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Posted by core jr  |  15 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

Glasgow_PhotoGallery_12.jpgAll photos by Deena Denaro

With the vote on Scottish independence just a few short days away, the United Kingdom may soon undergo a major geopolitical transformation that nevertheless feels like it's a world away from North American shores. Far be it for us to predict the results, but the forthcoming vote marks an apt occasion to share a photo essay from Glasgow, comprising photos from the XX Commonwealth Games and beyond.

The Games inherently have a political element—participating countries are former members of the British Empire—but more broadly speaking the international event was a singular opportunity for the host city to showcase the best that the country has to offer at this critical juncture in the nation's history. Whether or not the nation of 5.3 million chooses independence, it is certainly home to a rich design culture, from its long heritage in textiles to its contemporary makerspaces. Shot by Deena Denaro, these photos duly capture the spirit of the games and the pride of place in Glasgow itself.

At top: The Parade of Nations at the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, featuring motion graphics by ISO Design.


People Make Glasgow, the city's spot-on tourism campaign, launches our quest for pin badges, the unofficial currency of the Commonwealth Games. Each country, organization venue and/or sport mints it's own pin badge which are exchanged by athletes and delegates as a symbol of friendship.

The "Big G" was the cynosure of George's Square (recognizable as the backdrop for the opening of World War Z). The concept behind the logo is derived from time, data and measurement, with four distinctive parts. The red outer ring symbolises the fact that it is the 20th Commonwealth Games; the yellow ring (which is 17/20 of the size of the outer ring) symbolizes the 17 sports on the program; the blue ring (11/20 of the size of the circle; appears vertical in image) represents the 11 days of the event; and the 'G' in the center represents Glasgow, the color reflecting the Gaelic meaning of the city's name, "Dear Green Place." View the "Making Of" video here.


The venues featured two-dimensional incarnations of the logo, designed by Glasgow's own Tangent.

Glasgow_PhotoGallery_19.jpgThe view from the sky box at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome during the men's 40km points race.

Glasgow_PhotoGallery_18.jpgScotland's tandem cyclists whizzing by as they take the gold.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  12 Sep 2014  |  Comments (2)


Ants like to move things, presumably to carry them back to their nests. Which doesn't make much sense when ant hill entrances are tiny and you see them hauling back things like this relatively huge Dorito chip:

But who knows, maybe it's just about the accomplishment of dragging it back to the nest. And maybe they build dioramas and put the objects on display. Because there's also footage of these herpetology-minded ants transporting a lizard skull (and a second crew bringing back the spine):

So far nothing special, these guys move items the same way you, me and a few buddies would move a couch, by getting individual bodies around it. But someone in Southeast Asia recently posted this video, where a species of Leptogenys ants have apparently learned to form a daisy chain in order to haul this big-ass millipede:


Posted by Kat Bauman  |  12 Sep 2014  |  Comments (10)


What we have here is a sleek and squint-worthy concept project. Award-winning Artist-slash-Industrial Designer Philippe Starck recently partnered with the bike company Moustache to design a series of electric bikes. Not content to stop after attaching fur to a battery-powered snow bike, Starck struck out to reimagine the humble helmet too. Teaming up with bike accessory giant Giro, who have been in the game for a few decades, the result is the elegantly named "The Giro by S+ARCKBIKE Helmet Concept." It's an intentionally layered, architectural-feeling take on one of the least sexy parts of riding a bike.


The helmet was designed with the positive social and environmental impacts of cycling in mind. Its features include a thin aluminum outer skin, a cork body, aluminum and leather harness system. The materials chosen reflect Starck's interest in both "new ergonomics" and renewable resources. They tout the unusual use of "sophisticated, unconventional" cork as a good choice for its anti-microbial and water-resistant properties (properties not shared by the leather components), and the fact that it's a green resource. (For a peek into the [relatively] green production of cork check out our photo gallery or this video on Portuguese production.) Also, cork theoretically has good "impact energy management"—y'know, the entire point of wearing a helmet.


