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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Sep 2014  |  Comments (2)

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Tomorrow Scotland will hold a historic vote on whether to break away from the United Kingdom or not. Never mind the social, political, economic ramifications of secession—if the Scots bail out, there will be a bit of a graphic design problem to address.

That's because the Union Jack, the flag of the United Kingdom, is in fact a 19th-Century mashup of three different flags: The English's St. George's Cross blazon...

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...Northern Ireland's Saint Patrick's Saltire (a "saltire" being a diagonal cross)...

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...and Scotland's Saint Andrew's Cross, which is technically a saltire.

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Put them all together, and you've got three great tastes that (perhaps used to) taste great together:

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Posted by Ray  |  18 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Our initial report may have echoed Airbnb's hyperbolic enthusiasm about their new identity, and despite criticism that has metastasized in relevant corners of the web—an equal and opposite reaction, if you will—here is a more nuanced take on Airbnb's new logo, Bélo.

Let's start with an experiment: Grab a piece of paper and try drawing the damn thing freehand. In fact, give it a couple tries. And no cheating—don't try and make it look more butt-like or yonic than it needs to be. Maybe it doesn't look as good as the now-infamous image of the marque drawn on fogged-up window ('fingered,' as one GIF crudely suggested), but it wouldn't be mistaken for genitalia. No one in their right mind would draw a body part like that. (This is why the Tumblr consists not of peoples' drawings of the logo itself but embellished versions of it.) It's arguably just as easy to draw a cock-and-balls, but that's not what it is.

For my part, I didn't see the intended allusions (the person or the location marker) at first; nor did I see any kind genitalia—just a fairly unremarkable logo. The point being that it's a highly abstracted symbol, to the degree that the somewhat regrettable choice of 'vibrant salmon' inextricably influences one's first impression as much as its mildly suggestive shape. As a graphic representation, it certainly invites free association (actually my first thought was rocket ship), but as a glyph, Bélo is one degree removed from the letter "A," itself a grapheme, which is doubly abstracted: a signifier of linguistic import.

But it's not just a matter of semantics. Armin Vit (who, as always, provides unparalleled analysis) notes that "it's a deceivingly simple icon that is easy to reproduce, recognize, and propagate." In this regard, it succeeds where few marques do. Just look at the logos within your field of vision or the icons for the apps on your phone. Could you draw any of them, freehand, with a single stroke? Only the likes of Nike, Chevy and maybe a few others come close. Now, in fairness, 'drawability' is not a criteria for logos these days... but maybe it should be (this is why teenagers of my generation inscribed so many desktops with Stussy and Wu-Tang iconography: ease of approximation). After all, this is true of the most enduring symbols of our time, from Basquiat's iconic three-pointed crown to the @ sign (notably 'acquired' by MoMA) to the anarchy symbol... to a Christian Cross.

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Posted by core jr  |  25 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)

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By John Clifford

While writing my book Graphic icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design, I was impressed by how many of the legendary designers I was profiling pushed themselves and branched out to other disciplines, such as industrial design and architecture. Such explorations can inspire creativity and bring fresh perspectives to each area of practice.

JohnClifford-GraphicIcons-Sutnar.jpgCatalog cover for Cuno Engineering Corporation, 1946; Build the Town building block set, c.1942

Ladislav Sutnar

Influenced by the functional Constructivist and De Stijl movements, Sutnar always worked at developing a visual language that communicated directly. Charts, graphs and images simplified information, helping busy people save time. The way, Sutnar steered readers through complex information sounds much like what we now call information design or information architecture, which has been further developed by Edward Tufte and Richard Saul Wurman, as well as by digital and web designers everywhere.

As someone who believed that design should influence every part of daily life, Sutnar designed pretty much everything: furniture, fabrics, glassware and dishes, even toys. His colorful and geometric building block set, "Build the Town," was never actually produced, in spite of Sutnar's efforts to design packaging and promotional materials for it.


JohnClifford-GraphicIcons-Lustig.jpgIndustrial Design magazine cover, 1954; 3 Tragedies book cover, paperback version, 1955; Staff magazine cover, 1944.

Alvin Lustig

Magazines, interiors, book jackets, packaging, fabrics, hotels, mall signage, the opening credits of the cartoon Mr. Magoo—even a helicopter—Alvin Lustig designed all of them. He always felt the title "graphic designer" was too limiting, and it's clear why: He designed everything. And he did it all before dying at the young age of 40.

Lustig started designing interiors while working for Look magazine in the 1940s. Work like this inspired him to design the total package for his clients, from corporate identity to office environments. Though he is best known for his book covers, his experience among many disciplines gave him more freedom and opportunities.

