Wrapping everything

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wrapping everything, originally uploaded by saralynncantor.

“If you wrap that placemat in tissue paper, god help me but I will never shop here again.”

Ask yourself if it’s bad for the economy if you share you’re shopping bag, and find out why stores wrap towels in tissue paper. All that and more can be read at the Curious Shopper.


It’s probably a little too soon to be talking about information overload, but how do people actually make choices when there’s an abundance of options? Who do you trust, the billboard or a friend that can talk about why they like or dislike something? In the next couple of days I’ll be getting a new cell phone and carrier, hooking up cable with high definition options, finding a bank and probably a couple other things that I can’t think of at this point. With all the stuff out there, the only way that I can make an informed choice is by asking people… How do you do it?

The Question

The Question

It had to happen sooner or later, that just dumping a link on my blog and mentioning “it’s interesting” wouldn’t be enough. Now that I’m in the final countdown (for instance this is the last Tuesday that I’ll be working in Edmonton) in moving to NYC, I’m just about ready to move on with my blog. It started as an experiment, not really sure what to expect. Last Christmas I had a lot of time to think of where I wanted to take things, both with my career and my blog. I felt that it was time to move on from Blogger and perhaps with the name design*notes. I changed blogging platforms to WordPress and if you noticed the url of this blog it doesn’t say design*notes but sidewalkpressed. It was one of those small reminders of where I wanted to get to. When I finally moved to NYC the name of my blog would change.

I walk a lot, it’s one of those things that give me a chance to clear my mind and just think. During one of my long walks over Christmas time I wanted to come up with a name for my blog that didn’t have the word design in it, and something that would allow me to grow outside of publishing digitally. When you have the means and skills to communicate in an infinite number of ways, why should you hold yourself back? I liked the word “press”, but it wasn’t enough, I didn’t want it to be locked down in the world of publishing. As I bounced a lot of ideas around, I decided to keep things simple. Like I mentioned I walk, and that’s usually on a sidewalk – nothing too deep, but it gives things a bit of context. In the end I felt sidewalkpressed put a lot of the elements that mean something to me through the expression of ideas. In a long winded manner, design*notes the name is coming to an end. As a heads up I will be putting it to bed once I start walking in NYC. This blog will be known as sidewalkpressed in less than ten days.

The content isn’t going to change that much. I’m not a big fan of reading stuff from people when it gives tips about rules on designing or web interaction or whatever. I’m not going to go “I’m the expert and this is the way it should be” type of attitude. But I will try to put more time into writing about thoughtful experiences that were memorable to me. As my philosophy goes “see to think, think to design, and design to live” it won’t be like I’m not talking about design, but the life that makes up design.

On a side note I have to share one of the funnier e-mails I got from Vancouver about me moving to NYC. I’ve paraphrased a bit, and taken out some stuff, but you’ll get the idea. All I can say is that some people sure know how to write…


That’s fantastic. You talented little fucker. I’m jealous. Take me with you!!!

No, seriously. I hate you. I’m going to go kill a kitten in an evil ritual to put a design voodoo curse on you. The moment you arrive in NYC you’ll get creative block until you invite me there. You’re screwed. 🙂

Alright, alright, alright…congratulations. You’re a talent mofo and deserve a break like this…

I’m relocating to NYC!

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I’m relocating to NYC!, originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

Yes, it’s true – I’m moving to New York to work at Renegade Marketing. More to come as I can collect my thoughts…

Crumpler mini matches

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crumpler mini matches, originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

Walking around for a couple days in NYC with my new black MacBook, I started to feel that the bag I was carrying wasn’t up to the challenge. Lucky for me I found the Crumpler store. Just a couple doors down from Rice to Riches, I checked the bag store out. Of course I found the bag of my dreams, but more noteworthy was one of their giveaways that I’m now talking about. They had these really nifty mini matches. They’ve got this really cool scale to them and how can you not smile when you look at them – just like they’re bags.

A question of innovation

It’s cool that the new apple store on 5th Ave is open 24/7 365. Wow, just like Walmart. Let’s say that the newest apple thing that I want isn’t available to buy in my own city, but I could catch a flight and pick it up near central park in NYC. That is genius. But let’s take it a step further. Anyone that has bought the latest and greatest video iPod will swear about the battery life. It doesn’t last nearly long enough as it should. I like the apple brand, though I question the quality outside of the industrial design. Some of the nav. is questionable with it’s products, but hey it’s apple so I’ll let it slide.

Now I fly into NYC and figure out that it might be easier to buy a laptop then to find an internet cafe to do a bit of research. If I’m a designer my options are a bit limited. Try to find a pc or go to the Mac store and drop a bit of cash on a laptop and head to a fourbucks for some java. But let’s just pretend that there’s another option. Let’s say I bought a cheap Nintendo DS and downloaded a browser. If that were true I could serf the internet and blog for less than the cost of an iPod. No need for any laptop.

