We’re a creative bunch, and sometimes it’s fun to just make something – hat tip to Alex McDowell, who’s presently part of our successful apprenticeship programme for the design work.
Archive for the 'Design' Category
New Twitter has arrived, and it’s said by it’s creators to be “An easier, faster and richer experience”. The new format will be rolled out over the coming weeks, so many of us will have to wait before finding out if any of that is true. We can however certainly form a fair idea based on the information readily available on www.twitter.com/newtwitter.
The new Twitter will consist of a split page. On the left will be the usual stream of tweets that we’re all used to and on the right your profile is laid out in detail, as are trends, lists and favorites. The most noticeable and useful thing about the new layout is that accessing the information in a tweet is apparently even easier than before. Say for instance somebody tweets a picture, you’ll be able to click the tweet, and the image will appear in the panel on the right hand side, along with any other comments. You’ll also be able to watch video in the same way.
The reason for these changes seems to be keeping the user in one place; instead of having to navigate away from the page or open a new window, you’ll be able to view all pictures and videos on your Twitter homepage. This certainly does sound far easier to use and you would imagine it to be quicker than loading a new page every time you want to view some tweeted information. However it also seems like an awful lot of information to have readily available on one page and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of browsers and computers struggle with it.
Technical worries aside, as for as I’m concerned the new Twitter seems to be a great improvement: it’s taking a step from being a portal through which you can navigate to information, to being a more complete social networking site that you can quite simply do more with. It seems to me to be a natural progression; there might be technical hiccups along the way, but I for one am excited to see how this pans out and where the site goes in future.
If we take Scandinavia to include the mainland of the Nordic region (excluding Iceland and Åland), there is a persistent view through the media that Scandinavian design is a consistent and homogeneous design culture and ethos which leads to a consistent and homogeneous design product.
It isn’t true. It’s a construct of the need to find a convenient label, much like there is meant to be such a thing as ‘middle eastern cooking’ or an ‘English accent’.
Despite the laudable efforts of such firms as the new pan-Scandinavian design firm Muuto (from muutos, ‘new perspective’ in Finnish: muuto.com) which is intentionally bringing designers together from across the region, the concept of Scandinavian design itself needs to be deconstructed.
Here’s why. Historically, the four nations of Scandinavia have spent their time dominating, or being dominated by, each other. The Danes and the Swedes were on top (intermittently, of each other); the Norwegians and the Finns underneath, though the Finns as a Russian archduchy did have a degree of freedom the Norwegians did not. The historical picture is therefore informed by the desire of two nations to spread their culture – and of two others determined to build up theirs under the pressure of others.
The assimilation of foreign styles, and making something unique of them (Gustavian neo-classicism in Sweden, the National Romantic Style in Finland, the assimilation and use of Schleswig architecture in southern Denmark, for instance) provides a concrete backdrop to national difference. The way architectural and visual design styles were used, particularly in Finland and Norway, not to identify the nation with the wider world (as they are in Denmark and Sweden, for instance) but to identify them as something other, something different and unique, continues to inform the design ethos of the various countries in many ways.
If the view of the outside world of Scandinavian design is blond people making beech furniture, then it is equally easy to stereotype – though with a greater degree of accuracy – the various nations (spoiler alert – wild generalisations imminent).
Danish style is actually the one people in the outside world, the influence of IKEA notwithstanding, think of as being ‘Scandinavian’. Human proportions, clean lines, whites, greys and blacks with some silver and red as an accent colour. Precisely engineered, beautifully thought out, intensely practical. (en.ddc.dk)
The design of Norway comes across much as its people do – thoughtful, ecological, distinctly different – and frequently quirky. In fact, this sense of humour, almost Italian in its approach, is one of the most striking features. (norskdesign.no)
As for the Finns, they design their products to fit their country – though they do have something truly unique in the rya rug. Finnish design is closer to Danish, though they won’t like me for saying so – its preoccupations are the same, but with more of a stress on the use of wood and glass, and a move in colours away from the greys of Denmark to whites, light colours and wood tones. (designforum.fi)
Sweden is interesting. IKEA seems to have sent the product design industry into a bit of a spin – taking their cues more from their history than their present, Swedish design seems to be trying to find its feet as its ideas, and its talent, are increasingly plucked to make some kind of affordable mélange which whilst practical, lacks the intensity of workmanship and attention to usability that, ultimately, is the mark of design excellence. (svenskform.se)
Four countries. Four histories, deeply intertwined – but four clear and distinct design cultures, informed by that history, by geography and personality. Paul Simpson, in his Summer 2009 piece for the British Design Council (designcouncil.org.uk), makes the argument clear, by making it more complex. His ‘Myths of Scandinavian Design’ include ‘Myth 1: There is such a thing as Scandinavian design’ – followed soon after by ‘Myth 5: There is no such thing as Scandinavian design’.
