31 January 2010

Taking it to the streets

I love it when people mean what they say and say what they mean. People who take the bull by the horns and do something. They light a fire under your butt because you're so inspired by their passion. That's Project H. Project H Design connects the power of design to the people who need it most and the places where it can make a real and lasting difference They want to teach others (designers) about the power of reaching out.

Hence their latest venture, the Design Revolution Road Show. The Design Revolution Road Show is a traveling exhibition and lecture series bringing “product design that empowers” to 25 high schools and university design programs across the nation during the Spring of 2010. The road show will feature an Airstream trailer exhibit of 40 humanitarian design solutions that have been showcased in the book Design Revolution: 100 Products That Empower People.

At each stop on the tour, they'll give a presentation about how every designer can work for the greater good. If you'd like to know more about the road show and attend an exhibit, check out their itinerary here. Read the write-up on CNBC here. Hope you'll be able to see this amazing show and get inspired! You can also follow them on Twitter @desrevroadshow.

Photo from Design Revolution Road Show website.

Helvetica, yum

It's no surprise most designers love Helvetica. There is a weird cult following, I think I'm one of them... ? It's not everyday you see items you wouldn't typically associate with a font, but when there is use of a font, it's usually Helvetica. For example, take these adorable cookie cutters by graphic designer Beverly Hsu. Buttery sugar cookies never tasted or looked so good! Stay tuned to her website to find out when more will be in stock.

Photos from Beverly Hsu website.

30 January 2010

The designers cube

What do you get when you combine the Rubik's cube with Pantone? The Rubitone! When I was young, I carried my Rubik's cube everywhere. At the time, I truly believed it would be the coolest thing I would ever have, well then Apple came along. But this Rubik's cube version is even better. Argentinian industrial designer Ignacio Pilotto created this one of kind Rubitone just for us. Too bad they aren't for sale. I'd buy one!

Photo from Ignacio Pilotto website.

Land of the lost

Ahh... the San Diego Zoo. One of the largest, most comprehensive zoos in the world. Renowned for its impressive number of animals (over 4,000), animal species (over 800) and its progressive conservation and species-preservation efforts. I recently took a day trip (my third visit actually) to this wondrous place. Now, I'm no dummy when it comes to wayfinding and I've got a good sense of direction, but I must tell you, I got lost not just once, but a few times while navigating this monstrosity of a place, even with my map! Everything looked nice and organized... signs were placed at intersections and critical junctures, fonts were large enough to read, everything color coordinated... why the hell could I not find my way? Frustrated I kept repeating to myself 'Who designed this absurd signage? This is what the San Diego Zoo calls wayfinding? Even a monkey would get lost!'

Now when I say I got lost, I'm not referring to the larger main streets of Easy Street, Center Street and Parkway. I'd be a real idiot if I wasn't able to find my way around those streets! The confusion comes in when one is trying to maneuver the smaller areas and get from, for example, the Safari Kitchen (food court #3 off Front Street) to the Panda exhibit. (click here for a PDF map of the zoo). It would seem easy enough to head down Monkey Trail, past Parker Aviary, hop over to Fern Canyon Trail and take the stairs down to Center Street, while giving yourself a little viewing pleasure along the way. Not so. It really does look a lot easier on the map than it is in person.

When I somehow started heading towards Scripps Aviary, I decided it was time to ask for directions. Interestingly, there were lots of staffers ready to direct me in this area, sitting at specific junctures waiting for people just like me. Go figure! Did they know their signage sucked too? I eventually made it to the Panda exhibit, and thankfully there were Pandas out and about (good thing too, I took five years off my life from frustration trying to see their cute fuzzy faces).

I need to mention... the problem with this particular area is the not so much the signage, but the way it's designed in the first place. It's not the fault of the signage as much as the engineering and architecture of the layout. The signage really does its best to help us maneuver these complex enclaves.