Apperntly the Nintendo DS will be able to browse the internet w/ Opera in the not so distant future. More links about it at: http://www.4colorrebellion.com/archives/2006/03/29/opera-due-in-december/ and http://wiinintendo.net/?p=110 and http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6593678297367636416

Montreal, a “City of Design”

The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization awarded Montreal a “UNESCO City of Design”. The only other cities to have been given the award are Buenos Aires and Berlin in 2005. Quoted here “Montreal is a city where design and designers, be they involved in the fields of interior, industrial, graphic, fashion or architectural design, represent a dynamic force of cultural and economic life. According to recent statistics, design is responsible for 20,356 jobs in Montreal’s metropolitan area and economic spin-offs of more than $750 million. Also, 65.3% of Quebec workers involved in the field of design live in the metropolitan area. Montreal is the only North American city to have established, as early as 1991, a bureau dedicated exclusively to the development and promotion of design. Important achievements are owed to this bureau, including the Commerce Design Montreal competition, which has contributed to the rise of Montreal as a city of design.”

You can read the entire press release at www.ccnmatthews.com

Via Peggy Cady

What is garbage?


This was a response to a post from a couple days ago. J’s response deserves as much space as the original. Thanks J.

“You know, Karim Rashid is a total wanker. The words are his but the idea isn’t and I wonder if he really actually Gets It.

The Garbo trash can Rashid designed in 1995 was his first big contribution to making our lives better. If Rashid were a rock star, the Garbo would have gone platinum. Rashid says somewhere between four and six million trash cans were sold.

It boils my blood when someone like Rashid makes these grand sweeping statements (vaguely implying a sense of ethics or morality) about the industry they contribute to when they have such a wasteful claim to fame. And for a writer to say that the Garbo trash can is a contribution to “making our lives better” is a total farce.

Imagine shaping human behaviour so that rather than buying between four and six million trash cans, essentially for the purpose of filling with garbage, we were inspired to recycle four to six million garbo trash cans worth of plastic instead.”

Design has the power

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stealinthedeejay, originally uploaded by DanielleGrace.

“Design has the power and the influence to actually make very large social and behavioral shifts in the world. And design, I think, is a very nice tool, an instrument really to shape human behavior,”

Karim Rashid

via Everyday Art Designers Seek Function And Beauty When Making Consumer Products

the Unboxing Ceremony

iPod 60GB, In-Ear Headphones, A/V Cable, with packaging
Originally uploaded by JoshB.

Imagine designing something so well that others feel the need to capture the experience and share it on flickr. There’s a photo pool that does just that: www.flickr.com/groups/unboxing/pool/

There’s also a blog dedicated to people talking about they’re experiences at www.unboxing.com via core77

Stock Photography Cliches

We’ve all seen the brutal stock images that come up time and time again when searching for that perfect image. Forty Media has taken it one step further and created their own Top Ten Stock Photography Cliches. While the handshake of synergy photo makes a strong showing, there’s gems like the above image that comes in at #4: 4. The Romantic Glow of the Laptop: You’ve stayed up late working on those TPS reports, and there’s just something magical about that LCD glow…

How changing a name has made people buy more coffee

Large is the new extra large

Second Cup, (a coffee chain in Canada) has changed the names of their coffee sizes. If you were to buy a large today, a couple weeks ago it would have been the size of an extra large. So now the sizes go small, medium and large, previously it would have been medium, large and extra large. Why the name change? To sell more coffee obviously. Asking on of the people behind the counter about the name change, I was curious to know how the new large was selling. Apparently it’s their new most popular size. Who would have guessed?

Design seizures

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Design seizures, originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

When has it ever been a good idea to place a hologram on the cover of a printed piece? How about never? If this is what get’s advertisers excited about mags, we’re way past content issues.

What is Graphic Design

On May 5th, the following defintion was approved at the National GDC AGM. Researched and written by Walter Jungkind and Yves Rousell, the folowing definition improves on the previous wording by the GDC “Graphic designers are visual problem solvers. They enjoy the challenge of working with clients and resource people to produce effective visual communication.” I suspect that there may be amendments next year to the definitions, perhaps even a name change. While it is a good start I do take issue with the last line “clients usually determine project aims” below. If designers are to be seen more than for the pure visual, the designer needs to be part of the brief and work with the client to determine the scope of the project.

Graphic Design
involves effective visualization of communication concepts, primarily in print and electronic media (including interface design), in the context of business and technology, socio-political, cultural and educational environments, in transmitting government and institutional aims and services, and in visually explaining and exploring medical and scientific data and processes. Clients usually determine project aims.

Graphic designers
help to achieve communication goals by analyzing, structuring, planning and creating images and text to enhance visual communication for specific purposes. They often act as consultants.

Alternative version to the above

Graphic designers
help to achieve communication goals via analysis and interpretation of client needs. They plan, structure and communicate information and ideas, appeal to emotions or facilitate orientation, by creating or combining images and test for distribution to specific publics. Efficiency and high esthetic standards are hallmarks of work by professional designers, who frequently act as consultants on design strategy. Consideration of the public good is a bonus.

