Food for thought‘[...] do not think that good design can make a poor product good, whether the product be a machine, a building, a promotional brochure or a business man. But [...] good design can materially help make a good product reach its full potential. In short, [...] good design is good business.’
Thomas J. Watson Jr., IBM CEO

Design is honest

September 14, 2008, 6:32 PM

Priceless. Gotta have one.

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(via we ♥ it)

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When Truth Hurts—or the long hand of "legal action"

August 30, 2008, 5:01 PM

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The “well-dug-in-the-ground-reaching-for-help” Bruce

Illustrator Martijn Rijven wrote several weeks ago about his involvment in redrawing Akzo Nobel’s “Bruce” during the rebranding project started by Saffron and finished by Pentagram. It was a beautifuly-written article about ups and lows in the design process, about the final version proposed by Saffron and the final-final version approved by Akzo under Pentragram’s watch (probably a “design-by-comitee” solution) and its short-comings. A rare-to-read insight in the development of large rebranding projects.

Unfortunately, Akzo (or Pentagram, who knows) felt that the article was not the kind of PR their new logo needed so they brought in the big-mean-law-guns and forced Mr. Rijven to censor the article completely. It’s a real shame. I can understand commercial interests, hell, we are working with them in mind on daily basis, but freedom of speech and design ethics should not be trampled under feet. In the end, we’re graphic designers, it’s not like we’re saving lives every day, we just make people’s lives a bit easier and more pleasant—or, if you prefer the empty side of the glass, we just help sell things people don’t really need.

But I guess nothing else matters when big money is involved.
It’s the cold, chilling truth.

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I want to quit

June 23, 2008, 11:23 PM

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(via CR—made by Shaz Madani)

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Ikea – today's Kinder joy

May 21, 2008, 1:56 AM

I remember that when I was a small kid, Kinder Surprise eggs had inside wonderful toys. In pieces, for me to mix’n’fix. Cars, planes, boats, dinosaurs, clowns, wacky flying machines, you name it. Putting them together was such a joy, especially if you didn’t look on the tiny guide.

These days we have Ikea. Every time I buy something from them I can’t wait to get home and spread all the parts on the floor, trying to figure out what goes where, first without looking at the guide :)

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(the lamp in this photo didn’t take much effort to install, but the toy.. let’s just say that making models during design school certainly has its beauty, in spite of all the shortcomings – view larger on flickr)

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"High Morale Makes Creativity Cheap"

May 4, 2008, 11:10 AM

Brad Bird, talking about Pixar’s modus operandi through nine valuable lessons, touches a very-often-forgotten aspect in most companies: morale.

Brad Bird: In my experience, the thing that has the most significant impact on a movie’s budget—but never shows up in a budget—is morale. [what’s true for a movie is true for a startup!] If you have low morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about 25 cents of value. If you have high morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about $3 of value. Companies should pay much more attention to morale.

Read the whole interview here.
(via Daring Fireball via Kotke)

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The Bear That Wasn’t

March 8, 2008, 2:48 PM

I remember seeing The Bear That Wasn’t on Cartoon Network when I was a kid and being enchanted by its beautiful yet thought-provoking story. Chuck Jones made the animated short adapting Frank Tashlin’s book (hope amazon will be selling it again soon, i can’t buy from resellers in Romania).

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(photo from Kip W’s The bear that wasn’t photo setthank you Kim for scanning the whole book. Mind the beautiful typography in the title.)

The story beautifully touches the problems of urbanization, mass production, human alienation, workaholism and of course, the environment’s. It sounds over-ambitious for a cartoon, I know, but it’s amazing to see how easily these ideas are presented while keeping the cartoon entertaining even for small children (that will grow up and write rants like these :D). Graphic lines that entangle and move the characters, camera cuts made in an almost-comics-like manner (Samurai Jack‘s got nothing on this :P), suited and colored to match every masterfully-drawn character’s personality, music that gives you that 50’s industrial feeling but still manages to describe different social statuses and sometimes even have a hint of techno sound, and last but not least, the wonderful storytelling make this cartoon a true gem.

Enjoy:

Too bad sometimes we let others convince us we’re just “a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat”. Luckily some of us don’t buy that for too long.

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Medium designers may turn great, bad designers always turn worse

December 1, 2007, 4:29 AM

I try not to throw stones. Nobody’s perfect and that’s a fact.