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Posted by Ray  |   7 Mar 2014  |  Comments (2)

DesignIndaba2014-ExperimentalJetset.jpg

As these things go, Day One of the 2014 Design Indaba Conference was a bit behind schedule from the get-go. Experimental Jetset acknowledged as much in their regimented presentation that morning: after introducing themselves by way of banter, Marieke Stolk, Erwin Brinkers and Danny van den Dungen explained that they'd be spending the rest of their 40-minutes time slot by sharing their influences from A to Z, spending one minute on each topic. Taking the notion of a timed talk to its logical extreme, the Dutch trio went so far as to include 60-second countdown timers on each slide—a nod, perhaps, to their cerebral approach to graphic design.

EJ-ProvoCrouwel.jpgL: Stolk's parents were founding members of the Provo anarchist movement (’65–’67); R: Invitation for Wim Crouwel: Architectures Typographiques

Of course, it didn't play out that way: Stolk clocked in "Anarchy" in exactly 60 seconds, but from "The Beatles" on, it was clear that the concept was a tad overambitious. (On the other hand, when it seemed that one of them would finish earlier than the 60 seconds on a couple of the letters, he or she would knowingly stretch the explanation.) Still, anyone familiar with their work could have guessed what "H" would be: they've been typecast (in a manner of speaking) as strict Helveticists since their memorable turn in Gary Hustwit's 2007 documentary on the ubiquitous typeface. Adherents to this day, van den Dungen duly noted that "We signed our own death sentence... in Helvetica."

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Dean Poole, on the other hand, gushed about letterforms as archetypes; the self-effacing New Zealander's presentation which followed lunch on the third and final day of the conference, was rife on wordplay and visual puns, his understated punchlines deadpanned to a tee. Indeed, language and its mode of mechanical representation figure heavily into his work (where Sagmeister turns things into typography, Poole does the opposite) as the founder of Auckland-based studio Alt Group. Hence his rather more rapid 'characterization' of the letters of the alphabet—set in Futura, if I remember correctly—as ideograms, which, when juxtaposed with the Amsterdammers' ABCs, results in a series of non sequiturs:

EJDP-Alphabets.jpgI didn't catch Dean's versions of "P" and "U" and I haven't been able to get in touch with him; leave a comment if you happen to know what they are...

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Posted by erika rae  |  18 Feb 2014  |  Comments (1)

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The Olympics, at bienniale intervals, has slowly but surely grown more digitized. We're not talking about the event broadcasts, slo-mo gymnastic feat gifs or controversial political coverage in the host country—no, we mean the logo design. In an Olympic Games first, the symbol designed for the 2014 Winter Games includes a web address, Sochi.ru, which is home to all things Olympics—stats, event schedules, winners, medal counts, photos; you get the idea.

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If anything, though, this year's logo (which was designed by Interbrand), has been relatively uncontroversial, if not outright bland, compared to some of the other more vibrant Olympic logos through the years.

OlympicLogos-Paris1924.jpgThe Summer 1924 Games in Paris was the first Olympics

Maps of the World has an in-depth look at past logos, but here are some things you probably didn't know about some of the logos in recent memory. The Olympic Games have been through the wringer when it comes to branding, now more than ever before.

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Posted by Ray  |   5 Feb 2014  |  Comments (3)

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Seeing as web trends are even more capricious than the weather patterns we've been experiencing here in NYC, the backlash to Squarespace Logo has tapered off by now, but seeing as it launched just two weeks ago, the democratic logo design tool is still worth considering as symptom of how we define design today.

Somehow, I doubt that Squarespace encountered such unanimous antipathy when it debuted as a user-friendly website-building tool, ten years ago; after all, the dog-eat-dog CMS game has come a long way in the past decade, and I've only heard good things about their flagship product. But graphic design, including but not limited to branding/identity/visual communication/etc., is another story. Co.Design rounded up the pithy rejoinders—a few more have trickled in on the de rigueur data exhaust Tumblr—and garnered a slew of comments, as did the Wired post, so I'll concede that someone else has probably already made this point.

Having only dabbled in front-end development and graphic design in my day, I won't pretend to be an expert in either domain. But as a knowledge worker who spends most of my day tending to an at-times fickle CMS, regularly troubleshooting various glitches as they inevitably arise, I know all too well that an intuitive backend is a bridge between the 'dirty work' of coding/scripting and public-facing content.*

Contrary to its name, 'web design' is not design in the same way that graphic design is—a subtle distinction, perhaps, but a critical one. Web design is largely dictated by best practices, at least when it comes to creating a functional, navigable container for content. Which is not to say that web design is not creative, but rather that the hard constraints of HTML/CSS/etc. (not to mention browser/OS compatibility) are precisely why CMS's and templates make sense: Just tweak the font size and column width, add a social media widget, and you're good to go. "Just another Wordpress site," as the saying goes.

Logos, on the other hand, are meant to express an identity—the very heart and soul of a company—in a painstakingly-kerned font and/or ideographic vector illustration. Graphic design is a creative endeavor; as such, it is more than a matter of simply dragging and dropping elements or picking your favorite color. Think about it: Websites hew to a half-dozen standard layouts, where details such as fonts and colors evoke a general look and feel but rarely, if ever, denote a specific brand—which is why you look to the top left corner or center of the page for a logo.