Posted by Carly Ayres  |  12 Sep 2014  |  Comments (2)


Last February, Kai Lin was watching YouTube videos of mountain goats jumping up a vertical mountain side when he was struck with an idea. Lin, now a senior at Pratt Institute, was enrolled in a prosthetic-design class at the time, and he wondered if the same anatomy that allowed the goats to so swiftly and accurately scale the vertical surface could be applied to humans.

This was the beginning of KLIPPA—the name is Swedish for "cliff"—a prosthetic leg designed specifically for amputee rock climbers. With the seedling of the idea in mind, Lin dug deeper into the anatomy of mountain goats, learning that their hooves have small cupped surfaces that create suction, coupled with a hard outer shell that allows the goats to stabilize their bodies on even the steepest surfaces. Looking for design opportunities, the student stumbled upon the documentary High Ground, which tells the story of 11 veterans who heal mental and emotional trauma during a 20,000-foot Himalayan ascent. Lin also discovered that rock climbing was the first choice of physically demanding sports for veteran amputees looking to maintain an active lifestyle after returning from Afghanistan or Iraq. "I realized from the demographic of amputee patients that quite a few of them are wounded soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and many of them suffer from physical and psychological trauma," Lin says. "That just gave me more reason to design something meaningful—not only for day-to-day patients but for someone who might use my rock-climbing prosthetic legs to help with their recovery process."


Further research took the product design student to Brooklyn Boulders, a local climbing gym, where he interviewed experienced climbers about their technique, ankle articulation and muscle use. Lin took to the wall to give it a shot himself, attaching blue foam stilts to his feet to understand what it was like to climb without sensory feedback. Creating a series of blue foam stilts varying in surface size, Lin tested the ideal size for a prosthetic. "What I found was that when a [foot] surface is too big, it blocks you from seeing what is underneath and it becomes hard to step," Lin explains. "But when the contact surface is too small, you lose your balance." He created three main sizes of stilts in proportion to a human foot—full, half and quarter—discovering that the ideal solution was somewhere between a half-size and quarter-size foot, which limited the contact surface while still maintaing balance.

Lin synthesized this knowledge in a series of (really awesome) sketches, working to incorporate his research along with other identified problems amputee climbers face like strength loss, passive articulation, and a lack of sensory feedback and grip. The first iteration of sketches for KLIPPA was a direct biomimetic approach pulling inspiration from mountain goats, while his second series echoed a more human feel. From these sketches, Lin made five prototypes from blue foam and 3D-printed features like textured heels, hoof-like feet and rubber shoe encasings. His final design took the best pieces from each of these prototypes, resulting in a progression of human to goat anatomy moving down to the foot.



Posted by erika rae  |  12 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)


We're pretty big on process here at Core77—where other publications usually stick to pristine product shots, we like to show what goes on behind the scenes, not least because
you, faithful readers, are often the ones behind those scenes. And with the advent of inexpensive digital photography and videography tools—namely smartphones—it's easier than ever to document your process. Case in point, architect-turned-master-woodworker Frank Howarth demonstrates both his woodshop chops and his cinematography skills in his stop-motion videos.

The Portland, OR-based craftsman has been posting making-of videos YouTube channel for years, and they go beyond a superficial treatment to actually illustrate each step of the process—some of these mini films push ten minutes (and some are even longer). Most of them include Howarth walking you through each design decision. But my favorite one takes an anthropomorphic tack. It doesn't have a voiceover or even human presence at all—rather, each element and tool becomes a character in a production of sorts. Check it out:


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  12 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)


If you've ever passed a park in Chinatown and seen the older folks playing Mahjong, you've undoubtedly seen them manually "shuffle" the tiles between games before rearranging them into fresh rows. This is how they've done it for thousands of years, but in the past few decades, Mahjong tile shuffling and dealing has received a rather awesome upgrade:


Posted by Sam Dunne  |  12 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)


Strolling through any of London's more creative districts today, you're almost certain to see preparations in full swing as the eyes of the design world turn to the city over the next eight days. Now in its 12th year, the London Design Festival is set to kick off this weekend.

The branding for this year's event prompts revellers to 'Lose Yourself in Design'—perhaps a little less ridiculous than it sounds considering that this year sees some 300+ events (not including the parties), spread wider than ever before across the metropolis. Six areas across the city center have been given official 'design district' status this year, with the usual suspects Brompton Design District (with the V&A and its environs), Clerkenwell Design Quarter (design furniture showrooms abound), Chelsea Design Quarter (the crazy posh stuff) and Shoreditch Design Triangle (the edgier destination in the East) joined by two new comers—Islington Design District (North Central-ish) and Queen's Park Design District (West-ish)—set to join the fray.


As in past years, a number of 'Landmark Projects' headline proceedings with installations and interventions on a grand scale. Whilst true to form, this year's centrepieces sees the involvement of some big brands. In an expected move, AirBnb appear to be a major sponsor of this year's festival and will be taking over the famous Trafalgar Square in the heart of the city with an installation entitled 'A Place Called Home,' an arrangement of miniature homes each with interiors design by acclaimed designers. BMW will also get in on the act, taking over the enormous Raphael Gallery space at the V&A museum with a collaboration with industrial design darlings Barber Osgerby, involving a kinetic sculpture of giant mirrored surfaces.



Posted by core jr  |  12 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

DSchoolFutures-SVA-1.jpgTop left: Ziyun Qi and Wan Jung Hung at a futuring workshop. Other images: The Cloud and a thesis presentation, both by Richard Clarkson

This is the latest installment of D-School Futures, our interview series on the evolution of industrial design education. Today we have answers from our own Allan Chochinov, partner of Core77 and chair of the Products of Design graduate program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

How different is industrial design education today than it was ten years ago? Will it look very different ten years from now?

I believe it's very different than it was a decade ago, and certainly will look different again in the medium-term future. Of course, much of this change is precipitated by tools and technology (digital manufacturing, physical computing, crowdfunding/sourcing platforms, etc.), but there have also been sea changes in the way we think about design and its offerings—the shift from product to service, systems thinking, design thinking, sharing ecologies, economies of abundance, interdisciplinarity—to name a handful.

But perhaps the biggest impact on design education will stem from one of the most important high-water marks right now: Design can finally be understood and engaged in as a more social, collaborative and transparent enterprise...hopefully with a discourse to match. So we need design programs whose pedagogy (both technical and philosophical) can respond to all these changes nimbly and quickly, and which understand design to be a fundamentally participatory enterprise poised to fortify for a time when the world desperately needs it most. (Of course, you could effectively argue that design has created most of the problems we're currently facing!) On the supply side, I think there will be many, many options for design education—from deep, prolonged investigations through undergraduate and graduate programs to less formal, a-la-carte classes, hackathon-inspired intensives and online learning. Design is unquestionably enjoying its moment right now, and we are thrilled to be a part of it.

DSchoolFutures-SVA-2.jpgClockwise from bottom left: Allan Chochinov; Presence by Kathryn McElroy; Shine by Cassandra Michel (worn by Charlotta Hellichius)


Posted by Shaun Fynn  |  12 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)


"These great towns, temples and buildings rising from the water, all made of stone, seemed like an enchanted vision from the tale of Amadis. Indeed, some of our soldiers asked whether it was not all a dream. It was all so wonderful that I do not know how to describe this first glimpse of things never heard of, seen or dreamed of before.""

–Spanish conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo, circa 1519 on first sighting of Tenochtitlan
(Original translation by J.M Cohen from the Conquest of New Spain)

Mexico City, formerly known as Tenochtitlan, is the fifth chapter in StudioFYNN's Brave New Modernism series. The ideas of progress and evolution are fundamental concepts behind modernity. The pursuit of growth, technological development and knowledge are seen as prerequisites for economic development and in turn influence how we build today's cities. However, progress may have many interpretations and there are no guarantees that all ideas of progress manifest in sustainable and enduring plans.




Founded in 1325AD, Tenochtitlan was the ancient capital of the Aztecs and prospered as one of Mesoamerica's greatest cities until its siege, conquest and destruction by the Conquistadores from 1519–1521AD. The ancient Aztec city incorporated complex ideas of cosmology, mythology and religion entirely alien to the Westerners, which were almost completely eliminated as a new city was built in accordance with European ideals and concepts of civilization. With a population at the time of conquest exceeding 200,000 (among the world's largest cities at the time), it appears that in Tenochtitlan, the Aztec concepts of civic function were masterfully integrated with the higher beliefs of their civilization. From the urban plan to the iconography so powerfully represented in sculpture, murals and artworks, the centers of trade, worship, governance and habitat were woven together with the coherent thread of the deeper belief systems.




Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  11 Sep 2014  |  Comments (3)


Next weekend Toyota will unveil a concept car not at an auto show, but at the World Maker Faire in New York City. The chosen venue is purposeful: To create their Urban Utility (U2) concept vehicle, Toyota's CALTY design arm conducted interviews with previous Maker Faire participants. The resultant design has yielded a car described as "a flexible, functional gadget that owners can customize according to individual, on-the-go needs."

While text descriptions of the concept are light, the renderings tell the tale. Makers apparently expressed a strong desire to haul a variety of goods, as a lot of attention has been given to how onboard storage is to be managed via a "Multipurpose Utility Bar" and "Retractable Latching System:"





Posted by erika rae  |  11 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)


Whether you live in an overstimulating city center or a more bucolic setting, the countless details of the built environment often barely register as designed objects. Telephone wires are among those often-overlooked systems. And judging by these photos of a telephone from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, we've come quite a long way. The steely subject of these shots is Stockholm's Telefontornet ("Telephone Tower"), which was the main communication hub in the area from 1887–1913.


Despite the fact that the tower is a complete eyesore, it's hard not to be impressed by the fact that the the carefully routed lines comprised an entire city's phone network. As if it wasn't already the cynosure of Norrmalm, the city thought the tower was missing something, so they held a competition for an "embellishment" that would be placed at the top of the tower. In 1890, architect Fritz Eckert came up with the winning design, bedecking the tower with turrets on its four corners, each adorned with a pennant.



Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  11 Sep 2014  |  Comments (3)


What do you do when your wardrobe consists largely of T-shirts, and you don't have enough room to store them? Not everyone has enough closet space to hang those T-shirts, so dresser drawers get used—and are often crammed to overflowing. Furthermore, the T-shirts at the bottom of the stack rarely get worn, because no one can see them. One solution: Fold the T-shirts and file them away, saving space and adding visibility.


Brittany Moser, on her Darkroom and Dearly blog, shows how much space she saved when she went with the folded approach. Brittany says the shirts do tend to get creases—but no more than when she folded them and laid them flat. She takes the one she wants to wear that day into the shower room with her, to steam out the creases.


Andrea Dekker has a video showing how she folds T-shirts, and Brittany has provided these step-by-step images. This all seems easy enough—but for those who want more help (or a cleaner look), there's Pliio.




Posted by Sam Dunne  |  11 Sep 2014  |  Comments (2)


This past weekend, Reddit users have been delighting in pictures of prepackaged grape juice (alas, not wine) and bread (or is that gum?) communion reportedly handed out to one church-going user's 7,000-strong congregation. The Reddit faithful were quick to dub the curiosities 'Christables' after a certain packaged lunchtray product and offered up a number of other amusing puns and slogan suggestions—from mildly disrespectful to brazen copyright infringement—including gems such as "I Can't Believe It's Not Salvation" to "# Bad dap bap bap baaa...I'm loving Him #."

As comments on the thread point towards, the incongruity that we (even non-believers) feel at the sight of this object has to do with the design language: disposable plastic + aluminum-foiled symbols of the fast and packaged food industries that is unavoidably synonymous with cheapness, convenience and transience—a culmination that no amount of script typography, biblical quotes and cross symbols can outweigh.


