The other day I was looking at the recycling pile and I wondered what Alan Fletcher would have done with all that cardboard. Remember that he made these incredible animals out of rubbish he found with his grandson Tobia. Mike Dempsey has the full story here. Alan set the bar high for side projects and these ended up in the RA Summer Exhibition.
He made also lots of collages from found bits of cardboard. More of those here.
I thought Alan would definitely have done something good with all the Amazon boxes that you find in every recycling bin. The smile is crying out to to be played with.
Inspired by Alan I started drawing on the Amazon boxes we had at home. I started adding eyes to the smile. Here are the first few. Like all good side projects I started an Insta @eyesonamazon.
Worth noting that although Alan was my inspiration; whatever Alan would have done would have been far better than anything I am about to do.
Giles and I were talking about cows because he wrote about how he had a nice chat with some the other day.
I've always been a fan of cows partly because they are easy to talk to and partly because the black and white ones have a nice graphic quality against the fresh green grass. That's always appealed to my visual sensibilities.
Here's a good picture of that phenomenon by Guy. Lovely stuff.
All this reminded me of the magazine Pentagram's DJ Stout used to design. It was called Dairy and it featured a big portrait of a cow on the front cover of each issue. Not messing around, big, glossy portraits of cows.
I went to visit DJ Stout in 2010 when I was in Austin for SXSW. He had some of the portraits on the studio walls.
And let's not forget Matthew and his cows.
Picture by Russell
Cows, pretty much their own design system.
Mayo has reminded me of Gateway 2000 and their excellent cow packaging boxes.
I spotted this on the way to work and it reminded me of the Innocent cow vans back in the day when everything was nice.
These bins by Hackney Council which I wrote about on this blog thirteen years ago.
I'm sure there are others. Send 'em my way.
You should go. Book in advance but beware it is still very busy. Russell only go if you can find a quiet time. Maybe first thing on a Tuesday.
Some of the classics. The blockbusters. Which is always nice to see.
This exhibition isn't just about Van Gogh though. As the title says, but I hadn't really noticed, the exhibition is about Van Gogh and his time living in Britain and how that influenced him. So there are other paintings, prints and sketches from Britain at the time by other artists. They are very interesting but may not be what you are expecting.
The Tate have constructed a well told story about Van Gogh. I learned more about him, which was good.
It's very busy. Of course. But you should still go.
Over in New York the other day I was kindly invited by Malcolm Garrett to the opening of Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics at MAD. If you're in New York you should go.
It's a brilliant, packed exhibition of the graphics surrounding the punk scene from the years 1976 - 1986. It's not just punk, there's a healthy dose of Peter Saville...
I really hope it comes to London soon.
I liked this quote from Henry Ford. Only refer to the past if it helps future progress. Ignore nostalgia, learn from history.
No-one ever does that of course. Not designers, nor politicians. Too many people hark back to a rose tinted past. A biscuit tin painting version of a future. Well, fuck that.
(Phil, it's not lost on me that this plaque is from a replica of a statue which is the past copying the past and aiding no progress whatsoever. Literally a copy. Thus the medium destroys the message.)
88. There’s a movie made entirely of Russian Dash Cam footage found on YouTube.
Of course there is. Yet another thing you’ve never thought of but is startlingly obvious.
89. Tide designed some new washing liquid packaging for Amazon.
The official blurb says “to keep the convenience of online shopping for the consumer but reduce the overall impact of that convenience on our environment.” All the headlines scream how Amazon is forcing packaging redesigns. Easier to get in the warehouse and easier to deliver.
This flat letterbox friendly wine bottle is a much better example.
Two quick thoughts:
Retailers have always forced FMCG products to do this - remember for most FMCG companies the customer is the retailer not the consumer.
What's really surprising is that this has taken so long. Whatever next, making your website easy to find on Google?
90. Pentagram signed up three new partners
Three new ones since Jon Marshall joined in para 63. Astrid Stavro, Sascha Lobe and Yuri Suzuki. Stravro and Lobe are traditional additions to the Pentagram stable, but Suzuki is different. Well known for working with sound and technology. As Suzuki says, “I was quite surprised in the beginning that Pentagram approached me to join as a partner. But Pentagram wants to investigate the field of sound and interactive design. In a way, I think it’s a perfect match.” Suzuki and Marshall point Pentagram in a new, more truly multi-disciplinary direction.
91. Meet the Humans of Flat Design
That strange phenomenon of abstracted non-identifiable humans, styled and flattened out of all recognition. Harmless and without personality, point of view or reality. You can follow the best examples on Twitter.
92. Another management insight from the Toyota Production System
Tom Taylor of Poplar discovered "Genchi Genbutsu" or "Go and See" recently. Genchi Genbutsu is a principle which states, "If the problem exists on the shop floor then it needs to be understood and solved at the shop floor." Obviously but rarely found in modern management or boardrooms full of PowerPoint. Genchi Genbutsu is also known as Gemba attitude. Gemba is the Japanese term for "the place" in this case "the place where it actually happens". Reminds me of Show The Thing and more broadly, user research.
83. Good advice about email
Let's start with this excellent article in the New York Times. Detailed and accurate.
84. Design Principles
Here are three new ones that grabbed my attention recently, The NHS design principles, the principles behind Bulb design and Lyft on Colour. The Lyft link isn't really principles but an article on how they use colour at Lyft and the tool they built to make better colour decisions easier. It's an open source colour algorithm called ColorBox.io It's pretty epic.
The Lyft Design team are worth keeping an eye on.
85. Ive interviewed in an echo chamber
I think I once said on this blog that although an interview with Jony Ive will never give away much, any glimpse behind the curtain is interesting. In this new interview the curtain stays tightly shut. As much as I like Jony Ive, Ruth Rogers, Richard Rogers and indeed the River Cafe this is an echoing interview in an echo chamber.
Still, here it is. Jony Ive on the Apple Watch and Big Tech’s responsibilities (might be behind a paywall for some).
86. Sketching elephants and other animals.
Paul Rand used to sketch a lot of elephants which reminded me of Durrell Bishop's wonderful, never-ending sketches. Which reminded me again that I must sketch more pointless stuff. Maybe I'll start something on here to force me to stick to it.
87. Working late, responsibly
Alice linked to an excellent blog post about working late and techniques for handling that. I was looking for an old email the other day and found this from my advertising days.
I can't really remember the incident but it's not the fault of a particular client or agency. It's the culture of the advertising industry that makes this so commonplace. It's expected that everyone will work late and that a deadline means you must work right up until that point. That's not healthy.
This article by Dan Carley is a good read and full of pragmatic, sensible advice.