30 April 2009

What do I do?

When I first told my parents I wanted to go to school for graphic design, I distinctly remember the quizzical looks on their faces. I could see the 'Huh? Graphic what?' in their eyes. Even though I took the time to explain what graphic design was, I'm not sure the answer actually sunk in until half way through my schooling.

Nowadays, when I'm asked 'what do I do', I tell people I'm a graphic designer and the next question is always the same, literally, 'So... what do you do?' I assume everyone knows what the role of a graphic designer is and keeping my answer short and sweet as 'graphic designer' will suffice. But the same question, time and time again has made me realize my assumption was very wrong. To my surprise, I began to answer differently each time because I couldn't decide where to draw the line. Logos, brochures, websites, video, photography, point-of-purchase displays, t-shirts, magazines, food packaging... eyes would start to glaze over and they were sorry they had asked (again)!

Graphic design is more than pretty logos and layouts. It's strategy, culture, philosophy and creativeness all rolled into one. So for anyone that might still be on the fence about what designers really do and what consumes our days and nights, a mentor from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco sums it up beautifully above. Thanks Mary! (Click the graphic for larger view)

27 April 2009

Photo of the week

Minneapolis, Minnesota. Historic buildings with old lettering and signage are a favorite subject of mine. The Gold Medal Flour sign on top of the revitalized Mill City Museum is a downtown Minneapolis skyline icon. The Mill City Museum is housed within the ruins of the old Washburn "A" mill for General Mills and was the flour milling capital of the world from 1880-1930. Minneapolis is a city that truly embraces its past, yet has forged a modern cosmopolitan style both in culture and architecture, not hesitating to balance old and new quite seamlessly. It's a great town and I can't wait to visit the city and its people again!

25 April 2009

Logo color wheel

Trying to decide a color palette for a brand or logo can be quite daunting believe it or not. Although this info graphic sure makes it look easier, as well as identifying the popular colors on the spectrum. I couldn't find any details about the project and why or who it was done by, but see how the logos are categorized here. From the array of logos presented and the language on the left hand side, it appears to have been done in The Netherlands. Click on the photo for a larger view.

Paper like no other

Paper is a passion of mine, in every way, shape and form. Therefore when I came across the website of Denmark artist Marianne Groennow, I just had to share it. Look at the amazing artifacts Marianne fabricates with paper! Simply extraordinary. Take a look at her website for more.

Photos from Marianne Groennow website.

24 April 2009

The truth about tulips and bad design

Since it's tulip time in Holland, I thought this would be a good opportunity to voice my opinion on something at the opposite end of the beautiful spectrum. I open my monologue with this question, why can we always spot bad design? The answer is short and simple my friends, good design goes unnoticed because it's just that, damn good. It blends seamlessly into its environment because it's doing the job it's meant to do. When we notice things that aren't so wonderfully designed, we don't connect or feel the way we should about it and therefore question its effectiveness. Here's an example.

Take the new city logo of Den Haag (The Hague), The Netherlands above. Besides being the third largest city in the Netherlands, beyond beautiful and having a cultural haven in its own right, the city is replete with design talent including some of worlds most inventive type designers. Therefore, it should not be unreasonable for the city to have a logo that carefully and precisely communicates the essence of the city and its modern, cutting-edge sensibility. But this is where the design goes bad.

The Hague's new city logo was designed by Dutch-born artist and pop-star photographer Anton Corbijn, who is widely acknowledged in the music industry working with the likes of U2 and Depeche Mode and with popular magazines such as Rolling Stone, Time Out and Esquire. Now, I'm not one to point out bad design, much, but I do question the thought process of an artist when I notice design that doesn't live up to its expectation. The only thing I know for sure about the logo is the red mark is an outline of the city. Mr. Corbijn actually wanted the design to 'express feelings of security, life, progress and playfulness.' I'm sorry to say, it looks and represents nothing of the sort to me, although it does has some wonderful cheap dime store kite appeal. The Dutch side of me is saddened and a bit perplexed and I wonder, just what was Anton thinking... bad design Anton, very bad.