Posted by core jr  |  11 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

BJDW-ALittleBitofBeijing.jpgDetail of A Little Bit of Beijing (Tongji University Press 2013)

September isn't just back-to-school month—it also marks the second wave of international design festivals, an impossibly omni-terrestrial agenda that includes Paris, London, Vienna, Istanbul, Mexico City, Eindhoven, Tokyo and beyond. Beijing Design Week is easily among the more unique events in the mix, not least for the fact that it spans a sprawling, rapidly changing metropolis and is the single biggest design happening in the world's most populous country.

Core77 has been a media partner for Beijing Design Week since its inception four years ago, and once again we will be scouring Dashilar, CaoChangDi, 751 D-Park and beyond for the gems amidst the cross-cultural chaos. While some might consider leaked Apple components to be the most exciting 'design objects' coming out of the PRC, Chinese institutions and individuals alike have made a concerted effort to shift from "Made in China" to "Designed in China." Granted, the homegrown design scene still has a long way to go, but it's well worth witnessing its progress as a new generation of designers forges a path towards establishing Chinese design on the world stage.

BJDW2014-CAFAID.jpgBJDW2014-ZhangKe-MicroYuaner.jpgBJDW2014-NaihanLi.jpgSneak peeks: CAFA Industrial Design Department (previously); Micro Yuan'er by Zhang Ke Architects (previously); new work by Naihan Li (previously)


Posted by core jr  |  11 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

DSchoolFutures-ArtCenter-1.jpgRecent Art Center graduate Kristina Marrero's Dextris is a glove to help astronauts work more comfortably in space.

This is the latest installment of D-School Futures, our interview series on the evolution of industrial design education. Today we have answers from Karen Hofmann, chair of product design at Art Center College of Design.

How different is industrial design education today than it was ten years ago? Will it look very different ten years from now?

The core visual, technical, creative, analytical and presentation skills that we need to teach industrial design students are quite similar today to what they were a decade ago. The process of understanding people's needs, identifying opportunities for innovation, giving form to ideas and realizing solutions is the core of what we teach and do as designers. In the product design department at Art Center, we value strong foundational skills along with a human-centered approach with our curriculum grounded in professional practice. What have evolved over time are the tools (design research, digital visualization and rapid prototyping); the workflow (toggling between analog and digital at a faster pace); the application of design skills (multiple career paths); and the expansion of the discipline (roles and responsibilities).

A decade ago we were very focused on product innovation. The value of design at that time was producing novel concepts and beautiful artifacts as a result of a comprehensive design process. Design education at that time was very "tool-based," as designers were known purely as "makers" or "visualizers." Student portfolios needed to show expertise in drawing, ideation, form development and model-making (analog and digital) in order to get hired. Design research was also emerging as a necessary "tool" and a skillset that added value to the product innovation process. Our curriculum made a serious commitment to emphasize design research and enable students to learn how to be "translators" of human needs, insights and data into meaningful opportunities and concepts, along with being visualizers and makers.

Since then we have seen an expansion of critical skills that are now integrated into our curriculum along with the core making skills—generative research methodologies, envisioning future scenarios, material innovation and advanced manufacturing knowledge, life-cycle analysis and sustainable design principles, as well as social innovation and business practices. The value of design has expanded beyond making products to also designing the entire user experience, services and eco-systems. As business organizations continue to embrace design, the role of the designer expands as well. Designers are not only responsible for visualizing and making, they now are "facilitators" as the design process has become more participatory and collaborative inside of organizations as well as with the emergence of open innovation models. This kind of facilitation role requires leadership skills and an understanding of how to work in a team. More and more cross-disciplinary team projects have been integrated into our curriculum to respond to this need.

DSchoolFutures-ArtCenter-2.jpgKaren Hofmann (left) and a Samsung-powered tennis training system designed by James Cha, who graduated in August


Posted by core jr  |  11 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)

DesignOD-byKyleOldfield.jpgPhoto by Kyle Oldfield

For our September 2014 Back-to-School Special, we're going back to the basics and delving deep into the Core77 forums to answer common student queries. This seven-part series of crowdsourced wisdom includes an attempt to define Industrial Design, a comparison of ID degree options, some pointers on teaching (and dealing with teachers), insight into why it's never too late to get into ID, a handy list of resume do's and don'ts, and the ultimate list of pro tips. This is the "What if I'm not cut out to be a designer after all?" post.