Learning by Design


Debbie Millman, a friend and someone who I admire has posted one of her best blog posts about what she has learned. There’s 10 graceful points that most designers can take something away from her experience, learn and get better. About a year ago Debbie visited Edmonton for a talk titled “Design Stories from New York” for the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada Alberta North Chapter. We filmed the talk and you can watch the entire presentation at http://abnorth.gdc.net/millman. While Debbie’s 10 points from her blog entry are not mentioned directly in the video as such, a lot of her ideas are talked about in part 3 of the video presentation.

Below are the ten headers of Debbie’s points, to read the whole thing visit here blog HERE.

Things I have learned by making a lot of mistakes

Number One:
Fabulous talent is equivalent to operational excellence

Number Two:
How you lead and what you represent is as important as your ideas

Number Three:
You need to know what you believe in, whether or not it is popular.

Number Four:
Vision is easy, strategy is much harder.

Number Five:
Know what you are talking about

Number Six:
Common vocabulary is not always equate with common behavior

Number Seven:
One day working on a creative brief is worth (minimally) one week of design time.

Number Eight:
Be aware of “artificial harmony”

Number Nine:
Seek out criticism

Number Ten:
Design Matters

Letter to lululemon athletica

Below is a letter that was sent to lululemon athletica. You can read the history leading up to this letter at lululemon athletica graphic design b.s. contest. and UPDATE: lululemon athletica graphic design b.s. contest.

Chip Wilson, Owner/CEO
Dawn Peck, PR Director

See attached document originating from your offices and disseminated via the Graphic Designers of Canada listserv on Monday, November 14, 2005.

Dear Chip and Dawn,

As an independent group of graphic designers from across Canada, we are writing in regard to your decision to hold what can only be perceived to be a cattle-call to mine the creative energies of the graphic design community of Vancouver and beyond. We propose a comparison for you. We are interested in knowing how you feel your legal team, who are currently in BC Supreme Court (in your own words) “protecting the Lululemon designs and trade marks” would respond to an email such as the one attached – contextually reworded (with tongue firmly in cheek) from the attached email received Novemeber 14?

We send this to make a point that you seem to be under the impression that design is a hobby and that compensation for its product is a bonus rather than a necessity. Graphic designers pay taxes, pay mortgages, pay for staff, support families and must pay for everything you pay for, with the fees they earn from their work. We send you this parody in the hope that it will illustrate that this is not the very best course of action and, at best, has raised a number of eyebrows in the graphic design community and, at worst, done widespread and permanent damage to Lululemon’s credibility in their eyes – the very eyes you depend on for your future design and creative innovation. We would argue that design and innovation are pivotal in the success of Lululemon, as they are in every successful venture.

We hope that you can see that this is not the way to respect our talents and abilities, and in the future, we trust you to judge us on our prior achievements and creations, and pay fairly for our creativity, which is the currency of our profession.


Casey Hrynkow, B.Des, MGDC
Ray Hrynkow, MGDC
Christina Peressini, Creative Director, Disegnostudio
Marga Lopez Orozco
Blair Cox
Paul Maher, MGDC
Louise Timmerman
Matt Warburton, FGDC
Jeffrey D. Smith, BFA, RGD, MGDC
Mark McAllister, Provisional RGD
Judd Cochrane
Jennifer Romita MGDC
R.N. Strong
Michael Surtees BDes, MGDC, GDC ABN President
Bruce Cochrane, AOCA, MGDC
Jamie Lees D’Angelo
Ryan Mayer, MGDC
Sandra Friesen, RGD
Craig Medwyduk
Brent Flink, MGDC
Gonzalo Alatorre
Lornce Lisowski
Chris Lawson
Jessica Reid, GDC Student Member
Jean-Sébastien Dussault
Richelle Letendre
Laurie Darrah MGDC
Simon Troop MGDC
Carol Hyland MGDC
Rupi Kambo
Kris McKinnon
Scott Laurie
Brenda Sanderson, MGDC
Brad Hardie, MGDC
Jon Whipple, MGDC
Grace Chan, BFA, MGDC
Karen Owens, Art Director, Pravda Design
Keith Martin MGDC
Winston Pei, BA, MA, MGDC
Lisa Hemingway, B.Des., GDC Graduate Member
Sarah Semark
Lorna Williams
Don Eglinski, LGDC



Calling all barristers, solicitors and lawyers to be. Here’s your chance to expand your resume and make your mark on the lululemon line of legal documents. We are looking for both contract and agreement submissions for all of the following items:

1. Supplier contracts
2. Employee agreements
3. Liability contracts
4. Litigation initiation
5. Salary negotiation
6. Vendor agreements

Each document should focus on the following:

– Combining legalese with everyday yuppie language

– Include our logo and name. This can be subtly ingrained in the documents’ fine print

– Justifying the 800% markup on our Olympic sponsored products for yoga, circus, tai chi, pilates and cross training to offset future lawsuits

– For vendor agreements, focus on dismissing the validity of their profession by grouping amateurs and professionals together to maximize the balance of cost vs services – preferably to as close to zero as possible. (i.e. pit a professional against a grade school student and mine their ideas for free.)