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Posted by Ray  |  16 Jan 2014  |  Comments (9)

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Hear that dull whine in the background, the noise that sounds something like your neighbor using an impact driver down the hall? Close—its actually the reaction to the new logo for Black & Decker Black+Decker. Designed by Lippincott, the consultancy behind last year's well-received Stanley refresh, the verdict on the new look is rather less auspicious—over on Brand New (where Armin Vit took my first choice for a title), commenters have found it underwhelming. Some have noted the potential for a Tropicana trap, and indeed, the 'more personable' typography vaguely echoes that of Home Depot's 'house label' (har) HDX.

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My own gut instinct was that the new identity falls somewhere between housewares genericism and maybe mid-market tech peripherals; too airy to compete with the likes of DeWalt, Bosch, Milwaukee, etc. (the former is a subsidiary of Stanley Black & Decker, which has not yet updated the logos on their website). Meanwhile, I felt that axing the ampersand in favor of a Phillips-head plus evoked not an architecture firm, as some have suggested, but housewares brand Black+Blum... whose oblique/lightweight logo would actually look pretty good in the latest Lippincott treatment.

Where the bold condensed letterforms of the old logo convey a certain no-nonsense utilitarianism, the orange-on-black aesthetic feels distinctly masculine in a way that feels radically different in white, as it appears on the vacuum cleaner.

blackanddecker-newVac.jpgIs it just me, or does the base look like an external hard drive?

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Posted by erika rae  |  19 Dec 2013  |  Comments (2)

CanadaLogos-Baad.jpg

We've covered Canadian design before—the good and the bad... and, with the government's recent foray into visual identity, the ugly. Our neighbors to the north are looking forward to celebrating their sesquicentennial in 2017—to spare you a Google search, that means they're celebrating a 150-year anniversary—and the government has already begun designing a logo to commemorate the event. Unfortunately, their attempts are a bit off the mark—just take a look at the designs above. Not a single one of them is remotely worthy of, say, this charming Canadian couple who made web rounds a few weeks back.

After reading an article on a Canadian news site featuring the designs-in-progress, one designer took it upon himself to redeem his homeland and up their design cred. Ibraheem Youssef designed a logo of his own and reached out to a few other well-known Canadian designers to ask them to come up with their own versions. The response was astounding (and much better looking).

He documented all of the submissions online with descriptions giving more information about the designer behind each submission and what it represents.

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Posted by Ray  |   3 Dec 2013  |  Comments (9)

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Update: Commenter Max Shelley has not only dug up the original video but juxtaposed them, YouTube Doubler-style, in an absolutely uncanny comparison video, embedded below, and it's holy-crap-I-sh*t-you-not dead on. Good work, Max!

Seeing as toilet humor never gets old, we were very interested to stumble upon a company called Remade Co., which gives a veritable swirlie to a certain New York City-based design company. We've seen similar variations on the theme of painting a handle before, but Remade is a parody par excellence: The website is dead ringer (or should we say plunger) of its target, and the product lineup is at once entirely on-brand and completely off-the-mark.

Remade-2x.jpgRemade-SamMcGee.jpg

In the profile video (below), which I assume is a shot-for-shot remake (get it?) of an original that I was unable to dig up as of press time, an unidentified jester goes by a hyphenated surname that is the inversion of that of his mark. Reader Max Shelley has put them side-by-side, revealing a profound attention to detail on the part of Mr. Smith-Buchanan—the, um, original Remade vid is here—and frankly it's hard not to be impressed by the whole thing.

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Posted by Ray  |  28 Oct 2013  |  Comments (8)

Apple-MacPro-Logo.jpg

...and the hype campaign officially begins: the Mac Pro on Apple's website still bears the all-too-vague promise of a December delivery date, but the soon-to-be-Spaceship-bound Cupertino All-Stars have not-so-shamelessly seen fit to sent us a custom poster tube (the contents of which are seen above and below), and it's a looker.

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Somehow we're not surprised to find that Sir Jony Ive is not content to rest on his laurels: he's gone ahead and designed a "beautifully, unapologetically plastic" cap for the shipping tube, and it's stunning. The photos hardly do justice to the solid plastic puck; apologies for not donning white gloves before handling what would surely fetch a handsome sum on eBay in BNIB condition. In fact, while the rest of us might consider the cylinder itself to be sufficient packaging for large print materials, Apple's poster tube actually came in a box.

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Posted by Ray  |   5 Sep 2013  |  Comments (13)

Yahoo-1.jpgYahoo-30DaysofChange.jpg

...and the backlash begins: Yahoo unveiled their new logo this morning, following their 30 Days of Change marketing campaign, an interesting publicity stunt that came across as a mass-market (i.e. less rigorous) version of, say, the Brand New IDEO Make-a-Thon.

