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Posts Tagged ‘Brian Collins’

UnBeige Looks Back: See You In the Future, Mr. Powers!

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Maybe because it’s so fresh in our mind, but non-designer Michael Wolff‘s Dr. Evil impression sure does stick out as our favorite design memory of the year (Wolff photo courtesy of Jessica Perilla). Not this time, Mr. Glaser!

Here’s to many more non-banal moments in 2008. You can see our ten favorite 2007 stories here.

Have an extra-bubbly New Year’s Day for us.

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UnBeige Looks Back: The Year In Chowder

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Tracking the comings and goings of Brian Collins could fill an entire blog with posts that sound more like the frenetic tour schedule of the Blue Man Group (BEIJING! NEW YORK! BIRMINGHAM! DENVER! MARTHA’S VINEYARD! ONE NIGHT ONLY!). First he bailed on his gig at BIG for a limited engagement dishing up clam chowder at a Cape Cod seafood shack and a stint helping the kids in China. Then he was back in action with the only design firm we know named after a cocktail: COLLINS.

Okay, so there were a few minor details in need of clarification, but we’ll leave those to our sister blog. Collins remains number one in our hearts for one simple reason: He works for Al Gore.

UnBeige is counting down our biggest stories of 2007, all day, right here.

Designism 2.0 Recap: Michael Wolff Devours Panel, Glaser Eloquently Defends Design, Dove Real Beauties Not Ugly Enough

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The one MILLION dollar question. Photo by Core77.

A Wolff In Designer Clothing
In a city of thousands and thousands of designers, Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff might want to look at hiring some protection for the next few weeks. In his role as the “media critic” at last night’s Designism 2.0 event, Wolff told fellow panelists (including Milton Glaser) that “no design” was a better solution than the “banal” work they produce. While his comments elicited anger from the crowd–and more than one Dr. Evil comparison–he injected some much-needed debate to an otherwise self-congratulatory night. As Brian Collins told us later, “That’s why I brought him here.”

Let’s back up a bit though. ihaveanidea liveblogged the evening, opening with crappy weather and an earlier panel we moderated starring Ellen Sitkin, Andrew Sloat, and Ji Lee (who were amazing, by the way, and we wish they could have taken the stage with Wolff at the end to show him some “banal”). Tony Hendra, wearing his WGA strike shirt, gave the annual manifesto with searing wit (a portion of which can be found on the Huffington Post). Then, with Steven Heller moderating, Elizabeth Resnick presented posters from the Graphic Imperative, Janet Kestin presented the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, and Glaser presented his Darfur campaign and new work for Iraq refugees.

Then It Got Ugly
All the panelists joined Wolff onstage as he line-item lambasted design. The world is full of design, he argued, and everyone is trying so hard to be disruptive that everything disruptive is boring. What’s more, “everyone can do design,” he said. “So everyone should stop it.” While abrasive, it was effective, says Core77′s Robert Blinn says in his review: “Wolff asked the question that none of the designers in the audience truly cared to address: ‘Could anything truly new be said, or were we simply barraging a saturated audience with information they already had?’” Glaser, a gentleman to the end, began his first rebuttal, “I have to respectfully disagree with you.” The crowds roared. Glaser explained, that as he now tries to design campaigns to help causes, it’s less about what it looks like and more about how to get the word out. That’s still “design.”

But as the conversation shifted to the effectiveness of design for social change, the topic became Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty (ironically spearheaded by Designism ringmaster Collins at BIG) and Kestin took some serious grilling by audience members Laurie Rosenwald and Debbie Millman for not having “ugly” enough girls in the ads talking about poor body image perception. (Later we sat between Rosenwald and Kestin at dinner…awk-ward!) The whole issue about whether or not it was authentic, or just another ad, or even appropriately executed, was battled out on and off stage. Although not exactly the most provocative topic to dwell upon, it did give us the best quote of the night, courtesy Wolff: “Well, I know a lot of ugly people who think they’re really good-looking.”

