Sunday, 18 October 2009

Celebrating The Ordinary

For my latest University project, I was set the brief to 'celebrate the ordinary'. From the given list, I chose to celebrate elastic. Here is my solution:

Yep, all the sounds were created by twanging elastic bands. Oh and the project, from research to conception, development, filming and editing etc was completed in a week.

I have to finish this post with my favourite piece of work produced. Fellow course mate Matthew produced this film to celebrate the umbrella.

The amount of work put in to create this much stop frame animation in a week is incredible, well done Matt. But more than just a lot of work, this film is funny, moving and just a great piece of story telling.

Friday, 9 October 2009

He's just a rascal

I like this shopping channel pastiche that Dizzee Rascal has been using to promote his latest album. I wonder how they got him to look so plastic and still.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Starwars Uncut

This website was brought to my attention by none other than Stephen Fry via his Twitter account. Starwars Uncut invites visiters to remake 15 second clips of Star Wars which will later be strung together to make a complete film. The last I looked there were only 19 free clips left, so you'd better get a move on if you want to get involved. Go and have a look!

Also, from a web design point of view, check out how the stars scroll behind the death star image in the bottom left, nifty.

Data Flow

Data Flow explores the fascinating subject of the way designers can display information and data graphically. The collection of graphs, charts and diagrams range from highly technical to hand drawn but all give intrigue to what is essentially lists of boring numbers.

This book is really inspiring and will really come into it's own next time I need to graphically represent some data – I'm sure that will be soon.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Antoni Gaudí

In the past three years, I have ended up in Barcelona three times – twice this summer. You can't be a tourist in this amazing city without becoming aware of the architecture of Antoni Gaudí. The impact that this one man had on the city can't be underestimated.

His huge church Segrada Família was started in 1883 and is projected to be finished in 2026 which gives you an idea of its size. Gaudí dedicated the last 15 years of his life to the project.

I love the Art Nouveau look of the facade of Casa Batlló as well as the amazing chimney sculptures.

Another of my favourite Gaudí works is Parc Guell located toward the north of the city.

I love the fluid forms that Gaudí uses and the effect of the broken ceramic that is often used to clad his work. Gaudi died in 1926 when he was hit by a tram. Barcelona subsequently removed trams from its streets.

Gaudí's work has become a symbol of Barcelona, Catalunya and the whole of Spain.

Cinema Redux by Brendan Dawes

In this project, Dawes took eight of his favourite films and attempted to distill them down to a single image.

To do this he wrote a Java programme that, for each second of a film, took an 8 by 6 pixel image. The captured images were then laid out in rows, each row representing a minute in time.

The results create some startling images. This is Scorcese's 'Taxi Driver' from 1976.

Cinema Redux was exhibited at MoMA in New York last year but you can buy prints of the work here if you happen to have $300 going spare.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Jewel Case

"Jewel cases are an incredible phenomenon of bad design form, function, handling, storing, material, and tactile quality on a huge scale. I cannot believe they're still used in ways other than irony." Cristof Steinmann, Spezialmaterial

So far in this blog, I think it's true to say that I've only written about what I think to be good design. This post however, will be different. I agree with the quote above - the jewel case is one of those pieces of design that we come in contact with a great deal in day to day life and is one with huge flaws.

Here's my list:
  • The brittle plastic hinges are prone to break
  • Any pressure applied to the front or back panel can easily cause cracks
  • The central spindle often breaks into small pieces that can scratch the CD
  • The paper booklet is very difficult to remove
Sometimes you have to wonder how items with such design flaws are so widely used. I am pleased to see that a newer, stronger jewel case is being used by some artists, and that digipacks are being used in more and more cases. I'll end this post with a quote from a graphic design hero of mine, Stefan Sagmeister:

"I prefer cardboard packaging because it ages much more beautifully"

Bob Gill - Unspecial Effects For Graphic Designers

I was lucky enough to hear a lecture by Bob Gill last year and it was one of the most inspiring talks that I've been to. Gill is the American grandaddy of idea driven graphic design. The title of his is most recent book, 'Unspecial Effects' pretty much sums up his philosophy on design. He believes that the lowly graphic designer cannot compete with the effects of the latest blockbuster but the weapon that we do have in our arsenal is the power of a good idea.

He then goes on to give some examples of his work that champion his school of thought.

