who have made their tweets private.)
So. Where were we? Oh yes. I replied/
Jeremy and Iain.
Richard even had his retweeted by the Britney Spears fan club.
And before we knew it a meme had been created. Someone should tell Robin Wight.
Currently there are over 300. Here are some of my favourites:
You can see them all here.
The other day we visited the Butterfly Jungle exhibit at the Natural History Museum. My expectations were low.
I was wrong. It was fantastic. Amazing. 2,000 butterflies flying around, landing on you and generally being beautiful.
And it was a powerful reminder that nature has all the best colours.
There's a lot of navigation around at the moment. The future apparently is micro processors telling you (and everyone else) where you are.
But, today, let us concentrate on the posters.
I'm pretty sure that BT have absolutely no idea where anything is, but they're jumping feet first on to the band wagon.
Aside from that insipid blue what I really hate about this is the London Eye compass. Actually, using that circle for a compass isn't a bad idea, not necessarily a good idea, but certainly not a bad one. That shape says London and it says compass - that makes sense.
But we all know what a compass looks like don't we? And that funny star shaped thing in the middle, that thing you only get on compasses, that reinforces that it's a compass, doesn't it?
It's a horrible font. It doesn't sit comfortably in the composition and it doesn't feel like it points North. Look at it again in the top picture. It looks like a mistake.
Further proof that what you leave out is as important as what you put in.
Things Our Friends Have Written On The Internet 2008 is a publication that's been dropping through letter boxes over the last few days.
Russell and I thought it would be interesting to take some stuff from the internet and print it in a newspaper format. Words as well as pictures. Like a Daily Me, but slower. When we discovered that most newspaper printers will let you do a short run on their press (this was exactly the same spec as the News Of The World) we decided to have some fun.
We only printed 1,000 and they're all individually hand numbered.
In this post I'd like to elaborate on the design of it and explain some things I learned during the process.
From the outset there were two things I wanted to avoid.
Firstly I wanted to avoid a pastiche of a newspaper, complete with a crossword and a weather section. I hate stuff like that.
Secondly I wanted to avoid looking it like a newspaper that a designer had been let loose on. Graphics every-fucking-where. Something you might see from a bad brand. There's one out at the moment from Lush that betrays the format. Horrible and ugly.
But I wanted to make use of the familiarity of the newspaper format and the vernacular.
It's notoriously hard to design something from a complete blank canvas. No house style, no corporate fonts, no brand colours, nothing. So I tried to make life easy for myself wherever possible. We call this reducing the enemies. To me this is what good design is about, reducing the enemies.
The brief was to be able to read it in bed without glasses on. So I wanted the type to biggish and nice and clear. No Ray Gun typography around here. You remember, readable.
I looked around for typographic styles I liked. In the ideal world it would be law that all books have to state what font they're set in on the inside cover. In reality this doesn't happen much. Much less than you imagine. Even design books don't say very often. I settled on Plantin because that's what Monocle use. 9 on 11. Simple, classic and reliable.
I chose a 5 column grid becuase that seems to be the grid used by most good looking European newspapers these days. Although I was tempted by Hayman and Scher's 6 column Khaleej Times.
I wanted one type style across the whole paper for body copy, but I wanted to have some fun with the headlines. On most of these I've tried to add a little typographic humour or cute reference (which is kind of why I chose Monocle's Plantin for the body copy).
For example the headline for Mad Men: Pitch Perfect is set in Futura because that was one of the only fonts around at the time the series was set. (Remember the furore last year when it was pointed out that most of the fonts used in the programme wouldn't have existed at the time?). I set the headline for Matt Jones' article in the Dopplr font, and so on.
The cover is set in Gotham, because that was the font used throughout the Obama campaign and obviously the font of last year. It's in 96pt becuase that was the super size the NYT used when Obama got elected. It folds over to be read as two halves because Russell was speaking at a Guardian conference and I thought it would look cool if he held up the Written On The Internet 2008 half.
I very quickly realised how important ads are to a newspaper. And not just for monetary reasons. They usefully fill all those awkward little spaces where there's no text. Without them the document feels dull and lifeless. Unpunctuated like a copy of Ulysses. Too much text. A lot of the posts had pictures, but where they didn't we used pictures from Flickr or just white space. Again I wanted it to be like a newspaper, without pastiching a newspaper.
Similarly the bit at the top looked very naked without a running header. The printer requires each page to have a folio so I added a keyline and some of our favourite Tweets from the year. It felt better with that furniture.
This Tweet is a quote taken from Michael Bierut's book. It sits above his article.