You can’t have it both ways. Spend enough time in the countries of Scandinavia and it becomes clear: there is design in Scandinavia, some of the best in the world. It’s just that there is no design of Scandinavia, but instead four unique and independent design worlds which cross over and cross fertilise – but which ultimately stand on their own.
Something about design – graphic, typographic, product, architectural – brings out the evangelist in people. There are numerous excellent blogs on design; there are (still) innumerable dead tree press magazines; every college, let alone university, worth its salt has some courses which seek to identify and promote good practice.
All too often, though, the focus is on what design is; not what it could be. Evangelising good design is a whole other thing than thinking, deeply, about what it could be.
We like to think about what we do. That’s not just about the selection of the right typeface, or making sure that what our clients are saying to the world is what our clients want to say in a way that their customers want to receive it. But it’s about what we could be doing better, or different, or how radical we can be.
This is not true blue-sky work, of course – we still live in the real, concrete world and have to interact with it – but the determination to think, and hard, about what we do is important. We enforce that importance through our seminar working style; we enforce it too, by taking on bright people to think and study for us. (Lucy Young, who’s with us for a few months, will be doing exactly this for social media – thinking hard, examining deeply, and hopefully producing original and useful work. Look for her updates on this blog.)
So we like what we saw at the Danish Design Centre last month. A design manifesto. On a wall, like all good manifestos should be (or nailed to the door of a high street retail furniture store, perhaps). The Preconditions for Good Design (on their website at en.ddc.dk) lists ten attributes of good design, which,the Danes being practical, includes “Good Business”.
They’re following a noble path: John Emerson’s excellent post in Social Design Notes of last year lists 100 manifestos (including the DDC one), starting with William Morris’ The Ideal Book in 1883. (backspace.com)
We need more of these. We need more thinking, whether informed by practicality or not, not just about what we do – but what we could do. Look for a little of it here.
Creative businesses are naturally emotional environments. We deal every day with the science of marketing and media, of ROI and metrics, of rather dense and impenetrable models. But ultimately, we’re about offering people the option to think differently about a product, a service, a person – and that means getting into their heads, and that’s an emotional process.
Just sometimes, though, that emotion creeps up on you entirely unexpected. Two recent examples, of when the whole thing got really rather overwhelming and where, were I Henri-Marie Beyle, I would have had a Stendhal moment.
The Medieval and Renaissance Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum are astonishing. Choir screens from Belgium; a house frontage from Bishopsgate in London, statues, stained glass, caskets and chalices ad what seems almost infinitum. When one visits a church in Italy, all of which seem like little museums in their own right, usually there is one piece of staggering beauty. Two if you’re lucky. But this is like someone’s backed up the European Renaissance and dumped it into the Museum, where it has been carefully, beautifully and lovingly arranged with the sole intention of overwhelming you.
There’s two floors of this. And a mezzanine. And just as you think you’re coping, you come round a corner and walk past an inconspicuous little brown thing in a case stood by the back wall of something utterly glorious. And you’re about to go past when you think, “I wonder what that is?”.
It’s the Codex Forster. The Codex-bloody-Forster. It’s one of Leonardo da Vinci’s own notebooks, in his own hand, with his own… you get the idea.
It was at this point that I went outside to calm down. Any gallery – and this is the permanent exhibition, not a special, only-open-for-a-month thing – that can hide the Forster Codex behind a wall as if it’s just another thing, creates Stendhal moments all the time.
And more prosaically, walking down a street in Copenhagen, I stumbled across the Danish Design Centre. And had another moment in front of, of all things, a set of tables. The “Little Friend, 2005” by Kaspar Salto, produced by Fritz Hansen, to be exact. It just works. It is beautiful, functional, the lines are perfect, every part of it thought out to within an inch of its life (but not so far that it has lost its essential delight).
