Archive for the 'design' Category

Frank Chimero: Horizontalism and Readability

Illustrator/Designer Frank Chimero chal­lenges the “ver­ti­cal scroll”:

We take scrolling for grant­ed today. It’s like run­ning water or Friends reruns: they’ve always been there and they always will be there. And we like them well enough. But, it is an inter­est­ing men­tal exer­cise to actu­al­ly con­sid­er scrolling as part of a con­tin­u­um of solu­tions in solv­ing the same problem.

This dove­tails nice­ly with Rex’s think­ing in his Medi­aite design. But the real game chang­er is the arrival of the iPad. As we move away from the mouse point­er and scroll wheel, design­ers should revis­it old assump­tions, and embrace the horizontal. 

Life Below ‘The Fold’

Irish design­er Pad­dy Don­nel­ly, in a nice­ly-designed arti­cle, attempts to sub­vert the accept­ed wis­dom of the page fold:

The fold is one of those guide­lines that has been thrown about so much that it’s now become a ‘rule’ of web design (or maybe more appro­pri­ate­ly a ‘ball and chain’ of web design) with web design­ers blind­ly obey­ing with­out question…

If every­thing of excep­tion­al qual­i­ty is pushed upon the read­er at the begin­ning, once they start explor­ing and the rest of the site isn’t of the same cal­i­bre, they’re going to be let down.

I agree—scroll below the fold on most large-scale web sites, and the qual­i­ty dimin­ish­es as you move down the page. I don’t know if that’s because too much atten­tion is paid to ‘the fold’ myth, or because most web sites have a ver­ti­cal up-and-down ‘rail’ struc­ture… or, if we’re just bad designers.

Peo­ple scroll. Peo­ple read left-to-right. We should design for these rules.

Actual Objects

Actu­al Objects pro­vides ele­gant roy­al­ty-free (and rea­son­ably priced) design and illus­tra­tion assets by Matt Owens and the Ath­let­ics crew, here in Brooklyn.

Royalty-Free Illustration from actualobjects.com

Screen shot on Flickr

My tal­ent­ed col­league Jason Bish­op worked togeth­er with Matt on the eco­nom­ic bailout col­lec­tion, seen above, and two oth­er sets. The two have pre­vi­ous­ly col­lab­o­rat­ed for some of the great info­graph­ics in GOOD Mag­a­zine.

New Capndesign.com

I love Matt Jacob’s just launched redesign. Bright and fresh, with cool jquery charts, archives that mashup pho­tos and posts, and some Type­kit.

New Capndesign.com

Screen shot

Con­grats, Matt! If only things didn’t look so stale around here.

The Bold Italic

Jason Kot­tke just linked to an inter­est­ing design tid­bit – the launch of a web mag­a­zine in San Fran­cis­co called The Bold Ital­ic. (No, not that bold ital­ic…)

We’ve seen some small-scale exam­ples of art direc­tion on the web, but this seems to me to be some­thing in the ‘medium’-scale range – I real­ly love this stuff, hope­ful­ly they can keep it fresh. 

Also, I can’t wait for the day when ad bud­gets and tools are at the point where design­ers can art direct on the arti­cle-lev­el, as opposed to just design­ing tem­plates and frame­works. Maybe this gets us an inch clos­er to that goal. 

Fringe Politics Meet Art History

Steven Heller on anoth­er Glenn beck gem:

In a recent broad­cast, the res­i­dent pro­pa­gan­dist at Fox News takes Rock­e­feller Cen­ter’s vin­tage pub­lic art and archi­tec­ture to task for pro­mot­ing Com­mu­nism and Fas­cism through murals, friezes, and engrav­ings bear­ing sym­bols that sub­lim­i­nal­ly project vile values.

Pol­i­tics aside, just watch­ing the video, what is Beck’s point? That oil mon­ey funds com­mu­nist rev­o­lu­tion? That he is as good a pro­pa­gan­dist as the communists? 

The mind reels at his delusions.

Buttermilk’ Font, From Jessica Hische

‘Buttermilk’ Font, From Jessica Hische
Buttermilk’, from Jessica Hische.

Illustrator/Designer Jes­si­ca His­che released her first type­face today, and it looks gor­geous. But­ter­milk is a “bold script that would be just per­fect for mag­a­zine head­lines, book title type, hol­i­day cards, ini­tial caps, you name it.” 

The numer­als are espe­cial­ly beau­ti­ful, and she promis­es a “huge array of lig­a­tures to help you set it beau­ti­ful­ly and easily.” 

