10 years ago as-near-as-is-good-enough-for-blogging I visited the Unpackaged store in Islington.
I wrote a glowing review. I was very taken with the concept and the store.
2008 was that golden age when we all blogged about Brands going Green. Jones invented the term Unproduct, Russell blogged diligently and I created a media storm in Design Week which now 404s. You get the idea here. Good times.
The other day I went into a Planet Organic and I saw this.
I wondered if it was the same Unpackaged. It is. Hurrah! Their story has taken all kinds of twists and turns since 2008. They opened a cafe, another cafe, a bar, a different shop and a restaurant. Closed all that. And now have concessions in three Planet Organics.
Which got me thinking, in many ways this is better than opening a shop themselves. Is it similar to supermarkets stocking Fairtrade? Which always seems to be the best example of Doing Good at the High Street Scale of things. Which feels important. Good is good, but it's better when it's at a mass market scale even if it's a little bit less good.
Are there any other examples of this?
High Street brands are always trying lots of innovation when it always seems like a better idea to find something good and help make that bigger. Which sort of reminds me of this bit of the GDS Design Principles,
"Government should only do what only government can do. If we’ve found a way of doing something that works, we should make it reusable and shareable instead of reinventing the wheel every time. This means building platforms and registers others can build upon, providing resources (like APIs) that others can use, and linking to the work of others. We should concentrate on the irreducible core."
Anyway. Less plastic, more dried bananas.
RELATED (am I doing this right)
Don't forget to visit Sophie's brilliant website Trash Plastic.
I wrote about this shirt in 2007. I'm writing about it again. Yes blogging is so bad I am now writing the same blog post about the same thing just twelve years later. Think of this as the reboot. Same narrative new, higher res, images.
For the new listeners here's a recap. I bought this shirt with some money my Granny gave me for my 18th birthday. That makes it 13 26 years old. I bought it in a shop in Bath called John Anthony for £75.
The same comments I made in the original post still apply.
1. 26 years on I still have absolutely no idea what I was doing spending £75 on a shirt. Although over 26 years that works out at £2.88 a year so if they'd had subscription models back then I reckon this would have been a great deal.
2. 26 years. More than half my life. And yes, maybe well made, well designed things last longer and that's better. Slow fashion ftw.
Anyway. Next update 2031.
These water fountains have caused a stir on the design forums.
They've been called "hideous" and "naff". I'm not a fan of them visually, but I think "naff" is an extremely patronising way to critique public design. But anyway, there's plenty of discussion about the design of them here and here.
They are undoubtably a good idea. Presumably you can't just revive the old stone fountains and presumably someone else other than the government has to pay for them, so that might as well be Thames Water.
What I find most fascinating is that they look like an ad campaign made into a 3d object. More persuasion than usability. There's one near me, I'll report back in a few months.
UPDATE: It has been covered up. Maybe it was the designers.
UPDATE: Account Management are involved
I love Cindy Sherman.
Actually I don't. I don't like the photos that much. They're good, but I don't find them amazing. I absolutely love the fact that all her pictures are self-portraits. 40 years of that, that's brilliant.
What I mean is that I like Cindy Sherman like I like Radiohead. Because it's well known that it is possible to like the idea of Radiohead without actually liking the music.
Cindy Sherman at the National Portrait Gallery.
More info here WARNING opens on a page that auto plays a loud video.
Very good. I enjoyed it way more than I expected. You should go. Dulwich Picture Gallery continues to have surprisingly good, though small, exhibitions. Russell, worth a look if you happen to be in Dulwich.
I'm sure Modernist is the correct technical art term, but it didn't feel how I think of modernist. If that makes sense. It felt much more industrial. There was more movement than I was expecting. The prints felt like stills from a film.
The London stuff was great and I'd not seen any of it before despite always thinking I've seen all of those London Underground posters.
Closes 8 September. More info here.
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.