I'll defer to Armin Vit of Brand New for a full analysis of the new logomark—will.i.am was unavailable for comment—but I must say I find it uninspired and uninspiring. Line-weight and non-obliqueness notwithstanding, something about that "Y" and the subtly flared lines evokes watered-down YSL, and the tweaked humanist typography feels a bit design-by-committee to me (it was, in fact, designed in-house by Marissa Mayer & co.). Current brand usage guidelines include the punctuation mark, but sadly it's not quite the same without the so-called "9-degrees of whimsy"—at least not until browsers support the CSS 'rotation' property—and in any case, we'll stick with regular-ol' unexclamatory "Yahoo" in common parlance.

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Posted by Michael DiTullo  |  12 Aug 2013  |  Comments (0)

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Industrial designers solve lots of different problems. One of them is controlling the intent across a portfolio of products across product generations. New core77 forum poster Proe-warsztat from Poland asks how one goes about creating a language. From my perspective, there has always been two approaches to creating a design language, "prescriptive" and "descriptive."

The first is the traditional "prescriptive" language, with a clearly identified set of elements, treatments, materials and sometimes even radii. These often make for great designer books, but can be messy in application as they don't really foresee the types of problems a future product might have to address nor do they tend to scale. Early in the conversation, poster Modern Man brought up BMW's "Hofmeister" which is a great example of a perscriptive design element that has withstood the test of time.

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The second type of language is a "descriptive" language, which is a loose set of guidelines that drive toward a desired end state. It has more to do with a feeling that a strict rule book. This is much harder to document and maintain, but the result tends to be richer and easier to evolve. The above example, designed by forum poster Jim Kershaw for Irwin Tools, is a great example of descriptive language in execution. Each product has slightly different material mixes and constructions, and varied feature sets, yet they hang together as a whole nicely.

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Above is an example that my team developed that mixes the two for BOOM, our lifestyle audio brand. A set of guiding descriptive design principles were created to focus innovation around a particular type of problem set for a particular type of end user to achieve an overall feeling. We then layered over top of that prescriptive elements like particular disintegrating hole pattern to drive home the family connection.

Join in the conversation HERE, we'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences in dealing with design languages!

Posted by Ray  |  26 Jul 2013  |  Comments (1)

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Move over, Best Made Co., there's a new outdoors-inspired design company in town. Montreal-based Norquay Co., a brand "dedicated to camping vibes," has just launched with a line of vibrantly painted canoe paddles. "Founded by a camping enthusiast obsessed with the great outdoors and equally for great design," the five collections—also named after places in Canada—are sure to make a splash in the design world (albeit perhaps less so in the hardcore canoeing community).

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Posted by Ray  |  12 Jul 2013  |  Comments (0)

HotMalm.jpgRemind me again how this isn't clickbaiting?

The first thing I thought of when I heard about Hot Malm was that I'd heard about it before. Except that it wasn't a faux-porn website featuring anthropomorphized IKEA furniture—it was a Tumblog of IKEA furniture that happened to be in the background of prurient videos, transformed into the bite-sized image format du jour, the animated GIF. It turns out that the new site, HotMalm.com (SFW, for all intents and purposes), was developed by droga5's Asa Ivry-Block & co., presumably as a viral campaign for the Swedish furniture powerhouse (all of the links drive traffic to IKEA product pages). If nothing else, it's a cheeky exercise in copywriting, predicated on lewd puns—"Hot Malm from Behind" is the most PG; rest assured the captions allude to porno tropes from top to bottom—and, as Ivry-Block told Animal New York, "We were inspired by a mission to share Malms of every size and color with the world."

As for the Tumblr—well, that's where it goes from off-color into a gray area, so to speak: JustAnotherIKEACatalog.tumblr.com is a tongue-in-cheek compendium of IKEAspotting... in amateur pornography. (It should go without saying that it's entirely NSFW; Animal's write-up includes a couple of softcore, borderline SFW images, for reference. Emphasis on borderline.) Per the about page, "JAIC is a non-IKEA affiliated project... Every post includes an animated gif from the amateur pornography video enhanced with some more information about the IKEA product in the video. A link at the bottom sends you straight to the IKEA website to check if the product is available at your local IKEA store." If HotMalm.com is an IKEA catalog disguised as an X-rated website and Just Another IKEA Catalog is precisely the opposite.

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Posted by core jr  |  14 May 2013  |  Comments (1)

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Imagine, if you will, a design exercise in which the primary constraint is simply to answer a brief with ideas that have never been dreamt of. The themes range from Global Warming to Time, and are selected based on passion as much as relevance and timeliness, and as such, design teams are expected to come up with ideas that meet those criteria as well.