But Mr. Alexandru Ghildus managed to make me shriek “grab your torches and pitchforks!” once more (after his attempts to become some sort of local lord ruling over all designers – read about the infamous design law). This is his “designed” xmas tree for a charity xmas-tree-selling campaign:

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For those that live in Bucharest or at least have been here it might seem familiar. Does this ring any bell?:

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It seems Mr. Ghildus will never give us a break from his pyramid-mania. It is truly a shame that such a man is the head of the design school in our capital and truly a great shame that he is the one that wins “fair and square” (and pink pigs went flying in circles around my block) most of the pitches for public monuments and such. Are all architects in Romania so bad that a “designer” must show them how it’s done? Or is it just that they don’t have the “talent” (read money/relationships) to win those pitches?

Nobody is truly evil. But Mr. Ghildush is definitely running for the title of “the Sauron of romanian design” or “one designer to rule them all”.
And by the way, I wish at least romanian journalists learnt the difference between “designer” and “fashion designer”.

Disclaimer (a kind of):
Some may think young designers should just bow down in front of the older ones, but quality, wisdom, skill or greatness don’t come by simply growing older. It takes a whole lot more to become a “master” and earn respect. I strongly believe in learning by doubting and questioning. And if the emperor is naked, we must shout it out loud.

(xmas tree image from Wall Street Journal)

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The return of the Ugly Design

November 15, 2007, 1:10 AM

Michael Bierut writes a very interesting article about “ugly design”.

I’m in no way a hasty conclusionist, I always try not to throw the rock first (usually not to throw it at all), since I’ve had my good share of client-agency/designer agency problems, misunderstandings, compromises and so on, but this part blew me off the chair in laughter:

“…Wolff Olins, the design firm that created the 2012 campaign, quickly followed it up with the jammed-together-on-a-stalled-downtown-No. 4-train-at-rush-hour New York City tourism logo, as well as the hey-mom-when-did-you-learn-Photoshop Wacom identity…”

I did read an article (on Brand New) saying NYC tourism logo wasn’t Ollins’ fault entirely, but, boy, did he say it right with the Wacom logo :))

Talking about “ugly design”, David Carson may be a “historical” designer already, but I think breaking the rules is the easy way in the books. How about making the rules? (Muller-Brockmann anyone?) It has always been so easy to piss on somebody’s work, to criticise, ridiculize, despise, and so on, but making something great, smart, maybe even never-before-seen, seems to be something like finding the designers’ Holly Graal.

On the other hand, breaking the rules, but still making great design may be even harder than making good-old-by-the book design, since, just as those wonderful a-cute-innocent-child-drew-this ads (VW Sharan or Golf GTI ad, for instance), it’s a real pain to make something to look naive and amateurish but still be well designed.

In the end, it’s only because rules exist and are created in the first place, that all the “rebel” designers can attempt to break, bend or circle around them.

Which was the first? The hen or the egg?…

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About freelancing

October 19, 2007, 12:51 PM

A friend (thanks Flo) showed me this picture and I was delighted to see how well it catches the most important reason why freelancing as a full time job is not tempting (at least for me, at this time in my life). I love the hand-drawn type, goes very well with the subject, as do those cardboard boxes:

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(picture from here)

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Design – “What a Delightful Way to Pay the Rent”

September 28, 2007, 3:56 PM

Read this article (via Ideasonideas) today and I was pleasantly surprised by the simple yet beautiful and meaningful quote from the title.

As a coincidence, while waiting in line at a bank today I couldn’t help overhearing a man talking. Smart dressed, handsome and well built, expensive suit, in his thirties, the guy screamed “pro lawyer” from miles away. And indeed he was. While observing his way of talking, gesturing, sitting on a chair, all giving away his profession, I realised that this is what most of the people do, they work. And as I was looking at him and the bank’s employee (beautiful antithesis, the bank employee was thin, hunched, very young, pale, blue eyes over a long jewish nose, almost a real image of Bugs Bunny’s enemy, the bald eagle :)), leaning over his keyboard as if being afraid of doing something wrong) a question struck me:

How much fun do people have when they work? Are doing it just for the money, just because they need a job to live, to pay the rent and all the bills? Or do they really enjoy and live their work, with all its good parts and bad parts?

Then I thought I’m lucky. We designers do not work, we get paid for something we like doing any way. Sure there are many times when it seems that certain projects are just mind-exausting headaches, complete fuckups, nothing to be proud of. But we still do something creative, even for the worst client ever (I’m not talking about designers that have lost their soul, obviusly). We get to play every day, just like kids do in kindergarden. We get to dream, to imagine, to invent, to rediscover.

I’d say that getting paid to play with forms and colours all day long is quite the ideal job, isn’t it? (except being a computer games tester, maybe :P)

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