This is the best part of the story.....
A few weeks later, I came across a story online about new signage for the San Diego Zoo. You could imagine my delight... yes! New signage for the zoo, how wonderful! Someone feels the same way I do. Reading on further, Hunt Design of Pasadena was brought in to develop a park-wide naming and signage system for the streets, paths and trails inside the Zoo. Principal Wayne Hunt says that 'the project was initially intended to focus on signs, but after observing visitor behavior, his team recommended a complete naming system for all streets, paths and trails based on the way people use streets in a city and give directions to each other.'

So it turns out I already tested the signage, I got lost using the new and improved Hunt designed wayfinding system. Yup, that's right, I was navigating the new signage. I'm thinking during my next visit, I'll forgo the map and just listen for the chirps, growls, roars and grunts to guide me around, that might be more fun.

Photos from Hunt Design website.

27 January 2010

Yummy packaging

I have to admit, I've been a huge Doritos fan since I can remember. I'll even take the baked version, they aren't so bad really. If there was a modern chip store, I have no doubt this updated Doritos packaging would find itself on the shelves. Designer Peter Pavlov created these cool Doritos triangular packaging.

In Peter's words; 'The shape and the texture of the Doritos chips are used as the base of this packaging concept.What's good about the form of the packaging is its structure, which can keep the chips closed after opening.'

Here's to a new take on the standard foil bag. Well designed and very yummy!

Photos from Peter Pavlov website.

25 January 2010

Photo of the week

Hollywood, CA. With the Oscars around the corner, there will be plenty of folks heading to the Kodak Theatre and the adjacent Hollywood and Highland for a sneak and peak at one of the most famous landmarks in the world. It's true, it's a must see on anyone's LA tour list. Have no fear, the big, bold wayfinding signage at H&H will ensure you won't get lost. Then again, it's hard to forget you're in LA! I find wayfinding systems intriguing and take photos of most where ever I may be. However, some are better than others. Yes, wayfinding is suppose to help you find your way, not lose your way, but I found myself lost in one recently I'll tell you about in my next post!

Digital, life, design

Gosh, is there anything better? Digital, life, design... all of it wrapped into one. Am I getting goosebumps? For most of us, that's what our life is all about, no? It so happens there is a conference just for us. Taking place at this very moment in Munich Germany, DLD10 is a three-day experience gathering 800 entrepreneurs, investors, philanthropists, scientists, artists and creative minds from all over the world.
via DLD; DLD is an inspiring community for the 21st century which features digital innovation, science and culture and brings together thought leaders, creators, entrepreneurs and investors from Europe, the Middle-East, the Americas and Asia. With global diversity in attendees and an interdisciplinary perspective of digital, media, design, art, science, brands, consumers and society, the conference is known as the European forum for the "creative class".
Sounds like TED dressed in dirndl and Lederhosen! But DLD does has an inspiring and impressive list of who's who for speakers and attendees and if we can't get to Europe next year, we always have TED coming up in February in Long Beach, minus the beer wenches.

Photo from DLD website.

23 January 2010

Hard backs to love

Where would the world be without the printed word? I'm heartbroken some of the best magazines have crumbled and will no longer show their shiny faces on the newsstand. I know newspaper are dropping like flies, but I'm confident the best of the best will be left in print in the years to come. I'm ever the optimist and know there are still millions of people who will not let print die. Books are an important part of history and culture and with paper mills carrying numerous amounts of recycled paper and using certified forests, it simply cannot nor will not be overrun by the internet or e-books. So support the printed word! Here a few good reads to check out. Debbie Millman's 'Look Both Ways' (such a fan, can't wait to see her next Friday night at the Art Institute of California in Santa Ana) and Adam Richardson's 'Innovation', to be released on February 7th.

Photos from Debbie Millman and Adam Richarson websites.

21 January 2010

New app for the jet set

Do you travel a lot? Need help navigating a city or finding a great place for tapas in Barcelona? I've got just the thing! Design Hotels new City Guides app. At $19.99 on iTunes it's not cheap, but like I said, if you're a jet setter, it's probably worth it.
via Design Hotels; With location-based technology, you can search the best restaurants, bars, clubs, museums, shops and, of course, Design Hotels™ that are closest to your location. Additionally, no need to worry about expensive roaming fees by accessing all of this fantastic content offline- no 3G, data-roaming, or wi-fi needed!

