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Posts Tagged ‘Wolff Olins’

Adrian Shaughnessy Survives Journey Into Wolff Olins Den of Crazies

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We admire the courage of Creative Review and Design Observer contributor Adrian Shaughnessy, we really do. He has done something we wouldn’t do, not even if our blogging careers depended on it. He has visited a dangerous realm known worldwide for its proliferation of controversy, protest and seizures: He has visited the offices of Wolff Olins. Don’t worry, he was screened for epilepsy ahead of time.

He was even so bold as to ask them about the deadly Olympic logo, risking life, limb and permanent damage to his eyesight when speaking with the creators of the biggest design scandal of 2007, Brian Boylan and Patrick Cox. And even though Shaughnessy had called it (pick one) “ghastly, dreadful, impoverished, bad, unmemorable, trying to be trendy,” they were nice!

Both Boylin and Cox stand by the 2012 work. I expected them to be evasive, constrained by gagging orders from the London 2012 committee, but the opposite was true. They discussed it freely and with quiet enthusiasm, which made me realise that Lord Coe and his team committed an Olympic-sized error by not allowing Wolff Olins to defend their work. Their considered response would have deflected some of the media criticism.

To our amazement, Wolff Olins has done plenty of work that we hadn’t previously recognized them for, and we noticed some common themes. So without delay, a look back at the response to their other big clients:

London 2012 Olympics: Controversy, protest, seizures.
(RED): Controversy, protest.
NYC logo: Controversy, protest.

The only one that doesn’t fit the mold?

New Museum: Widespread praise (finally).

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No, Not THAT Michael Wolff

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Especially in light of yesterday’s end-of-the-year round up, we owe a huge, heartfelt apology to one Michael Wolff.

No, not the Michael Wolff who terrorized innocent bystanders with his attack on banality on that cold, dark, wintry night. (Although it’s not the first time he’s done such a thing…check out Wolff playing a similar role on a PBS panel.)

We want to issue an apology to the real Michael Wolff, the one who lends his last name to legendary British design firm Wolff Olins. Besides being responsible for a seizure-inducing logo or two, this Michael Wolff is reported to be an all-around lovely guy.

To differentiate between the two, henceforth we’ll call the non-designer Dr. Evil Michael Wolff. Which is what we were calling him anyway.

Further Proof That British People Have No Sense of Humor

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The sweet, sassy lady warning you to “Mind the Gap” when stepping from the trains of the London Underground will soon be replaced with some innocuous computer-generated robotic tones. Voiceover artist Emma Clarke got booted from her gig for a series of very, very funny spoofs of her regular tube announcements posted on her website. The spots, which she clearly labels spoof tube announcements, are spot-on in their satire (we’re partial to the “reminder for American tourists”).

On Clarke’s blog, she reveals that she told Underground officials that she was planning on recording spoofs, and they were looking forward to hearing them. But it’s not necessarily the spoofs themselves that got her canned, says the London official interviewed: “It’s because she has criticised the Underground system.”

Yet the designers of Wolff Olins remain gainfully employed.

TAXI! NY Times Asks Eight Designers to Comment on the Big Yellow Mess

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We said we weren’t so fond of the new NYC T-Axi design, but does it qualify for an all out design scandal? Of course it does! Why? Because we just found out those ca-raaaaaa-zy kids at Wolff Olins are involved, and as we all know, they’ve made a corporate commitment to be at the center of every branding and identity firestorm on the planet. Wolff Olins did the blobby overinflated balloon NYC portion of the logo and handed it over to Smart Design, who did the rest.

David Dunlap at the NY Times has made a fabulous gesture to the world of design (better than the typical “my kid/grandma/cockatiel with one broken wing could make better logo”) by asking eight local designers to weigh in and craft alternatives, all while generating some rather civil discourse. Our favorites, hands down, are by Sam Potts, one version of which is above. Really, why does it need anything else?

Wolff Olins Introduces New Seizure-Inducing Work

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Please, we beg of you, look away now if you are easily annoyed, faint of stomach or prone to motion sickness. And do not, we repeat, do NOT look here. (No, really, check it out, and tell us what it is! Party hats in space?)

You would think after nearly 3,000 people were killed by the London Olympic logo Wolff Olins would have learned a lesson, yet here they are, using nearly the same shade of strobing pink, again finding inspiration in dog chew toys, and still doing mushrooms at work.

Love it or hate it, we must commend Wolff Olins for sparking a new trend in identity design: Clown Postmodernism. More at Brand New.

Thanks to Keith Scharwath.

When Design Attacks: London’s Logo Really Making People Sick

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You asked for it, you got it! A high-flying design scandal that’s front page news! The question is, what does this really mean for anyone? We’re not sure! But we sure are excited! So excited that we’re feeling really dizzy!

London Olympic Logo Flap Recap
Once again, the epilepsy report from Reuters; over 50,000 people simultaneously puke; Mayor Ken Livingstone says don’t pay Wolff Olins; but Wolff Olins didn’t make the video, they swear; but Armin Vit likes the video; Daily Mail readers can do better; CNN viewers can do better; even–gasp–the SUN can do better!; Adrian Shaughnessy bemoans the loss of his hamster; Lord Coe cries into his shepherd’s pie.

Critic Recap
Peter Saville: “cheesy”, “brave and confrontational”
Stephen Bayley: “puerile mess, an artistic flop and a commercial scandal”
Michael Johnson: “I’m sure a lot of people will hate it”
Jessica Helfand (on the BBC!): “destructive, abrasive”
Adrian Shaughnessy (also on BBC!): “ghastly, dreadful, impoverished, bad, unmemorable, trying to be trendy…”

You know, after looking at it so much today, it almost feels like an old friend. An old friend who used to be really big back in the ’80s until he started doing a lot of blow and and hanging out behind this pub in Brixton wearing the same hot pink jumpsuit from the ’80s instead now it’s covered in razors and broken glass and you accidentally make eye contact and he starts reaching out towards you screaming “Please, please! Just a few pence! I don’t got no one else! I ain’t got nowhere else to go!”