Your work will be evaluated on the following criteria:

1. Simplicity – is not overly difficult to steal and call our own

2. The document has to be shown on an actual piece of paper so we can see placement and size of the paragraphs in relation to the paper (being lawyers, we felt it necessary to point this out)

3. Use of verbage or a combination of legal techniques. If we use your document you will receive a $200 cash reward in addition to having your work come to life on a lululemon contract.

All entries must be submitted by December 1, 2005 to Community Relations at the SSC

UPDATE: lululemon athletica graphic design b.s. contest

Yesterday I posted about the lululemon athletica graphic design b.s. contest. There seems to be different interpretations about the meaning of the contest from lululemon athletica. A couple designers shared their e-mail responses they got from lululemon athletica on the GDC listserv. As always, if there’s any other interesting e-mails, I’ll pass them along.

Hi Blair,

Thank you for your feedback. For this graphic design contest, we wish to show recognition and celebrate the designer and the design through the finished product itself. We place high value on good design for the design itself and hope to encourage potential participants who share our enthusiasm for creativity not entirely by monetary means.

We hope you can understand that it is never our intention to undermine the graphic design industry but rather we just want to embrace the joy of creation!

Best Regards,
lululemon customer education centre

toll-free: 1.877.263.9300

180 – 2955 Hebb St.
Vancouver, BC
V5M 4X6
direct: 604.215.9300
fax: 604.215.9366

“Elevating the world from ordinary to a place of greatness”


Brenda and Cameron, thanks to both of you for your feedback on our contest. We have clearly mis-communicated our intentions and fortunately you have pointed out our errors.

My intention is to hire a permanent graphic designer, the job is posted on our web site http://www.recruitforce.com/NA1/ats/careers/requisition.jsp?org=LULU&cws=1&rid=57. As you both know there are often hidden talents right under your nose that need to be discovered. This contest was designed to do just that.

We hope we can find someone internally who is interested and has the skill set or may have a friend interested. This was meant to be primarily internal and not a general public contest. What we would never not want to do is offend the graphic/fashion design community or for that matter any other profession. Nor we would want to violate the professional practise guidelines or other organizations. We have a wonderfully talented creative agency in Cowie and Fox and use them for much of our creative work. We also contract out design services and maintain long standing relationships with several artists whom we use regularly. We would never intend to insult them, their profession and their peers.

Thanks again for bringing this to our attention.

Eric Petersen

UPDATE: Letter sent to lululemon athletica http://www.sidewalkpressed.com/?p=252

lululemon athletica graphic design b.s. contest

It’s amazing that a company like lululemon athletica that seems so dedicated to well being and design style would abuse designers with a cattle call design contest. The following information below has been sent to some Canadian designers and has picked up some traction on the GDC listserv. If there is any news that follows, I will post the info…

Calling all designers and graphic designers to be. Here’s your chance to expand your portfolio and make your mark on the lululemon line. We are looking for both design and graphic submissions on all of the following

1. Men’s t-shirt
2. Men’s long sleeve design for fall
3. Women’s t-shirt
4. Fabric pattern for a women’s tank top
5. Fabric pattern for men’s shorts
6. Christmas gift box

Each design should focus on the following:
– Combining art with athletics
– Including our logo and name. This can be subtly ingrained in the artwork
– Products for yoga, circus, tai chi, pilates and cross training for the Olympics
– For men’s wear, focus on the post metrosexual. (i.e. an athletic man who is in touch with his emotions.)

Your artwork will be evaluated on the following criteria:
1. Simplicity – is not overly costly to produce
2. The graphic has to be shown on an actual outlined garment so we can see placement and size of the graphic in relation to the garment
3. Use of color, new techniques or a combination of techniques(embroidery, stitching, goop, screening, sewing)

If we use your design you will receive a $200.00 cash reward in addition tohaving your design come to life on a lululemon product.

All entries must be submitted by December 1, 2005 to Community Relations at the SSC, attention: Jaclyn Josephson.

Jaclyn Josephson
lululemon athletica
community relations coordinator
604.732.6124 ext. 244

There’s been an update about this post at http://www.sidewalkpressed.com/?p=251

Letter sent to lululemon athletica http://www.sidewalkpressed.com/?p=252

DesignMaven Revea!ed (Part One)

There are very few that can claim such a distinctive online writing style and knowledge base as DesignMaven. I’ve always been a fan of what he has to say, whether on Speak Up or Design Observer. There’s a serious passion when he posts. I’ve been fortunate to share e-mail conversations with him over the last couple of years and have admired his energy. As I take time to reflect on my own design drive, I thought I could learn a thing or two from the man himself. That is why I was honored when he accepted my invitation for an interview. I hope you get as much from reading this as I did from talking with him.

Part two of the interview can be read HERE

Michael Surtees: Who is DesignMaven, how did he come to be?