The current City Guide edition is only available in Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, London, Miami, Paris, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, or Vienna. But stay tuned, I have a feeling they'll be adding more very shortly. For more info, click here. Bon voyage!

Photo from Design Hotels website.

19 January 2010

Beautiful illustrations

Bottom line, I can't sketch off the top of my head. I can recreate anything I see, but to illustrate something from my imagination is almost impossible (okay, I'll give myself a tiny bit of credit). It's sort of like drinking and driving, for me graphics and drawing don't mix. Therefore when I see amazing illustration work, I'm envious! Like the work of Turin Italy artist Alessandro Pautasso. Stunning colors, shapes and details fill his impressive portfolio... take a look. He's also a very talented photographer as well. Is there anything this man can't do well creatively? I think not!

Photo from Nosurprises website.

18 January 2010

Photo of the week

San Onofre, CA. This photo was taken last summer at San-O, where surfers patiently awaited some waves. Can't say the same was true this week when the approaching storm brought some huge swells to the West Coast. Enjoy the rain!

17 January 2010

Good laughs at your clients expense

Who doesn't have a client from hell? Well, if you've got one, you need to contribute to this. Perhaps you've been told something fascinatingly obtuse from your client. If so, you must share it. Like this great one posted today;
JPG screenshots of a new website design were sent to the client. Her only feedback was, “I try to click the menu, but nothing happens”.
If you want to laugh until your stomach hurts, check out their website here. Enjoy the laughs!

Photo from Clients From Hell website.

Sensual and voluptuous

I'm actually talking about the type foundry, Bold Monday, I came across while blogging my last post on the movie Typeface. Founded in 2008 by Paul van der Laan and Pieter van Rosmalen, Bold Monday is based in The Hague Netherlands, and describes themselves as the following;
Bold Monday regards itself as the typographical equivalent of a so called “indie” record company where a “do it yourself” mentality and artistic freedom are the highest values. Rather than following the latest trends it is interested in releasing fonts that are the outcome of personal fascinations regardless of commercial value.
If you're looking for some very cool new fonts, check out their catalog here. All of their fonts (not just Pinup) are sensual and voluptuous, oh those fonts! But don't take it from me, check them out for yourself.

Photo from Bold Monday website.

Typeface the movie

Another designer movie is hitting the big screen, or small screens rather. Different from the type lovers movie Helvetica, which focused on the proliferation of one specific font, Typeface focuses on the Wisconsin museum and print shop, Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum, where international artists meet retired craftsmen and together navigate the convergence of modern design and traditional technique. Not to mention their 130 year history of formidable type design, Hamilton is the only museum dedicated to the preservation, study, production and printing of wood type. With 1.5 million pieces of wood type and more than 1,000 styles and sizes of patterns, Hamilton's collection is one of the premier wood type collections in the world.

Boise and Chicago screenings are coming up, so check the website listing for upcoming locales. Hope it comes to Southern California!

Photo from Typeface website.

Culture counts contest

Design21 is hosting a new poster contest for UNESCO's celebration of 2010 as the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures. Say what?
via Design21; a competition to promote better communication and understanding between all peoples and cultures.
The posters would promote the upcoming Festival of Cultural Diversity in May. Check out the details and upload your stellar designs here. Entries close on 9 March 2010.

Photo from Visual Culture website.

16 January 2010

Haiti disaster

I have to admit, I didn't blog much this week because when I wasn't working I was watching the enormous devastation unfold in Haiti on CNN. If I didn't have a day job or was rich as hell, I would surely be in Haiti helping in any way possible at this very moment. But with the amazing technological advances these days, it was a no brainer to text a donation from my phone straight away. That is a brilliant idea! Whether $5 or $10, the amount is small enough for most everyone to afford, which makes it easy for a larger population to take part in. Again brilliant! So if you're still wondering how to help and are looking for a few good bona fide organziations, CNN has a listing of legtimate charities to chose from. Please check out their list here. It will take years for Haiti to recouperate from this horrible event, my hope is we will continue to keep them in our hearts and minds.

