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Archives: October 2006

Happy Halloween From Spook Up

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The festive kids over at Speak Up have two features up to get you in the spirit of handing over precious Butterfinger bars to creepy-looking kids. First we’ll indulge in a tasty treat from Marian Bantjes who never fails to bring us a little historical perspective with our visual culture. “Bare Bones” excavates all those scary symbols from skeletons to witches, and reveals why zombies and vampires just don’t fit in with the rest of the freaks.

Then, don’t forget to chime in on Jimm Lasser’s rhetorical question “What is the Perfect Halloween Costume?” on this holiday where everyone employs a little design sense to construct the perfect, slutty costume.

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We Like Ely Kim

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No, we don’t normally post portfolio sites for designers. If, perchance, we do, they have to be good. Really good. And if possible, utilize kind of awesome wordplay.

Ely Kim’s portfolio is really good, uses wordplay, and–perfect for today–a little scary. But scary in a good way. And the wordplay, well, you be the judge. All we’re saying is, we like him, that Ely Kim.

Saarinen at Sunrise

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Only hours after we heard Henry Myerberg and Richard Smyth speak about their plans for the new JetBlue terminal at JFK, we found ourselves standing before the old TWA building at 5am with about an hour to kill before whisking through security. It’s just a shell of a building, and looks like it hasn’t been touched since 2001, yet the cranes towering behind it will preserve most of the building’s integrity in a gorgeous Gensler-Rockwell Group collaboration. We’re praying for many a flight delay in 2008.

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Type, All Up In Our Face

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It was Type Day for us yesterday. First we got into a talk with someone about trying to duplicate a complicated typeface for this silly little side project and then it was ultimately decided, “Or couldn’t we just ask the [project providers] for the font?” which made things so much easier. Then, by way of Typographica, we found this terrific interview with Si Scott, one of the designers who is responsible for all this flowery text we see near everywhere these days. Then, to close the day out, when we got home we found this film, Typography School linked up at 30gms. It’s a little weird in that we don’t really understand why it’s filmed the way it is (because it has to do with education, is that why it has to look like a newsreel?), it’s still got some great commentary about design and process by London College of Printing’s David Dabner.

Reporting from the Field (Albeit a Small, Wooden Field)

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You’ve seen a lot of links to him lately because, well, once the man moved to New York, he started seeing and doing it all. Michael Surtees has this great report from the inside on a topic we talked about a few weeks back, the World Graphic Design Foosball Championship. A nice big Flickr set too. Go check both out and be sad you didn’t attend. But, hey, judging from the success this year, you’ll probably get a chance to attend in ’07. Here’s some:

Looking at the uniforms or lack there of was also a great time passer. In my opinion Princeton Architectural Press won the award for most innovative use of sign stickers that you could probably buy at Home Depot. Big type was popular too, one guy had a big letter “A” in tennis ball material on his shirt, while another team who I’m guessing were from Los Angeles b/c one guy had a giant “L” and the other had a giant “A” which looked pretty cool when they were standing beside each other. There were track suits, people wearing shorts, pink shirts, striped shirts, and one astronaut uniform worn by no other than Felix Sockwell.

Prep for Toyko

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Will there ever be a week again that is not a “Design Week” somewhere in the world? It’s definitely not going to be this week, as starting Wednesday the 1st, the Tokyo Design Week kicks off. And because we know our readers are nothing if not people who need to be in-the-know at all times, we thought we’d provide you with a couple of links ahead of time, so you can follow along as the week progresses. Here’s a couple:

* Jean Snow will be covering the whole week, day by day, in his excellent column at The Japan Times.
* Snow also has a great blog, and right here you’ll find a batch of links to additional coverage.
* And last is this fairly thorough rundown from The Daily Yoiuri, about what to keep your eye out for.

If you are planning on attending, keep us in mind, eh? We’d love to hear all about it. And if you’d like to cover any of the goings-ons, we’d extra like to talk.

More Highlights From Gain

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AIGA’s Gain Conference brought together design and business last Friday and Saturday in NY. More coverage here.

Two duos of presenters had such remarkable chemistry, it was as if exemplary relationships between design and business were coming to life before our very eyes: Shane Brentham and Kevin Farnham of Autodesk and Method, and Henry Myerberg and Richard Smyth of the Rockwell Group and JetBlue, were quick, self-deprecating, and funny.