DesignMaven: DesignMaven is the alter ego of Frank Briggs. He’s a mythological character he’s the Anti Hero. He takes on many guises.

Such as, The Marksman, Dorian Gray, The Alpha Male. When I write Design Commentary I represent all these personalities. Most notably, The Marksman for his astute acumen in Identity Design Commentary. I’ve never made an online appearance as the Marksman.

The Marksman. Is generally, used for my e-mail correspondence. Marksman can be misinterpreted and over some peoples head. I chose a Universally understood Moniker.

In literature and film an anti-hero is a central or supporting character that has some of the personality flaws and ultimate fortune traditionally assigned to villains but nonetheless also have enough heroic qualities or intentions to gain the sympathy of readers or viewers. However, through the course of events, as we get to know the character, they grow and change and may actually become popular. A well-known example of this Clint Eastwood in his early film work. Films such as A Fistful of Dollars, The Good Bad and The Ugly, For a Few Dollars More.

How did I come to be?
DesignMaven, is a descendant of the Sacred Mountain, Olympus. Summoned to Earth by his Father Zeus, GOD of Corporate Identity, Branding, Film, Titles, 3 Dimensional Design, Product Design, Retail Identity and Environmental Design. To be the Guardian of Identity Design and Design History. To provide mere mortals with Wisdom and Encouragement. However, he cannot participate nor alter and change the course of Identity Design and Design History on Earth with his Capability and Knowledge. Most important, DesignMaven is unemployable by First Tier Consultancies and Corporations. His participation in Identity Design and Design History on Earth is in the capacity of Good Will Ambassador. To personally participate will alter the course of History.

MS: Do you remember a time when you weren’t passionate about design? Was there a single event that changed your outlook to be so interested in design.

DM: Not really, I’ve encountered Design Burnout. I’ve been drawing and painting from a child. Since I was five (5) years old. I’ve always wanted to be an Illustrator. By the time I was actually able to practice Illustration and support myself. The industry changed. Do to stock Illustration.

And publications using more photography. Illustrators were suffering in the 1980s. I evolved into Design. Which I think is a natural progression. Quite comfortable doing both.

MS:Having had “design burnout”, how did you get past it?

DM: There was about a four (4) year period I did not work in Design. Do to technological advances in the field. Coupled with lack of interest. Although, I worked on the early Macintosh Computers. I was an Independent Designer. A friend, Emory Diggs was the manager at a local copy center and gave me Carte Blanche on their equipment and color xerox machines for about five years. He’s the only person that can get anything he need from me in reference to Design other than my immediate family, without paying my fee. I’m indebted to him. True Friend. How can you not be loyal to someone like that? During this era employers were demanding that you acquired the knowledge and skill of the digital era. I fought it as long as I could. Actually, thought some segment of the Design Industry would be the lone voice of tradition and reason.

It didn’t happen. Many Designers embraced the new technology. While others did not. I was, The Last of the Mohicans to embrace the new technology. Eventually bought a computer. Once I bought a computer, I never looked back. It’s totally different owning your own computer, opposed to using someone else. Although, I was not working as a Designer. I still had my hand in it.

People were always asking me to Design. I would say, “I don’t own a computer. If I create by hand, it’s going to cost more. If I give the job to someone that has a computer, it’s going to cost just as much. And their work will not be up to up to my standards”. Three things led me to purchasing a computer. Access to typography. Control over the Development and Ideation of my Design, and Production Control. Albeit, a former classmate who moved up the ranks to become a Design Manager in Government. Informed me he no longer worked in Design. He was transferred to Photography. Wanted to get back into Design after several years and could not. Because he did not own a computer and did not understood how to use software. A Lifetime friend, Gregory Scott, Designer, Artist, Image Consultant to Luther Vandross, (now deceased) and Patti Labelle, others encouraged me to purchase a computer. Listening to Tony Brown of Tony Brown’s Journal iterating on every show. Every home should have a computer. After six months of listening to Tony Brown and reflecting on other experiences Prudence and Better Judgment Won the Battle.
I love tradition. There’s no way, I can live without my computer!!!!!!!!!

MS: What’s your design archive like? What’s in there, is there one single piece that you prize above all others?

DM: My Design Archives is an Infinite Knowledge Base and more profound than the Internet. Allowing me to expound on any topic of Visual Communication. If that sounds evasive Michael, it’s meant to be.

I’ll expound; there’s some information the Internet cannot provide. If you ask the Internet to provide you with Corporate Identities from the 1970s it doesn’t have that capability.

If there was a discussion about 1970s Identities I have that information in my archives. If you ask the Internet to show you Corporate Identity Consultancy Capability Brochures from First Tier Identity Consultancies it doesn’t have that capability. That information is within my Design Archives, as well. If you did a search on the Internet for work produced by Legendary Identity Designer G. Dean Smith. It cannot provide you with information or samples of G. Dean Smith’s work. I have that information within my archives.

