Friday, December 4, 2009

Colorless Packaging

Colorless eco friendly packaging has been proposed by Ryan Harc, member of the Behance Network. The idea is that by not spraying color onto the can, we would be reducing air and water pollution. Rather than painting the can, the logo would simply pop out of the can in a convex manner. This process would also reduce energy and effort in the recycling process. When cans arrive at the recycling plant, they must be stripped of their toxic color which takes a lot of energy that could be saved by going colorless.

This is a really cool idea but I'm not sure the huge manufacturers would go for something like this. Coca-Cola really relies on its being red to be identified. When I see a red can, the first thing I think is Coca-Cola. I do think that if manufacturers really just gave this a try, it could work eventually. However it would take a good amount of time for consumers to adjust to the change.

I also like that this project brings the focus off of the color and onto the actual logo design of each soda manufacturer. This would really be a nice test for those logos that rely so much on color. Logos should always work in black and white first before color is brought into the mix, so I think consumers would buy according more to the design of the logo if this proposal were to go into effect.

San Francisco Architecture

This beautiful structure was designed by architects LSarc. The residence is located on Laidley Street in San Fancisco and was completed in 2002. This home really offers everything anyone could want. From inside the home, one can see great views of the city. In contrast to the city views, the rear of the house includes a Japanese inspired garden, bringing serenity into the modern structure in the heart of San Francisco.

I think it is really great that while one can get great views of downtown, there is also a private deck that features a nice private hot tub area. From this deck you can look into the house and really see the beautiful interior.

As you can see in the first image, the architects really took advantage of the limited space to build on and went vertical. Doing this really utilized the space well and allowed for a beautifully designed, modern home.


This is a really cool project that was done by two Brooklyn artists and two artists from Belfast. Basically the idea was that the book would travel between the four artists for 36 weeks straight. When each artist received the book, he created a spread in response to the spread preceding it.

Every Wednesday, one artist would receive the book. The artist had five days to complete the spread. This cycle went on from June 2, 2003 to February 2, 2004. By the time the book was completed it had travelled over sixty thousand miles.

The coolest part about this project is that there was no communication between the artists aside from the actual spreads that were created. The book was exhibited in Belfast. When visiting the exhibition, guests could check out each spread in chronological order, isolated from each other as well as the physical book.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Really Cool Portfolio Site

Oskar Krawczyk is a UX and Front-end designer and this is his portfolio site. The simplicity and subtle details found on this site are very impressive. The background is a nice paper texture with some grunge aspect to it. The grunge factor really makes the paper pop off the page. I love the nice line drawing self portrait and how it is used in part with the navigation. When you roll over the different buttons a speak bubble pops up, which adds really effective interaction.

When you navigate to Oskar's portfolio, a nice box pops up that displays slides of his work. The user can click the arrows to slide through the portfolio samples. A great feature of this portfolio is the way the slides fall into place. Rather than simply sliding into place in the display box, the images actually bounce into place, creating a visually interesting experience.

Amazing Installation Art by Ran Hwang

Ran Hwang is a Korean artist who creates larger than life installations of birds and cherry blossom trees. Each and every red dot is made up of a pin and a button. No adhesives are used, so the button can slide up and down the pin.

The amount of work that goes into each of Ran's installations is nothing short of amazing. She is passionate about her artwork and relates the installations to the existence of human beings. She relates the mobility of the buttons to the human tendency to be irresolute. She also says that she choses to use buttons because they are common and ordinary just like the existence of human life.

Ran finds peace in creating these large installations and finds that she discovers significance of existence in hammering the thousands of pins into the wall.

I think that it is so inspiring to see someone who is so incredibly passionate about her work. Knowing that the artist really put their heart and soul into their creations really makes the actual art inspiring to me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Subtle Details in Web Design

I found a great article on the web design ledger called Subtle Details: Taking Web Designs to Another Level.

I often stumble upon beautifully designed websites and cannot pinpoint what exactly makes the design so magnificent. This article gives some really great examples of subtle details that significantly improve the webpage design.