I worked with Jes­si­ca last fall on a nice retro logo for the Pogue-o-mat­ic. Be sure to check out Jessica’s work, (I’m par­tic­u­lar­ly fond of her let­ter­press stuff.)

Ghost in the Machine: The Clash

Ghost in the Machine: The Clash

London Calling, cassette tape on canvas, 2009 — By Erika Iris Simmons

Two things that I real­ly love about this illus­tra­tion by Eri­ka Iris Sim­mons:

  1. It’s the icon­ic image from the cov­er of The Clash’s mas­ter­piece Lon­don Call­ing.
  2. It’s ren­dered with casette tape!

View it at the largest size to see the detail.

Introducing Typekit

Jeff Veen announced Type­kit today, a host­ed solu­tion for embed­ding fonts on the web:

We’ve been work­ing with foundries to devel­op a con­sis­tent web-only font link­ing license. We’ve built a tech­nol­o­gy plat­form that lets us to host both free and com­mer­cial fonts in a way that is incred­i­bly fast, smoothes out dif­fer­ences in how browsers han­dle type, and offers the lev­el of pro­tec­tion that type design­ers need with­out resort­ing to annoy­ing and inef­fec­tive DRM.

Soon enough, @font-face CSS at-rule sup­port will come to all major browsers, so use of non-tra­di­tion­al web fonts will increase. If this catch­es on, the web in 2010 might look a lot dif­fer­ent than it does now—I won­der who will be the first major online con­tent provider to use it?

Al Shaw on Redesigning the Front Page of Talking Points Memo

On Redesign­ing the Front Page of Talk­ing Points Memo »
Al Shaw talks about some of the design con­sid­er­a­tions and tech­ni­cal wiz­ardry that went into the face lift of the Lib­er­al-lean­ing pol­i­tics blog. Be sure to watch the video demo of the ajaxy front page CMS editor.

A New MoMA.org

Ned­ward is dig­ging into the new MoMA.org… so far, very intrigu­ing. Fixed nav bars are the new hottness.

I just sent the tweet above a few min­utes ago, but want­ed to post some more con­text about it here. MoMA launched a revamped web site today, with a lot of hook-ins to social net­work­ing sites like Flickr, Twit­ter, YouTube, Face­book, etc. But, one of the more com­pelling changes is the addi­tion of a Face­book-style fixed nav bar, at the bottom:

new MoMA.org

The new MoMA.org, with its fixed navigation bar.

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘A New MoMA.org’

President Obama Unveils New Stimulus Logos

The stim­u­lus pack­age is now law, so there are going to be a lot of pub­lic works projects in need of a logo, right?

Yes­ter­day, the pres­i­dent unveiled 2 such logos – designed by Mode, Aaron Draplin and Chris Glass. The logos will be stamped on pub­lic works fund­ed by the eco­nom­ic stim­u­lus pack­age, FDR style. Pres­i­dent Oba­ma said that its intent was to remind Amer­i­cans that:

When you see them on projects that your tax dol­lars made pos­si­ble, let it be a reminder that our gov­ern­ment – your gov­ern­ment – is doing its part to put the econ­o­my back on the road of recovery.

One won­ders if the Oba­ma team is going to rebrand the entire Fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, one agency at a time.

Michael Bierut on the Move from the ‘Drawing Board to the Desktop’

From Michael Bierut’s piece in the Times this week­end, Draw­ing Board to the Desk­top: A Designer’s Path:

All of us assumed that these machines [com­put­ers] were just fan­cy hybrids of type­writ­ers and cal­cu­la­tors. We did all the art­work with rub­ber cement, col­ored paper and paint. We had no idea, but we were look­ing at the begin­ning of the end, and the end came quickly.

Michael is a part­ner at Pen­ta­gram, and blogs reg­u­lar­ly at Design Observ­er.

Obamicon.Me

Make your own Obam­i­con:

Your image in a style inspired by Shep­ard Fairey’s icon­ic poster. Regard­less of your can­di­date of choice in the 2008 elec­tion, here’s your chance to sound-off.

From the folks at Paste, via Sean.

Design Loves a Depression

Vermelha Chair

This past week­end, The New York Times Week in Review argues in a sto­ry head­lined Design Loves a Depres­sion that the recent eco­nom­ic slow­down will force design­ers to eschew nov­el­ty and the imprac­ti­cal, and focus more on the “intel­li­gent rework­ing of cur­rent conditions”:

Design tends to thrive in hard times. In the scarci­ty of the 1940s, Charles and Ray Eames pro­duced fur­ni­ture and oth­er prod­ucts of endur­ing appeal from cheap mate­ri­als like plas­tic, resin and ply­wood, and Ital­ian design flow­ered in the after­math of World War II.

