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Book Review – DesignNotes by Michael Surtees http://designnotes.info Testing & Sprinting Wed, 29 Jun 2016 01:11:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.7 REVIEW COPY: Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman http://designnotes.info/?p=6258 http://designnotes.info/?p=6258#respond Mon, 07 Nov 2011 11:21:37 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=6258 In Debbie Millman’s latest book Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits, she interviews 22 well known designers and other people with opinions about brands. The conversation about brands varied quite […]]]>

REVIEW COPY: Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman

REVIEW COPY: Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman

REVIEW COPY: Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman

In Debbie Millman’s latest book Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits, she interviews 22 well known designers and other people with opinions about brands. The conversation about brands varied quite a bit from topic to topic. When the topic about the future of branding and implementation of new social technology came up, people recognized it’s importance but they didn’t really talk about how they’re taking advantage of it. The people being interviewed tended to feel the most comfortable talking about their past branding experiences. I would have liked to have read a couple interviews with digital natives to round out the book. For me, the context of the digital native is someone that is changing and creating behavior through interactions without the traditional use of print and packaging materials. Aside from that point the book is worth reading for those interested in branding. Below are some points from each of the interviews that I took note of.

ROB WALKER: My view is that branding is the process of attaching an idea to some object, or to a service or organization. That idea can be fairly straightforward: This brand of oats (or car or hammer) is of dependable quality. Or the idea can be extremely ambitious: This brand of mobile phone (or denim or yogurt) possesses and reflects a maverick and creative worldview.

DEBBIE MILLMAN: Branding is a history in flux, and my hope is that this collection of conversations can provide a time capsule of the second decade of the 21st century. Coca-Cola is seeking to create new experiences through redesigned vending machines; nations and niche products are striving to brand their own individuality. Where we’ll be in twenty years is uncertain.

WALLY OLINS: Of course they will. Television didn’t kill radio; film didn’t kill theater. There will certainly be huge changes. But one medium doesn’t kill another. Each new medium actually makes the previous one better. Radio no longer resembles what it was before television. Television no longer resembles what it was before the Internet. All these things will change, but they give us a multiplicity of choice.

GRANT McCRACKEN: Sometimes I hear designers speaking in generalities such as, “We had to freshen the brand,” or, “We had to make it more dynamic,” and so forth. What I don’t hear designers say is, “We chose this brand, this particular meaning and that particular meaning, and we got rid of that meaning.” We can be much more particular—we must be much more particular—about the meanings that we think matter. What I’d rather hear from designers is, “These are the twelve cultural meanings at issue here, and this is where the world is—this is what the world wants. This is how we’ve crafted the brand out of these twelve meanings. This is how we’ve combined them, and this is how we’ll manage them over the next six or twelve months.”

PHIL DUNCAN: A design firm needs to bring some interesting, innovative ideas on how to validate the work, so the client is convinced the proposal is the right approach. One strategy is to show the work in the context of an unusual competitive setting. If the designers show their work in the context of brands that have done breakthrough work in other categories, they can demonstrate how their design is picking up that same feeling and will be able to break through in its own category.

DORI TUNSTALL: The fact that you’re connecting with other people who think the same way you do actually makes you feel more optimistic—because you’re not alone. You can then build a coalition and get things accomplished.

BRIAN COLLINS: We say we want information, but we don’t experience the world through information—we experience the world through story.

VIRGINIA POSTREL: Brands like nike or apple associate themselves with a lot of cultural benefits in addition to promising consumers certain brand attributes. And that’s where conscious branding comes in: how do you make these cultural benefits cool at a given moment?

BRUCE DUCKWORTH: I think it’s because about 98 percent of all the work we do is rejected. It’s a very wasteful process. If you think about all the concepts that don’t get through, you think we would be used to rejection. Also, as a designer, the first thing you tend to look for is the problem.

DAVID BUTLER: There was actually a design brief—and it included two objectives: One, they wanted a package that was so unique and so differentiated that you could find it in the dark. The second was even more surprising. they wanted glass that was so distinctive that even when it was shattered on the ground, you could still tell that it was once a Coke bottle.

STANLEY HAINSWORTH: Being a part of nike or Starbucks is like being part of a religion. You learn all the tenets of the religion. Our job, as brand evangelists, is to gain converts to the religion. But as much as I believe in this, I also realize that no one has to have those products. You can live without them—they’re not essential to life. I’ve probed deep in my soul to see if I felt bad doing this work, but I never have. I have never felt guilty.

CHERYL SWANSON: The functional pillar, the sensorial experiential pillar, and the emotional pillar. It’s the emotional pillar that actually transforms a product into a true brand with a compelling story. This then creates the bond that convinces consumers there is no substitute for it.

JOE DUFFY: I think an awful lot of people working with bad clients start out believing that during the project, they can convince the clients to understand great design. They think great design will convince them. Bullshit. Ask the right questions before designing and listen to the answers, and nine times out of ten, you’ll know whether or not you’ll be able to do great work that you’ll be proud of.

MARGARET YOUNGBLOOD: I think there are different reasons why consumers revolt. A key reason consumers are so opinionated now is that they want to be able to trust what they’re being told. If the visual language of a company is not trustworthy, consumers now push back and say, “You’re lying.” Initially, I think the intent of BP’s repositioning was very noble. It was authentic and honest. After chief executive John Browne left, the vision became something else, and that was a problem. Now the logo has become a metaphor, or an emblem for people’s lack of trust.

SETH GODIN: I’d like to answer a different question, which is, “What’s the designer’s role in helping brands leverage memories or create experiences that people are seeking out?” If I were to ask, “What kind of brand does the Catholic Church have?” there would be all sorts of design answers to that, but, in fact, for someone who has never encountered the Catholic Church, there is very little brand awareness of it. For someone who has been involved in it since they were a week old, it fundamentally has a very different meaning.

DAN FORMOSA: The way to think about “everybody” is not to think about the average person in the middle, but to think about the extremes. Think about people at the edges of your potential buying public and think about people who are most challenged. Also, you have to look at people who are experts. In the case of OXO, we looked at chefs and cooks. We wanted to understand both ends of the spectrum—those who are challenged and those who are experts.

BILL MOGGRIDGE: As designers, we can create solutions and synthesize results to improve people’s lives and make things better. I think the context of design is changing and expanding. And you can think of that in three concentric circles. Think of the inside circle as the individual. The second circle is the built environment, and the one around that is the overall, holistic environment. Each concentric circle is changing and moving in a design context that is itself expanding. In the past, we thought about designing things for the circle at the center. So your PDA, for example, is something that you use as an individual. The slightly more expansive context is to think about the health and well-being of the individual, rather than the specific things the individual uses. This more comprehensive view requires broader thinking about people. Rather than thinking about the things in isolation, we’re thinking about the whole person. Similarly, when you think about the built environment, we historically have thought about architecture. But as we move towards an expanding context for design, we find that we’re thinking more about social interactions and innovations as well as buildings. It’s not that one is replacing the other— it’s that the context is simply expanding. Now we’re thinking about social connections as well as the built environment we’re living in. And then when we think about the larger circle, sustainability is the big issue. In the past, we thought of sustainability as being about materials: choosing the best material and designing for disassembly. But now it’s absolutely clear that a sustainable planet is one that’s completely connected. Globalization has shown us that the effect of industrialization on the world is of planetary concern. We can’t just think about designing materials, we have to include a consideration of the entire planet. And that, again, is an expansion of context.

SEAN ADAMS: Collectively, we make something work, we make something look better, we make something more attractive or seductive, and someone wants to acquire it. Or there’s a political party or movement that someone wants you to believe in or join. The part that bothered me about all this was the idea that it was all negative. I wanted to start talking about the fact that consumerism is not necessarily a bad thing.

DANIEL PINK: I do think that transactions between companies and individuals—or between brands and individuals— are in their own ways conversations. A promise can be one element of a conversation. It’s what draws people in. I think that’s why the dynamic is different when you look at this conversation after someone has bought the product or the service.

DEE DEE GORDON: It isn’t, but you don’t really have to see an Apple logo on an iPod to know that it’s an iPod. You can put it next to four different MP3 players and instantly recognize the iPod. The brand provides such a strong visual language that you don’t ever need to see an Apple logo on any of the products. I can identify an Apple monitor from across the room. This is a testament to the brand’s design and visual language, and I think most of the brands that I’m interested in have a similar sensibility. You’re able to identify them without ever having to see a badge, logo, color combination, or any type of sign.

