If a client wants six drawings, how do you get away with delivering just three? In this clever bit of illustrations done as advertisements for Jeep, the French outpost of ad agency Leo Burnett has produced what appear to be simple animal mugshots:
However, flip each one over and presto, new animal:
Well at least we had a good run, thanks mostly to one Tim Meme Howard; now it's just a question of whether it's unpatriotic to watch the Germany-France and/or Brazil-Colombia matches go down tomorrow or politely abstain in observance of Independence Day. Either way, here's yet another trip through World Cup history (we previously took a look at ticket designs from 1930 to present day). Here's a roundup of noteworthy designs from 80 years of World Cup posters—read on to find out how fascism made its way into one design and when choosing the final poster became a matter of public opinion.
As Il Duce of the host country in 1934, Mussolini took the international spotlight as a way to promote fascism through tournament-themed propaganda. Can you spot the subtle fascist symoblism in the poster? Hint: fasces are represented by a bundle of sticks that comprise the handle of an axe. An abstracted variation appears on the player's jersey, next to the flag—it looks something like a gold tetris block—while a watermarked seal is hidden behind the "Italia, A. XII" text at bottom left.
The authoritative symbol is meant to represent the power and jurisdiction of the magistrate, but it actually turns up far beyond the borders of Italy and fascism: The fasces historically appear in heraldry, including various government seals and symbols of our very own federal government. You can find the fasces inside the White House's Oval Office, on either sides of the American flag behind the podium of the United States House of Representatives, on the Lincoln Memorial, on the base of the Statue of Freedom on the United State's capitol building—the list goes on.
The game ball is main attraction in the 1938 and 1950 posters, for tournaments in Paris and Brazil, respectively (the two intervening tournaments were canceled on account of the war). The 1938 poster features the last lace-sewn game ball—prior to Wilson's star turn opposite Tom Hanks in Castaway, "Allen" was named after the ball's French manufacturers—which was made up of 13 leather panels instead of the usual 12. Like the ball depicted in the poster design, the ball's namesake wasn't printed on the one that was actually kicked around. The actual Allen ball made an appearance at the beginning of matches for pre-game photo ops, but was switched out for an unadorned version for actual game play. According to one account, this was one of the first examples of brand creep in the World Cup—though they didn't achieve the exposure afforded by inclusion in the poster design.
In terms of ball design, lace sewn game balls were nixed in 1950 in favor of a design that allowed the ball to be more easily inflated using a pump. Until the pump was introduced, few people knew how to properly inflate the game balls—it was a delicate task and it was very easy to end up with a lopsided ball. The 1970 cup in Mexico saw the introduction of the iconic black-and-white Telstar; the New York Times has an excellent interactive feature on World Cup balls, if you're curious.
Erik Spiekermann is a living legend when it comes to typography—in Gary Hustwit's Helvetica, he memorably acknowledged that typefaces were "his friends"—who is among the last generation of graphic designers who got their started out in the pre-CS days with the time-honored tradition of typesetting by hand. On the occasion of the forthcoming publication of a new book, Hello, I Am Erik, Gestalten is pleased to present Spiekermann's ode to the letterpress in a new short film.
There are two differences between what we do here and what we've done on screen; I'll start with the physical. Everything you touch and put in the machine, afterwards you have to clean it up and put it back again, put it on the shelf or the rack... You have to touch everything—you have to think about it, you have to plan a little more, and whatever you do is fairly permanent.
...your material influences you... that's the philosophical divergence. You can't just have any idea—you basically have a rough idea and then you start working,
and then the material shapes your idea.
...I look at my drawer and I know what I have... whereas on my computer, I have Photoshop; I can do images that didn't exist before...
As a slight upgrade from the time-honored coin flip, Magic 8-Balls are great for tossing your decision-making to the wind with a few shakes of the proverbial 'crystal' ball. After all, the gnomic globe is the modern-day incarnation of the Oracle at Delphi, who never failed the Ancient Greeks, right? But seeing as it's merely a quirky plaything, advice-seeking designers might prefer a more understated source of cryptic clichés. Thankfully, the folks at Charleston, SC-based agency Fuzzco have come up with an alternative, at least for the indecisive graphic designers among us: Meet your new favorite DnD-inspired doodad, the Pocket Art Director.