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These are the guiding principles behind IDEO's "Designs On—," an ongoing internal project that has taken off since IDEO Associate Partner and Industrial Design Director Blaise Bertrand introduced it in 2008. The global design consultancy has just launched a dedicated microsite for the fifth annual edition, which tackles the seemingly mundane (or otherwise overdone) issue of Packaging. And while the topic is ostensibly more pragmatic than past themes such as Food and Birth (as well as the two mentioned above), it's not so much a departure from the spirit of the platform as it is an affirmation of its breadth.

IDEO-DesignsOn-RelationshipsArray.jpg

The idea of "Designs On—," according to Bertrand, is to "let designers pick a personal perspective" on the topic at hand. The goal is "to push the edge of a particular content area [as well as] to constantly question our assumptions about design." IDEO employees organize themselves into teams as they see fit, developing, iterating and ulimately packaging their ideas over the course of four to five months.

IDEO-DesignsOn-Packaging-1.jpg"The 'Expired' concept is one of my favorites," says Bertrand. "It feels natural—to take a simple analogy of a banana, [which has] a very powerful emotional aspect."

IDEO-DesignsOn-Packaging-Expired-2.jpgBertrand excitedly noted that "Biomimicry is a growing domain."

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Posted by IDEO  |  27 Mar 2013  |  Comments (0)

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IDEO just completed 24 hours of prototyping in public from Tokyo to San Francisco. We've effectively pulled a global all-nighter. It's left me with the hollow feeling one has after last call, followed by the rush of adrenaline to press on and watch the sunrise. Paul's initial comments were right. It is terrifying to be vulnerable in such a way. Would we have interesting ideas or fall flat under pressure? Would we come across as curious or as self-important? Would the technology work?

Handwringing be damned. The Global Make-a-Thon turned out to be a delightful exploration of personality and meaning. It affirmed our roots in a graphic identity that celebrates personal, community, and collective expression. It taught us about ourselves, what we value, and what we should do next.

Immediately after the Make-a-Thon, a group of 20 designers* from around the globe convened in San Francisco to discuss the concepts on the "UnThemes." The designs are rendered at every degree of fidelity and run the gamut from advanced to bizarre, from systems to illustrations. As we waded through the ideas together, patterns emerged.

First, we LOVE the squares. Nearly every idea submitted used them and with varied expression. The squares became windows to the world, small frames highlighting details, building blocks, sculptural cubes, stamps, video game sprites, and even architecture. These expressions feel like an inevitable build. Rand designed our first logo as a combinatorial geometric frieze of squares. Bierut refined this into a flexible graphic system of marks, typography, and color. Now through this experiment we are seeing hints of our next major evolution: a living platform that is adaptable, reconfigurable, locally nuanced, and contextually aware.

This is most clear when looking at the designs from each studio. The character of the designers and the context of each culture shine brightly. Look at the paper screens from Tokyo, the personal portraits from Mumbai, the experimentation in Boston, or the symbolism from New York. Each of us feels this identity is ours and that's the beauty of it. It's a simple design that becomes a vessel to fill. Even more interesting, it is expression that invites questions and builds rapport. This was a shift we were seeking from the outset. We want to move from an emphasis on declarative expression to a more inclusive identity, to create a bridge between us and our collaborators.

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Posted by IDEO  |  26 Mar 2013  |  Comments (0)

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On Monday at 7 a.m., the Global Make-a-Thon baton passed to IDEO Boston. The making commenced with materials ranging from sharpies to cornstarch, dye to wood, and pencils to laptops.

Using only natural materials to create physical pixels, Ryan Habbyshaw, Brad Crane and Greg Wolos used the contrast of various side grain and end grain wood blocks to recreate the IDEO logo.

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Rolling with the idea of creating intent over presence, we decided to create an experiment that we've been running simultaneously with two current clients. One client operates in the music industry; the other is focused on quantified self and is responsible for a mind monitoring device which is worn as a headband.

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We mixed up a batch of non-Newtonian fluid (cornstarch and water) and laid it on a plastic sheet over a speaker. We then used the mind monitoring software to create sound based on our level of focus. The video explains it best.

The thinking behind the idea was to take the inherent structural nature of the existing IDEO logo, and dematerialize it into something more organic. The experiment became a physical metaphor of intent over presence and an illustration of how, when we combine learning resources from two completely different projects, we can create new and interesting solutions.

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Fran Barros deconstructed the letters that make up the IDEO logo into the unique symbols that represent each one. Meanwhile, José explored how light would interact with those symbols in a three dimensional space.

Check out Boston's concepts on our Six Themes Tumblr site.

* * *

Brand New IDEO centers on a 24-hour global Make-a-Thon taking place on Monday, March 25th in IDEO's eleven offices around the world, starting in Tokyo and ending in San Francisco.