11 January 2010

Photo of the week

San Juan Capistrano, CA. Although I drive an older vehicle (she's still young even in her 11th year and I hope to get 200,000 miles from her because I loathe car payments), I appreciate the design and styling of cars both old and young. I came across a fabulous oldie last week in San Juan Capistrano... a Ford Thunderbird in the sexiest red I've ever seen. I can't imagine the fun driving around in a car like this, it just screams excitement while giving its riders an excuse to slow down, enjoy life and the scenery. The next time I get stuck behind a car like this, I'll have to remember those calming words. I just hope I'm not en route to a meeting. I was wondering how old this Bird was, so after a little research, it looks as though she's roughly 50+ years old. But no matter your age, slow down and enjoy the view today!

06 January 2010

Hot ticket

Wouldn't it be great if airlines took their boarding passes as seriously as they take every other aspect of their brand -- especially since the boarding pass is such an important brand touch point? They should take a queue from Tyler Thompson then, who's recent Delta flight and meeting with equally irritated designer Dustin Curtis inspired his boarding pass redesign. I really can't do this story justice here, you must read it for yourself. Start with Tyler's overview then check out Dustin's. Both are hysterical, true and design wise, couldn't be better.

Photos from Tyler Thompson website.

Type goodness

Found these beautiful hand drawn typographic posters on Typegoodness. (Thanks Frederik!) Hanna Viktrosson is a Swedish illustrator and graphic designer with some serious skills. She claims to be more of an illustrator, but her typographic skills are pretty sweet! Check out more work on her website/blog here.

Photos from Hanna Viktrosson website.

05 January 2010

This reality is real

If you're long over reality shows as I am, then put something original and inspiring on your couch potato viewing list this year. (But it's so fun to watch Tamra, Gretchen and Alexis' breasts duke it out!) Seriously now, e2 is reality and a must-see. I originally came upon e2 on a very cool site called Grounded. E2 is a critically acclaimed PBS series about the innovators and pioneers who envision a better quality of life on earth; socially, culturally, economically and ecologically through issues such as design, energy, transport, food and urban development. The series first ran in 2008, but you can find all the episodes online via e2 as webcasts and podcasts for free! So... no excuses for not watching some real TV. And here's to hoping we can all find ways, big or small, to be kinder to the earth and to others.

Kudos must be given to the very talented documentary duo director Tad Fettig and his co-producer Karena Albers of kontentreal and to sponsors PBS and Autodesk.

Photo via Grounded website.

Typographic poker

So you've got a friend who's both a type nut and a poker player? Well then, here's a little gift for him/her. Designer Jim Sutherland of Hat-trick Design in the London designed a full deck of cards and resolved to depict the suit of the card using only the face-value on it (52 + jokers and a cover using no repeated typefaces and no alteration of typefaces). Very cool, but a little confusing at first (I'm no poker player myself, but typographic brain teasers I like). Therefore it should only take a few rounds of Texas Hold 'em before everyone really knows their cards. Check out more and order the cards here.

Photo via The Strange Attractor.

04 January 2010

A look back at the decade

Here's a great overview of the last decade from Phillip Niemeyer for the The New York Times.

Photo from New York Times website.

Photo of the week

ICA Boston, MA. Nothing but coolness at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Cool architecture, cool exhibits, cool location. If you visit Boston, the ICA should be on your list of things-to-do. And for lunch, a visit to Sportello just down the block a piece, an Italian style diner serving up trattoria-inspired dishes from one of my favorite chefs Barbara Lynch. A delicious day in Beantown for sure.

02 January 2010

Here's to 2010

For 2009, I set a walking goal of 1,000 miles and I documented my progress. Turns out I surpassed my goal of 1,000 miles by 19. Woo-hoo! Okay, 1,019 isn't a lot for the average person, but my body simply rejects jogging (which I'm completely okay with), so for me just under 3 miles a day was a good goal. Perhaps in 2010 I'll shoot for 1,500 miles... ? At any rate, whatever resolution or goal you might set for yourself in 2010... go, do, and don't look back!
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