Regardless of how micro- or macro- your manager may be, we can all relate to those instances in which we'd prefer to avoid having to actually interact (shudder) with a flighty and/or imperious taskmaster. The Pocket Art Director offers much-needed guidance with the flick of a wrist—the 20-sided Platonic solid offers an uncannily close approximation of a bona fide AD (or client), a quasi-literal crapshoot for a few words of predictably banal feedback on your design direction.
We all have our favorite memories of summer, but we're more inclined to forget the rather less pleasant thought of mosquito bites that might come with those adventures. I fondly recall summer a camp deep in the woods of Wisconsin, from which I would return home with arms full of craft projects... and legs that were completely destroyed from compulsively scratching bug bites. In fact, the winged blood-suckers may well be the most universally despised creatures on earth—some ecologists believe we do away with them with no ecological consequences—so anyone can appreciate this innovation from Sri Lanka's Mawbima newspaper and ad agency Leo Burnett. But for many across the world, appreciation is an understatement, since a mosquito bite can mean much more than a temporary inconvenience on an otherwise healthy body.
For the 2014 World Health Day, the publication printed the world's first mosquito-repelling newspaper, adding citronella scent to the newspaper's ink. It's a far more elegant way to deliver insect repellent than the chemical-laden sprays we're used to... and it keeps citizens informed about current events to boot.
The alphabetic branding behind the mosquito-repelling project
The scented newspaper ink is indicated by an intriguing graphic identity—even for those of us outside of its impact zone—featuring mosquitoes being smashed behind each character of the local Sinhalese script. The newspaper shared the illustrated vernacular over National Dengue Week and on Facebook previous to the citronella newspaper run. Check out this video from Leo Burnett on the entire project:
Today's World Cup ticket design (left) versus the design from 1930 (right)
You don't have to go very far to find evidence that the World Cup is making headlines at just about every media outlet out there, ourselvesincluded. It's easy to find yourself caught up with footie fever, packed into a tiny bar with fifty other screaming fans pushing you away from the bar (and television). While 100 Chileans recently demonstrated otherwise, tickets are coveted enough to make for a keepsake or even a prized possession, should your team prevail. Here's a look at the ever-evolving ticket designs from 1930, when FIFA started distributing them, to present day.
The ticket from the inaugural World Cup games in Uruguay may look pretty basic, but used ones go for close to $1,700 on collector sites nowadays. The outbreak of World War II meant a 12-year hiatus, which returned to Brazil in 1950 with a new design feature: the stub.
1954's World Cup ticket
The stub was overall shortlived, it seems. In 1954—the first year the Cup was televised, by the way—tickets came in different shapes/sizes depending on which round it was, incorporating the stub only in tickets for the final.
News of Massimo Vignelli's passing yesterday morning marked a somber start to this week as the design community mourns the loss of one of a modernist maestro. It is impossible to understate his influence on contemporary graphic design, and his legacy will live on not only in his extensive body of work but also in documentaries such as Helvetica and Design Is One—and, of course, the Vignellis' career archive, which Massimo and his wife/partner Lella generously donated to the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Josh Owen, Professor and Chair of Industrial Design, RIT, shares a few fond memories of Massimo.
I was attracted to join the faculty at RIT in large part due to the emergent Vignelli Center for Design Studies. I knew it would be a great opportunity to learn from Massimo Vignelli's exemplary design process and to utilize the process-based teaching tools that he generously donated to RIT. What I did not expect to find was the warm embrace of a charismatic visionary who became a mentor as well as a friend. I recently met with Massimo in his home and talked with him about life and philosophy. He talked about his notion of "Design is One," the idea that design can cross all categories of human endeavor in an attempt to make sense of the complexities of life.
Massimo also told me how happy he was that we are delivering this message through our work at RIT. While this is no easy task, it is one that I take on with most sincere intention, together with my esteemed colleagues.
From an e-mail dated 5/16/2012 from Massimo:
I am so happy to see the dream of the archive's purpose finally coming to fruition... This is the most important issue of my life: to leave something that can inspire some other designer to do even better, to expand the language.