There is good news however! If you happen to be in NYC you can forget about the horrendous Hague logo and view the more than 150,000 tulips bulbs blooming in the Park Avenue Malls from 60th Street to 96th Street. It promises to be a beautiful sight and as long as Mr. Corbijn had nothing to do with it, I'm positive it will be.

PS - I join many other Netherlanders who were equally angry about their new logo!

Photo from Under Consideration website.

23 April 2009

If the shoe fits...

Suspension... it's not just for cars anymore. I'm talking about the latest spiffy new soles from Porsche. Sleek in design like the cars, the new Porsche Design's Bounce S running shoe is pretty magnificent looking, with metal springs and lever arms built into its suspension, it's designed to actually deliver increases in propulsion, rather than merely cushioning your footfalls. That's what they claim anyway. Now, I'm not a big fan of jogging, I prefer walking, and fortunately my body rejects speeds of over 4.5 mph. If, however, I were to splurge on shoes like this, they had better do the running for me!

Photo from Core77.

Some serious cheese

For those of you who don't know, I'm a huge sandwich fan. I'm talking SSL, Serious Sandwich Lover. Let me explain; paninis, piadinas, the club, the Cuban, hoagies, grinders, gyros, Italian sausage, the submarine, the Po' Boy, pitas, PB&Js, muffulettas, the Monte Cristo, the reuben, egg salad, tuna salad, the BLT, pulled pork, the tuna melt, beef burgers, turkey burgers, cheesesteak, the meatball sub, (I could go on)... grilled, wrapped or open-faced, it doesn't matter. Lead me to a great local sandwich shop and you'll watch this petite gal chow down the biggest and best on the menu.

But I never knew there was an actual Grilled Cheese Invitational! Grilled cheese has held steady in my top five since my very first tasty bite. This weekend LA is hosting the 1st 7th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational (1st 7th... ? First time in LA I suppose). For anybody whose love for ooey gooey melted madness outweighs, say, lounging on a beach chair in Maui with umbrellas in your drinks, then eating really is your true calling. Could I get that with extra cheese?

Photo from the Grilled Cheese Invitational website.

22 April 2009

Here's to Earth Day!

Yeah, yeah, yeah... I know, you've heard it all before. Every year in fact. And to answer what CNN is asking, yes, Earth Day still matters! But seriously, isn't there just one more thing you could do?

It just so happens I have a list below to help you get started! You might find some useful tidbits of information you didn't consider before. Earth Day should be every day, because it's going to take a lot more effort from all of us to get the planet healthier and cleaner.

Here are 31 things you can do during the month of May.

1. If you can't change even just one lightbulb to a compact fluorescent bulb, you're useless.
2. Unplug things that glow in the dark.
3. Go retro, bring hurricane lamps and candles back.
4. Plant a tree for you or for someone you love.
5. Head to your local farmer's market for the best in fresh produce.
6. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Durrrr.
7. Buy Energy Star products (if you need any new appliances).
8. Save water and do big loads of laundry and dishwashing.
9. Walk or bike to the coffee shop for a change.
10. And while there, purchase responsible/certified coffee that protects the ecosystem.
11. Tote your own reusable canvas grocery bags.
12. Recycle everything!
13. Repeat, recycle everything!
14. Donate things you don't want anymore.
15. Go vegetarian one night a week (or two) for dinner.
16. Support and invest in eco-friendly companies.
17. Stop buying bottled water idiot and use a reusable aluminum water bottle!
18. Borrow instead of buy.
19. Make your own (healthy) cleaning products with vinegar and baking soda. Who knew!
20. Forget plastic sandwich bags, use tupperware for lunches.
21. Swap entertainment with friends like DVD's, CD's, books and magazines.
22. Pay your bills online.
23. Lower the thermostat two degrees.
24. Start composting (okay, that one takes more time than we're probably ready to give, but it's a thought).
25. Take shorter showers or take a bath in the tub you never use.
26. Get off junk mail lists.
27. Grill corn in it's husk (soak the ear whole with it's husks in water for a bit, then grill it... no aluminum foil required!)
28. Get a superhero-toxin-fighter house plant like English Ivy or Peace Lilies to freshen your indoor air.
29. Use BOTH sides of the paper.
30. Get outside to hear and see the beauty of mother nature.
31. Tell others about what you're doing!