KARIM RASHID: (designocracy) It’s my term for the democratization of design. Honestly, this is the only real way to work in the design world. If you really want to make an impact, if you really want to make people’s lives better, if you really want to make change, and if you are concerned about this planet on every level—you have to make democratic things. Because, frankly, if you open up a magazine, or go to a museum, or buy a book, you can see some chair that everybody knows represents a certain image. But no one ever gets to sit on it. This doesn’t make sense to me anymore. It’s bullshit.

ALEX BOGUSKY: In advertising and design, there are usually two things going on. One is the effort to propel the discipline forward. The other is the effort to refine the craft as we know it. Both camps are important. I think you can look at people’s work and identify which camp they’re in. There are those who refine the craft as it exists, and they create, in many ways, the most beautiful work. They make the work that is the easiest to like. Those who are trying to undo the craft or destroy a piece of it—or push the discipline into a new place—that’s important too. And as soon as this type of work is successful, then the craft gets applied to what they’ve done.

TOM PETERS: In today’s environment, you’ve got to stand for something. You might not have to do this if you’re a nineteen-year-old shift manager at McDonald’s, and we certainly aren’t talking about those folks who are working at Google. But the guy who was the faceless person in the faceless purchasing department is either going to be outsourced to India or outsourced to software. The great race is between the two. To stay employable today, you’ve got to have some sort of signature.

MALCOLM GLADWELL: Right now, we’re focused on scale when it comes to the realm of sharing information with people. In previous generations, the focus was on intimacy. So, there’s been a trade. The kind of information sharing that we have now is really, really great for innovation, for the adoption of new ideas, and for forming new coalitions.

Brand Thinking Cup

Title: Graphic: Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits
Author: Debbie Millman
Publisher: Allworth Press

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REVIEW COPY: Le Cool–A Weird and Wonderful Guide to Barcelona http://designnotes.info/?p=4725 http://designnotes.info/?p=4725#respond Sun, 20 Feb 2011 17:38:07 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=4725 Last September I was introduced to the publishing concept of Le Cool from Andrew Losowsky who showed me a number of books based on different cities. I really liked thumbing […]]]>

Le Cool: A Weird and Wonderful Guide to Barcelona

Le Cool: A Weird and Wonderful Guide to Barcelona

Le Cool: A Weird and Wonderful Guide to Barcelona

Le Cool: A Weird and Wonderful Guide to Barcelona

Le Cool: A Weird and Wonderful Guide to Barcelona

Le Cool: A Weird and Wonderful Guide to Barcelona

Le Cool: A Weird and Wonderful Guide to Barcelona

Le Cool: A Weird and Wonderful Guide to Barcelona

Le Cool: A Weird and Wonderful Guide to Barcelona

Last September I was introduced to the publishing concept of Le Cool from Andrew Losowsky who showed me a number of books based on different cities. I really liked thumbing through them because each was uniquely designed for each city. While I only spent a couple minutes looking through each I really appreciated the design of each. Recently I was contacted by Le Cool’s PR wondering if I would be interested in taking a closer look at their revised Barcelona guide. While I probably won’t be visiting Barcelona anytime soon I thought it would be worth taking a closer look at it.

Speaking of books, just received Le Cool's Guide to Barcelona

What I remembered when I was looking through some of the other city books with Andrew is that I thought they were worth having even if someone wasn’t planning a trip there. There were as many stories as things “to do”. The structure of the book goes something like this—each chapter is broken into chunks of hours, starting at 6am and ending at 5.30am the following day. Each of those clusters of hours is in context, typically there’s some eating, seeing stuff and things to buy along with a couple miscellaneous things. Each layout is designed differently which really suits this format, once again it implies context that isn’t easy to template.

While that makes up the majority of the book, there’s a couple other sections worth mentioning. There’s a directory of all the places mentioned. comparing the visual experience and the barebones directory that’s used for quick reference is helpful. A person can take in the experience vs the places they’ve wanted to take note of. The other part of the book which was probably my favorite was the hand drawn maps that display where everything is.

Whenever I read a book these days I try to wonder how the books content would transfer to my iPhone and iPad. Because the book is designed specifically for a small format I wonder how a designer might change the format. If I was in the city how would my iPhone transfer those stories and tips. Overall I think it could be a pretty great experience plus would give the person using the book on their iPhone to share their own stories. I’ll be keeping my eyes to see if they start evolving the format in this evolving mobile world.

Title: A Weird and Wonderful Guide to Barcelona
Designed by Folch Studio and edited by Kati Krause
Publisher: Le Cool

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REVIEW COPY: One Million by Hendrik Hertzberg http://designnotes.info/?p=3523 http://designnotes.info/?p=3523#respond Sun, 24 Oct 2010 17:19:35 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=3523 I was recently contacted by John Clifford of Think Studio in NYC who designed the cover of the book Graphic that I reviewed a couple weeks ago. He and Herb […]]]>

One Million Cover

One Million 01

One Million 02

I was recently contacted by John Clifford of Think Studio in NYC who designed the cover of the book Graphic that I reviewed a couple weeks ago. He and Herb Thornby had designed the book One Million by Hendrik Hertzberg and was curious to know if I would be interested in checking it out. I was so within a couple days I had a copy in my hands.

The idea behind the book is to display a million dots while pulling out numbers that seem like data though very quickly becomes a story through information. As I was reading the pages it struck me that I was looking at the full circle of life. Common data was placed in the context of births, deaths, geography, military, space, time, travel, jail, money among many other categories. For instance we learn that 150,300 people crossed the Brooklyn bridge on foot on opening day, May 24,1883 while 150,835 US deaths in a day happened in 2008. It’s information like that to compare that makes the book fascinating.

In the design each dot that has a number associated with it is pulled out on the page. Along with the number is the context of what it means. While the book is 200 pages flipping through each with essentially the same number of dots it never got boring. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of cool website or app this book would make. Each dot could easily have an association that when clicked/pressed could provide more information. Those dots would also be live so some of them over time would move.

The biggest issue i had with the book is that the sources are not listed. I didn’t doubt that the actual numbers were real but it seems like a strange omission. Calling the book a toy doesn’t really omit the need. I think fans of typography and order will enjoy this book though I think there’s broad appeal to those that are interested in the social sciences or people that just like the story of humanity.

Title: One Million
Author: Hendrik Hertzberg
Publisher: Abrams Image

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REVIEW COPY: Graphic by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico http://designnotes.info/?p=3199 http://designnotes.info/?p=3199#comments Wed, 06 Oct 2010 17:57:02 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=3199 It’s hard not to like Graphic: Inside the Sketchbooks of the World’s Great Graphic Designers by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico just for the simple fact that people are sharing […]]]>

Graphic by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico

Graphic by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico

Graphic by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico

Graphic by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico

Graphic by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico

Graphic by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico

Graphic by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico

Graphic by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico

Graphic by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico

Graphic by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico

Graphic by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico

Graphic by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico

Graphic by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico

It’s hard not to like Graphic: Inside the Sketchbooks of the World’s Great Graphic Designers by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico just for the simple fact that people are sharing a sliver of work that is rarely seen as part of the final design. While I think the title is a bit ambitious there’s a lot to enjoy inside. The process seemed pretty straight forward on the selection of who’s in the book—designers were invited to submit and if the authors felt it stood on “it’s own merit and context” they made it to print. One observation that I noticed as I went through the examples was that there was a heavy slant towards print designers. I suppose it makes sense but it also misses a huge section of designers that solve problems agnostically for both screen, print, service and everything in between. I would have liked to have seen the title expanded past the traditional idea of what graphic design is.

If I was currently teaching a design course I would put this book in the syllabus as a book to check out. Each example is unique from all the other examples. Each designer has their own technique for thinking, exploring ideas, using materials and purpose for their sketchbook. Someone that hasn’t really spent time expressing random ideas and thoughts can learn a lot from. The small excerpt on each designer helps put their book into context. Probably my favorite spread came from Pep Carrió who created an image a day. Mirko Ilić is another that students would be smart to study. In my notes my first reaction is how skilled he is with his hands. In terms of seeing process turned into final product, Jeff Johnson is a great example. He showed the iterative process of design from early exploration to final image on the side of a bottle.