I possess a few trinkets. My archives would’ve been astronomical if Herb Yager Saul Bass’ Partner sold me his Saul Bass Archives. There were only certain items that I could afford. Herb savvy business man that he is. Really didn’t want to break up his archives and sell pieces of it. Thus, Herb felt for the betterment of mankind. His Saul Bass Archives should be remanded to the custody of a Museum and not a private collector. Herb’s got the Rock of Gibraltar in reference to his archives.

Things I’m most proud of are the complete set of Saul Bass and Associates, Bell Telephone System, Identity Manuals. Other than the Bass Family, I’m the only person on earth that has them. Thanks, to my mentor and Good Friends Robert W. Taylor, former Design Associate of Saul Bass, & Associates whom brokered the deal with Mr. Thomas Ruzicka former Design Manager of Bell System and AT&T. Of course Herb Yager gave me his blessing allowing me to posses them.

Personal artifacts given to me by Paul Rand. Now, I wish I possessed a Paul Rand Identity Manual. I’m working on it.
Walter Landor, in 1993 when he was ill sent me one of two copies Landor had in existence of his book Walter Landor Associates, Idea Special Issue, 1977. I’m quite sure, I’m the only person from my generation with this publication. It is rare and a collectors item.

There are others, I don’t want to bore you with my trinkets.

MS: How has design changed from when you started to the present period?

DM: I began in 1970 as an apprentice to an Illustrator, when I was fourteen (14) years old.

Everything was done by hand. Except camera production. At the time there were many specialist in Design. In my day, there was specialist. Beginning with production people layout artist, comp artist, airbrush artist, illustrators, photographers, typographers, and art directors.

You did not become a Designer until you graduated to layout artist or art director. Often times, that did not happen. Depending where you worked. Typographers were first and foremost considered Designers. In some circles you were not considered a Designer unless you were a Designer of books or periodicals.

Today, the Designer is the END ALL IS ALL. Because of the computer, he/she has many responsibilities and is responsible for every aspect of conceptualization to finish art. Often times act as typographer, production designer, photographer, illustrator, etc. Today in-house departments have been remarkably reduced in size.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the computer revolution in the early 1980s changed the game forever. Those that didn’t adapt fell by the wayside. The personal computer ended a lot of careers that were not susceptible to change and a new way of working. Once the Design Industry embraced the change. It was essentially adapt or die. If there was a period that I was dismayed with the profession, it was this era. I didn’t purchase or own a computer until 1999. I’m sure, I’m one of the last Designers from my generation to embrace the change.

MS: What’s your definition of design?

DM: Design is an Intellectual Activity with a craft aspect to it’.

“Design” = Development, A Plan, Purpose, or Intent initiated via Ideation, Orchestration, Delegation and Collaboration for Compensation.

“Craft” = Execution + Rendering = Production.
Designers almost always need others to bring their Ideas to Fruition. Because of time constraints Designers need not be involved in the Craft aspect of their business.

That being said, Design is a Lifestyle. And all encompassing of our daily lives. As humans we could not survive without Design. Design is as important to our survival as Food and Nourishment for our bodies.

How do you define a successful design? First and foremost Design must Communicate and satisfy the client needs. Successful Design has to understand the role it plays in its market, target audience, core values, consumer base and need. At the same time, reward the receiver by making them feel something. Touching and/or tapping into the Visceral and Cerebral sub-consciousness. There are many ways to accomplish this. It can be brought into fruition with typography, imagery, color, and semiotics. With the Internet and television all the aforementioned to include movement, animation, and music.
A combination of those elements is imperative for visual impact.

MS: Outside of design you seem extremely knowledgeable in PUNK and NEW WAVE, (read www.designobserver.com/archives/002917.html) Dare I ask if you have a jazz collection? What makes something interesting to you?

DM:I listen to many forms of music. Appreciate all genres. Began listening to Jimi Hendrix when I was eleven years old.
I was raised in Church and grew up on Gospel music. Rhythm and Blues was always being played in my neighborhood if not in my home. Coming from that religious up bringing I almost straddle the fence of not being able to listen to secular music. The first music I owned was Ray Charles. My mother gave my brother and me two albums to share by Ray Charles. That was my introduction to owning records. The first album I ever purchased was Jimi Hendrix, ‘Are you Experienced’. Proceeded by Led Zeppelin, ‘Houses of the Holly’ and Pink Floyd, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’.

I bought both of those together. I was approximately, fourteen or fifteen years old.

Growing up there was an assortment of music being played and I was introduced. Examples, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Curtis Mayfield, Billy Stewart, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Joe Tex, Little Anthony and the Imperials, The Five Stair Steps, The Delfonics, Otis Redding, Sam Cook. On the flip side, you had the British Invasion, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Hollies, The Zombies, The Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, Lulu, The Merseybeats, Peter Noone, Eric Burdon, The Yardbirds, The Moody Blues, (Others).

Before the aforementioned genres were Blues, Classical, Country, Doo Whoop, (Street Corner Symphony).

