Wednesday, October 05, 2011

New identity for Imperial War Museums

Well, I don't get it. I appreciate that the IWM logo has to be versatile across the many sorts of media that the museums deal with but this doesn't do it for me. The idea that the logo needs to be strong to withstand use reversed out on stock photos, videos as well as regular corporate material lends itself to this BBC style design but I think it is left wanting. The proportions of the key stone element are unkind and the step up between the words is just silly. (Low voice) Imperial, (high voice) War,  (Low voice) Museums.

Like the idea of bringing the plural Museums into play to reflect the nationwide aspect and also the great vibrant colours used but overall feels quite unbalanced and Eye Double Ewe Em isn't that much less of a mouthful than Imperial War Museums…

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Secrets of the Superbrands: tonight BBC3

Interesting looking documentary on BBC3 tonight regarding 'Superbrands' and how cunning marketing can get us to buy their stuff . How do these companies market their products and tap into our basic needs.

"With the help of marketeers, brain scientists and exclusive access to the world of the superbrands Alex sets out to find out why we buy them, trust them, even idolise them."

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Beauty of Diagrams

BBC documentary spotlighting key diagrams through history. But this show about graphic representation isn't narrated by an artist or a designer, but the mathematician Marcus du Sautoy.

In this programme he looks at the visualisation of mathematical data, and in this case how something which may be seen as quite theoretical can give rise to an iconic diagram which fired the imagination of the public. It's not that the science behind the DNA was uninteresting but, as du Sautoy claims, the visualisation of the double helix has immediate appeal ("an attractive, marketable shape"). It was Crick's classically trained artist wife who translated the original diagram into the now famous diagram which first appeared in Nature magazine in 1953 and unwittingly led to a globally recognised and also commercialised diagram. In this process du Sautoy asks: does it enhance the understanding or, with its iconic status does it leave a vague idea of the 'essence' of life on us. Do we know what it really means? Or do we not even see past the structure...this DNA diagram illustrates 'life'. Is it overused? Is it over sold?

Programme was first shown on BBC Four, 8:30PM Thu, 16 Dec 2010.

It's also worth checking out du Sautoy's visually engaging (if annoyingly noisy) website too:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Corporate identity designs: portfolio

Peter Florjancic

Interesting article here describing some of the hits and misses of this prolific, if little known, inventor: "Peter Florjancic: Slovenian inventor extraordinaire"

But if you think the profession of inventor is an easy one of sitting in your shed waiting for ideas to pop into your head, think again. Florjancic says "The profession of inventor forced me to spend 25 years in hotels, four years in cars, three years on trains, a year and a half on airplanes and a year on board of ships"...

Friday, April 01, 2011


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Geeks R Us.....

The annual Maker Faire in Newcastle showcases whacky and new inventions.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gerd Arntz-inventor of the icon and the Audi A1 advert

Love the Audi A1 poster advert I've seen around. To me it's a cheeky reference to Gerd Arnts the 'inventor' of the icon. Check out Arntz's website which outlines his life. Note that he developed the ISOTYPE: the International System of Typographic Picture Education which laid the foundations of what we might now call the icon.

Signage at Duxford

With new printing technology comes the ability to make large format, graphics-rich signage and IWM Duxford's new system is a fine example of this.

Below is the welcome sign which greets you at the main entry near the gift shop. This gives an instant overview without being overwhelming, I find. They've used military colours without making it feel drab. Love the air force yellow you see as a highlight colour.

Check out the detail here on one of the triangular sectioned markers which are found dotted around: The screws have been painted so as not to jump out too much. At the top of the photo below you see a photo with 'camouflaged' screw head. Neat.

Next iteration: animated/video screen information points!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Corporate identity portfolio photographs

Alex Bibby did a great job photographing some of my key portfolio pieces illustrating some corporate identity design, scenario illustrations, literature design.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Animated presentation of Sir Ken Robinson by RSA Animate

RSA Animate produced this entertaining animated video based on Sir Ken Robinson's talk on 'Changing Education Paradigms'. (Thanks to Charlie D for pointing it out). This is a clever and entertaining animation which enhances some parts of the talk of Sir Ken's ideas on education in the 21st Century but I found it a little forced and unnecessary at times. Then again it's a LOT better than some presentations I've seen where the speaker insists on cramming too many superfluous words onto one slide so I'm not complaining....

More on RSA animate here:

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Finally! Decent sub-titles on television!

These lovely sub-titles were spotted on the fantastic BBC show, "Human Planet".

They are crisp white with a slight blurred shadow to help for projection on different backgrounds, built up by a swipe transition word by word AND faded gently to finish. All this enrobed in a simple but elegant font.

These beat the hell out of the normal label sticker type.

In fact, they are the John Hurt of the sub-title world. Of course.

Location:Cambridge,United Kingdom

A huge list of Style Guides and UI Guidelines » The UX Bookmark

A huge list of Style Guides and UI Guidelines » The UX Bookmark

Interesting to see companies' guidelines and there are plenty to choose from here.

See how they protect their logo...!

Thanks to for spotting this.

Friday, February 04, 2011

***Top 5 design objects of all time***

1.Supermarine Spitfire

The Supermarine Spitfire was designed in the thirties as a seaplane and retained some of this art deco style and elegance despite it turning into one of the msot effective killing machines in the second world war.

