Paula Scher, do you know who she is? You ought to.
Why? Here's three simple reasons why.
1. Fast Company say "you may never have heard of Paula Scher, but it's nearly impossible not to know her work. Every time you pass a Citibank ATM or hand over one of its credit cards with the iconic red-arched "Citi" logo, you're in her orbit. When you open a box from Tiffany, with its slender, elegant typeface, you're decoding a message she has sent you. If you... are charmed by the signs on the New York subway for the Metropolitan Opera... you're under the spell of this astonishingly versatile, formidably talented designer."
2. It's still criminally rare to meet a successful woman designer and even rarer to find one who is a director or has equity in a design business which makes that fact that she's a Pentagram partner all the more remarkable.
3. She does stuff like this.
There's a great article about her on Fast Company. Well worth a read.
Checking my inbound links (as you do) I found the Celsius website. They've kindly linked to me.
They're a design firm. The work is good, better than average, but what really struck me was the website. It's blissfully simple. Most (like 99%) of design company websites are fucking awful. Really. They almost always start with a flash intro, they are almost always difficult to navigate and they're almost always full of bullshit. Celsius isn't like that, it's user friendly, simple and refreshingly bullshit free. Not sure about the recipe though.
This reminds me that I keep meaning to post a list of design firms I admire. Must do that soon.
Can’t write about the interweb without giving Russell's new thing a bit of a plug. Him and few chums have set up what they endearingly call a global small business. Open Intelligence Agency will do all kinds of clever, planning type stuff.
I love the new identity. It really feels un-agency like which is great. It feels flexible, witty, cute (in a good way), friendly and different. All good things for an identity to be. It was done by Stefan at 344 Design.
They don’t have a corporate website, just one html page and four blogs.
We’re having this discussion in our office at the moment, so I’m very familiar with the arguments. Part of our website is almost a blog anyway, so why don’t we just have a blog. Just one blog. A blog is searchable, has a nice structure which shows your growth over the years, it has personality and it shows real emotion.
What do you think?
Good people, I wonder if you can help.
Tomorrow is supposed to be the hottest day for a trillion years. So naturally we're trying to find a way to not go to work. We want to spend the day in the park, or the pool, or on the terrace, or just wondering about. But not working.
Thing is, we kinda feel that we need a decent excuse not to work. And we don't really think "the hottest day for a trillion years" is good enough on it's own.
So, anyone got any great ideas why we should not go to work? Comments please.
Actually I spent the day trying to dodge exhibition security who were trying to stop me taking pictures, hence some of the photos look very surreptitious.
First off, Future City. I love these kind of architecture exhibitions, but I'm aware they are largely pretentious nonsense. Some of the buildings on display are simply ridiculous. Like the architects are rebelling against the identikit rubbish they design for the rest of the year and displaying some crazy shit to make up for it.
Some of the 'explanations' were printed on to these great poster style things.
Decent exhibition, although I'm not really sure what it hoped to achieve. Too expensive at £8. It reminded me of Archigram, so I'll post more about that in the next week.
I love the Barbican, it's so wonderfully odd. Whenever I'm there, I always feel like I'm the only person there. Do you ever feel like that?
They've got these great new signs by Studio Myerscough.
On to the Royal Academy, another place I'm very fond of, and to the Summer Exhibition. I love the Summer Exhibition and I've been every year for years and years. They're double strict on the photo side of things, so it was a little harder.
Their exhibition graphics were crap. But that's not really the point with this one.
I love the way they cram all the pictures in. They should do this with more exhibitions.
Some great stuff from Patrick Caulfield. Really nice graphic feel to them.
All in all, a good, inspiring day.
I've always liked John Sorrell. I sat on a panel with him once. Except that he never turned up.
He now runs a thing called the Sorrell Foundation. They have just finished this fantastic project called Joined Up Design For Schools and they're starting one called Joined Up Design For Health.
What's interesting is that this is where they're starting from.
Call that what you like, research, insight, common sense, usability, design, whatever. This is what it all comes down to. These people are designers, researchers, planners, architects, geniuses - all you have to do is make their half thoughts into real tangible stuff.
That's where the magic comes in.
(or How Many Super Brands Can There Be?)
When Lovemarks first came out, I thought it was a reasonable concept. There are some brands that people love so much they'd have them as tattoos; Apple, Nike, Coca Cola, Harley Davidson are all good example of this.
When Superbrands first came I thought that was a good thing too.
But the problem with all these things is that they just include too many brands. Far, far too many.
Here's a few Superbrands. Just a few you understand.
And here's 20 Lovemarks from the Top 200.
The Top 200! There are a lot more than 200, but these are the Top 200! Ridiculous!
How many super brands are there really? If we want to take Lovemarks and Superbrands seriously, and thus give the rankings some value, surely there are only around 20 or so in the world. I'm talking about big, big iconic brands. Disney. Coca Cola. Ferrari.
Not bloody Ace of Base.
More finds from my old scrapbook (stop me if all this reminiscing is getting a little boring).
