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’