Moving On
The moment of irony that killed us, however, was when Heller asked Wolff what design was powerful to him. Wolff said that the only great moment for design were the posters of the 60′s and 70′s. This was as Glaser, creator of many of them, and founder of another design device during that period, a magazine, that has not only brought about real social change, but also pays at least some of Wolff’s salary, sat right beside him, having just explained work that was every bit as simple, driven and arresting as those posters, but used technology, storytelling and global partnerships. Great, it’s easy to say that “something” different needed to be done, but say that design has never been able to evolve past print work done 40 years ago? That’s ludicrous. We think Wolff should be commissioned to write a review of the upcoming MoMA show, Design and the Elastic Mind, which shows how cutting-edge design is used to bring abstract ideas into the public embrace.

However poorly he presented his case (“He was sloppy,” someone near us said) we can’t say we really disagreed with anything Wolff said (except, of course the “banal” part). Something different does need to happen. Afterwards, in the ACT portion, three groups commanded the mic to pitch their causes–Sappi Ideas that Matter, Corbis’s ADC Award and free images for pro bono projects, and idealist.org–and a new social networking site, Designism Social, will be launched. But were these pitches–sponsors, really–enough to launch anyone into action over the sushi and Sapporos afterwards? We weren’t sure. We guess we have to wait until Designism 3.0

But we did like Wolff’s alternative for blindly leaping into a cause. “Stay home, read a book. Read a lot of books. Then, when the urge becomes irresistible, then do something.” Even Dr. Evil was right sometimes.

More photos and coverage at Core77, Graphic Design Forum, Daily Heller, uncivilsociety.org, and ihaveanidea.

Abort Clambake! Brian Collins Launches COLLINS With The Martin Agency

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If you’re en route to Nantucket right now for a bowl of that creamy, chunky chowder that Brian Collins promised you earlier this year, put your brakes on. Turns out that the former BIG man on campus also spent those few months weighing his options at his Cape Cod palace on the sand, where he tells us he was courted by more than a few people (and not just Al Gore). After much deliberation, Collins has launched COLLINS, an “innovation design agency” in partnership with The Martin Agency:

In his new company, Mr. Collins will take a more radical approach to finding solutions for brands looking for innovative ways to connect in a new landscape. “It’s an open frontier, ready for revolutionary thinking,” said Mr. Collins. “Unfortunately, old-school advertising relegates designers to the tail end of the creative process–if we’re there at all. We will flip that equation on its head, placing design–and the customer’s real experience–at the beginning, the center and the end of everything we do.”

And no, he’s not going to Richmond, where The Martin Agency is headquartered. COLLINS (and Collins) will be right here in NYC. And he would really love for you to stop by for a hot dog if ever you find yourself in the neighborhood. Really.

Command X: Get Out the Vote

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Here we are at the final round of Command X, the world’s first graphic design reality show held live at the AIGA NEXT conference in Denver, Colorado. Because we know you’re wondering, yes, judge Brian Collins is back, and got to hang out with Nobel Prize-winning Al Gore yesterday in San Francisco to work on his Alliance for Climate Protection, which is coincidentally the organization that will benefit from his Nobel Prize money. Collins told us that the media was swarming outside his hotel when he got there, but Gore still made time to take the meeting. Oh, he has Ghirardelli chocolates for everyone. It’s just like the Hershey store.

Back to the show and the challenge: to get 18 to 26-year-olds to vote. It’s a much more sober round. Kelly Dorsey, usually very funny but this time quite serious, had a nice subversive logo. Matthew Muñez was articulate again, but a bit loose in his concept.

Beginning with a great audience participation gimmick, it is Nichelle Narcisi‘s “except you” campaign that brings down the house, in a stunning standing ovation before Michael Bierut even does the applause-o-meter. He says he was expecting something more like…sausages? Narcisi is quick: “You like that Helvetica, don’t you?”

***Deliberation***

Noreen Morioka‘s been bawling since she had to make her decision. Emily Oberman and Bonnie Siegler are playing their “American Idol” roles to a T. Collins promises to turn his and Morioka’s flirting with Muñez into a dinner (what we wouldn’t give to be at that affair). Morioka will not stop crying. Bierut: “There’s no crying in graphic design.”

Matthew Muñez gets second place.

Kelly Dorsey gets first runner up

And of course, Nichelle Narcisi wins.

All AIGA NEXT coverage.