There’s also a lot for more experienced designers that have been around for a while. Two examples that stood out for me was Sean Adams and Scott Stowell. Each brought a lot of precision to what they put on paper. I got the sense that if I thumbed through a stack of their books they would all maintain the same distinct quality. On the flip side I could also appreciate one of the final designer’s in the book Wang Xu who basically had stacks of email, sketches and other things pinned to a wall. As the process flows sometimes it gets messy.

I’m not sure I could distill the book into any big takeaways. There’s no guarantee of step by step emulation that is going to lead to graphic design greatness. But for each of those examples shown there’s a personal satisfaction of making marks for themselves that has played a part in them getting to do what they love most.

Title: Graphic: Inside the Sketchbooks of the World’s Great Graphic Designers
Author: Steven Heller and Lita Talarico
Publisher: The Monacelli Press

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REVIEW COPY: I Wonder by Marian Bantjes (Part One) http://designnotes.info/?p=3066 http://designnotes.info/?p=3066#comments Wed, 29 Sep 2010 14:32:08 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=3066 As much as it pains me, I Wonder by Marian Bantjes is a book that should not be put on an iPad. Justice would not be served viewing it on […]]]>

I Wonder by Marian Bantjes

I Wonder by Marian Bantjes

I Wonder by Marian Bantjes

I Wonder by Marian Bantjes

I Wonder by Marian Bantjes

I Wonder by Marian Bantjes

I Wonder by Marian Bantjes

I Wonder by Marian Bantjes

I Wonder by Marian Bantjes

I Wonder by Marian Bantjes

As much as it pains me, I Wonder by Marian Bantjes is a book that should not be put on an iPad. Justice would not be served viewing it on screen. Going through the book yesterday I realized pretty quickly that I’m going to do this review in two parts. This first part is going to be about my reaction to the book and the second part will be after I actually read it. I’m going to be taking some time off soon and want to spend some quality time with the book.

I was struck that while making notes that my first four bullet points had the word feel in it. It’s appropriate in so many ways. Before opening it I felt I needed to wash my hands. I sort of wish that it had a special box to contain it. Turning the pages was an activity in joy. I loved the weight and the embossing of the front and back covers.

The book starts off with a bang and continues for quite some time. From just a pure visual point of view there’s a lot to explore though until I fully read it I’ll have to hold off on commenting on the entire pace. From a personal perspective my favourite series was the set of explorations from the street signs from Saskatoon. I’m from there and had to put up with them until high school. If my memory serves me correct they’re also in Edmonton too. Aside from being familiar with the sign and colour I liked how she took something that was pretty bad, deconstructed it and built it back up into something kind of cool. Plus the narration fits with it.

Going through a book like this is something special. I could have easily uploaded a ton more images but I think a book like this should be experienced first hand with out a ton of images that will surely be floating on the web soon. I’d like to thank Kim at The Monacelli Press for passing along a review copy. It’s a book that once released is going to do phenomenally.

Title: I Wonder
Author: Marian Bantjes
Publisher: The Monacelli Press

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REVIEW COPY: From Here to There by Hand Drawn Map Association http://designnotes.info/?p=2421 http://designnotes.info/?p=2421#comments Wed, 18 Aug 2010 13:30:07 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=2421 I really enjoyed reading and looking through From Here to There: A Curious Collection from the Hand Drawn Map Association. The book is divided into six categories of maps: directional […]]]>

From Here to There by Hand Drawn Map Association

From Here to There by Hand Drawn Map Association

From Here to There by Hand Drawn Map Association

From Here to There by Hand Drawn Map Association

From Here to There by Hand Drawn Map Association

From Here to There by Hand Drawn Map Association

From Here to There by Hand Drawn Map Association

I really enjoyed reading and looking through From Here to There: A Curious Collection from the Hand Drawn Map Association. The book is divided into six categories of maps: directional maps, found maps, fictional maps, artful maps, maps of unusual places and explanatory maps. Each map that is a category explains what is going on with the map, and typically a story. What I found enjoyable was reading the personal anecdotes of why a person needed a map or what they doing as a result.

As I went through all the maps it became clear that there was a couple recurring needs for the maps. People traveling to somewhere new, giving context to something that people needed reminding of, or some specific event that was going to happen once. Other details that people will find fascinating is how people choose to organize information, what details to keep, and how things were categorized. Taking all those details into account plus visualizing all that stuff makes things enjoyable to read.

I’m a huge fan of information design and by relation—maps. I’ve blogged in the past about some of the maps contained in the book, so when I opened the envelope for this book I was pretty happy. I didn’t even know that this book was going to happen—but I’m glad it got into my hands. I think this is one of those books that people will spend some quality time with, both reading from cover to cover and flipping it open from time to time for inspiration.

Title: From Here to There: A Curious Collection from the Hand Drawn Map Association
Author: Kris Harzinski
Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
Additional Link: http://www.handmaps.org/

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REVIEW COPY: Obsessive Consumption by Kate Bingaman–Burt http://designnotes.info/?p=2125 http://designnotes.info/?p=2125#respond Mon, 19 Jul 2010 16:14:18 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=2125 REVIEW COPY: Obsessive Consumption by Kate Bingaman–Burt At first glance Obsessive Consumption: What Did You Buy Today?by Kate Bingaman–Burt seems pretty straight forward. Kate has drawn objects, things and animals […]]]>

Obsessive Consumption by Kate Bingaman–Burt

Obsessive Consumption by Kate Bingaman–Burt

Obsessive Consumption by Kate Bingaman–Burt

Obsessive Consumption by Kate Bingaman–Burt

Obsessive Consumption by Kate Bingaman–Burt

Obsessive Consumption by Kate Bingaman–Burt

REVIEW COPY: Obsessive Consumption by Kate Bingaman–Burt

At first glance Obsessive Consumption: What Did You Buy Today?by Kate Bingaman–Burt seems pretty straight forward. Kate has drawn objects, things and animals on a daily basis between Feb 2006 to Feb 2009. While each object is different, her recognizable drawing style makes all the miscellaneous consumption consistent. What makes the book worth looking at more than just the images are the personal annotations that follow each drawing. Because she’s dated everything a viewer can see what was important on Christmas or as one example I’ve shown, on Buy Nothing Day. Between the drawing, story and date a fascinating pattern emerges that shifts the book about being from design and becomes more of an anthropological or maybe a social study.

So why does Kate draw these objects everyday? In her intro she describes consumption as guilt, joy, excess, celebration. What the process of drawing does is help her pay attention to her finances and what lead to the purchase. While I don’t know how long an average drawing takes to complete, those minutes of reflection are something that more people should consider. While everyone doesn’t want to draw, if they took a couple minutes to focus on their purchasing habits they might change their behavior. While the book shows a select number of drawings the project continues today. She will be stopping once all her credit cards are payed off.

This is one of those books that I knew about before it was a book. I’ve been following Kate on the interwebs for some time between blogs mentioning her work, her stuff on flickr, her personal sites to tweets. We’re def. in the middle of a process that allows people to follow along while things are being made in real time, and over time allowing the best to be curated into other objects. A book like Kate’s is a great example of that.

While I suspect that this book is targeted towards the design crowd I’d like to see it sitting in different sections of a book store. It would be great to see it in a business section or economics section as an example of visualizing consumption outside of the traditional bar diagrams or pie charts. What the book shows is that there is a story behind every purchase, no matter how normal the day might seem.

Title: Obsessive Consumption: What Did You Buy Today?
Author: Kate Bingaman–Burt
Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
Additional Link: http://www.obsessiveconsumption.typepad.com/

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REVIEW COPY: 3D Typography http://designnotes.info/?p=2118 http://designnotes.info/?p=2118#comments Mon, 12 Jul 2010 20:12:12 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=2118 Spending time with 3D Typography, I did wonder as a book that is intended to be looked at (and read) I wanted to question how it would compare with what […]]]>

3DTypography Cover

3DTypography Intro

3DTypography Detail

3DTypography Spread

3DTypography Stones

3DTypography Interviews

Spending time with 3D Typography, I did wonder as a book that is intended to be looked at (and read) I wanted to question how it would compare with what I might see on blogs that deal with typography. As I flipped through the book for the first time there were a couple things I recognized. That wasn’t a coincidence as the authors in their intro described their reason for creating the book. As they collected images of inspiration for a magazine they realized they had enough material for a book. I’m assuming that most of that inspiration was found on websites.