I listened to all those genres of music some more than others. Jazz was a natural progression. Beginning with Eubie Blake, Alberta Hunter, Pops Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Mel Torme, Billie Holliday, Abby Lincoln, Philly Joe Jones, Sun Ra, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson, Francis Albert. (Many others) Names to numerous to mention.

MS: Is it important to have design heroes, and if so, why?

DM: Most important, I think is a need to be aware of Design History. Meaning the events and practitioners whom shaped and advanced our Profession. What you take away from that experience and exposure to enhance your life to benefit your career can be most rewarding.

Certain Illustrators and Designers I identify with are family members to me. I lived with them all my life. Their work was in my home.

Example, my mother collected Top Value Stamps. On each issue of Top Value Stamp Magazine was a commissioned painting by Norman Rockwell. As a young child, I lived with that imagery. And as an aspiring young Illustrator, how could I not identify with Norman Rockwell’s skill and draftsmanship. Also in my home was a poster of the second N.Y. Film Festival, Philharmonic Hall Lincoln Center Designed by Saul Bass. As an avid reader of magazines, should I say, at my young age, perused magazines.
There were the Westinghouse Advertisements by Paul Rand in Look Magazine. The Saturday Evening Post, and Colliers, with Illustrations by Austin Briggs, my all time Favorite Illustrator, (many others).

Designers that I Glorify are as much a part of my family as biological family members. I’ve lived with them all my life. They had a profound effect on my life at an early age. I really had no Idea they were Rich, Famous, and Successful, until I became an adult.
When, I became an adult. The Designers that I like and worshiped were used as a measuring stick for my personal growth and development. During my pre-teen and young adult years, Norman Rockwell and Austin Briggs were important because I was trying to achieve their skill level and technical facility. Not emulate their style. Trying to achieve their level of proficiency in composition and rendering skill.

That level of achievement is impossible to achieve at an early age. With Saul Bass and Paul Rand they were used as role models because of their extraordinary range and capability. From them I learned Design has neither boundaries nor limitations. The process of discovery and problem solving are the same for all disciplines of Design. Only the production or craft aspect changes.

I got as much of their work as I could acquire. Used their work as a measuring stick for my own personal growth and development. Again, not to emulate their styles. Began investigating what made their work Great and Acknowledged by the Industry and their Peers.

As I got older my interest shift to Identity Design. I was reading symbols and in love with symbols from a tiny tot. My favorites were the Chevrolet Cross, Texaco, Seaboard Coastline, John Deere, Dixie, Bell System, Hunt Wesson, Westinghouse, IBM, abc, CBS, ESSO, Sinclair Oil. Armstrong Floors, The Man from Uncle, The Saint, James Bond, (others).

Semiotics, has always been an important aspect of my growth and development as a Designer, from a child. Again, Saul Bass and Paul Rand’s work were in my home. Either we possessed Design Ephemera or the work appeared in publications. Its not like I went to school and everybody was into Saul Bass or Paul Rand. We had Art History Classes and the instructor discussed the merit of the Artist contribution to Fine Art. There were no Design History Classes when I was in school. Dare I say, any of my college instructors were aware of Design Luminaries? If they were, they didn’t talk about them. It’s not like I read an article on the aforementioned luminaries and became infatuated with their success or work. I’m not that shallow. Meaning, I don’t gravitate to people because of success or fame. Which I think is a bigger sin, to be infatuated with someone one year and when they fall out of fashion move onto the next Design Flash in the Pan Cult Figure. Suffice to say a lot of these people are being forced fed via certain vehicles such as publications and conferences. Many of these people never live up to their press or Cult Hero Status. I’ve yet to be impressed with any of these Cult Hero, so called Celebrity Designers this younger generation of Designers find so impressive. It’s definitely hard for me to buy into their cult like status. Because people love them when they’re hot and move onto the next American Idol or Poster Boy when they fall from grace.

I’ve always enjoyed self-discovery. I vehemently don’t like being FORCED FED something that I know via personal research and self-development is not true. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. I pick my own Heroes. I don’t allow other people or any publishing vehicles to tell me whom I should like. Who’s hot and who’s not. Genuine success in any industry comes from Longevity. The Designers that are hot today, will they be relevant twenty years from now? I think not. The Designers that I admire and glorify stood the test of time for fifty (50) years or more. Today is just as important maybe more when they were alive. Look at the shamble Corporate Identity is in!

I’ve had the same favorite basketball, football, and baseball teams since I was a teenager. I continue to love them and support them until this day, win or loose. My point of contention, I’m not a fair weather fan or bandwagon jumper. Referencing people who support teams because they win. Or become infatuated with Designers because they become popular or cult figures. All the Designers that I enjoy and embrace except Michael Bierut and Paula Scher are from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Designers after those eras, I generally don’t have an interest Exceptions are made for personal friends and Female Designers who I enjoy and respect their work. Such as, Elinor Selame, the First Lady of Corporate Identity in America, Rose Marie Tissi, the Greatest Female Designer Practicing today. (Bar None) Margaret Youngblood has created more Identity Design than any man has in the 21 Century thus far. Margaret is no longer employed at Landor. Connie Birdsal, with Lippincott & Margulies has been in the forefront of Identity Practice over twenty years. Anne Reeves; partners with her husband Mamoru Shimokochi. There are other females Designers of note to numerous to mention.