Will today’s design­ers rise to the occa­sion? “What design­ers do real­ly well is work with­in con­straints, work with what they have,” said Pao­la Antonel­li, senior cura­tor of archi­tec­ture and design at the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art. “This might be the time when design­ers can real­ly do their job, and do it in a human­is­tic spirit.” 

Relat­ed: Design­ing Through the Reces­sion, by design­er Michael Bierut

UPDATE: Mur­ray Moss takes the WIR to task in a piece today on Design Observ­er:

Design loves a depres­sion? I can assure you that design, along with paint­ing, sculp­ture, pho­tog­ra­phy, music, dance, fash­ion, the culi­nary arts, archi­tec­ture, and the­atre, loves a depres­sion no more than it loves a war, a flood, or a plague. Michael Can­nel­l’s arti­cle is regres­sive and mean-spir­it­ed, and it demands a response. 

…quite a pro­vok­ing discussion.

Image courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

New Year’s Eve in the Berkshires

Reverse

Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Things have been qui­et around here over the hol­i­days. I turned 31 years old on Decem­ber 22, and then Lisa and I spent some time in Buf­fa­lo with our folks, where I got to see my newest baby cousin Aline.

North Adams
The MASS MoCA campus was once the Sampson Shoe Company.
Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective »
Anselm Kiefer: Sculpture and Paintings »

Then, after a few days back in Brook­lyn, we head­ed up to the Berk­shires for New Year’s Eve in North Adams – it’s not the most excit­ing town to ring in the new year, but we vis­it­ed MASS MoCA, stayed in a won­der­ful hotel called The Porch­es, and had the best meal North Adams has to offer at the Gramer­cy Bistro.

I didn’t do a lot of reflect­ing and res­o­lu­tion-mak­ing, but I am thank­ful for my fam­i­ly and friends, and for how great 2008 was for Lisa and I. Lisa is fond of say­ing that each year has been bet­ter than the last, which is more than one can hope for in this world.

More pho­tos below the jump.

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘New Year’s Eve in the Berkshires’

A New Pair of Sox for the Red Sox

New Red Sox Identities

This design link is near and dear to my heart – The Boston Red Sox recent­ly updat­ed their team iden­ti­ty and uni­forms. Over­all, I think it’s a pos­i­tive evo­lu­tion, though seems a bit nos­tol­gic. I love the gray pri­ma­ry road jer­seys.

Armin Vit most­ly likes what he sees:

Replac­ing the old seal as the team’s offi­cial logo is the lone pair of red, hang­ing sox. Unless I’m wrong, there is no typog­ra­phy asso­ci­at­ed with it. None. No “Boston.” No “Red Sox.” If that’s the case, this is one of the best cas­es of visu­al iden­ti­ty and brand equi­ty becom­ing so strong the icon does­n’t need expla­na­tion. They are sox. They are red. They can not be any­thing oth­er than the Boston Red Sox.

Illustration courtesy of Boston.com

Bruce McCall on Letterman

I TiVo most of the late-night talk shows each night, in the hopes that some band or author that I love is fea­tured – some­how, that’s eas­i­er than pre­emp­tive­ly scan­ning TV Guide. But, I was gen­uine­ly sur­prised and thrilled to see the illus­tra­tor and writer Bruce McCall as a guest on David Letterman’s show, the oth­er night.

I’m far too young to know his work from the Nation­al Lam­poon, but McCall’s New York­er cov­ers are ingrained in my memory:

Bruce McCall New Yorker Covers

Some of Bruce McCall’s New Yorker covers, from 1995–2008.

Letterman’s show might not have the cul­tur­al rel­e­vance that it once did, but you get the sense by watch­ing the seg­ment that he’d rather be sit­ting there talk­ing to McCall, than Mary-Kate or that chick from Twi­light. It’s just one of the many things that make Dave tick, and why I have a TiVo sea­son pass for the Late Show.

In the clip below, Let­ter­man and McCall look at and dis­cuss some of the work in McCall’s new children’s book, Mar­vel­town.

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘Bruce McCall on Letterman’

The Mostly True Story of Helvetica and the New York City Subway

The Most­ly True Sto­ry of Hel­veti­ca and the New York City Subway:

There is a com­mon­ly held belief that Hel­veti­ca is the sig­nage type­face of the New York City sub­way sys­tem, a belief rein­forced by Hel­veti­ca, Gary Hustwit’s pop­u­lar 2007 doc­u­men­tary about the type­face. But it is not true—or rather, it is only some­what true. Hel­veti­ca is the offi­cial type­face of the MTA today, but it was not the type­face spec­i­fied by Uni­mark Inter­na­tion­al when it cre­at­ed a new sig­nage sys­tem at the end of the 1960s.

r-train
R‑train icon, set in Helvetica and Standard.