The first point is "Pixel Perfect Line Work." By using a simple 1 px line along the top of a navigation bar the designer is creating an illusion of depth. When a lighter color line is used against a darker background the illusion is created. However, it is important to make this color change a very subtle one as to not overpower the effect.

The next idea is to use "Shadows with Restraint." Shadows also create a nice illusion of depth in a 2 dimensional medium. Subtlety is also key in this technique. The darkness of a shadow should correspond the the background color. For example, when shadowing a white navigation bar against a white background, you would not want to do a dark, overpowering shadow.

The third pointer is to use "Simple Gradients." A nice way to use gradients to enhance web design is to incorporate them into buttons. Using a simple and very subtle gradient on a button creates a nice pop up effect. The buttons look almost like really buttons that are in a 3 dimensional space. Again, overdoing the gradient by using 2 colors with a large difference of shade will cause the gradient to lose its effect.

Specialization vs. Generalization

This article discusses the issue of specialization vs. generalization in terms of freelancing. Although it was written by a freelance writer, I think the same issues arise with freelance designing.

The main question at hand is "do you need to specialize to succeed as a freelancer?" There is really no correct answer, but I found the question to be extremely relevant to my questions as a designer who is close to graduating. As I begin to plan for my future after graduation, I have been faced with several questions. Do I go to grad school or go straight into a career? If I do go to grad school, what do I study? Because I am interested in so many different aspects of design, these questions are so difficult for me to answer.

Basically, this article goes on to say that most freelancers will at some point specialize and at another, generalize. Laura Spencer, the author of this article, points out that over time, the demand for any given specialty will change. This means that in order for specializing freelancers to succeed, they must be willing to change their specialty.

I think that as a designer it is important to be familiar with many different areas of design (including things that design is incorporated into such as programing) to be successful. Once you find a few specific areas that really interest you, specialize in them and become great at them. You can always look to other specialists for help in those areas that are not of interest or understanding to you.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Retained Fee Structure

As a graphic design student having limited experience in the billing process, I found this article to be very informative. After a design job has been completed it has been my understanding that the client is then billed for hours spent on the project and that is that. However there is something called a retained fee structure that bills clients in a completely different manner.

Ryan Kovach, author of this article and part owner of Dillinger & Kovach, states that web design is not something that can ever be finished. In the print world, after many revisions, the final piece is printed out and the job is done. The great thing about working in web design is that the medium is constantly changing. When new technologies arise websites need to be updated.

As a web design firm, Dillinger & Kovach understands this and has transitioned from a billable hour/project to a retainer structure. When this firm takes on a new client, the client must commit to a one year agreement (after the date of "completion"). In this year after "completion," the client pays a monthly fee that includes any edits, additions to new technology, and any further consulting.

The greatest benefit to using this type of billing is that the firm has saved an immense amount of money on marketing costs. Because most clients sign contracts that extend beyond the one year agreement (many have signed 2 or even 3 year agreements), the firm is not so focused on outreach to gain new clients. Some other benefits include: needing fewer clients to make the same amount of money, more accurate forecast of internal costs and budgets, longer-term relationships and possibility for referrals, and easier adjustment during economic downturns.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Font Copyright Infringement

NBC has been sued by the Boston based type foundry, The Font Bureau. The Font Bureau claims that NBC had only purchased one license but had actually installed the fonts on several different computers. NBC also only paid for a limited number of fonts on this license. What NBC is being sued for is copyright infringement. The average person might not know that fonts are copyright protected, but NBC knew this and still proceeded to violate the terms by using typefaces that were not payed for in their fall marketing campaign.

NBC now faces a $2 million lawsuit for its disregard for copyright law. The Font Bureau claims that this case has damaged its relationship with past and present customers. This case should serve as a warning to designers to be aware of copyright law and to make sure that all of their fonts are licensed.

Getting Clients through a Design Blog

Brian Hoff's thedesigncubicle is a design blog that is aimed at helping and inspiring designers. I recently read an interesting article titled How a Design Blog is Attractive to Clients. In this article, Brian addresses some issues the question "Does your blog bring you business? If so, how?"

