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Archives: February 2006

Vote Early, Vote Often


If you haven’t visited the Design Archives yet, today is the perfect day to peruse this hearty resource. AIGA has been busy gathering hundreds of pieces for this definitive design collection, and they’re adding to it all the time.

That’s all fine and well, you say, but why are we bringing this up today? The Design Archives have been named as a finalist in the SXSW Web Awards, meaning they’re now eligible for the People’s Choice Award. Hundreds of sites were nominated in 16 different categories, which have now been whittled down to five in each category.

The Design Archives are filed in Art–which is something we’ll have a talk about later–and they’re up against four other sites which are surely quite worthy in their own right, but not about design. Wouldn’t it be really cool if we all voted for the Design Archives to show our support for design? Wouldn’t it?

You can vote once a day here. The winner will be announced March 12 at the SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin. We’ll be there to celebrate on your behalf.

The Government Probably Paid Us to Post This


Back in a certain writer’s younger days, before he succumbed to the bleak assembly-line life that is a day job and posting to a certain website about design, he used to like buying things to read that would get him really angry at all kinds of stuff. One of these things he loved, so much so that he had a subscription for a couple of years, was “Adbusters.” Really fantastic design, terrific artists, and if you didn’t hate everything and assume everyone was corrupt and soulless before you read a copy, you sure did after! What fun!

But personal-story-weirdly-told-in-third-person aside, the new book by Adbusters’ founder, Kalle Lasn, “Design Anarchy” might be the thing that brings us back out of this fat and happy state we’re in now and get us back to where we should be: joining our middle-class brethren and pretending to be Zapatistas at anti-Bush protests. Here’s a little from the book’s introduction:

A radical new aesthetic vision by Adbusters founder Kalle Lasn, Design Anarchy takes an unflinching look at contemporary art and design, implicating its seemingly innocuous practices in crimes against our culture and our planet. By turns intimate, abstract, accusatory, and hopeful, this book is an urgent call for artists, designers, architects and communicators to re-engage with the world, to explore their role in the pollution and future redemption of our mental and physical commons. In the battle for a new kind of meaning, Design Anarchy is 400 pages without precedent.

Despite that paragraph, really, the book does look interesting. You just have to look past all the shouting and weird ideas about how humanity really functions.

Everybody Wants to Get Into the Act


You see headline above and say, “No, duh.” But what about the millions of other people who see it and say, “Wow, design. That’s something I want. I don’t really know what it is, but I want it.”

For better or for worse, design is now officially a buzzword. The reason we know this is because of this new campaign for Infiniti, where they’ve chosen to launch their new FX (ha, get it?) with the lofty premise that it’s akin to something Karim Rashid would create. Still have no idea what we’re talking about? Check out the Vibrant Design website, where Infiniti’s FX designers are placed among a definitive, knock ‘em down lineup of design.

Target, yes, you can have a Design for All website. You have incredible designers associated with your products. Infiniti, you make cars. They’re nice, but you’re no David Rockwell. In fact, you’re no BMW, either.

Bad Photos Makes the Internet Sad


We know you’re bored. It’s Friday afternoon, you’re at work. You’re bored. Everyone is. So why not do something constructive with your time and post some thought-provoking comments to this potentially interesting, thought-receiving post, “Product photography on ecommerce sites or How to be different online.” One of those things we hadn’t given much thought to, but it’s something that web-centric people should be spreading around so it eventually gets through the layers of cotton in clients’ ears. Here’s a little bit from the post that got the discussion started:

I am constantly amazed by the quality of product photography online. It’s despicable. Someone could literally make a business out of fixing the poor product photography and post-editing on ecommerce sites. But nobody would hire that person because apparently nobody cares. Why is it that people will pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for ecommerce web site creation yet they won’t spend a nickel on good photography?

Revolving Door: We’re Going to Need a Bigger Door


Maybe our favorite bit of creativity of all time, “Pieces of Her,” a play about market research for Tide written by weirdos at Saatchi, has made the rounds in the Cinncinatti HQ of Proctor and Gamble and caused a big shake up. “Hey,” thinks a high powered P&G executive, “reading this play is making me deal with the emotions I feel toward myself, toward Tide, and all the agencies who handle our interactive accounts.” And then they smoked a thousand dollar bill and feasted upon the last living Keebler elf.