As I read the captions, looked at the images and read the interviews at the back of the book I did ask myself if this needed to be a book when in reality I could probably find most of this stuff on my own. For the effort involved I do think that this book helps save a ton of time it would have taken me. I also think that this book captured something that most books dealing with images found on the internet miss on—timelessness. Timelessness is a word that really isn’t popular these days though I could easily see myself looking at this book in a couple years and it would probably will still feel relevant.

As for categorization it is interesting to note that the people in the book are considered artists, illustrators, and typographers. Because I’m coming in to the book as a designer it gave me perspective that I don’t necessarily see in my own practical world. With that said—who should read this book? Because I spend way too much time with screens, it makes sense for those design people like to see outside of arial & georgia. The book will also interest those people looking to create more image driven narratives online and even those still in print that are making more conceptual driven work. If I was a typographer trying to make a new typeface I’m not sure this is the book for them. The book feels more like examples that would work for display stuff as opposed to text heavy faces.

Book: 3D Typography
Authors: Jeanette Abbink & Emily CM Anderson
Publisher: Mark Batty Publisher

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First impressions of Beyond the Street, the 100 Leading Figures in Urban Art http://designnotes.info/?p=2330 http://designnotes.info/?p=2330#respond Fri, 28 May 2010 18:51:09 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=2330 Before I jump into my reaction to Beyond the Street: With the 100 Most Important Players in Urban Art I think it’s important to explain what I think is good […]]]>

enjoying the book release of Beyond the Street at Deitch

Beyond the Street, the 100 Leading Figures in Urban Art cover

Beyond the Street, the 100 Leading Figures in Urban Art. Listings of who's in the book

Beyond the Street, the 100 Leading Figures in Urban Art pg 136-137

Beyond the Street, the 100 Leading Figures in Urban Art  pg 30-31

Before I jump into my reaction to Beyond the Street: With the 100 Most Important Players in Urban Art I think it’s important to explain what I think is good street art and why I’ll stop and photograph something outside. While I’m familiar with a lot of the “names” out there I do try to stay a bit ignorant of who’s doing what. I don’t want to be persuaded by reputation—I want to be as interested in stuff on their own accord, not what other people have said or sold in a gallery. I’m a visual guy so I can tell pretty quickly what’s been done with skill. I don’t think people should just live off their reputation if they’ve done shit work recently.

Last night I checked out Deitch whom was hosting the book launch of Beyond the Street: With the 100 Most Important Players in Urban Art. I’ve been a fan of this project for quite some time. Patrick Nguyen who is one of the editors contacted me a couple years ago asking if they could use a photo that I shot. I said sure as I wasn’t doing anything with it. Time passed and I forgot about the whole thing. Out of the blue a couple months ago I received a new email explaining that they ended up not using it. To be honest I wasn’t sad about it but appreciated the fact that they kept my two year old email and wanted to let me know. He also mentioned that they were going to launch the book soon in London & New York. So that brings me to last night.

I don’t think I’ve ever used the word spectacular ever in a post, but as I flipped throughthe book for the first time that’s what I was thinking. It’s one of the first book on street art that has managed to do a great job of balancing images and text together. The design is really tight though occasionally the type reminds me of Print & ID magazine. Aesthetics aside, how does the content hold up? It’s hard to say as I haven’t read the book yet. What I can say is that I’ll be spending some quality time with it over the long weekend to find out. The title is pretty ambitious though at first glance probably can seems like it’s covered a lot of what is worth documenting and talking about. Obviously they’re not going to be able to please everyone with the list but for me that actually wants to learn a lot more about some of the characters out there this book is a great starting point.

While I don’t know a lot about who’s doing what, there were three sets of people that I looked for and didn’t see in the book. I’m a fan of what peru ana ana peru and how they spread their stuff over the city. The designer in me likes how some things stay consistent while at other times become consistent in their inconsistency. The second group is Graffiti Research Lab. They blast digital stuff on to outside walls. How they’re pushing ideas, tech, and o pen source is worth mentioning. The third is Monsieur Chat. From an aesthetic pov he’s doing a lot of really tight stuff. I would have liked to have known more about each of those people and would have been good additions to the others.

The other thing that I would have liked to see is possibly a timeline along with criteria of how the people were chosen. Keep in mind that I haven’t actually read the book and there might be a rational embedded in each story that becomes apparent as to why certain people are listed. But with that all said I think this book should be on the shelf (and read) of anyone that has stopped briefly outside to look at marks that most people ignore in the busy daily life.

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REVIEW COPY: Flaunt: Designing effective, compelling and memorable portfolios of creative work By Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit http://designnotes.info/?p=2045 http://designnotes.info/?p=2045#comments Wed, 03 Mar 2010 14:44:21 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=2045 Flaunt









When Armin emailed me asking if I would be interested in reading the PDF version of Flaunt for review I said sure. I’ve only read a couple pdf books before but I was curious about the experience of something visual and how it would translate on screen. I did eventually print the whole thing out but in hindsight I probably didn’t need to, though I did accidentally delete my only PDF copy and had to get a second download sent to me. With all that said I think the book is incredibly valuable for people in design school, whether as a first year or someone about to graduate. As I was reading it, I asked myself if I would find value in buying the book as someone that’s been designing for ten years. I tended to flip flop as I read it. The price wasn’t outrageous but as a lot of the examples in book show, they’re portfolios tended to be used in the earlier years of the designers respective careers.

Almost anticipating that question the authors did talk about some of the resistance they received from designers asking if they were interested in participating. I do think they considered that issue of the older design crowd with their survey questions that I found quite helpful. They asked both interviewees and interviewers a number of questions in terms of portfolio, contact and how a meeting might run and what each group was expecting. While some of the stats were hard to follow, their general response dissecting the data was strong. Other parts of the book included seasoned (and somewhat bitter sounding at times) designers responding to a question. While their responses were different at times it did show students that there wasn’t one perfect way to do things. Students tend to be quite impressionable, so to realize that people have different expectations was helpful. The soul of the book though was the examples that designers shared, both with how they made their book, the supplies and visual examples. Some responses were brief, others enlightening while all were pretty honest.

But maybe a sign of the times is how they’re weren’t that many purely digital versions. A couple years from now when there’s a second or third edition I’d be interested to see how things play out. Will the portfolio be as important as their blog, pdf of samples or reputation? Those are all things that most of the case studies missed in this book. As helpful as the book is for those just coming out (and I do think every student should read this book) I don’t know how helpful it would be for those mid career trying to make a jump.

Title: Flaunt: Designing effective, compelling and memorable portfolios of creative work
Authours: Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit
Publisher: Underconsideration

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REVIEW COPY: The Visual Miscellaneum by David McCandless http://designnotes.info/?p=2031 http://designnotes.info/?p=2031#comments Mon, 15 Feb 2010 13:44:04 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=2031 The Visual Miscellaneum by David Mccandless

The Visual Miscellaneum by David Mccandless

The Visual Miscellaneum by David Mccandless

The Visual Miscellaneum by David Mccandless

The Visual Miscellaneum by David Mccandless

The Visual Miscellaneum by David Mccandless

As I started looking through The Visual Miscellaneum by David Mccandless the first thing that struck me wasn’t the visuals but how he took public information that’s available to anyone and made a book through his perspective. That reason alone is why this book should be required reading for designers. The book isn’t perfect, there’s actually a lot of misfires in terms of printing and data representation, but how he manages to collect data, turn that into information while creating a narrative is something that will inspire designers.

Mccandless topics were varied as much as his use of type and display. Everything from Life to Thought through Pop to Music was examined. The best examples were those that showed a relationship of scale that a reader might not have realized. Most people realize that they will spend a lot of time sleeping in their life, but in the diagram Life Times there’s a number of things put into scale that would make a person take pause. Over and over I’d look at his editorial eye and marvel at how he took something from Wikipedia or Google and created a story worth visualizing. Other times he use info from a site that I’d never heard of and turn it into a ten minute examination of data comparisons. I’d try to imagine how much time and effort it took for some of the pages to be created. From inception to collecting to visualizing could have taken weeks.

