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

Solving problems — On Stray Dogs and David Abbot’s excellence in advertising

December 1, 2010, 4:20 PM

Browsing around from one article to another on Mike Dempsey’s excellent blog, one poster really knocked me off my chair: an ad done by David Abbot for a RSPCA unwanted dogs awareness campaign back in the 70s (I think):

The reason why this poster struck me so hard is that most Romanian cities have had this problem for decades now, stray dogs wandering around almost everywhere (it actually feels strange not seeing any stray dogs since I’ve moved to London, after being so used to them in Bucharest). Some of them are living on the mercy of various people, becoming something like a neighbourhood’s dog, usually having a rag to sleep on near the entrance of the block of flats where his benefactors live, while others just prey on whatever they can find through garbage. Most of them are beggingly friendly, wagging their tails in hope of a small piece of bread for their backbone-glued stomach, few are aggressive and rarely attack (like in the case of the unlucky Japanese man that died a few years ago after being bit by a stray dog).

Anyway, the above poster shows yet again how effective good advertising can be, as I’m sure something like this would have great impact even with the ever-untrusting and uncaring-enough Romanians. But unfortunately, Romanian advertising is just as bland and afraid of shocking — therefore delivering the message — as the people that it’s meant for (and I’m ashamed to say that some of that social-numbness has rubbed off on me as well — hopefully, living in the UK will cure that in time). Problem-solving advertising (and design, too) has become rare these days, as the majority seems to be much more interested in following trends and looking / talking just like the competitors. Those that dare stray from the well-known path are usually labeled as fools and booed in public (Wolff Olins seem to enjoy this, though :) ).

I’d really love to see this kind of bold ads in Romania (and not only), as there are so many problems that people need to wake up to. But the brave ones to approve such work are yet to come.

You should definitely read Mr. Dempsey’s beautiful article about David Abbott’s career: David Abbott, A Man of Letters. There are a few other great ads to see as well, and his career is truly inspiring.



Brandient 101 Romanian Identities

March 22, 2010, 11:59 AM

Brandient — the leading branding and design company in Romania, one of the most awarded in Eastern Europe and the one I’ve had the pleasure to be part of for the last 3 years — celebrates a wonderful milestone: over 100 brands and identities, developed over the last eight years. To honour this event, an exhibition will be held at Carturesti Verona in Bucharest (sub_Carturesti coffee shop). The opening event will take place on 26 march, at 5.00 PM, when Brandient’s designers will share their experiences during the “Brandient 101 minutes about design” talk. For more info, you can read the official press release.

The exhibition will be open from 26 march till 7 april. We’re preparing another surprise, so stay tuned.



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:


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


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)




August 30, 2007, 5:41 PM

This caught my eye today, sitting outside the office for a break. I was amazed to see that the happy-no-worry-kid was riding a beautifully designed bike :) I’d sure love to see more smart design like this in Bucharest every day.




Keep it real folks!

April 8, 2007, 6:39 PM

Last Sunday (after mindlessly playing jade Empire for almost 24 hours) I decided to take my broken geekish shell of a human outside for a little sun bathe, to recharge my batteries and rest my eyes. Since I live near City Mall I thought at first to go on a short walk till the Progresul Market to see if I can still get a few apples (sunday, 4 ‘o clock, you’d wish :P). Of course there was nobody there, but since it was all nice and sunny and I’ve been way too stuck in my chair at home, I decided to go on and meet my neighbourhood.

Two words: veeeeeery educative.

Looking at my lifestyle and especially my colleagues’ habits I realised that people working in advertising, the ones responsible for making all of us loosen our purse eventually, tend to loose it by far. I was amazed at many not-so important details at first. For once, I never knew people can build their own balconies on blocks that were never meant to have such things. It was fascinating to see what normal people do, people that have a normal, most of the time boring badly-paid job etc. The smells, the music, the voices, their faces, it was all like a new city for me. It’s fascinating how easily it is to just walk 2 or 3 km away from the central areas in Bucharest and feel as if you’ve arrived in a whole different town, with different customs, people and so on.

It’s so easy to become as if from another planet. Too bad we work most of the time thinking that we know what most people think, when in reality we are just as far from the truth just as anybody else, caught up in our techie slangs, jokes and stories. Who are we working for in the end ? Not for them, that would be a lie. For the customers ? But they are even farther from reality than us, creatives. In the end, what is our purpose? But the ethics of our job is a very delicate subject, one that is better left alone.

Final advice: take a walk, go a little farther from in front of your home shop, look carefully and you’ll see something different. THAT is just a small piece of the real world. Enjoy it’s complexity.

Hope I’ll be able to take a few photos of those fascinating balconies :)



the deal of the century ("noi vrem pamant")

January 30, 2007, 12:13 PM

Noi vrem pamant

It says: “Moon land for sale”

Seen in Tineretului, Bucharest. A friend told me this car is moving from place to place in the city. Great advertising, right ? :P Also very nice comparison with my previous post ;)