Brand New IDEO:
» Preview with Michael Hendrix and Paul Bennett in Conversation
» Opening Remarks by Michael Hendrix
» Tokyo: Robots, Cherry Blossoms & Bento Boxes
» Singapore: Origami & Experiments with 3D
» Mumbai: Minimum Viable Logo & Windows on the World
» Shanghai: Morning Exercise, Jump Rope and Calligraphy
» Munich: Personalize, Simply and Move
» London: The Grid Grows
» Boston: Crafting and Prototyping with Wood, Dye & Cornstarch
» New York: Exploring Music, Verbs and Cubes
» Chicago: Sketching Sine Waves to R&B
» San Francisco Bay: Build to Think, Dive Into Abstraction, and Embrace the Infinite Grid

Posted by IDEO  |  25 Mar 2013  |  Comments (0)

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And... boom. From Mumbai, we virtually transport to IDEO Shanghai where the Global Make-A-Thon experience is best documented visually below.

The result is a beautiful three dimensional sculptural concept that draws from a broad range of inspirations, from Tai Chi and philosophy to T-shaped people, calligraphy and Chinese seals and more.

IDEO_Untheme_HERO_Shanghai_Calligraphy_468.jpg

Check out Shanghai's concepts on our Six Themes Tumblr site.

* * *

Brand New IDEO centers on a 24-hour global Make-a-Thon taking place on Monday, March 25th in IDEO's eleven offices around the world, starting in Tokyo and ending in San Francisco.

Brand New IDEO:
» Preview with Michael Hendrix and Paul Bennett in Conversation
» Opening Remarks by Michael Hendrix
» Tokyo: Robots, Cherry Blossoms & Bento Boxes
» Singapore: Origami & Experiments with 3D
» Mumbai: Minimum Viable Logo & Windows on the World
» Shanghai: Morning Exercise, Jump Rope and Calligraphy
» Munich: Personalize, Simply and Move
» London: The Grid Grows
» Boston: Crafting and Prototyping with Wood, Dye & Cornstarch
» New York: Exploring Music, Verbs and Cubes
» Chicago: Sketching Sine Waves to R&B
» San Francisco Bay: Build to Think, Dive Into Abstraction, and Embrace the Infinite Grid

Posted by IDEO  |  25 Mar 2013  |  Comments (0)

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On Monday, IDEO Mumbai started the day with a video Global Make-a-Thon baton handoff from Singapore (pictured above), in which the latter team shared the work that happened in both the Singapore and Tokyo studios while we were asleep. Their sessions resonated with our own initial thinking and we were able to continue working on themes around physicalizing the logo and understanding what local means.

We were very interested in the idea of a "minimal viable IDEO logo"—is it the four boxes or the typographical treatment or the placement that gives the IDEO logo strength? We considered how we might use the logo as a framework for showcasing Mumbai. We also thought about ways to showcase the connections we have to colleagues in other locations around the world and how we learn from each other. Our early concepts included:

1.) Alternate History: We wanted to celebrate all the local languages in India—and our studio—by replacing the "I" with individuals speaking their mother tongue and welcoming everyone to IDEO. We took a page from the Smothers Brothers and the IDEO Toy Lab by prototyping a life-size IDEO logo with the "I" cut out, showing people and local examples of design. Our video features Divya Viswanathan (Hindi), Riddhima Gupta (Punjabi), Lacquer toys from Chennapatna, Tarun Rawat (Hindi), George Joseph (English), Goutam Pal (Bengali) and Presswallah's coal iron.

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2.) Windows on the World: Building on the Singapore studio's notion of "Windows on the World," George Joseph and Priti Rao used the "O" in IDEO as a window to photos from Mumbai and other IDEO locations. George prototyped with a print out of the logo, taped it to his screen, and used Keynote to animate photos from Mumbai, Singapore, Tokyo and Shanghai.

3.) IDEO CUBE: Gaurav Raut has been working on a three-dimensional IDEO cube driven by Servos and Arduino. He used the analogy of the shifting faces of a Rubik's cube to communicate how diversity can coexist within the same space. He did this by distorting the IDEO logo and helping it interact with other elements of the cube before returning back to its original position.

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4.) Geographic Inspiration Boxes - Divya Viswanathan and Randy Plemel explored how to show all of the IDEO locations at the same time through local photos, portraits, and our logo. Using the horizontal version of the logo, we created multiple boxes that cycle through different permutations of the logo, map locations and local photos at each office.

Tarun Rawat summed up IDEO Mumbai's role in the Global Make-a-Thon: "Much of what we explored illustrated the connections between different IDEO locations through places, images, and people." Randy Plemel concurred, noting, "While there is a shared concept of IDEO which spans geographies, we are always on the lookout for what is unique to IDEO Mumbai. We are always looking for what India can teach us, and then what India can teach IDEO."

Check out Mumbai's concepts on our Six Themes Tumblr site and their video summary above.

* * *

Brand New IDEO centers on a 24-hour global Make-a-Thon taking place on Monday, March 25th in IDEO's eleven offices around the world, starting in Tokyo and ending in San Francisco.