As I mentioned that there’s some misfires in terms of printing. On page 64 there’s a lot of colourful circles about why people divorce, just no info on what each circle meant. Other times the info was a bit obscured in form such as the display of Kyoto Targets shows. I had a hard time understanding the circle within a circle scale menat. They’re not minor details but for every not so quite perfect diagram or story there were four or five compelling pages.

Now that he’s completed this book I hope he’ll use that experience and create more collections with a considered eye towards his own style of illustration and consistent use of type. While he credits his use of stock illustrations I wonder what he could have created if he had more time and budget. The book was interesting to look through but what got me excited was the potential for him or others to look at what he started and build something even more interesting out of the public data that people tend to take for granted through a personal narrative.

Title: The Visual Miscellaneum
Authour: David McCandless
Publisher: Collins Design

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REVIEW COPY: Look Both Ways by Debbie Millman http://designnotes.info/?p=1967 http://designnotes.info/?p=1967#comments Mon, 23 Nov 2009 13:54:01 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1967 Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 01

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Before I pass on my review for the really engaging book Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman, I feel as though I should let people know that I know Debbie quite well. Many years ago Debbie was a contributor to the site Speak Up. While I didn’t know her at the time I found the comments and reactions that she would get from people was interesting. I knew that she was quite successful as the President of Sterling Brands so I invited her to speak in Edmonton. This was still before she started her interview series Design Matters. It was during that time of organizing the event in Edmonton that I began to know Debbie. By the time she had spoke in Edmonton, Design Matters was getting well known as was herself. We kept in touch and when I was visiting NYC from Edmonton she always made time for me and we became friends. Once I moved to the best city in the world we’d bump into each other from time to time. The next stage of me knowing Debbie was from her teaching at SVA, and me meeting her students before they completed her class. After that there’s Debbie the President of the AIGA. Now it’s as authour—I can also make the claim to have listened to every single Design Matters interview at least once, many a couple times. So when I read Looking Both Ways it was really hard not to hear her voice. It was like I’ve heard every syllable pronounced at some point. Having that background only made the book more enjoyable to read.

Some of the stories seemed familiar while others were entirely new to me. Flipping through the pages every story is designed in a unique and compelling manner by Rodrigo Corral. The pace and tone set before and after each story should be commended. For example there’s a story near the beginning title Yellow that is displayed entirely from boards painted black with white type. The following story My First Love changes gears entirely with an italicized typeface sans images, yet fits perfectly after Yellow. Every story snaps into place like a puzzle piece.

I found myself wanting to read most of this book in the evening before I went to bed. I’m not much for reading in bed but I found that taking on a couple essays was an earned gift for the day I had just completed. I also noted that all those visuals affected my sleep state. I was dreaming a lot more. I’m sure this sounds a bit weird but I do think it’s important to note in this review. If you get the chance to read this book, try reading it before you fall asleep, it will change things entirely.

Before starting to read this book I wondered who exactly is this book written for? Debbie is an accomplished branding expert, and for her Design Matter’s intros she would start the program with a monologue of observations and stories. Translating that experience to paper and image, how would it work? And while I think New York Magazine got it right to place the book at the top of High Brow and Brilliant in it’s approval matrix, the description of it being about illustrated essays on design is a bit off. I’d say it’s more about a designer using their observations skills sharing personal reflections that are worth reading. Just like the We Feel Fine book that I reviewed last week, there’s a lot of people that I could easily give this book as a gift to, designer or not.

Thinking about a favourite story, there’s three that come to mind. Economy Foam because I remember hearing a version of this story while back in Edmonton. There’s something about hearing a description about NYC before ever setting foot here. On top of that, I haven’t read that many personal stories about a visual relationship with a brand like that from a design person. It certainly changed my perception of my visual landscape a bit. So reading about it again brought back all those memories. The second story was about Debbie’s experience in Japan getting lost. Fantastic story. And the third is about that momentous decision most designer’s have to make during their career titled Fail Safe. Once you read it you’ll know what I mean.

Title: Look Both Ways
Authour: Debbie Millman
Publisher: How Books

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REVIEW COPY: We Feel Fine by Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris http://designnotes.info/?p=1963 http://designnotes.info/?p=1963#respond Tue, 17 Nov 2009 14:29:26 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1963 We Feel Fine by Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris

We Feel Fine by Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris

We Feel Fine by Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris

We Feel Fine by Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris

A subtitle for this review post could have alternatively been titled “I feel like we can learn a ton from this book”. We Feel Fine is the companion print piece to the site http://www.wefeelfine.org. When a person from a blog publishes the phrase “i feel” or “i am feeling”, We Feel Fine picks up the text and places the post info into their database. From there a person can use the site to filter the info in a number of unique ways. The accompanying book takes some of the more interesting themes that they’ve discovered. The book’s sections are broken into into the five w’s (who, what, when, where, and why). The stories behind the data make the book, however the FAQ in the beginning and their explanation of how they did it in the end are extremely helpful to tie the book together. The book is good, but there’s a couple elements that I think prevent it from being great. With that said if there was only one book I could buy in bulk to give as gifts to my friends and family (a diverse crowd), this would be the it. There’s so many different levels and layers to this book that I don’t know how anyone couldn’t enjoy it.

We Feel Fine by Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris

We Feel Fine by Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris

Before I explain why I don’t think it’s great as it could be, I’d like to explain why I think the book is really good. The method of finding other people’s content was via blogs, basically anyone that spits out an RSS feed. While there’s still a ton of blogs out there, people now are using methods of online self expression that are essentially hidden behind walled gardens like Facebook or sites like Blip.fm. However they were able to capture a ton of thoughts before more people moved on to more locked out directions that paints an accurate time period. While reading about the different ages of the people, or the emotions they were feeling was quite amazing. The authors 50 chosen authour chosen emotions was quite eye opening. Within their format they wrote down Observations about each emotion, pulled out other aspects to the info like Main Reasons, and somewhat helpful Related Feelings. The Observations text was fascinating—I almost wish the text had been expanded. There’s so much to dig into. Main Reasons helped expand on the motivation as to why those emotions were blogged about in the first place. Related Feelings presented interesting info too—every once in a while a really opposite word would show up in the text. For instance a related feeling to Ashamed was Proud.

We Feel Fine by Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris

Some of the fascinating facts that I learned was the a typical day pulls in 10,000 entries. As people age they tend to become happier and more grateful. In terms of contacting people for the book, they reached out to a staggering number of people—12,765, though the number of people that responded and actually agreed was far fewer. Even so there’s so much good info that they’ve turned into a representation of what people were publishing and the feelings involved that I can’t really recall seeing in a book, and making it interesting to read. Other emotions that I found interesting was Beautiful, a related term was Ugly. When I went to the Ugly page, Beautiful wasn’t related like it was the other way. That kind of information is impossible to find elsewhere. At the end of Observations and chapter intros there was a heart that ended the text. Depending on what was written each heart had a different symbolic meaning.

We Feel Fine by Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris

We Feel Fine by Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris

We Feel Fine by Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris

There’s a number of different layers to the output of the design of the book. There’s the typography, the info design and the images. I’m not going to dwell too much on the type except to say I’m not a huge fan of the slab serief chosen. It’s a really nit picky comment from me that should probably be disregarded as the type selection doesn’t hinder the book. I just wish another typeface had been chosen. In terms of info design, the data is visualized in a helpful way. It could have been easy to over design things, but I don’t think that’s the case here. Feeling the Calendar and Clock was eye opening while a Moody Life could have been more better if the type hadn’t been so small. My favourite chart in the book was through the expression of What. The book is quite visual, however the digital images chosen aren’t great in colour quality. Yes, jpgs from sites aren’t great to begin with the dpi sucks, but the lack of colour correction really hurts the overall quality of the book. I don’t mind seeing images of varying degree of pixelation, but the washed out colours becomes an issue when there are so many. The other big piece of info missing from the book is when a feeling is quoted, there’s no attribution. Typically the text is qualified with a general “someone”, “a woman”, “a man” and possibly a location attached to it. I’m sure there’s a very logical reason on why the names were omitted, but from an experience point of view not having a name or date attached to the words lacks the impact it could have had.

