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Archives: April 2007

If You’re Too Busy to Read This New ‘Ideas’ Essay, You Should Read This New ‘Ideas’ Essay

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Always the sign of a good rest of the week to come when you get a new essay from Ideas on Ideas. This time around, it’s a piece by Eric Karjaluoto entitled “Focused?” that tackles the plight of the small agency trying to handle too much, or, if you’re like us, trying to take on way too much freelance work and getting overwhelmed more often than not. Karjaluoto sums up the point of the essay best at the very end when he says, “As designers, we need to run our businesses, and not the other way around.” There’s some great advice in there and it’s a very worthwhile read, per usual. Here’s a little from the beginning:

Why do designers sometimes take on more than they should? The answers to this may be out of my reach, but I’d like to present a couple of possibilities. First, we enjoy what we do, so it’s easy to fall in love with the idea of crafting every aspect of a campaign. Be it passion or the tendency to obsess over the details, our desire to touch everything can get in the way of efficient business.

Shift Magazine Shifts Focus Away from ‘Cutie Girls’

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By way of Jean Snow we found I Momus“A Complete History of Japanese Cutie Girls, 1997 – 2007.” While the title sounds a little, well, odd, the story itself is really interesting. It’s about Shift magazine killing off a ten year old feature that highlighted women’s fashion, entitled “Tokyo Cutie Girls,” because the trends had become too dull, too straight-laced. Momus weighs in on this move, as well as the history of the section in the magazine and the fashion trends in general. If you’re like us and the last time you were really keyed into what was going on in Japan, with all those “don’t these women look insane with all their weird, bright colors?!” stories from the late-90s, you’ll extra find this interesting. Here’s some from the very beginning:

Ten years later, a re-designed Shift quietly killed the feature after a final shoot in their 121st edition. By now retitled Girls on the Street, the last pictures showed Sapporo women of almost nun-like sobriety. The predominant colours were black, grey, cream and beige. The super-protestant spirit of Muji and Uniqlo seemed to have won. Japanese street fashion — as a funky freakshow cliche, at least — went from active to archive.

HP Buys LogoWorks, Ushers In A Whole New Era of Exciting Swooshes

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Bad news for those who are of the opinion that designing a logo takes time, skill and talent: HP announced late yesterday that they’re buying Arteis, the company who runs LogoWorks, the ones who create whole identity packages for as little as $299 in just three days. But we, like all design sites, have complained about these places loads of times before, so we’ll spare you another bout of complaints. Sure, for a tiny company with a $1.50 to their name and with limited visibility, there’s probably a purpose somewhere in there. But now, with HP behind them, expect the company’s visibility to skyrocket and, in turn, create even more very broad, very uninspired identities. (wait, did we just promise not to complain, but then added two sentences full of smarmy complaints? we’re like that sometimes)

$150 Million Later, Finally Some Dignity Can Be Found In the Air

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Although regular people can’t technically fly on the Airbus A380, the largest passenger planes on the planet are apparently available for purchase by the world’s most financially secure. Fortune has the story behind one 6,640 square-foot Airbus cabin that was outfitted with $150 million interiors.

Designer Edese Doret passed along some of his photos, which are supplemented with captions containing such casual statements about this client’s wealth that they will make any sane reader do a double take. For example, in the center of the photo above you can see a special “built-in case that displays a model of one of the client’s yachts.” Just one, mind you. One of many. Many yachts.

Who’s Doing What on the Web? Survey Says!

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Following up on our post about Jeffrey Zeldman‘s “Women and Web Design” article, we have another dispatch from the man. A List Apart is conducting its first annual Web Design Survey:

In all the years people have been creating websites, nobody has actually bothered to collect data on who does the work, under what job titles, using which skills, for what kinds of compensation.

The important thing is that we will finally have some data on the designers, developers, IAs and content specialists whose work shoulders the new information age.

If you’re an English speaker, the survey will take you 10 minutes or less and, as an added incentive (beyond doing your good design deed of the day, of course) you could win a free seat at An Event Apart, a 30GB iPod, or other cool stuff.

Racial Stereotypes Still Alive and Well at the Supermarket

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Maybe Hank Richardson shouldn’t have been so infuriated by Uncle Ben’s appointment as CEO–or at least so shocked. According to this article in Slate by David Segal, plenty of racial spokescharacters have had quite healthy careers. Sadly, Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima are still staring out at us from the aisles when most other characters have been long fired.