Brand New IDEO:
» Preview with Michael Hendrix and Paul Bennett in Conversation
» Opening Remarks by Michael Hendrix
» Tokyo: Robots, Cherry Blossoms & Bento Boxes
» Singapore: Origami & Experiments with 3D
» Mumbai: Minimum Viable Logo & Windows on the World
» Shanghai: Morning Exercise, Jump Rope and Calligraphy
» Munich: Personalize, Simply and Move
» London: The Grid Grows
» Boston: Crafting and Prototyping with Wood, Dye & Cornstarch
» New York: Exploring Music, Verbs and Cubes
» Chicago: Sketching Sine Waves to R&B
» San Francisco Bay: Build to Think, Dive Into Abstraction, and Embrace the Infinite Grid

Posted by IDEO  |  25 Mar 2013

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On Monday, IDEO Singapore started the day with Skype cameras on and speakers turned up loud, ready for the Global Make-a-Thon baton passed from the Tokyo studio.

Our friends in Tokyo had spent the morning integrating different aspects of the cultural context of Japan and expressing what it means for IDEO.

In their work, we saw a window into their world. One of many examples included the "I" in IDEO turning into a paper Shoji door that revealed an image from Hanami, the cherry-blossom flower viewing.

Other themes that emerged from our talk with Tokyo included gamification and the local transposition of their daily lives, contexts and environments.

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This notion of windows out into the world resonated with us here in Singapore, too—every day, we see things in Singapore that shape the way we design, change the way we feel about the world, and influence our process and outcomes. How could we represent the experience of being a part of IDEO and being a part of Singapore at the same time? Or for that matter, being a part of Asia as a whole?

Three of our early concepts here in Singapore:

1.) IDEO Everywhere: Ben Forman and his team used photos of "I" "D" "E" and "O" snapped around Singapore to create a recontextualized logo. Bamboo fences, bowls of noodles, cups of tea, and bicycle wheels, in shapes that represented the letters of IDEO, were just a few of the many images that serve as the building blocks of IDEO. Inspired by Japan's Shoji door concept, Amy Bonsall and her team hacked away at what a window to the world would mean for Singapore—in these cases, a heritage shophouse shutter, or a plate of Singapore's national dish, chicken rice.

2.) Alternate History: One of our designers, Yishan Lam, said she's always seen Chinese name chops (a seal that's often used in lieu of a signature in Asia) in the elements of the four red "IDEO" logo squares. She experimented with changing the "I" to the Chinese character for love, which is pronounced "eye." Another variation on the same theme included a representation of the food diversity in Singapore, with each character formed by a different cuisine, all found within the bounds of the island: Hong Kong toast, basmati rice, ramen and roti prata served as visual ingredients for the letters.

3.) Experimenting with the Physical: Three 3-D concepts emerged. Why physical? As Jens Wiemann put it, "In IDEO it's always about doing with your hands, fast prototyping, doing a lot of stuff instead of just talking about it and trying it out." Referencing Tokyo's "windows" he thought about the materials that might shape the logo, including rope, steel and tubing. Philip Man and Keith Oh's team tried out a series of 3D cubes that went from larger to smaller. These could represent stories, ideas or the journey of a project. They represented the divergent/convergent nature of design. Finally, Nancy Xu and her team hacked away at a childhood origami game that spans across cultures. The Germans, Dutch, Chinese, Singaporeans, British and Americans around the table had all played a version of it. The paper object opened up to reveal IDEO's values underneath the flaps.

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Pete Overy summed up the Global Make-A-Thon big picture for IDEO Singapore: "It's interesting to see how something that could look so classic could start to come to life through different kinds of media—across the digital space and in physical media. Just as Google can iterate on its logo for Van Gogh's birthday or for holidays, we're now able to make what represents us be more than four squares. We are able to bring the classic shape to life through these new expressions of who we are, what we do, and why we do it."

Check out Singapore's concepts on our Six Themes Tumblr site.

* * *

Brand New IDEO centers on a 24-hour global Make-a-Thon taking place on Monday, March 25th in IDEO's eleven offices around the world, starting in Tokyo and ending in San Francisco.

Brand New IDEO:
» Preview with Michael Hendrix and Paul Bennett in Conversation
» Opening Remarks by Michael Hendrix
» Tokyo: Robots, Cherry Blossoms & Bento Boxes
» Singapore: Origami & Experiments with 3D
» Mumbai: Minimum Viable Logo & Windows on the World
» Shanghai: Morning Exercise, Jump Rope and Calligraphy
» Munich: Personalize, Simply and Move
» London: The Grid Grows
» Boston: Crafting and Prototyping with Wood, Dye & Cornstarch
» New York: Exploring Music, Verbs and Cubes
» Chicago: Sketching Sine Waves to R&B
» San Francisco Bay: Build to Think, Dive Into Abstraction, and Embrace the Infinite Grid
» What We Learned and What's Next

Posted by IDEO  |  25 Mar 2013  |  Comments (0)

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7:35 a.m. - The IDEO Tokyo Team (Sungene Ryang, Davide Agnelli, Mike Peng, Kenichi Nonomura, Seisho Sumida, Evin Dempsey, Mai Yamada, Yoo Kyoung Noh) begins to slowly trickle into the office. Physically present, but mentally still waking up, the team is greeted with a selection of breads and a jug of coffee to stimulate the brain.