Title: We Feel Fine
Authours: Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris
Publisher: Scribner

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It’s Over, the Best Book Ever Written Using Graphic Design: #Emigre70 http://designnotes.info/?p=1952 http://designnotes.info/?p=1952#comments Sat, 07 Nov 2009 14:40:35 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1952 Magazine Access and “Best of Emigre” email

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I haven’t read Emigre 70 from cover to cover yet (it’s going to take a couple months) but I’m pretty confident in saying that a book like this will never be written again. There is no bar for this kind of content, nothing has come close to it since and those that have Emigre as a target are missing the point. I don’t even know how a review of this book plays out, it’s a compilation, “best of” as Rudy suggests. As I’ve flipped through the pages there seems like a couple chapters that play out. There’s the bitmap era of realizing that ideas can be pushed in a new way, and scaled. After realizing that there’s more than vector shapes and not having to rely on the status quo design, type design is blown apart. Grids go crazy and come back—there isn’t anyone that doesn’t know who Emigre is. The beginning of the end starts when they start selling pajamas. Next up is pushing the supermarket chic of color, type and having all their critics fawn over what they complained about in the past. Cd’s with content are explored—but what’s the point when there’s the net? It stops. But starts again after the vacuum of the mainstream design magazines becomes overwhelmingly bad and the design blogs that had a chance to push things are nothing more than a new type of congratulatory system. Problem with Emigre turning into mini books was the print run was limited—I could only get my hands on Rant and Tall Tales, I have no idea what the other issues contained.

Now there’s a big book to reflect on all that was covered. I’m pretty excited about this. I’ve already spent a couple hours on the inset cover reading quotes which is something special considering I haven’t even got to the intro of the book yet.

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REVIEW COPY: Glitch: Designing Imperfection by Iman Moradi http://designnotes.info/?p=1931 http://designnotes.info/?p=1931#respond Sun, 18 Oct 2009 22:50:43 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1931 Glitch 01

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I’ve been a fan of glitch for a while, I just didn’t know there was a name for it. Every once in a while I’ll try to slip in an image on the blog that’s been heavily manipulated by messing with gif levels. I like how the the bit maps feel natural in their environment. So when I came across Glitch: Designing Imperfection by Iman Moradi I was interested in reading how the book talked about the art.

The book is broken out into three parts, the first section is comprised of interviews, the second is digital examples replicated on paper and the third is an index that’s a bit more informative than the usual. As someone who didn’t know much about glitch, I thought the book was a good start though I would liked it to have gone more in depth both in interviews, essays and examples. Of course books have budgets and a limited amount of pages. This type of book would be perfect for an expanded website—that’s sort of where the index becomes valuable. Unfortunately as far as I know it’s just a printed source and not online.

So what’s a glitch anyways? In the preface it’s described as a spurge of electronic current, a hiccup—in German it roughly translates “to slip or slide”. More interesting is trying to catch the random actions and events that are technical. That’s where the examples are valuable, I just had hopped there had been more. Because technology tries to be perfect, seeing those rules bent or broken are fascinating to me. Reading the interviews it was interesting that two separate people described how they like showing the work to those that had no idea about glitches. One tension that seemed to arise was that of the work being pure, alteration and that of commercial work that relies on that type of glitch aesthetic. It’s an interesting subject matter that I’ll take a closer look into after reading about it.

Title: Glitch: Designing Imperfection
Authour: Iman Moradi
Publisher: Mark Batty Publisher

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REVIEW COPY: I Miss My Pencil by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson http://designnotes.info/?p=1812 http://designnotes.info/?p=1812#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2009 13:13:06 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1812 I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson is a highly unusual design book in that it’s not just about the final product, it’s not about dry process and it’s not about trying to build a egocentric design legacy. Through all the modern day technologies of today like IM, email and face to face communication, Bone and Johnson work in parallel talking about projects that don’t yet exist. They use their discussions as starting points for experiments that in the end may or may not become products and may or may not be successful. For a number of topics they interviewed people they admired for what they do and used that information as another driving force to see what they could design. Those back and fourth communications are illustrated by different typefaces for both Bone and Johnson. To display the bursts of discussion their words are displayed like an IM talk would look like. Because there’s a relaxed nature to what they’re driving at, the reader almost feels like their being invited into an intimate discussion. The discussion doesn’t feel forced.

As they both authours work through issues together, their thinking skills are put on display. The buildup of ideas and how they work is incredibly valuable to anyone wanting to learn more about design process. While it’s easy to diagram a process in a linear manner, it rarely reflects how design actually comes to be. In this book they discard that type of diagram for a narrative that allows for unexpected results. Unexpected is probably not the right word, they had an idea in mind what they wanted to do, but their flow allowed them to explore ideas that normal commercial products might not allow. That knowledge in turn is helpful when working in the business reality. Another almost but not quite right term could be “play”. It’s exploration without constraining themselves by anyone else except themselves.

While Bone and Johnson have a great book in hand, it also is an example that any designer that wants to learn should try doing. The steps they go through could easily be replicated. All designer’s should be as curious as these two. There’s no reason why two friends couldn’t start off the same way that they did with an issue and work it through to completion—client or not. What I appreciated was that it didn’t seem like they tried to build themselves up as design superheroes, but as two designers working to challenge themselves through projects. Sometimes it didn’t turn out as hoped and sometimes it did.

As mentioned some of the starting points involved interviews with a number of people that they admired. They talked with a chef, a metal designer, a writer and a BDSM educator. There’s also some short anecdotes from a car maestro, photographer and sous-chef. Each of those people added a different layer of narrative that meshed nicely with the projects that were being made. It made the designs more about a human experience and not about an object that is going to collect dust. Another layer was that for each of the three overlapping themes of aisthetika, punk manufacturing and love+fetish they showed other designer’s examples that fit the categories. Of all of those ideas I was drawn to the Saturday watch by Peter Riering–Czekalla and the grass and test tube flowers called Bloom by Gregory Germe.

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

While the book is highly recommended from me there’s one example that I wished they had gone further with more exploration. There’s a two page spread of the deconstruction of the PB & J sandwich and cookies & milk. While the photos are great I would have been interested to read more about the whole thing. Did he serve them to anyone? Was there a reaction from those that tried it, did they believe that those things came from an oreo? I suppose there could be a hole book on common foods that have been deconstructed and built back up…

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

Most people that will read this book will probably not get to see any of the objects in person. While walking around IDEO for the book opening in New York I didn’t really put that together until I started reading the book. My favourite experience that was quite different seeing in person to reading about it in the book had to do with a camera. The camera was designed in reaction to a story written by Cory Doctorow titled Make it a Verb. In person I thought the outer shell was the lens. The shiny object was laid on its side and the large metal surface looked like a lens to me, though the fact that it wasn’t glass should have tipped me off. In any case it wasn’t until reading how the shape came to be and the fact that the photo showed the camera hanging from a ceiling that I noticed the small aperture on the side. It’s those types of experiences that are valuable to a designer. I could empathize with non designers looking at something for the first time, throwing my own sensibilities to something I’ve never seen before. It was a good learning lesson.

Title: I Miss My Pencil
Authour: Martin Bone and Kara Johnson
Publisher: Chronicle Books

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REVIEW COPY: Women of Design by Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit http://designnotes.info/?p=1712 http://designnotes.info/?p=1712#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2009 13:30:03 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1712 women of design 1

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When I’m reading books on or about Design I subconsciously ask myself if the book in front of me would make a good addition to my bookshelf. It would be hard for me to say that Women of Design shouldn’t be there, but it wasn’t an easy read for me. I really don’t like the title—I wish it had been titled something else. I’m not objecting to the idea behind the book, but it felt weird labeling it as that. On the flip side it would have likewise felt strange to have a book titled Men of Design. As this book is the first of its kind in that it just interviews women, they had to make up their own categories with out much historical context. The three categories of Trailblazers, Pathfinders and Groundbreakers seemed again a bit strange to me. In the context of design I don’t think I’ve come across anyone (female or male) described as a trailblazer or pathfinder. What I didn’t take issue with was actually how they decided to choose who they were going to include in the book. I paid close attention to their introduction where they tried to cover a lot of bases. A number of subjective questions that they mentioned were “Is the work good? Memorable? Unique? Does it stand the test of time? Or does it just signify a specific time? Are the women known within the industry or beyond? Does it matter?” and most importantly “Would we want to know and more about these women and their work, inspirations, processes and stories?” They laid out how they were going to do it, and stuck with it. The only thing I wish they had mentioned in the book was how they conducted the interviews. I had to ask the authour’s via email how they were conducted. Armin got back to me quite quickly, “All interviews except barbara Kruger were done by email. Kruger’s was by phone and transcribed.”

At times the interview questions felt a bit over the top with praise for the designers work. Occasionally the answers were also a bit predictable or felt like the designer wrote what they felt the answer should be. That can happen when questions are conducted through email as there’s a lot of time to consider an answer. What I wasn’t sure about was if there was a lot of going back and fourth between the interviews or if it was a one time conversation. I suspect that if they had been face to face some of the conversations would have taken some interesting turns and harder questions could have been asked.

A couple of the designers that I was happy to be introduced to through the pages were Ruth Ansel and Anne Burdick. I didn’t know them but after reading what they had to say I was curious to read more. Another designer that seemed like they had a lot to say was Emily King. Due to space and possibly time considerations, all the designers that were in the book were not given space for interviews. I didn’t take count but it seemed like there was fewer interviews in the section on Groundbreakers compared to the other sections. There were at least three or four people I wish they had made room for in the third section. I’m not sure whether any of those interviews were conducted or not, but if they were but didn’t make the page due to cost considerations, I think their website www.underconsideration.com/womenofdesign/ would have been the perfect venue to list those interviews. The other thing that I found quite interesting with the website was the Change Log where they’ve listed designers that have changed studios or companies.

The only real problem that I had with the book which I took issue with on Speak Up’s website and never got a satisfactory response was the diagram of Influence and Inspiration. I can’t take it seriously because none of the designers listed worked in a vacuum. I would have liked to have seen an equal number of male designers on the same diagram to see the interconnected influence that went back and fourth. By just showing one of the sexes it looks to me that they never influenced anyone else which I seriously doubt. But all the info design wasn’t bad—the little bar charts illustrated what they needed to and the typography pull out talking about the typeface commissioned by Barbara Dewilde for Archer and Surveyor was nice.

If there’s one real question to ask, it’s in their premise to create the book in the first place. “Why aren’t there more women represented in conferences, boards of directors, judging panels and other public–facing situations, where men always seem to outnumber them?” For the next conference you attend, take note of who is presenting. Did anyone from the book make it there? If not, are you planning to ask the conference organizer who was on their list but declined?

Title: Women of Design
Authour: Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit
Publisher: How

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REVIEW COPY: The Wayfinding Handbook by David Gibson http://designnotes.info/?p=1694 http://designnotes.info/?p=1694#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2009 13:25:27 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1694 The Wayfinding Handbook by David Gibson

The Wayfinding Handbook by David Gibson

The Wayfinding Handbook by David Gibson

The Wayfinding Handbook by David Gibson

The Wayfinding Handbook by David Gibson

One of the first questions that kept popping up as I read the Wayfinding Handbook by David Gibson was why wasn’t this written earlier – like ten years ago? Not that it was Gibson’s fault at all, but almost that long ago for one of my final design projects in University I decided to redesign the entire street sign system of the city I was living in. This book would have also been invaluable and one of the first things I would have read and reread as I was working on the project. It would have put me in a great framework to build ideas off of. This book also fits in nicely for research for conference design packages where there’s a sign system component. And since almost everything is digital today this book is helpful for online navigation work.

The content is quite strong, starting with a breakdown of the design process and where each of the chapters falls into the different categories. After seeing this incorporated here I’m not sure why more books don’t do something similar by showing the content in a logical way. Talking out loud here, I think there’s a great opportunity to incorporate a table of contents in a related way… Along with the process and content, the design of the book is quite strong. I enjoyed reading it, not just because of the content but how it was laid out.

The book isn’t perfect though. I thought the typography and layout section should have been expanded. The idea of legibility could have had it’s own chapter. It didn’t go into much detail about minimum and maximum viewing sizes for words. If there’s an obvious sign that you felt you should have been able to read at a normal distance but couldn’t, the designer probably wasn’t that aware that there’s formula’s out there for attempting to figure out a minimum/maximum distance where things should be visible. More detail like that would have been helpful. I also thought the page on mobile wayfinding devices could have gone into more detail and I suspect that new editions will focus more on those type of examples.

The Planning Wayfinding Systems chapter was my favourite and the Sign Content and Locations section of that chapter is something I want to point out. I fond it incredibly helpful to see the whole planning stage. The details on the different types of signs and placement are things that are never in a book. That chapter alone is worth the price of the book. As a book on core design principals I don’t think the book is going to date itself soon. However I do think that a second edition might be warranted as more people work with digital ideas. The cost for fabrication of signs and the designers that think apply those systems can be costly – and considering the economic climate something that people will be looking to cut costs on unfortunately. One possible way to keep the designer was saving costs is to go electronic with maps and visual ques, something that I don’t think a lot of people have considered yet and possibly something to expand on in the coming years.

Title: The Wayfinding Handbook
Authour: David Gibson
Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press


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REVIEW COPY: The Power of Design, a force for transforming everything by Richard Farson http://designnotes.info/?p=1661 http://designnotes.info/?p=1661#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2009 13:51:54 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1661 The Power of Design, a force for transforming everything by Richard Farson

The Power of Design, a force for transforming everything by Richard Farson

The Power of Design, a force for transforming everything by Richard Farson

I think a reader of The Power of Design has to be in a certain mindset to understand what the book is trying to get across. If the reader believes that design can only be part of one function or that the job of design is mere aesthetics they probably won’t get as much from what Farson talks about. On the other hand if you know that design has the potential to be so much more then what’s perceived in public opinion, the book speaks to that audience. One of the fundamental points of the book is that design can be used as a tool for social change. How? By serving business in such a manner that business itself can reduce wasteful and harmful practices. There’s nothing incredibly different in the early parts of the book that you probably wouldn’t find taught in a socially conscious design class. In a lot of respects the book reminded me of my 500 level design classes from the University of Alberta with Jorge Frascara many years ago.

While many of the points were not entirely new to me, one of the broader professions compared to design was. I had never thought about people that practice as psychologists. It was suggested that while many people could use their professional services, more people use self help methods or by peer help as opposed to seeking treatment. Sounds a bit like design – many people could use the help of design but go it alone. B/c of that Farson argues that a new and broader scope for what a designer does should be treated as “Metadesign”. While I’m not a huge fan of the name and can’t see myself putting that title on my business card anytime soon – it is an appropriate move forward. While a designer hopes and feels it’s necessary to work on everything that is in their realm, it’s not going to happen. So instead of fighting it, raise the level of guidance one level as the person that helps non designers get to their success. I’m not a huge fan of that idea myself (I do think designer should be a part of everything), I can understand the practical nature of such a position. Times where people went to a designer as much for knowledge as technical expertise are just about over. Design has been democratized In part b/c of diy tech. Another factor that isn’t mentioned but more than apt for the term Metadesign is for the online world. Testing is valued over the instincts of any one person – particularly the designer. So by carving out a framework to understand why someone clicks or does a particular action, the Metadesigner can take that info and interpret it. They’re working with the person that is determining how they want to use something. An argument could be made that this is the role of a UX designer. I don’t like that title either, but it’s not really the basis for debate in this review. Though perhaps that would make a great post in itself…

And with the democratization of design, design can reduce (and possibly solve) some of the larger issues facing criminal, justice, healthcare and education. They’re big topics that most people would not believe design can help. But if a person takes a step back from automatically thinking all design can do by helping is making a poster then it’s easier to understand how a metadesigner can take the best roles of design to make change. Consider how design has helped disabled people gain empowerment and accessibility that never allowed them in the past to sustain a self determining role.

The book is not all non profit talk by any means. There’s one particular quote that I think could help any designer to determine whether they should work with someone on a project (keeping in mind that you have the financial power to decide who your clients are). “The worst consequence of the client as payer attitude is that it subordinates the designer to the client and therefore eliminates the designer’s professional ability to disagree and decline”. In a lot of respects this kind of sums up a designer and non designer that work together. If that relationship isn’t there things aren’t going to be ideal. It’s at least something to shoot for.

As a resource I do think this book should be part of a designer’s library. But if you’re more about image making than action changing I could see someone not getting as much from the book. At times the idealism is pretty strong and probably suited for a designer that isn’t looking to be famous. But as someone that had a good foundation of design’s potential many years ago and still shoot for that today, I found it quite refreshing.

Title: The Power of Design, a force for transforming everything
Authour: Richard Farson
Publisher: Greenway Communications


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12 months of condensed DesignNotes in 2008 http://designnotes.info/?p=1626 http://designnotes.info/?p=1626#respond Wed, 31 Dec 2008 17:37:34 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1626 designnotes_keyboard

Wanting to take a look back so I can figure out how to proceed with 2009, I grabbed a bunch of notable posts that I thought were worth spending a bit more time with. Below each image I’ve made a note now that I’ve had some time away from each of the original posts. Here’s to the new year and thanks for visiting, and linking and commenting and…

Do you have an iPod shuffle… and live in New York?

Do you have an iPod shuffle… and live in New York?
This seemed like a great idea at the time, trade my shuffle with someone else and hear some new music. I ended up trading but due to my own business it took way too long to trade back with her. I learned my lesson – anyone else want to try trading?

Copywronged Google Map

Copywronged Google Map
I wanted to combine some of my photography with a listing of location. Another idea with good intentions, problem was it took a lot of time to map it out and I had no way of exporting the data offline if I wanted to. So after a while I stopped posting to that map.

Living Patterns

Image from Urban fabric/form comparison: Spacing Toronto
This post gave me the first really big pop traffic wise for the year. There were a ton of people that thought the map was pretty cool.

Architecture wrapped up as a shoe

Gucci Newton
I didn’t see as many women wearing these shoes as I hoped (probably b/c they were stupidly expensive). But it’s still true that NYC has the most beautiful people anywhere in the world…

Actually seeing those Obama posters outside

This was before things really took off with Obama, I had seen the Hope graphic floating around the web but this was the first image I saw of it actually on the streets. A while after that post someone mailed me a couple of the posters. That was a very good day.

Orange Bicycles in New York

Orange Bicycle at 42 and 6 ave
There was an interesting discussion after I posted this – unfortunately when I installed Disqus after the fact that comment stayed in the old database of comments. In effect the person was objecting to the commercialization of the idea of the Ghost Bike. At the time I was pretty much on the opposite side thinking that a company shouldn’t have to worry about worry such things. As I’ve walked a lot through the city and seen those white bikes out there, that person may have been correct with their objections.

Making something understandable as opposed to just simplifying

I still luv this design, I wish everything I design could be as smart as that tag.

Talking Sticker

motobus diagram 2
I was fascinated with how this post happened. Took a photo of a cool sticker, the person that designed it contacted me and this was the diagram that tracked it.

36 days of New York Sky: January 16th 2008 – February 20th 2008

36 days of New York Sky: January 16th 2008 - February 20th 2008
This project is still going on for a couple weeks, but the number of people that saw it and contacted me after this post was quite amazing. Not sure where this project will end up but up until now it’s been interesting to watch it grow.

Looking at MoMA’s Design and Elastic Mind Exhibition

Design and the Elastic Mind: Dressing the Meat of Tomorrow by James King
There was three events that were sort of art, sort of design that I really enjoyed seeing. One was MoMA’s Design and Elastic Mind Exhibition, Murakami at the Brooklyn Museum and Buckminster Fuller at the Whitney. I would have luved to have blogged more about the last two exhibitions but since they don’t allow photography inside I’ll just mention that it’s a stupid policy that will hurt them more than what it will help. Banksy’s installations would be up there too in really good things to have seen now that I think about it.

Can you exist without a permalink?

Until people realize this concept they’re toast.

Unmarked Shoe

Just like the Frietag instruction booklet I mentioned above, Camper’s shoes are a product that other designers should want to strive for. They are perfect for the weather of NYC and never wear out. There’s only two brands of shoes that I buy, Camper and Giraudon.

A Tagger in your midst?

I feel bad for whoever had to make this and deal with the text.

Love Me, next come the t-shirts – maybe on Etsy?

loveme 2
Here’s to wishful thinking.

Taking a quick look at Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior

MM001: Front Cover
Of any of the books I blogged about, this by far had the most hits coming from people wanting more info on it.

Multiplatform Complaining

Multiplatform Complaining: Visualized by me
This post was the start of me sketching more fluently for blog posts.

Air Bear

Pure genius via Wooster Collective

Faux Eiffel Tower Extension

haha, sigh.

Clay Shirky on Stephen Colbert

Review Copy
There’s a lot of really smart stuff in this book. In my top 3 of things to read, and more interestingly I don’t think this book will date itself as much as some of the others along the same genre that came out this year.

Thinking about Mind 08 after the Symposium

MIND 08 Notes Cloud
I’ll really liked the design I did for this tag cloud, nothing more nothing less to this post.

reDesign Haiku

find, define, design
then refine the redesign
do it one more time

A friend wrote this for me over im as I talked about work…

Over at Paul Smith in SoHo – MAY 68: STREET POSTERS FROM THE PARIS REBELLION, and other poster finds around New York

I hope the start of next May has some great posters like this year.

I Hate Perfume, Ideas I Love

CB I Hate Perfume: Perfumes A-Z
How cool would it be to commision someone to make a scent for you?

Today’s Sky Mention

+KN | Kitsune Noir » Today Is the Day
This unexpected use of my sky pics made me smile.

Looking at yourself as a Graphic Designer

Very smart diagram…

If you care about your stuff, make sure people can duplicate it

Duplicates of the films and videos that were destroyed were stored in a different location, according to the president of NBC Universal, Ron Meyer. "Nothing is lost forever," he said.
This concept was an addendum to Permalink post.

My M.O.

see think live
This was another post where I got back some unexpected responses. I like going back every once in awhile to read the dialogue.

What are you doing today?

You Should Do It Now .com
While this ad could be just about for anything, there’s some subtle and smart things going on past the surface. Too bad I couldn’t embed it and had to take a screen shot.

The Flo in Florent

This is why people need to hire designers.

NPR Cancels The ‘BPP’ (Bryant Park Project)?!?

NPR Is Canceling The 'BPP'
I’m still not happy about this. More surprising (or maybe not), no one has picked up the ball on voice news since. The Daily Beast is starting to pick up the pace but it’s just txt for now.

Scrolling Through Photos

I can’t say enough positive things about this startup. There’s a ton of smart things going on with them.

People interpreting news events and information

Search terms after Earthquake Rattles Southern California Jul 29, 2008
I don’t understand why this hasn’t been fixed or updated. There’s so much potential for Google Hot Trends to be a go to source.

Everyone is not just a designer, but also a photoshop expert too

It’s not bad enough that everyone wants to be a designer, now they think they can art direct photos too.

Hypothetically Say You Lost your Mac Book Pro

what was in my bag last night - there's a happy ending to one of the worst/best nights i've had in some time...
Possibly my best blog post of the year imho.

Clean iPhone psd template

iPhone_GUI psd layers from teehan+lax
I’m surprised that Apple never made a psd themselves so people could sketch out apps.

Say what you mean w/ a click

dear adobe
For all the chatter of sites that tagged brands, I think Dear Adobe changed the game more so than any other UGC site. If I was wanting to study site concepts for company’s, this is where I would start. And no, Adobe didn’t design the site.

Flow sex

flow_sex [not sure who designed this]
What can I say? A lot of people are interested in sex.

Walking around NYC finding the David Byrne Bike Racks

David Byrne Bike Rack on 39th street
I like to walk and this gave me an excuse to go to some areas that my normal routes wouldn’t take me.

Banksy at work in NYC: Broadway & Howard St.

banksy in nyc
There’s a saying about being lucky to be good, but you have to be good to be lucky. Sometimes it just helps being in the right place at the right time.

How I Find Good Stuff on the Web

How I Find Good Stuff on the Web
This post kind of blew up things for me. The number of smart people that checked out my blog after this was pretty amazing. Hopefully I can build on that in the new year.

What’s your internet?

13 points at ten15am
The amount of traffic I received after this post kind of made me eat my words about tumblr and ffffound. I just wished tumblr would archive things better…

The old and new MetLife Signs above New York

The old and new MetLife Signs above New York
It’s amazing to watch the stats on how many people from MetLife check out this post everyday.

Looking at the Nooka Zon

Nooka Zon
I’m guesstimating that I got an extra 9,000 unique hits b/c of this post. A couple blogs and twitter really sent a lot of extra traffic my way b/c of that watch.

What Graphic Designers need to understand

I’ve probably had more face to face conversations about this post than anything else I blogged about this year.

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