I noticed this dis­crep­an­cy ear­li­er this year – I had to recre­ate some MTA sub­way icons for use on a project, and noticed that the R train map icon looked noth­ing like the Hel­veti­ca “R”. The MTA’s own web­site seems to be con­fused about the type used in the sys­tem icons, let alone its sta­tion signage.

Enter typog­ra­ph­er Paul Shaw, and his 10,000+ word piece on AIGA’s site. Did you now that Boston’s sub­way sig­nage sys­tem was the first to use Hel­veti­ca, with­out mod­i­fi­ca­tions? Ever curi­ous as to the process by which enam­el signs are made? Want to just look at pret­ty pic­tures of sub­way signs over the years? 

It’s a great his­to­ry, for fans of typog­ra­phy and the MTA.

What’s Hebrew for ‘Yes We Can’?

Well, that didnt’t take long – giv­en the suc­cess of Barack Obama’s dig­i­tal and design strat­e­gy in our recent pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, some­one was bound to, ahem… com­plete­ly rip him off, soon­er or later.

Sur­pris­ing­ly, the most recent exam­ple is the cam­paign of Ben­jamin Netanyahu, the con­ser­v­a­tive Likud leader run­ning for prime min­is­ter of Israel. The Times reports:

The col­ors, the fonts, the icons for donat­ing and vol­un­teer­ing, the use of embed­ded video, and the social net­work­ing Face­book-type options — includ­ing Twit­ter, which hard­ly exists in Israel — all reflect a con­scious effort by the Netanyahu cam­paign to learn from the Oba­ma success.

I won­der if that type is the Hebrew Gotham?

Streetsy: 40+ Streetartists You Should Know Besides Banksy

Jake Dobkin presents 40+ Street Artists You Should Know Besides Banksy:

Every­one knows who Banksy is – but the inter­na­tion­al stree­tart com­mu­ni­ty has hun­dreds of oth­er great artists that deserve your atten­tion. Here’s a selec­tion of the very best.

Christoph Niemann’s Abstract City

One of my favorite blogs on NYTimes.com is writ­ten by the Ger­man illus­tra­tor Christoph Nie­mann, called Abstract City. He only posts once a month or so, but each one is as unique and inter­est­ing as the last. 

And, it is amus­ing that his blog – of all NYTimes.com blogs – doesn’t have an illus­trat­ed icon in the head­er. It’s not inten­tion­al on our part, he just hasn’t got­ten to it yet.

See More of Christoph Niemann’s work »

Mad Men, Mad Props

Mad Men is such an enjoy­able show – but, type­face design­er Mark Simon­son takes Mad Men’s prop mas­ters to task for their typog­ra­phy sins.

None of these mis­steps occurred to me when watch­ing, so maybe I need to brush up on my his­to­ry of typography?

Beehive vs. Chompers: V.P. Debate Party

V.P. Debate Party

Invitation design for our party, Thursday night.

I couldn’t resist – Lisa and I are host­ing a V.P. Debate par­ty this Thurs­day night, so I whipped this invite up. The idea was to play up two of the more strik­ing ele­ments of the can­di­dates’ appear­ance: Sarah Palin’s bee­hive and eye­wear, and Joe Biden’s abnor­mal­ly large teeth. 

The result is kind of awk­ward but fun. It looks like an elon­gat­ed John Ker­ry-sized head, but it’s not worth fuss­ing with the pro­por­tions at this point. Just go with it… I did.

UPDATE: The always charm­ing Emi­ly point­ed out a rather obvi­ous spelling mis­take in the design above. Can you find it?

Economix & Green Inc. Blog Headers

The Times is in the process of beef­ing up its busi­ness cov­er­age online, adding new ver­ti­cals on the econ­o­my and green ener­gy. As part of that roll out, we launched two blogs last week, and I was tasked with the head­er designs and illus­tra­tion assignments.

I real­ly enjoy the lit­tle bits of art direc­tion that I get to do at the Times. It’s fun to search for the illus­tra­tors, work with them on con­cepts and sketch­es, and in the end they do all of the work.

Economix

Economix Blog header
Illustration by Headcase Design

Economix is writ­ten by David Leon­hardt and Cather­ine Ram­pell, and will focus on both the glob­al econ­o­my and the per­son­al deci­sions read­ers make everyday. 

The illus­tra­tion was done by Paul Kepple’s team at Head­case Design, with art direc­tion and design by myself. 

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘Economix & Green Inc. Blog Headers’