We didn't edit any posts at all. So they're full of typos and a lot of the columns end in strange places. This is an odd phenomenon. In a real publication the Sub Editor would shout for a few less (or more) words to make it fit just right. No sub editing here. But as Jeremy points out "The result is a tidy but raw blog-like feel that deals with presentation in a very matter-of-fact manner." That's more eloquent than I could have put it, but that's exactly what I was going for.
Given the chance to design something however you want, you've got to have a little fun haven't you? So I made a small list of things I'd like to see. Some great big dirty Helvetica is always a winner.
I wondered what Emigre's Mrs Eaves would feel like in a more humble, less designery scenario. Looks great if you ask me.
All those Mars Phoenix Twitters were crying out to be printed. I added a few little extras in here that no-one has spotted yet.
A great big full bleed picture. Unfortunately you can't do full bleed, but this is good enough. I wanted this to be like a pull out poster.
And I wanted some nice 100/100 red. We took everyone's content without asking, which we were terribly worried about. We put a big disclaimer in there (and sorry again if you're reading this and you're angry with us) and we tried to make sure authors got copies before anyone else (again sorry if you haven't got one yet, drop me a line and I'll chase that up.) But we obviously needed a way a crediting people. So I designed this little device. This isn't the stuff of design legend, but it took a while to get right and it sort of holds the whole thing together. I deliberately only used two colours (reducing the enemies again) so the red added some much needed vibrancy.
The baseline grid. Oh yes, the baseline grid. Let's be honest this is the sort of thing you know you need to know about. And you do know about, you know, sort of. But. Do you really know about it? Of course you do if you work on a magazine or a newspaper, but when was the last time you used one?
I almost re-taught myself how to use a baseline grid. I certainly re-read all about it and it pretty much saved my life.
"Last night a Baseline Grid saved my life". Seriously, it's so important and so useful for a project like this. All that is obvious but I wanted to restate it.
One last thing. When you print one of these you have to go and see it being printed. For all us sufferers of the Design Disease, that's like manna from heaven. Watch.
Good eh? There are loads more pictures in this Flickr set. There's lots more I could say. But you're probably all bored now, so you'll have to catch me in the pub.
People seem to like it. It's appearing all over Flickr. Lots of nice people have described it as beautiful which is more praise than I could have hoped for. I particularly like Jim Coudal's "whip smart and beautiful". I'm very pleased with that.
I should also thank Alex who helped us with a few speads.
So, the Really Interesting Group is the new thing I'm a partner in.
It's an experimental organisational structure, aptly described by Matt from Channel 4 as doing "projects for fun, money, or both". I say experimental as we're trying to make the structure different from a typical creative start up limited company, but that's for another time.
* Title borrowed from Moleitau.
This was my favourite of the Christmas presents this year. My Mum bought them for the kids, whose names begin with A and S.
The detail is great. Fun, cute and rich.
I'm often disappointed that 3D letters are too thin. Not these puppies, they're exactly the right thickness.
Whilst in Portland I had the pleasure of visting Nike HQ.
Fairly predictably you're not allowed to take pictures. Which is a shame because I can't show you the great design library they have. Which has actual stuff, not just books.
James commented that Nike is such a visual company everything you do is judged on how it looks. I was taken aback by this. It's obvious when you think about it (Nike as a company is almost all visual brand) but it's just not very often you hear that. Most companies are the complete opposite of visual.
Even if their external image is very visual (like, say, Apple) the interior workings are still non visual. Nike has always had a history of great visuals and I guess this has lead to a visual culture by osmosis. But James described it as more than that; if you're proposal looks shit - it ain't getting approved. Most companies aren't like that. Quite the opposite.
Nike HQ is full of little visual touches. A strong graphic influence everywhere. It reminded me of the first time I visited a Nike Town in New York, 1997. One memory I have is of swooshes being used as door handles. Again, obvious when you think about it, but so great to see In Real Life as opposed to a concept. Nike HQ is like that, but more.
I wish you could take pictures because they have lots of great stuff. Lance Armstrong's first ever bike in the Lance Armstrong building, for example. A copy of one of the Palm Springs tees outside the Tiger Woods building. And so on.
Portland, Oregon, USA has some of the best typography I've ever seen in a city.
There's loads of good stuff everywhere. I didn't manage to photograph all of it, but here's a small selection.
I liked this too. The best trouser measurement typography I've seen in a long time. Nice big serif numerals. Lovely.
And this. This is great. This explains lots about what's good about America in one simple piece of type.
To most people these fonts would look old fashioned. But they don't, they look great. And they look American, so that makes it relevant. They are classic display faces yet they've been used on a cooker. Fantastic.
The GM logo. GM make cookers? Cool. Imagine if Land Rover made fridges? That's an iconic American brand right there on the side of the cooker, with the logo nice and proud. Simple, fun, bold, good.