This, I have to say, came on the back of design manifestos for Danish design on the walls, clear and thought through, video interviews of clarity and perspicacity, a standing exhibition of beautiful objects. I have a nasty feeling that the Danes are probably better at product design than anyone else, and the exhibitions – and the thinking underlying them – at the DDC just reinforces this. I mean, even their ‘you’ve paid, here’s your little badge to prove it’ is a lovely little clip, with their website address on it, not some little sticky thing that destroys clothing.
Anyhow. Two moments when design becomes beauty, and when that beauty becomes overwhelming. Is it any wonder that we get emotional when we create, when we stand – however slightly – in the same light that creates Stendhal moments?
- V&A: http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/periods_styles/medieval/new_med_ren_galleries/
- DDC: http://www.ddc.dk/
- Little Friend: http://www.fritzhansen.com/en/fritz-hansen/products.aspx#/tables/little_friend/ks11/0/?i=i
Nothing is sacred on the internet. In the past five years, social media has quickly changed the way we consume our news, run our businesses and interact with our friends. Fashion, once the least ‘techy’ of industries, has quickly adapted and evolved to take full advantage of ‘smart’ social media.
Tavi is internationally recognised as one of the most powerful young people in the fashion industry. Starting her own blog at age eleven led to a quick rise to fame, which in turn has led to commissions for pieces with Vogue and Pop. She’s also worked alongside respected designers, like Rodarte.
Starting with a basic blogger account, this little girl has taken huge strides to capitalise upon everything that new media has to offer.
Many of the biggest shoe brands are now listening to their customers and giving them control over the design process. Interactive features from shoe companies like Nike and Converse let users create their own truly personalised shoes from a collection of white base models. Your own creation then arrives at your door a few days later. This simply would not have been logistically possible but a few years ago, and highlights the democratising nature of the internet.
“What are you wearing today?” is a question many of the fashion conscious hear a lot. Now you can share your own creations and combinations with the world, thanks to Chictopia. The concept is simple: Upload a picture of your clothing choices and share them with others. It’s also a neigh-infinite source of inspiration; much more so than you could possibly take in at a club or on the street. Users can filter by age, style, events, locations and body types – making sure that the content you see is what you asked for. The site is starting to be recognised beyond the digital world; a trend we expect to carry on.
ASOS, an online only brand, is now a real rival to bricks-and-mortar Topshop and River Island. How? Though competitive pricing, extraordinary customer service, and by capitalising on the lunch-hour push. ASOS is thriving in a competitive market from a web-only base.
An experimental group that has been utilising the crossover between fashion and the internet since the late 1990’s, ShowStudio is a success story that regularly falls between the gaps in fashion, art and technology. Masterminded by the photographer Nick Knight, the experiment has embraced the internet since its inception. Recently, the website ran a live, online interview that featured a transcript simultaneously alongside.
As part of Burberry’s new Spring/Summer 2010 campaign, the haute couture brand has been paving the way with their online output. Recently showing their catwalk show online, in full 3-D, photographer Mario Testino has also shot an interactive catalogue of the new collection. Featuring models that seemingly step out of the screen upon a mouse click, the campaign is regarded as being the future of online fashion advertising.
Social media may have taken the fashion world by storm – but it’s a storm that fashion world has fully embraced. It makes sense: Fashion magazines have now been replaced by their new media cousins, democratising and personalising fashion and bringing it closer to customers.
Andrew Beedle and Anisha Chandarana are Junior Design Staffers at Vivid London.
Image credit: Andrew, Anisha and Conal Kelly, who is on work experience with Vivid London from the John Fisher School, Sutton.
It’s easy to get caught up in design. We see it time and time again: beautifully designed collateral (that’s your brochures, menus, business cards, letter heads, signage, and the like) with badly written copy.
Customers will notice bad design immediately: I’m sure that everyone reading this has a shop/salon/cinema/whatever in their neighbourhood whose brand and collateral looks like the owner was left alone with MS Paint and Wordart for an afternoon. Design gives your brand credibility with your market. Even the most boring or run-of-the-mill service can be set apart from its competitors through pleasing design.
But what you say about yourself is equally important. Beautiful design won’t make up for wooly or badly written copy. Sit down and think of what your customers need to make the decision to use your service or buy your product. Are they all intelligently placed in your collateral? Are you sure that this is what your marketplace needs to hear – as opposed to what you want to tell them?
To inspire you, we’ve included the words we use to describe ourselves. If you want some help making your copy as beautiful as your design, talk to us today.