Command X: Jimmy Dean Challenge

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We snapped this shot of the Command X kids in action during their grueling 16 hour cram to rebrand the Jimmy Dean Pancakes & Sausage. We also got this shot, of sausage in action:

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During tonight’s presentation the crowd was rolling. Here’s our favorites, by Matthew Muñez:

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And Nichelle Narcisi‘s. Yes, that’s a cowgirl riding a sausage on a stick:

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In the end, with Michael Vanderbyl standing in for judge Brian Collins, who was called away on official business (emergency clambake?), Elaine Chernov and Ryan Smoker are booted. Big group hug.

Next assignment: Get people aged 18-24 to vote.

All AIGA NEXT coverage here.

Command X Adds Major Comic Relief and Insults Denver Football Fans

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No surprise at all, but Michael Bierut is extremely funny when takes the stage as the Heidi Klum or Tim Gunn of graphic design (you take your pick) in his hosting duties for the design reality show “Command X” which will unfold throughout the AIGA conference. Judges are Brian Collins, Noreen Morioka, Emily Oberman, Bonnie Siegler and seven young designers will be eliminated one-by-one.

The assignment gave them a week to design a new logo for the Denver Broncos. Surprise guest judge is the art director for the Broncos, Annie Hellerstein. Both Morioka and Collins hit on participant Matthew Muñez after his rather eloquent defense of his work, and there are multiple snot cloud discussions based on the nose spray trajectory of huffing horses.

Scott Gundersen and Mike Burton go buh-bye. But where’s the catchy cut line?

Next challenge: Jimmy Dean Pancakes & Sausage packaging redesign. Collins declares it delicious.

All AIGA NEXT coverage here.

Command X Deadline Extended to July 16

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Thriving as we do on backstabbing, catfights and tears, why else do we think applying for AIGA’s Command X, the live graphic design reality show, is such a great idea?

· You can get comped admission to the NEXT conference.
· You might win a shiny new copy of CS3 and a shiny new $1000.
· You will be hazed by none other than host Michael Bierut.

If that doesn’t entice you, we’ve also just got the judge lineup so you’ll know who’ll be administering the spankings: Brian Collins, who will be serving clam chowder between rounds, Noreen Morioka, who will be too wasted to know what’s going on anyway, and Emily Oberman and Bonnie Siegler, who, as everyone knows, can be bought.

The deadline has been extended to July 16 so apply today. Send checks, money orders or Prada gift cards to Number Seventeen, 285 W. Broadway, Room 650, NY, NY 10013.

Brian Collins Serving Clam Chowder on Cape Cod During Leave of Absence

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Since declaring his extended vacation from BIG and before he heads to Shanghai and Beijing to taint the minds of young design students, Brian Collins is throwing a summer-long clambake at his house on Cape Cod:

If you find your way to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard this summer, Brian would be happy to invite you for some fried clams or clam chowder at his home on Cape Cod.

That sounds like a standing offer for all of you in the New England region. Be forewarned, however, seeing as those extended leave of absence paychecks can be a little sparse, please BYOB.

Collins also leaves us with this verse from Edna St. Vincent Millay to get us in the mood for a little chowdah:

Standing Fig

Safe upon the solid rock
the ugly houses stand;
Come and see my shining palace
Built upon the sand!

Interesting. We hope the Collins complex is indeed a palace on the sand and not a castle made of sand, since you know what they say about those.

Project M at the Rural Studio Heats Up

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Two planes and 30 degrees Fahrenheit away from our LA environs, we are coming to you live from Greensboro, Alabama, located in the now world-famous Hale County, home of the Rural Studio, and also this summer’s ground zero for the design-for-good program Project M. John Bielenberg (that’s him up there in the orange) and eight young designers have been cooking up ideas for making a difference here since June 1, with a steady stream of advisors shipped in regularly to invigorate and inspire.

Swiss designer Thomas Sevcik blew in for a day, Adam Brodsley was here a few weeks back, and his Volume partner Eric Heiman is here now, with Brian Collins rumored to be peeking his head in next week (en route to China, perhaps?). Erik Cox and Christopher Simmons are also headed this way, and we were thrilled to have Washington University architecture dean Bruce Lindsey here for the weekend, who was former head of the Rural Studio.

First, some shots from our orientation, including the HERO Knowledge Cafe (a housing resource center for the county) above, which is serving as M’s base of operations.

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