As any good design student knows, late nights in the studio can get pretty weird, whether you're lost in a CAD-hole or getting secondhand fumes from the adhesive/paint/chemical of your choice, and between the actual deliverables and skills you simply have yet to master, the little things may well start to eat away at your mental health. There's no denying that school is tough, and it's safe to say that there comes a time in most students' lives where you completely second guess your future as a budding IDer. Thankfully, the discussion board support group is here to get you through the tough times. Take a deep breath and read on.

There are many variations on this theme, and sometimes it's just a classic case of a sophomore slump. In a recent thread, TSE2 just isn't feeling so hot lately: "...overall, I always feel for the amount of hours I put in working compared to everyone else is either about the same or more, and compared to other students, my work is always mediocre. [cue existential crisis—hey, we've all been there] ...Are some people just not as good as others at design?" Echoing this sentiment, forumite super-panda filed his complaint with a disclaimer, also seeking much-needed advice and motivation from the community (and proving that sometimes the slump gets worse before it gets better):

Approaching graduation, I could really not care less about design and I feel confused about what I'm graduating into. I feel I'm done with everything design-related. I feel uninspired and I've lost all confidence in my creativity. To be honest, I cannot think of someone less creative than me right now, and this has been going on for a few years. For one assignment, I wrote a whole essay about why I think the word "design" should be banned and how design has become so overly romanticized. I know this is not the whole truth, and I know there are a lot of designers out there who do genuinely good things and make peoples lives truly better, but I still feel design is too often perceived as something magnificently transcendentally awesome. And I am uncomfortable and fed up with that.

For students who get caught up and discouraged by comparing their work to that of their peers, keep in mind that the things that you draw or make—i.e. what you're graded on—represent only one frame of reference. "Just because you have the best 3/4-view hand render, doesn't mean you have the best understanding of the brief, subject matter, trend analysis or CMF ideas," says bepster. Meanwhile, moderator Yo sums up the longview in a few wise words: "It's better to be the worst kid in an awesome class than the best kid in a mediocre one. Go to the school you think will push you the most. That is what you are paying for."


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Sep 2014  |  Comments (13)


I want an Apple Watch for four main reasons: Because of the nature of my work, the fact that I own two dogs, the fact that I live in a noisy city and because I hate Bluetooth earpieces. Now I realize that there's no way Jony Ive and Apple's design group has a profile fitting that description in their design briefs, there is no picture of me on their corkboard with a red circle around my face...


...but what they excel at is figuring out universal needs and designing solutions to those. Which is why it feels like the Apple Watch was designed precisely for me and for what I need to do on a daily basis.

I'll start with the two dogs. They require a lot of exercise, which I'm happy to give them to counterbalance the effect of IPAs on my waistline, and I am outside with them a lot—up to two hours per day, every day, rain or shine. This is possible because my work enables me to set my own schedule and work from home.


Which brings me to the nature of that work. In addition to my Core77 duties, I run a rental photography studio in a highly competitive market, and if I miss a single phone call or text message, which may come in at any hour, there are hundreds or potentially thousands of dollars at stake for each message I miss. Clients want answers right away, and if you don't pick up, they go down their list and contact the next studio.


Which raises the problem of me living in a noisy city. When outside with the dogs, my phone lives in a pants pocket. Thus if I'm walking or running I cannot always feel the vibration of an incoming message, nor hear the ring over jackhammers and bypassing ambulances. I've lost a three-day booking before because I couldn't hear the phone and called back five minutes too late.


Posted by Christie Nicholson  |  10 Sep 2014  |  Comments (2)


If you're an industrial design student, now that school is back in swing you've probably got your hands on some foamcore or blue foam. Did you ever ask yourself what that stuff really is?

Let's start with the first one. The original foamcore was created and marketed in 1957 by the Monsanto Company. (Yes, that Monsanto, the leader in the genetically modified seed industry.) Their original brand name for the material was: Fome-Cor.