I’m endeared to Identity Designers first and foremost male or female. Identity Design is my expertise. Heroes are exceptionally beneficial for personal growth and development. Design Heroes are no different than Heroes for other professions such as Athletics, Music, Business, etc. The kid or young adult that dreams of becoming the next Dr. J, or Michael Jordan, Yo Yo Ma, Al Dimeola. Bill Gates, Bob Johnson, Hillary Clinton, or Barbara Walters can fulfill their dream healthily with someone to pattern themselves.
Essentially, inspiration, aspiration, determination and dedication should be the core values governing ones personal vision. Design Heroes can’t hurt you. Heroes can become catalysts to achieve your dream. What’s the lesser of two evils an imaginary friend or Design Hero? I’ve never had an imaginary friend.

My Heroes, I lived with them all my life.

End of Part One
Part two of the interview can be read HERE

Deborah Adler ClearRx Interview


Mid April of this year, New York Magazine published a fascinating article on the redesign of the pill bottle that Target would soon be using. Finding the process interesting I posted a small blurb about the New York Magazine article here on my blog. Soon afterwards I was getting a lot of interest through google from pharmaceutical companies, universities, research centers and other curious people and designers. Interested myself I searched for more info. Unfortunately I couldn’t find much more on the redesign myself so I contacted Deborah for an interview. Below are the questions I had about the redesign and her responses.

MICHAEL SURTEES: From the story in New York magazine, it was written that your grandmother accidentally swallowed pills meant for your Grandfather. How did you turn that issue into something that could be a thesis project for SVA?

DEBORAH ADLER: I grew up in a family of doctors, so the world of medicine has always been a strong interest of mine. It was important for me to develop an idea that had substance and would have meaning to my life. When my grandmother made the mistake, it became clear that I had an opportunity to develop an idea that was both close to me and satisfied my need to do something that would in some–way help others.

MS: How common is the issue of people taking wrong medication due to not understanding the label? How did you research the problem?

DA: It is not such an easy statistic to find. It actually took me a while to learn that errors made at home are indeed a contributing factor to medication errors at large. It was important for me to have a lot of information to back me up because I wanted it to live beyond my final thesis presentation. I did not want to do this unless there was a real need for it. I did most of my research by calling experts, reading books and studies, and searching the internet. People seem to be more receptive to students. It turns out that approximately 60 percent of Americans don’t take their medication correctly.

MS: There’s the issue that bad design can harm people, did your design process evolve as you worked on the project? How did you go about designing a new understandable label?

DA: My main priority was to create a labeling system that makes the medication user’s experience less confusing. I formed an intuitive label that is divided into two categories, primary and secondary. The primary information reflects exactly what the patient wants to know first. The name of the drug, its purpose, dosage and how to take it. The secondary information contains expiration, quantity, name of the doctor, how to reach him, etc. It also includes the drug store, the refill number and the dispensing date.

Information Hierarchy—(order, position, type size, contrast, leading, alignment and choice of typefaces) is another important factor to a functional and clear label.

These two elements coupled with the consumer’s point of view is crucial to the success of the labels legibility. It will also make drug safety information easier for doctors to find in a short amount of time. Not only did I want the labels to be functional and easy to understand, but it interested me that by understanding adult schemas for taking medication ,the label has the possibility of increasing memory.

MS: While working on the project, was there a moment when you thought you could turn the thesis into a working model that millions of people could benefit from?

DA: Yes. I just wasn’t sure how to get there.

MS: How involved were you with the process for the re-design of the bottle by Klaus Rosburg? Was it collaborative?

DA: Klaus and I worked closely together to ensure the synergy of the label with the bottle. Klaus’s challenge was to design a medicine bottle, with a child safety cap, which incorporated my initial ideas: color coding, the patient info card, having a front and a back, and being able to see the whole label without turning it in a circle. His contributions were significant in that his innovative shape elevated the level of communication between the bottle and the patient as well as elegantly streamline the new system.

MS: Thank you for your time Deborah!


No one gets hurt by bad design — wrong, in the case of medication if it is used incorrectly people can cause themselves series harm. Deborah Adler has looked at some of the issues (inconsistent labeling, confusing numbers, poor colour combinations, curved shape is hard to read and tiny type) and redesigned the label. Her prototype included a change to colour coding, intelligent expiration, shaping the bottle, having the info attached, closer type and intake schedule. The commercial solution that Target will be using includes easy identification which includes a new information hierarchy, new bottle designed by Klaus Rosburg, colour coding of neck, new info card, language change and clear warnings. Now that a designer has made taking medication more understandable – will people trust that they should go to Target to get their medication?

via unbeige

READ the Deborah Adler interview HERE


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