Point is, Ad Age has reported that there’s been a massive shakeup among the interactive firms that work with P&G. Three firms are gone and a batch of newbies have been added. The best part of this is that the firms that have, for years, been running the company’s two largest accounts, Pampers and Gillette, have “formally joined the roster.” So those millions upon millions were just a fun-time trial run? Isn’t that like dating someone, having children with them, spending the next seventy years together, and then finally annoucing, “Okay, I’ll go out on a date with you.”?

Michael Graves Brings His Teakettle to the Parsons Table


If you only know him as The Man Who Saved Target, you might be pleasantly surprised to know that Michael Graves is responsible for much more than chirpy appliances.

Beyond his iconic product design for Big Red and Alessi, Graves has done hotels, a line of fixtures like faucets and showerheads, and buildings like the Disney headquarters. His most recent work are these cool prefab gazebos that are sure to lend much needed class to McMansions everywhere. Graves also sustained a life-threatening illness that’s left him unable to walk, leading to an unplanned foray into hospital architecture and accessible design.

Michael Graves, in conversation with Parsons Dean Paul Goldberger
Wednesday, March 8, 6:30 p.m.
Tishman Auditorium, Parsons the New School for Design, 66 West 12th Street, New York
Tickets are $15, email here or call 212-229-5488

Revolving Door: Peter Saville, The Goto Artist


We’ve got to admit that this is probably the coolest Revolving Door we’ll ever post. We’ve just found out that Peter Saville, the guy behind Factory Records and countless Joy Division and New Order album covers, among many, many other super cool, high profile projects, has signed on as a goto guy for M&C Saatchi (London). Sounds like a pretty terrific gig, given the description in this quick press release:

“Working closely with the executive creative director, Graham Fink, Saville will work on a project basis, offering advice and critique on campaigns for various clients. However, he will not be involved in the creative process. Saville said: “I’m not going to be hands-on. Other people will be doing the work. But if I have something to offer to the evolution of the department, then I want to do it.”

Note: if you want a good rundown of Saville’s career, namely his music stuff, we found this good page with lots of info. Read away! Go!

What Happens When Graphic Designers Make Graphs


This story totally rocks for two reasons. First of all, it’s a perfect example of what great graphic design does. Second of all, it’s using that great graphic design to make the world a better place.

Check out Andrew Blum’s article on BusinessWeek Online about Gapminder, a company that wants to make us aware of the inequality between cultures by illustrating the “gaps.” They’ve organized a bunch of numbers that we would have otherwise ignored into clear, colorful comparisons that can be grasped by the masses. These charts look way too beautiful to be showing us such chilling statistics.

STA Meeting Tonight, in beautiful downtown Niles!


A local Chicago happening tonight, two hours from now, that’s sure to be fun, despite the fact that it’s being held in Niles (Niles?!). It’s the Society of Typographic Arts Dinner Series, starting at 6pm tonight at Chamber’s Sea Food Grill and Chop House, 6881 North Milwaukee Avenue, Niles, IL. (Niles?!?!). Here’s the scoop:

Our guest speaker will be Dawn Hancock, distinguished Chicago designer, creative director and owner of Firebelly Design Corporation. This unique design firm focuses their talent and energy towards serving socially conscious causes. Dawn will share her experiences in creating a business with a passion for great work and a dedication to clients who value good corporate citizenship.

One Way To Save Music Videos


You usually never notice the products placed in videos–hey, could you pass the Courvoisier?–but Nike has managed to pull off a fairly unintrusive coup of this concept, creating a “sponsored” music video. They (and when we say they, we mean R/GA) also created the first “interactive” music video, where you can learn the moves of singer Rihanna or director/choreographer Jamie King right there on the site. Put on your legwarmers and go to

This is a really good idea to help the music video industry. If you don’t have the budget to make a cool video, get a corporate sponsor. Actually, the Black Eyed Peas have been doing this for years.