We heard from two stellar corporations on the secrets to their success. Scott Williams from Starwood gave a hilarious presentation which actually exposed the hospitality empire’s shortcomings–he showed video of a “preferred guest” whining because the hotel’s employee failed to recognize that he’d been promoted from gold to platinum status, then nearly lost it when they gave him a key to an unclean room. (“What you couldn’t see is that there was actually a dead body in there,” joked Williams.) Soft-spoken Sam Hecht of Muji gave a delightful overview of the value of “appropriateness” fueling our favorite maker of objects.

Probably most exciting were the two new design superstars minted at Gain. Bobby Martin Jr. killed it with five hot pink minutes about his job as director of the Lincoln Center design studio. Ji Lee brought down the house with a story about the Bubble Project, his viral graffiti project that lets ads talk back to consumers. In a telling moment, bubbles were handed out to the audience, but rather than slapping them on bus shelters themselves, many participants had theirs autographed by Lee.

IDEO’s Tom Kelley will likely have MSNBC calling him today after an exceptional first-time turn as moderator. Another highlight (for us, at least): spending all day backstage watching presenters interview with Steven Heller, the Dick Cavett of design. Although they’ll have to do a fair amount of editing to keep the interviews from feeling totally repetitive; almost every person’s answers began with, “That’s a really good question, Steve.”

Gain Conference Still an Industry Leader

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Sure, now there’s a design and business conference every week. But with its Gain popping up every two years for over a decade, AIGA originated a category. And last week, they proved to a packed audience of almost 700 people that they’re still one of the best.

As these folks are wont to do, many speakers tried in vain to trace that elusive line between design and business. Our gal Moira Cullen gave yet another remarkable presentation about brand experience (how many of these does she have in her back pocket?). The Design Council’s Harry Rich made us insanely jealous of the UK’s solid statistics on design’s value. Roger Martin of Rotman’s D-school seemed to have some great points, too, but in such a bland-looking presentation it was hard to see if he was truly taking his own advice. We know some of you are just brilliant business people who can’t be bothered by such things, but this was a disturbing trend at a conference focused on the importance of design. Maybe there needs to be some kind of Keynote pre-screening process.

Elephant-in-the-room China was covered twice, first by 18-year-old author Michael Stanat, author of China’s Generation Y: Understanding the Future Leaders of the World’s Next Superpower, and then by Cheskin cultural anthropolgist LiAnne Yu. Start biting your nails now, Stanat said he guesses 2 in 8 Chinese kids want to become designers. Sustainability also reared its large green head: Every rejected carpet square you give back to your interior designer uses one quart of oil so Michael Hendrix of Tricycle and Bo Barber of Nood found a way for carpet companies to dematerialize their samples.

Finally, Doug Powell gave a moving, concise and beautifully-designed presentation about HealthSimple, a company that helps people with chronic illness to connect with the information they need. He founded HealthSimple with his wife after his daughter Maya was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. This presentation provided the most direct line between design and business: they saw a problem and used design to fix it, and because of the clarity, beauty and accessibility of their work, it was easy for them to be embraced by the business community. Powell’s evocative and deeply personal story should have closed the program.

More highlights here. Coverage and great photos at Core77.

Photography…Of the Future! (and beyond)

For some reason, we hadn’t caught sight of Photosynth, an idea in the works by Microsoft Live Labs, until we found this post on the wonderful PSFK. Take a look and tell us that you don’t think this could change everything in the way we think about photography and Web 2.0 and all things in between. Simply amazing.

Natasha: For All Your Neon Spandex Needs

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If you’ve been spending your time lamenting the loss of CBGB’s by getting drunk in dumpsters (which would be a surprisingly similar experience, we’d wager), maybe now you can drag yourself out and start reliving those grand experiences. Because, remember, they say that one closed door always leads to another one opening. So it’s with interest that one of the members of that original 1970s punk scene, Natasha, former designer at the store “Revenge” in St. Marks, then later another using her own name, has just opened a store online, selling, well, “punk-esque” attire. Here’s some:

The “REVENGE GIRLS” as they were called, were kind of a gang of girls, we were about seven punk girls that ran the store and were out on the scene every night. Either at Max’s Kansas City, or CBGB’s. They knew everyone that was anyone.

Natasha, was the in house designer and would make clothing out of zippers, spandex, leather and vinyl. She was inspired by comic book heroines especially Vamperella, you can see the influence in her vampsuits. The spandex pants became the staple for girls and guys for the next 10 to 15 years and started a major trend in stretch clothing.

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