While most design blogs are very helpful to other designers in the design community, they can also be used to showcase work and work habits. In the article, Brian touches on several ways blogs can be used to gain business from new clients.

The first suggestion Brian gives is to include insight into the process. It is always a good idea to do this so clients can learn about how you work as a designer. This will let them know exactly how much work goes into each project and what they are paying for, which is always a good thing. Brian then stresses the importance of, not only showcasing your work, but also being able to talk about it. Clients will be impressed and excited about your work if you talk about it like you are excited about it.

Showcasing your personality in a blog is also important. When clients hire online, they want to know who they are shelling all of their money out to. When showcasing your personality online, make sure to have consistency between writing style and speaking style.

Next, Brian states that your blog can assist in trusting relationships. This can be done by giving insight into process and showcasing work and personality. Also, when potential clients are able to read comments of your work, it gives them even more insight into your work.

thedesigncubicle often shares resources for no other reason than to help other designers. This can also serve another purpose of informing potential clients. It is always good have informed clients; when they are informed they are more likely to understand your process and the design choices you might make along the way.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Creative Spaces

I found this on a blog showcasing 15 examples of modern web design. The site is meant to help artists find affordable spaces to exhibit or develop their work. The site allows users to both find and list spaces available to this market. The "creative spaces" may be available lease or share for a short period of time. Users can read case studies on how ordinary spaces can be transformed into places for art projects. The site is marketed to artists interested in finding a space somewhere in Victoria.

Not only is this site extremely aesthetically pleasing, but it serves a unique purpose in assisting other artists. The site is very intuitive in terms of navigation. All main navigation is located at the top with sub navigation located on a side bar.

The concept for the site is also very unique and could really be expanded into a much larger, international service. The site is just overall a really nice example of modern web design from its form to its function.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Forkbomb Studios

Forkbomb Studios is a web design studio that "delivers work that is not only visually pleasing, but extraordinarily functional, accessible, and most importantly, intuitive." I really love how the site transitions into new pages. Instead of just changing abruptly to the new page, the site functions as a whole, where the browser window serves as the frame only displaying the page selected. When a new link is clicked the whole "site" slides so that the new page is showing through the frame. The concept for this site's design fits with the studio's emphasis on functionality. The studio stresses the importance of a site being visually appealing, while still remaining functional. The studio believes that many sites get too cluttered up with aesthetically pleasing elements which can, in return, take away from the message.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Shynola Coldplay video

If you haven't seen Coldplay's "Strawberry Swing" music video (done by Shynola), CHECK IT OUT! This video is incredible. The entire video is composed of animated chalk drawings, all done by hand. Not only is the feat of hand drawing the entire animation beyond impressive, the imagery really creates such a story.

I read an interview with Chris Harding of Shynola and after being asked if he had the idea of the video before he heard the song, or if the song inspired him, he answered that he is always inspired by the music first. I think this is so important. It is always good to keep inspirational imagery, sketches, textures, and so on, but it is so important be inspired by each new project. From my own experience, I have noticed that I come up with much better concepts when I am starting fresh with each new project rather than pulling from a database of concepts.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Yanko Design Team

Yanko Design Team has an online magazine about form beyond function. The magazine showcases the worlds best designs in architecture, industrial design, interior design, environmental design, etc. Yanko Design is all about merging the modern with the classic to create unique objects that introduce new technology or simply improve on existing technologies. Most of the pieces being shown in the magazine are conceptual pieces that really get the reader to think.

One of the more recent posts I found interesting in the magazine is the "Seeds in the Bottle" water bottle. This product is promoting the idea recycling water bottles in a new way. 77% of plastic water bottles end up in landfills and this product aims at creating a secondary use for the bottle. After it is used, there is a pocket that contains plant seeds, which are released into the bottle after use. When potting soil is added to the inverted bottle, it becomes a planter.

I think that this is a really cool idea. I personally try not to even buy plastic water bottles, but when I do, I always make sure to recycle them. If nothing else the article at least gets me to think about my own usage of plastic water bottles.