Everyone loves a good cutaway illustration (and we've got no shortage on Core77 (just take a look at our entire series on cutaway masters). We've brought you the illustrative inner-workings of boats, Star Wars machinery, planes, tanks, cars and even castles—and now, nuclear reactors. Even the most simple of apparatuses become twisting diagrams of workflow when broken down and forced into 3D detail on a 2D plane. (Although, I don't think anyone would necessarily call a nuclear power plant a simple set-up to begin with.) Thanks to The University of New Mexico, we can view an extensive archive of nuclear reactor cutaways—all of which made an appearance as inserts in Nuclear Engineering International magazine at some point from the 1950s to the 1990s.
"Grand Gulf," published in September 1980
"Guangdong Nuclear Power Plant," published in September 1987
With so much detail, it's no surprise that some of the more minuscule components became hard to comprehend over time. Luckily, Engineer Ron Knief noticed this and started on a quest to digitize all 105 diagrams published by the magazine.
Design inspiration comes from a variety of sources. As a teenager, Kostas Kaparos experimented with graffiti. At the time, he had no idea that it was just the first step on his journey to becoming a successful graphic artist.
Today, Kostas works as an art director, designer, and illustrator at mousegraphics, an Athens-based studio. With a focus on packaging design, Kostas, begins many projects by developing a story and exploring the audience's emotional connection to the brand. He then turns to illustration to shape the story. The fluidity and flexibility of the illustration process allows him to test and sample completely new ideas without boundaries, which can help to create an entirely new brand experience.
Creative briefs, whether direct or wide open, are the launching point for his ideas, which he expresses through sketches. In many ways, he approaches illustration in much the same way a sculptor approaches his work. After putting his rough ideas on paper, Kostas manipulates and refines each element, continually reworking ideas until his vision is realized. It's not uncommon for final designs to appear vastly different from the original, rough concepts.
Adobe Illustrator is a central part of Kostas' creative process, and he loves the endless experimentation he can undertake with the software. He may do an entire illustration just with the Pen tool and his Bamboo tablet, or combine a range of tools and techniques as he translates ideas from his imagination to the screen.
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.
Catalog cover for Cuno Engineering Corporation, 1946; Build the Town building block set, c.1942
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.
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.
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.
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."
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:
I 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...
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 rigueurdata 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.
The latest designer to throw his hat into this (suffe)ring is Peter Smart, who famously tried to solve 50 Problems in 50 Days using design. That project necessitated a lot of travel, meaning Smart dealt with a lot of boarding passes, and eventually stretched his design muscles during a long layover.
Smart had at least one brilliant, simple insight: A boarding pass contains multiple bite-sized chunks of information, and you don't need them all at once. But you do need them in a particular order—figuring out which gate you need to head to is an earlier priority than locating your seat on the plane. And by turning the boarding pass sideways, Smart instantly reduces the visual clutter to a series of easy-to-read lines, like the way a movie script reduces the width of dialogue blocks to make it easier on the eyes.
You can read Smart's full analysis of existing boarding passes and explanation of his redesign here. (Unsurprisingly, the web page is presented in an extraordinarily clear, well-designed manner.)
...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.
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).
Among the many criticisms leveled against New York City's new bikeshare program, I'm particularly perplexed by the notion that the stations are a blight upon Gotham's otherwise pristine streetscapes—at worst, they're conspicuously overbranded, but, as many proponents have pointed out, they're no worse than any other curbside eyesore. Although the city is making a conscious effort to reduce the visual overstimuli at street level, it's only a matter of time before static signage simply won't suffice.
While Maspeth Sign Shop continues to crank out aluminum signs, BREAKFAST proposes an entirely novel concept for interactive, real-time wayfinding fixtures. "Points" is billed as "the most advanced and intelligent directional sign on Earth," featuring three directional signs with LEDs to dynamically display relevant information. However, "it's when the arms begin to rotate around towards new directions and the text begins to update that you realize you're looking at something much more cutting-edge. You're looking at the future of how people find where they're headed next."
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.
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.
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.
"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."
Bertrand excitedly noted that "Biomimicry is a growing domain."
I don't know much about the enigmatic fellow behind Death Spray Custom besides the fact that his given name is David Gwyther and he's based in London, and his morbid moniker is simply "an identity that is used to front my adventures in surface design. It is intended to be a playful riposte to an often serious world of art, design etc." Per the same interview with CycleEXIF last year, he's "mostly self taught," and contrary to McLuhan, he believes that "the medium isn't the message, the painting part is a small fraction of the process. I'd like to add I'm not a bicycle painter by any means, just an artist who likes two wheels."