About 10 years ago I had this idea for a book. It was a crap idea and it never went anywhere. But I did compile a list of people I would like to contribute. So this is kind of a list of the Top 30 or so graphic designers from ten years ago. As decided by me.
Most of these people would be on that list if I wrote it again today (there would be additions obviously). Quite a few of them I've met now, which is a bit odd.
I’ve just read a fascinating article on the AGDA website. (AGDA stands for the Australian Graphic Design Association.) You will especially find this interesting if you run a design consultancy.
The article is a comparison of the organisational structures of Pentagram and Wolff Olins. It was written by Lucy Elliot in 1999. Lucy won some sort of prize (I think) to visit these consultancies and write this article.
Obviously Pentagram is organised around the Partners and Wolff Olins is run like most companies with Managers, Managing Director and Chairman etc. She says that Pentagram’s organisational structure is like a spiders web with the partner acting as the big spider in the middle. Wolff Olins’ structure is like a net with all the employees joined together like the links of the net.
About Pentagram Lucy asks, “whether the partnership is equipped to take on the future.” She writes, “one former designer suggests that ‘it should die peacefully. It has made its mark’”.
“The problem at the moment is that while the Pentagram is struggling to find new partners to fit this culture, the existing partners are clinging to old views.”
About Wolff Olins she writes, “The culture is based around the task which respects the contributions and talent of individuals.”
“Wolff Olins has weathered its maturity and is currently in a rejuvenation phase.”
“The latest source of culture comes from the new. New leaders, new clients and new employees. This shows an invigorated team progressing confidently without the founders.”
Interesting isn’t it? Especially as that article was written in 1999. Surely Wolff Olins’ fortunes have declined since then whilst Pentagram’s haven’t risen but have stayed largely the same. This is the secret of Pentagram’s success. Year after year fashionable design companies come and go, hot shots get cold and stars fade. Pentagram keeps going. Still number 1 in that creativity chart Design Week do. Still winning D&AD awards. Still winning the big projects we’d all love to work on.
I’m biased because I love Pentagram (I think of them like The Beatles) but I do know people who have worked there and hated it. I know people find them old fashioned and I know some of the partners can be bloody minded.
So read the article and decide what you think.
There is an exhibition celebrating 20 years of Pixar at the Science Museum. I think I need to sit down.
I love Pixar. The films are amazing. Story, wit, laugh out loud humour, breath taking animation - that goes without saying. But it's the attention to detail I love. They take the time to do all the extra stuff that really matters. Like George Lucas did once, like Disney did many, many moons ago. And they ooze ideas and I love that too.
Take a look at the navigation for the corporate bit of their website.
See the boring old guy for Investor Relations? Magic.
Take a look at the page that shows trailers.
Notice the little EXIT symbol bottom right? What a lovely attention to detail. Someone cares about that page.
When I was writing this post I went online and watched the trailer for their latest film Cars. I was taking a screen shot when I noticed this sign.
I didn't notice that on the trailer, and you probably won't notice it when you're watching the film (it flashes by too quickly). But someone still put it there. Brilliant.
Go and see the exhibition, I'm going. (For my American friends the exhibition is on at the MOMA.)
Some nice graphics from inside Ikea.
I always wonder about Ikea. It's one of the biggest companies in the world. It's a huge consumer brand. Almost everyone (in the countries Ikea is in) owns something by Ikea, so they're in every living room. Stop people in the street and they will all have heard of Ikea. So we're agreed it's a big, successful brand. Right?
Well, they never win any branding awards. It never features in any brand value charts, it never gets in those cool brand books. No one ever owns up to designing the logo. No one ever owns up to working on it at all, really?
So is it a successful brand? Is it successful in the real world, so it's irrelevant what happens in our brand, design world? Is it successful but it could be more successful? Does it prove that all branding is bollocks? Does it prove precisiely the opposite? Is it not really a successful brand?
Paul, Valarie, Russell, Steve, Graham, Mike, mofe, Blip, all you other readers - what do you think?
I’ve just been looking at Carter Wong Tomlin’s website. Carter Wong are a great design company, they designed those brilliant Howies display/wardrobes a few years ago.
They also designed that great F1 logo. The one where the space between the F and the speed lines forms a number one. The logo has been in use for over 10 years and would be an asset to any portfolio. However Carter Wong aren’t allowed to show it for “copyright reasons”.
I walked passed Interbrand yesterday. This is the sign on their glass door. I've tried messing about with the photo to make it more legible, but i stopped because that's kind of my point. It's a complete fucking illegible mess.
There are 5 companies mentioned there; Interbrand, Markforce, Gavin Anderson, Agency.com and Live (I couldn't find a website for Live. You try searching for Live on Google for fuck's sake). I don't want to slag them all off, in fact agency.com are a fantastic agency, but this sign is just bloody terrible.
Guys, you can't read it.
For a branding agency the size (and the fees) of Interbrand they should at least get this bit right. I hadn't even stepped into the building and already I've got the impression you can't design.
Where is the heirachy? How are the companies related? Why do some companies have phone numbers, some have addresses and some have none? Why is Live so fucking big!? This is not good enough, chaps