This book is just as inspiring as hearing the man speak was. I'm sure it has helped designers get ideas already and will continue to in the future.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Saatchi & Saatchi Lungs

This clever piece of design for charity QUIT is all about the placement. It was designed by Saatchi & Saatchi and was featured in Creative Review's Annual this year.

The copy reads 'Stop Smoking and stop filling your lungs with poison. To quit call 0800 002200.

Steve Crone, chief executive, QUIT, said, “The poster is a great initiative to target smokers, but it is important not to panic after looking at it. The campaign has been designed to make smokers think about the effects of their habit, and most importantly signpost them toward the help available if they do want to quit."

Here are the credits:

Company: Saatchi & Saatchi, London
Executive Creative Director: Paul Silburn
Executive Creative Director: Kate Stanners
Art Director/Copywriter: Rob Porteous
Art Director/Copywriter: Dave Askwith
Typographer: Scott Silvey
Typographer: Chris Jones
Account Director: Simon Ronchetti

Thursday, 1 October 2009 is a website that allows you to send an email to yourself at a selected date in the future. Maybe it's the thought of nostalgia or the idea of time-travel that makes this idea appealing but I went ahead and sent myself a message that I will get five years from now. I guess the payoff will be when I actually receive the email.

On the website, you can choose to make your post public, and these are made available for reading. A spin off book of public messages has been complied and published.

To me, this feels a bit like a poor man's postsecret project, but that produced a much better looking book and blog, but Future Me still a nice idea.

The website is ugly and badly designed, but this just shows, sometimes ideas can be more powerful than aesthetics.

The Bones Of You - Elbow

So I'm there
Charging around with a juggernaut brow
Overdraft, speeches and deadlines to make
Cramming commitments like cats in a sack
Telephone burn and a purposeful gait

When out of a doorway the tentacles stretch
Of a song that I know
And the world moves in slow-mo
Straight to my head
like the first cigarette of the day

And it's you, and it's May
And we're sleeping through the day
And I'm five years ago
And three thousand miles away

Do I have time? A man of my calibre
Stood in the street like a sleepwalking teenager
No. And I dealt with this years ago
I took a hammer to every memento
But image on image like beads on a rosary
pulled through my head as the music takes hold
and the sickener hits; I can work till I break
but I love the bones of you
That, I will never escape

And I can't move my arm
Through the fear that you will wake
And I'm five years ago
And three thousand miles away

The Bones Of You is taken from Elbow's fourth and Mercury Music Prize winning album, Seldom Seen Kid. 

I could write pages and pages about the lyrics to this song, but take some time to absorb them yourself, they'll probably mean something different to you anyway.

Sexy Hitler

I came across this campaign by German agency 'das comitee' in a Telegraph article that reports that the advert has been condemned by AIDS and HIV charities.

I am in two minds as to what I think of this ad. When looked at in the way it was meant, it says that the act of having unprotected sex is killing huge numbers of people. The charities are arguing that if looked at in the wrong way, it could demonise people with HIV or AIDS.

It is interesting that shock tactics have once again been used in an advert for a charity. In my opinion, results shouldn't be the sole consideration when designing for charities. Empathy and understanding for those affected should be equally important. With this in mind, perhaps the film could be seen as a little tasteless – it is certainly a bit short sighted of the agency not to see how it could be misconstrued. 

High Fidelity - Nick Hornby

High Fidelity is my favourite book. The novel follows thirty-something protagonist Rob, a London record shop owner who has just split up with his girlfriend.

Rob is something of an snob when it comes to music taste and he spends much of life compiling all-time top five lists. The story unfolds as Rob takes us through his all-time top five break ups, and begins to get in contact with the featuring women as he attempts to understand why he keeps being rejected.

Hornby manages to put down on paper the way in which male minds work, with his witty observations of Rob's neuroses.

The book is funny too with much of the comic relief being provided by two characters that work in Rob's shop who have diametrically opposed personalities. Barry is brash and over confident while Dick is nervous, timid and shy. All three characters are equally elitist about music and this sets things up for some laugh out loud moments. I also particularly enjoy the section when Rob tells the reader his tips for making a great compilation tape and the many rules involved.

I have read quite a few of Hornby's books, and they are uniformly good reads. High Fidelity discusses similar themes to a lot of his books: love, relationships, obsession and flawed characters. Hornby often writes about his own passions, such as football in Fever Pitch, and in this case, pop music.

I love the book so much because I relate to Rob, despite him being an unlikeable character, and as a quote on the cover says, "High Fidelity is like a great pop record... it makes you feel young and grown up all  at the same time".