I'd known about his custom paint work for bicycles for some time, but true to his word, he comes up with wicked paint schemes for a variety of mostly speed-related objects—auto, helmets, tools, etc.—and executes them to dazzling effect. His portfolio is well worth a visit, from the Tool Box (featuring a slogan that is unprintable here) to a NASCAR-worthy Chevy Silverado and all variety of helmets and bicycle-related objets d'art.
An architect and environmental designer by training, it should come that Jerome Daksiewicz's visual sensibility tends towards cleanly presented schematics. Under the moniker Nomo Design, the Chicago-based jack-of-all-trades offers everything from interiors to advertising to photography; he also had a hand in a noteworthy bicycle light project last year. (Regarding Sparse, he notes that the team is "making a few final revisions to the lights but we should be cutting tools in the next week or so (just slightly behind our original schedule).")
His latest Kickstarter venture is rather less ambitious than a new product launch... which, as Daksiewicz notes, means it will ship in time for Father's Day. Disappointed with the quality of extant golf-related artwork, he's designed a series of Golf Course serigraphs (a fancy word for screenprints) for the discerning fan.
I want to create a series of prints to celebrate the world's top golf courses but in a simple way that still captures the unique character of each course and is at home in any interior. I'm starting with the hosts of the 2013 Major Championships, Golf Magazine's #1 Course in the World - Pine Valley and one of the top US public-access courses in Pebble Beach.
I can't even come close to pretending I know enough about golf to offer any insight into the accuracy or appeal of the prints, but the imagery strikes me as conceptually compelling as abstracted topography.
Americans can be a little hard on Canada. A rebranding for the benefit of the United States seems a little extreme, but it does seem difficult for the average American to discuss much about Canada beyond hockey, moose and maple syrup. To help Americans, Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen recently asked Bruce Mau Design to give the USA a short lesson on Canadian culture as part of their series "Redesigns." While recent controversy surrounding the redesign of the $20 dollar bill doesn't bode well for Canadian graphic design, this concept does away with the maple leaf completely. You have to admit, if we owe the walkie-talkie, peanut butter and 20% of the worlds freshwater to Canada, maybe they do deserve a little more respect.
"In our redesign, we begin with an assertion that Americans simply don't understand Canada. Our view is that Canada doesn't need a redesign; rather, Americans need to be educated." -Bruce Mau Design
In 1977, Chevy ditched the "sunburst" design for their Corvette logo and went with (above) this clean, graphically-stylized update on the original crossed flags. The fleur-de-lis from Louis Chevrolet's family crest is still up front on the red flag, with the Chevy "bowtie" partially obscured behind it.
1978 was the Corvette's 25th Anniversary, and cars released that year got this fancy badge:
Corvette's from '79, however, reverted to the design of the '77.
In 1980 a new decade arrived, bringing with it more angular designs. The '80 Corvette saw a weird kickback to the 1963 design by arranging the flagpoles in such a way that they formed a "V." Conspiracy theorists will see a Firebird or Thunderbird logo in their mind's eye, but I don't think those cars were truly competitive fears, as the former wasn't in the same price range and the latter wasn't in the same performance category. In any case, the logo persisted through '81.
Buyers of the 1982 "Collector Edition" Corvette had this special badge with the throwback circle from the '63 or '73 ot '76. It's also unusual in that the fleur-de-lis is dispensed with altogether, and for the first time in years we see an unobstructed bowtie.
For 1983 to '84, the fleur-de-lis again takes a hike, and the bowtie reigns supreme. The graphic treatment of the waving flag is dispensed with and the flags switch sides; I have no idea why, but it screams "focus group." The circle also makes a comeback.
When Chevrolet was preparing their new Corvette sports car in the early '50s, the task of designing the logo fell to Chevy interior designer Robert Bartholomew. Bartholomew's design (above) featured two crossed flags: One, the checkered flag that symbolized race victory, the other, the American Stars 'n Stripes.
However, using the American flag to promote commercial products was illegal at the time, and Chevy execs reportedly decided at the last minute to nix that part of the design. (It's not clear why they waited until four days before the car's unveiling, but you can practically picture Bartholomew sitting at his drafting table going goddammit.) Bartholomew's last-minute replacement was a flag sporting both the Chevrolet logo and a fleur-de-lis, a French symbol that was reportedly part of Louis Chevrolet's family crest. (See our post on heraldry here.)