Foamcore, aka foamboard, is lightweight, easily cut, and surprisingly strong. In it's most basic form you'll find three layers: An inner layer of polystyrene foam, bookended by two sheets of clavcoated paper or simply kraft paper. The surface paper is slightly acidic but you can find acid-free versions for archival photography.

Junior and Senior ID majors already know this, but for you sophomores or first-year grads: One must be careful if using glue or paint with foamcore. Because glues, especially superglues, and paint cannot adhere to foam, it will actually melt and dissolve it. What you need to use are spray adhesives like 3M's Super77 or Loctite. Some might try using hot glue but do so with caution, as the heat can warp the board.


Posted by Ray  |  10 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)


The new Apple Watch may offer navigation via a paired iPhone's GPS system, but (Maps bugs notwithstanding) wayfinding used to be a skill, especially here in New York City. While the grid of streets and avenues bears a semblance of intuitive legibility, the sinuously criss-crossing subway lines has long been rather less forgiving. The city-wide system itself originated with the merger of the privately operated IRT, BMT and IND in 1939, but each line continued to publish its own maps (sans the other two) and signage until the late 50's; the major turning point came a decade later, when the NYCTA commissioned a comprehensive overhaul of the signage and wayfinding system in 1967. Some four years in the making, Unimark International's codified design language is far more profound than the empirical typography and glyphs that characterize the subway system today; rather it captures the essence of visual communication qua user experience. Sure, any poseur can get ahold of a 1972 Subway map, but true aficionados will go for the real deal, available now on Kickstarter for the first (and last) time: the 1970 New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual, meticulously authored by the late designers Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda of Unimark.

Known simply as the Standards Manual, the original ring-bound text is something like the contemporary equivalent of the Rosetta Stone: a dictionary, encyclopedia case study and veritable holy text rolled (or rather Smyth-sewn) into one. As a canonical document of high modernism, it's right up there with the Gutenberg bible—a beautiful object in and of itself—and Pentagram's Jesse Reed and Hamish Smith are offering a faithful reproduction with the blessing of the Metropolitan Transit Authority itself.

In 2012—42 years after the Standards Manual was released—we discovered a rare copy in the basement of design firm Pentagram.
Now, under an exclusive agreement with the MTA, we are scanning and printing every page in a full-size hardcover book.
The MTA agreed on the reissue with one condition: it will only be available during this 30-day Kickstarter campaign.
After this campaign, the book will never be reissued again.

StandardsManual-2.jpgIs it just me, or does Standard Medium (later changed to Helvetica, of course) look kind of like a heavier version of Apple's new typeface?

Upon their initial discovery, Reed and Hamish simply published the Standards Manual digitally but have since seen fit to publish a scale reproduction of the 364-page omnibus for posterity's sake, a felicitous tribute to the recently deceased Vignelli and his unsung colleague Noorda (who passed in 2010). Narrated by Pentagram partner Michael Bierut, the reverential video is also on point; drool on your keyboard now because you won't want to ruin your copy of it:


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Sep 2014  |  Comments (6)


Watching yesterday's Apple Live event, I oohed and aahed over the shots of the iPhone 6 with the rest of you, and when my screen turned black at the end of the Apple Watch teaser, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the monitor and saw my mouth was hanging open. But to this design lover, it wasn't any of the beauty shots, but the pull-quote below that I thought was the most significant takeaway from the entire presentation.

CEO Tim Cook was pacing the stage, rattling off facts: The credit card is fifty years old, it's no longer convenient nor secure, people have been attempting to replace them with digital wallets...

...But they've all failed. Why is this?
It's because most people that've worked on this have started by focusing on creating a business model that was centered around their self interest, instead of focusing on the user experience.
We love this kind of problem. This is exactly what Apple does best.

Cook proceeded to unveil Apple Pay, the NFC-based one-touch payment process that the new iPhones and the Apple Watch will all be able to perform.

I say that quote is significant because Cook essentially laid out Apple's key competitive advantage, the business secret that does not need to be secret because none of their competitors seem to be able to get those five words right.