Thanks to Rob Bynder.

Thoroughly Modern Johnny

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The LA Modernism Show is rolling into town once again on May 4-6. You’ll remember last year’s event was hosted by Will Ferrell, and this year’s celeb host is Johnny Depp, with a theme perfect for the mascara-wearing pirate who has been known to pick up a guitar or two: “Music & Design” will include examples that demonstrate how modern design influenced music of the 20th century:

On display will be the first electrically amplified piano designed by John Vassos and produced by RCA–a 1939 World’s Fair show-stopper along with other unusual pianos including the Rippen Aluminum Grand.

Likewise 20th century guitar makers such as Gibson and Fender remedied the modern demands for louder instruments by creating solid bodied guitars in more exciting shapes and colors with space age names such as the Telecaster, Explorer, and the Flying V on the headstocks. In the last few years prices for these vintage classics have skyrocketed to nearly a million dollars with Eric Clapton‘s guitar selling at auction for $990,000. A collection of rare vintage guitars, 1940′s jukeboxes, speakers designed for the modern home by George Nelson will also be exhibited.

The show, sale and events are all at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, tickets available here.

Learning the Ropes of Ranking: The Top 25 Architecture Sites

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What started off as something of a joke has been making the rounds a little lately and turned out to be something of an interesting look into the rankings of these here websites, if not just a nice resource to see what’s what. Found by way of A Daily Dose of Architecture, it’s Eikongraphia’s MoPo 2007. “MoPo” short for “Most Popular Architecture Blogs.” The blog itself set out to just see if it could gather up all the required info to rank architecture blogs, using the typical methods of culling data from Google, Technorati, etc., as well as polling, but then went back to include two separate columns for the ranks: one for individual blogs and the other for collaborative sites where lots of people are posting. Really that’s about it, but again, perhaps a valuable batch of links and info for you, should you decide you need to start upping your daily fix of architecture.

Treading the Boards with Mies and Farnsworth

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We’ve been subscribers to the New Yorker for years and we can always tell when we’re in one of those incredibly busy periods in our lives when we have a six month old stack of them, each completely unread (except for maybe the cartoons and movie reviews). Hence, why we found out about Paul Goldberger‘s piece about the new play, “The Glass House,” by way of Archinect. It’s from the Talk of the Town section in this week’s issue about creating a play about one of Mies van der Rohe‘s most famous buildings, The Farnsworth House. Here’s some:

“The Glass House” explores the romantic relationship between a female client and a male architect that merely happens to have, at its center, one of the most famous houses in history. The tensions between Dr. Edith Farnsworth, who dreamed of commissioning a great work of architecture, and Mies van der Rohe, who seduced her into letting him build the house he wanted, represent the stresses of almost every client-architect relationship. “It is the story of people who were together for five years and built this wonderful house, and then they sued each other,” June Finfer, the playwright, said the other day.

Branding Virginia Tech

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A terrific essay up over at Ad Age late yesterday about the television branding of the massacre at Virginia Tech last week, “Anything This Graphic Should Never Have a Logo.” In it, writer Simon Dumenco chides the networks for their visual treatments of the event. It’s a very interesting read, as he chronicles the one-upsmanship between the major television news outlets. Here’s a little:

During “Anderson Cooper 360” on Tuesday night, for instance, CNN‘s animated MASSACRE AT VIRGINIA TECH logo throbbed and twirled with all the subtlety of an “American Idol” bumper. MASSACRE was in a stark typewriter font (a transparent attempt, of course, at evoking the gravitas of gritty old-school journalism) in white against a blood-red background, with AT VIRGINIA TECH in black typewriter type just below it. A gaudy, twitchy animation effect caused the MASSACRE type to briefly explode outside of its red box, as did the AT VIRGINA TECH type a moment later. It took me a couple of rewind passes on my DVR to realize that the grainy gray background behind the twitching type showed a gun sight’s crosshairs floating in slow motion across the screen.

Almost as grotesque was the bug placed on the lower right corner of the screen throughout CNN’s coverage: the word DEADLIEST stacked over the word SHOOTING — both, again, in typewriter type — because what’s a news event without superlatives?

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