21 April 2009

Shipping into Boston

What do shipping and sailing have in common? Well, PUMA is bringing it's latest experimental building to life via shipping containers. Dubbed PUMA City, the twenty-four, forty-four foot shipping containers house a unique retail and event space cum lounge complete with a bar. In conjuction with the Volvo Ocean Race, an around the world sailing event, PUMA is following the race and will be setting up this magnificent traveling city at Boston's Fan Pier on 25 April. We can only hope the next stop will be an Eco-Architecture award. In the meantime, sipping wine and buying PUMA gear in a giant shipping container-turned-lounge? Wicked cool.

Photo from PUMA City Facebook.

20 April 2009

This bag will self-destruct in 60 days

This, I have to see! While perusing one of my favorite blogs, I came across a truly fantastic product called the 60 Bag. Currently being manufactured in Poland, it's a biodegradable carrier made of a flax-viscose non-woven fabric and will naturally decompose after 60 days. What a concept! Incredible! How do we get the world to start using these ingenious bags! Could you imagine a planet in which plastic bags were not overflowing landfills? The demise of the plastic bag is imminent. Read more at Core 77.

Photo from the 60 Bag online gallery.

Photo of the week

Carnival, San Clemente, CA. Wow. It's been a whole week since my last post, I think I've actually missed blogging! And I'm excited to post not one, but several photos for this weeks photo post (because I couldn't decide on just one). On Sunday, I braved the 95-degree heat wave and went to the carnival that was in town! When was the last time you went to a carnival? For me, I have no idea, but I can tell you it was ages ago, perhaps even in another lifetime it feels that long ago. I had to go because carnivals are fantastic subject matter for photography. They have a nostalgia you won't find in any other setting. They have both a family fun atmosphere and a movie-creepy- transcendental feel about them. Needless to say, I went around 5 o'clock to get the best light and avoid any shady characters lurking behind the games and rides. Enjoy!

13 April 2009

Photo of the week

Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore. The Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) is celebrating it's 150th anniversary this year with a series of special events and exhibitions focused on the history of the gardens. Throughout the month of April, the gardens will be hosting an anniversary exhibition on 'Rubber: The Seed That Changed The World.' The exhibition charts the commercial rise of rubber, its universal use throughout the world today, and its impact on how Singapore was shaped. While living in S'pore, I spent a lot of time at the gardens, not only to take photos, but to relax in one of the quietest areas within the busy and crowded urban streets. Sort of like what Central Park is to NYC. It was only fitting the photo of the week should be one of my favorite shots from the gardens. It represents exactly how I felt when I visited... peaceful, relaxed, and alone. A perfect afternoon indeed!

11 April 2009

It's a wunder

Now these are fun! Who would have thought... modern vases that resemble glass, but are actually created from hot glue. Certainly not the hot glue from our arts and crafts elementary school heyday! Handmade by Tony Wurman in his Wunderwurks New York studio, each piece is one of a kind and certainly a great conversation starter or for use in a child-proof home... these babies will bounce rather then break!

Urban D Project: D1

Here is my first Urban D Project photo post. Okay, it's not a 'D' found outside in the urban elements, but it is a 'D' no less. And the coolest thing about it... it's part of a vintage press type collage! That gets me really excited! I found these hot framed wood-block type specimens during a furniture shop at Room and Board (I am in no need of furniture, but my girlfriend is). The letters are just beautiful, harking back to the days when all printed material was set by hand. Ooo... ahhhh...