8:02 a.m. - The Global Make-a-Thon officially begins! The design teams are split into two groups of four, each balanced with members from different design disciplines and backgrounds. Mike begins the session with a short introduction of our collective challenge and reviews the six themes that the rest of IDEO has been thinking about.

8:10 a.m. - The brainstorming begins! Lots of chatter from all corners of the office. A big emerging theme seems to be about making the IDEO identity culturally relevant to the geographical location of the office. Lots of ideas around bringing in Japanese inspiration: Robots. Cherry blossoms. Seasons. Bento boxes. Zen. More ideas are drafted on Post-It notes. Sharpie sketches begin flying off desks and onto foam core boards.

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8:26 a.m. - Crossing over to digital: Computers begin to open. People are bringing up inspirational videos to share with the larger group. One around Windows of NYC. Another one around beautiful clock and weather apps. Others look back to the Tumblr site to see what else has been submitted. Big ideas begin to form and passion is heating up.

8:45 a.m. - With brainstorming time winding down, the team begins to gravitate across a few ideas. Should we keep these ideas apart? Or should we combine them? Which ideas feel scalable across different offices? Which ones are we just excited and passionate about? The infamous IDEO "voting dots" are passed around the table. Each person gets a couple of stickers and places them on the ideas they want to take forward.

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continued...

Posted by IDEO  |  24 Mar 2013  |  Comments (0)

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A couple of years ago, Core77's Dave Seliger dug up History of the IDEO logo, in a post by Scott Underwood, former IDEO jack-of-all-trades. Scott's post shows a clear evolution from version one to version two—and makes it clear that we were ahead of the curve with our identity in both 1991 and 1997. Look at our current logo. It was on the edge of complex expression via combinatorial geometry. This wasn't a popular corporate idea until the mid Aughts, when the redesigned AOL logo was released. Since then, there have been lots of great combinatorial logos, many of which are on our Tumblr. (Just a note on this, we weren't the first. The most famous expressive logo I can think of is MTV's first and that was several years before IDEO.)

Now we're exploring version three. Why? In part, because our current logo is a location-based system. It's not designed to adapt to new situations. For example, look at IDEO U and "design by IDEO" in Scott's post. Today, look at IDEO.org and OpenIDEO. Put those four logos next to our corporate logo, and you'll see some of the same DNA, but the differences are bigger than the similarities. They're primarily static signs or flags, like most logos. They indicate presence, but not intent.

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This is the big idea we're interested in: an evolution of our identity system that responds to new organizational needs and new experiences. How might we move from a system of rules to a system of behaviors? How might our identity system transform to communicate presence (like all logos and flags) as well as intent (e.g., are we in learning mode or authority mode? are we a service or a product? are we serious or fun?). I can't think of any identity system that does this yet, though maybe the new USA Today identity is trying.

I think this is going to be the direction most identity systems go in the future. Why? In part because new technologies make it possible. Monolithic solutions are a necessity of yesterday, because of the permanence and cost of communication. Now we're in an ephemeral and affordable age, and mass distribution at low cost is possible thanks to the digital revolution.

Now if all this is too academic, check out the Six Themes Tumblr for a visual expression of these ideas and more details about the process we've gone through so far.

There are interesting implications here for global identities and sub brands. This idea of designing behaviors makes sub brands feel like an old idea now. We are exploring what's next, not just for us, but for strategic identity design broadly.

Stay tuned to Core77.com/IDEO as we prepare to launch the Make-a-Thon from our Tokyo office later today!

* * *

Brand New IDEO centers on a 24-hour global Make-a-Thon taking place on Monday, March 25th in IDEO's eleven offices around the world, starting in Tokyo and ending in San Francisco.

Brand New IDEO:
» Preview with Michael Hendrix and Paul Bennett in Conversation
» Opening Remarks by Michael Hendrix
» Tokyo: Robots, Cherry Blossoms & Bento Boxes
» Singapore: Origami & Experiments with 3D
» Mumbai: Minimum Viable Logo & Windows on the World
» Shanghai: Morning Exercise, Jump Rope and Calligraphy
» Munich: Personalize, Simply and Move
» London: The Grid Grows
» Boston: Crafting and Prototyping with Wood, Dye & Cornstarch
» New York: Exploring Music, Verbs and Cubes
» Chicago: Sketching Sine Waves to R&B
» San Francisco Bay: Build to Think, Dive Into Abstraction, and Embrace the Infinite Grid
» What We Learned and What's Next