This paradox is intriguing to me and shows a complete mix of form and function. The stylish eliptical wings and bubble 'Malcolm' style canopy were introduced for functional reasons but boy, this plane looks sweet and, by all accounts, handled like a dream.

So much so that German pilots who were shot down by other Allied aircraft swore blind that it was a Spitfire that shot them down.

Spitfire snobbery, and rightly so.

2. Marcel Breuer's B32 Chair
Embracing modern production techniques without foregoing style, the B32 chair cleverly strips down the infrastructure of the chair to its most basic construction but looks great. In addition it is, unlike Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona chair, comfortable to sit in!

3. Cat's eyes (road safety reflective devices)
The cat's eyes follow you everywhere, never ceasing to cast their gaze over your travels. And it's a caring gaze as these cat's eyes, embedded into the roads all over the UK help driver's perceive the route ahead by clever use of reflective lenses. But that's not the only clever part: housed in rubber domes they are wiped clean whenever a car goes over them and pushes down the dome.

Ingenious, simple, low-cost and, in today's *environment*, very friendly.

4. Tube map (Harry Beck)
I appreciate that I'm stretching the bounds of 'object' here, but let's just say the tube map, as a poster, is not only essential for travelling in London it's also an inspired and (to me) beautiful piece of sculpted infographics. Up to the point Beck introduced his version in 1931 the map had been based on geographic lines but with the increasing complexity of the Underground system something had to be done. Beck's saw the solution as helping people get around more effectively.

Although the map has undergone many revisions since the thirties it still retains Beck's distinctive style and effectiveness.

5. Post-its!
Simple, effective and borne out of a search for a gap in the market for *slightly* sticky glue. This product shows how with good research and a red hot research department victory can be snatched from the jaws of adversity (initially it was a consumer flop). And what a victory!

Post-its! not only help us bookmark, send notes and make shopping lists they also help us brainstorm new products. The ideal product designer's choice.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Is Google taking over the world? Probably.

Neat advert for Google animation (technically a viral advertising campaign, "Google Demo Slam" was a competition run by google to encourage people to create youtube videos promoting Google applications.)

Is Google docs taking over your office?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Using the Golden Ratio to boost sales

As part of my research into the psychology of design I've borrowed a book from the library (actually lots of books, but the one I'm looking at currently is) 'Guerilla Marketing Revolution', Levinson, J.C., Hanley, P. R. J., 2006.

One part of their book examines the Golden Ratio (1:1.618) which has been used throughout art and design history to render artworks more pleasing on the eye. Levinson and Hanley take this step even further by stating that design which is based on the golden ratio is so pleasing on the eye that "materials which used the golden ratio performed five or six times better than those that did not" (p.80).

Furthermore they find that it improves readability and data retention but they state that the horizontal ratio has the only benefit in sales and marketing literature while vertical lines can be used in website design.

I also always use a Golden Ratio grid on business card layouts.

Friday, January 14, 2011

How graphic design affects the buying decision

I've been thinking a lot about this recently and yesterday's meeting and vibrant discussion with a colleague only fuelled this debate further for me. It's easy to see how the buying decision can be swayed by graphic design on a superficial level: only yesterday in the supermarket one of my children stopped in front of the washing detergent aisle and mentioned that one particular brand looked great, "This one's the best!". I asked why to which I was told that it was prettier with nicer illustrations on it. So it works on a basic level: shape of packaging, design of on package graphics. Maybe this can be further pushed to is the packaging innovative and will it enhance my experience of using the product. Mostly, though, I find similar products perform a similar function. Supermarket own brand might not smell as nice as other brands, or may not clean 'as deeply' but essentially it cleans clothes. I'm not saying that product characteristics don't count for anything in the buying process, rather that the initial on shelf experience of the average shopper is dictated by graphic design. (I'm discounting for the moment brand experience built by other channels before this buy-decision).

This is where I'm putting effort into thinking at the moment. Our eyes see the packaging and our brains decode the information and produce a buy/don't buy decision. Why? What occupies this space between design and decision? Gladwell (Blink, Gladwell, M. 2005 ) talks about a consulting firm which helped make a brand of spirits number one seller based on tweaking the packaging shape alone. He also states that not only the shape and colour of the packaging made customers prefer one product over the other but very subtle variances in the design of the label. And the thing is, the product didn't change! It was just the same as before when it was in second place in the sales chart but now the customer perceives it to be better.

So I'm setting off on a deep journey into the world of Design Theory and its affect on the buying decision. Where will it lead me? Through typography, sociology, psychology no doubt, even maybe early human history. Feel free to join the journey with me...

Next stop: Think!: Why Crucial Decisions Can’t Be Made in the Blink of an Eye (Simon and Schuster, 2006)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Starbucks-the evolution of brand

Starbucks is evolving its brand and has come up with a new logo. This reflects the businesses ongoing efforts to branch out into other sectors and its desire to be not chained to the idea of coffee alone.

Is this a perfectly reasonable evolution or is it crazy to think of Starbucks selling anything other than coffee products? Well this is why they are tweaking the logo to prepare customers and open the brand up. Check out the BBC article here.

A previous incarnation of the Starbucks logo brought flack from different quarters in the past...: