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Archives: July 2006

Books, Books, and More Books (plus, Paul Buckley to boot!)

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We can’t get enough of book covers. Just love the dang things. Sure, we like what’s inside them a lot too, and maybe that’s what make them all the better, but we could do well by spending a couple of hours just wandering around a bookstore, taking them all in. Where else can you do something like that, just being surrounded by that sort of volume of really great design? Maybe a music store, but that’s got a much higher hit or miss ratio (toward the latter). Anyway, we just ran into Forward, A Book Design Blog, which is absolutely terrific. And from there, not only did we find that above link, to the WWDC bingo, we also got to this two-part interview with Paul Buckley, a cover designer for Penguin. Loads of photos, scans of covers, and a very extensive interview. It’s just what we needed to keep this day going along splendidly.

Making A Game Out of the Uber-Familiar: WWDC Bingo

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Here’s a little fun to start this Friday off to a good start. Say you’re one of those people headed off to Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference on August 7th and you’re eager to hear what’s next on the Jobs agenda, but every year you’re always a little distant to the whole thing because it seems like a lot of what’s being said is a repeat of the years before. Enter the WWDC Keynote Bingo! You hear a common phrase, mark it off on one of the twenty random cards until made a straight line and have one the game. Here’s the best part:

The other feature of the game is for WWDC keynote attendees only. If you are going to the keynote, print out the bingo card and play along live. The first person in the audience to win the game is expected to yell “BINGO!” loud enough so that the rest of us schleps can hear it when we watch the keynote webcast video later. If we can’t actually hear you, it’s also acceptable if Steve Jobs hears you on stage and gives you “The Glare.”

How Bad Do You Want Bad Design To Be Good Before It’s So Bad That It’s Good?

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We kinda sniffed at this Gawker post from the other day, “How Bad Do You Want Bad Design to Be Good?” because obviously people just don’t get it. But the poster for SVA (designed by Paul Sahre) is not only getting a good on-site reaction (and Sharpie modifications), the comments by Gawkees are pretty damn funny, too:

SVA has rarely done any self-promo work that didn’t suck..

What this ad teaches me is that Gay Pride kills. Thanks SVA!

You know you’re a bad design school when FIT’s ads are better than yours. And that’s not saying much because those suck pretty badly.

Shiny Johansson Track Suits and the Death of Camp

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We understand the world of fashion is just like any other business, you’re in it to sell stuff and make loads of money. Thus, again like most industries (save for maybe those staples you used to apply roofing shingles), explains the celebrity endorsement. But there’s always that last hurdle to understanding celebrity-tie-ins that we don’t quite get, and that’s the “celebrity line” of anything. Sure, we may really love, say, Jennifer Lopez, and may even buy something if she’s there in an ad, if just to, for several fleeting seconds, feel what it must be like to be her. But never have we said, “Man, oh, man, do I ever wish I could stink like J. Lo!” and rushed out to buy her perfume. So it was a return to those kinds of thoughts when we read this piece in Forbes, “Scarlett Johansson to Design Clothes for Reebok.” We think the young Ms. Johansson is just fine and dandy, but it’s hard to make that transition (“What acting prowess! I bet she’d make a killer track suit!”). Though, then again, she was all of, what, twelve, when she was in Lost in Translation and was playing a recent college grad? So there you go. Expectations be damned. Here’s the boiler plate about her involvement in the design process:

Has Hollywood’s favorite clotheshorse really spent hours with spool and thimble in the atelier? Amy Schaeffer, Reebok’s vice president of lifestyle design, claimed the starlet had taken a very active role in creating the “Scarlett ‘Hearts’ Rbk” line from the initial concept. Johansson has apparently sat through several product and design meetings with Reebok, including a three-hour session Monday prior to her visit yesterday to its headquarters. “We’ve shown her sketches throughout the design process,” said Schaeffer. “She has a very strong opinion and vision,” she added.

(double points to anyone who gets the title reference)

blik Loves Threadless Winners Announced

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Where graphics, interiors and fashion stick together, the cross-platform blik Loves Threadless contest has been won with the design named 7.00 by Letter. The wall kit, pictured above, features branches, perching birds, leaves and knobs that can be assembled and reassembled for the ultimate in living room forestation. While we’re not sure we’ll be affixing knobs to our walls, we absolutely love the shirt.

Happy When It Rains is the runner-up by Singerstyler, with an assortment of clouds, rainbows, cloud-people who operate scissors, and an octopi-sun. The Rainbow Brite-approved shirt is here.

Design Rules the Radio Waves: Steven Heller on WNPR

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After cruising online museums with Jim Coudal, you can take a walking tour of NY architecture with Steven Heller in this appearance on an WNPR show. With host Faith Middleton he talks about famous buildings, new city parks, mansion museums and hidden NY gems like a belltower in Harlem. We say download the show and soak it up while strolling Manhattan–you’ll learn to love NY in the summer, 100-degree weather notwithstanding.

Middleton also mentions Heller’s prolific god-like qualities–which he quibbles with, but we steadfastly agree with Middleton. Seriously, how could one man know so much?

Know Now What You’ll Hate Later (and maybe love, occasionally, too)

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We’re a big fan of Trend Watching and, as you may have noticed, have posted a few of their monthly features here and there. The one up for July, “Youniversal Branding,” is a fantastic, very in depth look at technology making it possible to marketing to individuals instead of taking the typical, soon-to-be-out-of-fashion shotgun approach. The site is now taking pre-orders for their gorgeous 2007 Trend Report, a big, bound book of all things soon-to-be. Granted, its aim is for people in development or business folk who want to say “Okay, tiny robotic frogs are going to be in next year, so let’s make some of those.” But, as a designer, you’re likely a big part of taking that from a silly idea one of these people read in a book and dreamt up, to fleshing it out into something tangible and interesting. And that, we’ve always felt, is who the site speaks to the best. So, if you’ve got an overstuffed wallet (the thing is $400 in the US), or a boss always happy to sign expense reports, we’re in recommendation of picking up a copy.

An Interaction With Mr. Interaction, Dan Saffer

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This is something that we’re not all that familiar with in creation, but all too familiar with in experience. It’s interaction design, or the art of making a person feel immediately comfortable with a product or device. AIGA has just put up a terrific interview with Dan Saffer, a guy who does this sort of design for a living, and who has just published a book called Designing for Interaction all about this stuff. The book itself, which we pick up pieces of the topic in the interview, takes a look at the history of interaction design, where it’s at now, where it’s going, and how to maybe start thinking like one of these people. Sounds like a really interesting read. Here’s a bit (of the interview):

Bill Moggridge and his colleague Bill Verplank at IDEO realized in the late 1980s that they had been doing a different kind of design than what was traditionally called “graphic design” or “industrial design,” so they gave it this name (which is much better than their alternate choice: “SoftFace:). But in my opinion, it’s something we’ve been doing since before recorded history. Aboriginal peoples made cairns to mark trails — that is, to communicate through time via a product. Native Americans used smoke signals to communicate over long distances.

The only thing new about it is that now, thanks to microprocessors being embedded into all sorts of objects that can now exhibit all sorts of different behaviors, it’s been recognized as a discipline. Somebody needed to figure out how these newly empowered objects should behave, and the tools of design were well-suited for it. Now, you can study it in school, and get paid to practice it. Whereas before, like other types of design, it was simply done without much reflection.

Works of Internet Art Are Just Better-Looking Ways to Waste Your Time

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Checking in to this week’s edition of Artkrush provides more than news and interviews; the focus on “Net Art” lets everyone play along. The highlights from our five-hour binge:

Screening Circle, a glorified quilting bee

Dumpster, teenage breakup sagas culled from blogs, plotted on an axis

HRRAAGHP-TING!, you feed it a word and it spits out corresponding images and audio

And, not art exactly, but a personal favorite we can’t tear ourselves away from: The Baby Namer, the ID winner that takes information design to new reproductive heights.

The Industrial Design Supersite Is Now An Industrial-Strength Design Job-Hunting Supersite

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Our friends at Core77 have just relaunched Coroflot, a portfolio site and job board that’s still completely free for you, a design job-hunting superstar, to use.

The coolest new feature is CoroSpy, where a mesmerizing slide show of images flash what people are uploading to the site in real time. If you’re looking to hire, something’s bound to catch your eye–Core77 says they’ll probably top 34,000 portfolios today.

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