New badges were whipped up based on Bartholomew's drawings, and the Corvette debuted in 1953 at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel.
Sadly, after that story, all mention of specific designers associated with subsequent logos are nil. What we do know is that Bartholomew's design stuck around until 1957, then underwent multiple tweaks and changes throughout the years. Amassing a photo list has proved trickier than expected, as there were multiple emblems for the hood, tail and fenders, but we've tried to put together a visual chronology focused on the nose badges.
In 1956 and '57, a Chevrolet chevron was added to the design:
In 1958 we see a typographic update that persists until 1961:
The last significant change to U.S. currency I can remember is, we added purple to the fives (in homage to Prince, I believe). Canada's gone way further to foil counterfeiters, rolling out polymer bills a little over a year ago. Now that they've had time to circulate, this month Canadian TV personality Rick Mercer expressed his displeasure at the ergonomics of the plastic bills in this video, stating they won't fold properly and have a tendency to stick together.
In addition to this possible materials science gaffe, there may be a graphic design fail to boot: Botanist Sean Blaney, of the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Center, reports that "The maple leaf (on the currency) is the wrong species." Canada is known for the Sugar Maple, which has leaves that look like this:
Norway also has an indigenous maple tree (which has been exported to Canada) and its leaves look like this:
What's the diff? Not just botanists, but any designer, we feel, ought to note the difference. The leaves of the Norway maple have more lobes; in layman's terms, they're pointier. This is pretty obvious when looking at the Canadian flag whose leaf, albeit stylized, is clearly a Sugar Maple:
A Bank of Canada spokesperson has denied the allegations, and given a cloudy explanation that the leaf is meant to be an amalgamation of maple leaves, which doesn't make much sense given Canada's flag. "I think it's just an after-the-fact excuse," says Blaney. "...The maple that they've drawn is quite clearly a Norway maple." Looking at the leaf above the "20" in the topmost photo, we have to agree.
At risk of overexposing conceptual bicycle components today, this reader submission was too good not to post. Taylor Simpson is one short semester away from completing his baccalaureate in communication design at Brooklyn's own Pratt Institute, and he recently sent in a branding/packaging project that he completed last year. A riff on bullhorns, MONIKER is a concept for a set of "handcrafted bicycle handlebars made of genuine deer antler and recycled metal."
I originally came up with the concept of Moniker Cycle Horns while participating in the World's Longest Yard Sale on Route 127 in 2010, an event I look forward to every year. While traveling the sale, I found a pair of genuine deer antlers a local man was selling somewhere in Kentucky. As a cyclist I thought it would be clever to create bicycle handlebars made of animal horns and antlers.
Thus, the bars consist of a set of antlers from a six-point buck, bonded to what I assume is a short length of pipe to form the clamp area and painted in a black satin finish. (For better or for worse, the second edition of Bikesnob's cockpit contest has come and gone; there was actually an antler category the first time around.)
The 6,300 signs that DOT will replace in Midtown and Lower Manhattan include 3,300 commercial parking signs and 3,000 other signs for nighttime and weekend parking for the general public, hotel and taxi stands, street cleaning and no standing areas. The new signs reduce the number of characters needed to explain the rules from 250 to about 140, making the sign appear less visually cluttered while reducing five-foot-high signs by about a foot. The new design also places the day of the regulation before the hours of the regulation, eliminating abbreviations and retaining all necessary parking information while making it easier to read.
Once again, JSK—Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, for the uninitiated—turned to Pentagram for their graphic design prowess as the DOT hopes to build on the success of their previous collaboration with the design firm, the previously-seen "LOOK" campaign... or, as Pentagram Principal Michael Bierut speculates, perhaps they were just chagrined by this Louie C.K. non sequitur:
I'm kidding, of course—longtime New Yorkers are well aware that it can take years for initiatives to work their way through the bureaucratic labyrinth of lobbyists and legislators. It so happens that this particular proposal dates back to 2011, when City Council Member Daniel J. Garodnick asserted his commitment to "syntactic clarity" in the public sphere; of the new signs, he dryly notes that "You shouldn't need a Ph.D in parking signage to understand where you are allowed to leave your car in New York."