10 April 2009

Movie tee

Being a big movie nut, I thought it would be fun to enter a t-shirt design contest for a NYC-based non-profit indie film organization, Rooftop Films, whose mission is to engage and inspire diverse communities by showing movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, and teaching filmmaking to young people. Very cool indeed. So here's what I came up with for their 2009 summer movie series... both the front and back of the women's and men's shirt is shown (click on the photos for a larger view).

06 April 2009

Photo of the week

Somewhere in the desert between Orange County and Las Vegas. In order to take this photo, yes, I made my significant other stop and pull off the road, how could I not? Have you ever seen such a street name before? And by the looks of the lovely stickers that adorn the bottom half, I'm obviously not the first one who found it strange and interesting. Now, the question is, just how do you pronounce it?

Spring is officially here!

Yeah! Baseball is back! I was inspired yesterday (excited mostly) with knowing I'd be able to watch my hometown favorites, the Red Sox, in their first game at Fenway today. Without wasting any time, I created a poster that I would envision being printed as letterpress on vintage paper to celebrate the occasion. Go Sox!

05 April 2009

A perfect lunch

Like a lot of folks these days, this gal has cut back on a lot of stuff, including going out to restaurants. Which certainly doesn't bother me however, for I enjoy cooking and eating equally. But there are times when you just need to treat yourself, perk up the state of mind and peruse a menu from which you can hardly decide what to order everything looks so tempting. Yesterday one of my best foodie girlfriends and I (well, I actually have two, this would be my West Coast gourmand), found ourselves at the recently opened Charlie Palmer's in Costa Mesa. I think the photos will speak for themselves... but please allow me to indulge myself by listing the dishes and reliving the wonderful flavors and luncheon company. We couldn't resist starting with the absolutely delicious Crisp Fries with Chipotle Aioli, which were flying out of the kitchen to almost every table. No surprise why. (I'll be trying to recreate the aioli at home for sure) I started with the Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with a Toasted Hazelnut Vinaigrette and Baby Mizuna. It was beautifully plated and farm fresh earthy in taste. For the next course, I originally chose the one item on the menu that was not actually 'on' the menu, as I was given an older version. Rats. Instead of the Carrot Puree and Ricotta Ravioli with Minted Brown Butter and Walnuts, thankfully my second choice of 3 mini Kobe Beef Burgers with Truffle Mayo and House Pickles came swift and easy (and they were ingested just the same). Dessert was graciously split with my exuberant partner, a Toasted Coconut Panna Cotta with Chocolate Sorbet and Macadamia Brittle. She ordered the prix fixe menu of Fresh Spring Greens, Grilled Boneless Ribeye with Chimichurri Sauce, Sweet Potato Fries (which were surprisingly wonderful), and Shishito Peppers and the choice dessert. I cannot explain how wonderful we both felt when we left. Was it the down to earth, unpretentious service? The elegant, yet comfy decor? The leisurely pace at which we were served by various staff who all seemed genuinely delighted to see us? Well sure, that all played a part. But really, it's the conversation and company that makes a meal special and yesterday at Charlie Palmer, that pretty much out shined the food. PS - The Bellini's were pretty good too!

02 April 2009

A Typophile's Dream

Let me be absolutely clear (and I'm sure I will), spending two weeks studying typography in Venice and Rome (the birthplace of Western typographic tradition no less) with the amazing Louise Fili... ? What a dream trip, wish I could go. I miei sacchetti sono imballato, quando vado? Ciao!

01 April 2009

The Urban D Project

So, while walking the dogs a few weeks ago I noticed the letter 'D' in the middle of a manhole cover... and that's when it happened, again. My mind started thinking about what to do with this information. After several more steps and a stop to sniff some bushes, another project materialized. I'm going to call it the 'Urban D Project' and over the next several months I plan to photograph the letter 'D' in as many places as I can find. This of course means I will need to remember to bring my camera every time I leave the house, or this project is going to take a whole lot longer than I expect it to. In the meantime, I will post my findings as they appear in my daily commutes and wanderings. Stay tuned!
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