Monday, January 31, 2011

design firms you need to know

CSA Design (
founders of Mr. French paper company

Hatch Design San Francisco, CA (
"the best design is honest, hands on and human."

Michael Austin wine series designed by the people at Hatch

160 over 90 Philadelphia, PA (
"doing it and doing it and doing it well"

An area of the office where team collaboration breaks loose.

A visual identity designed for the City of Boston.

Pentagram London, New York, Austin and Berlin (
The worlds largest independent design consultancy

most recent branding for the Museum of Modern Art.

Werner Design Werks St. Paul, MN (

personal favorite. i love the web design and type treatment here

Hey! this is the laundry detergent I use at home.  Just
goes to show... good design is everywhere!!!!

Willoughby Design Kansas City, MO (
"uncovering insights to help clients connect with their audiences at every touchpoint"

The people at Willoughby created a Brand Dictionary... 
AIGA's A to Z language about branding

designers you need to know

Saul Bass (May 8, 1920 – April 25, 1996) was on of the fathers of American graphic design along with Paul Rand and Bradbury Thompson. He is best known for his design on animated motion picture title sequences.

The Ghost in the Underblows, Alfred Young Fischer Some of 
his most inventive branding projects were formed from overtly 
simple marks made into logos, and eventually, brands.

Alexander Girard (May 24, 1907 – 1993) was a textile designer born in NYC and raised in Florence, Italy.  I found the work he did for the Eames to more interesting than some of his graphics.  

The Ghost in the Underblows, Alfred Young Fischer I can picture this 
fabric covering a small, decorative pillow or something cute like that

Alvin Lustig (1915-1955) American graphic designer and typeface designer.  He was highly influenced by Swiss designer Jan Tschichold. 

The Ghost in the Underblows, Alfred Young Fischer

Alan Fletcher (27 September 1931 – 21 September 2006) British graphic designer.  One of his most famous legacies is the visual identity for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 

1999 version of the American Art Book... of which I own the four most
recent editions. I'm sure it was a huge honor to get this commission

Alex Steinweiss (March 24, 1917) Born in NYC.  He is responsible for the design of packaging for music of all kinds. He was the original art director for Columbia Records in 1939.

Ray and Charles Eames (the power couple of the century) American designers leading the way to modern furniture design and architecture. 

Though the Eames did not design this ad, I appreciate the way
the designer chose to portray their work. This is a good example
of a way to visually describe a personality of an architect.

Maira Kalman (1949) American born artists, author and designer.  She is a successful business women still as she works for authors and companies and doing promotional work for herself. 

Maira's spin on a popular poster from
world war II.  Still a recognizable 
image even though she painted it

Steven Heller (1950) American author, critic, journalist and editor who specializes in topics related to modern graphic design.  His list of accomplishments is overflowing with books, articles, talks and designs.  

a cover of a book co-written by heller

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Homework: Semiotics

1. Definitions

SIGN: (one of the basic building blocks for creating meaning) a visual representation formed by a societies that make them

a music note to indicate the sound made by an instrument 

INDEX: non-arbitrary relationship that exists between two meanings

smoke = fire

SYMBOL: an object or image with obvious meaning

a hand shake as a greeting

2. "This Means That: A Users Guide to Semiotics" by Sean Hall
A quite intriguing read in comparison to most articles on the design process.  I felt more aware of the necessity for signs and symbols when trying to communicate a message (which is what we do as designers, right?).  Most of all, I appreciated the useful examples and easy-to-read layout of the article.  

3. What makes a good book jacket?
Well according to John Gall a successful book cover, "conveys the essence of the book in a unique and surprising way that maybe pushes the design envelope a bit"


These covers share a feeling, an emotion of sorts, that will more than likely be evoked within the book.  This is a good thing! Even better, they do not completely give away anything. The audience is still guessing a little bit about what lies inside.


The designs of these are too designed... yes, that is a thing! They are too forceful in trying to jump off the shelf at the consumer. This is not just a personal style opinion, even though i am thoroughly disgusted with the unicorn tiles. They are all just too busy to be powerful enough for me to pick up.


I have to pick between these two books to redesign... its a toughy!

My first idea was a book called Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keys.  It was my favorite novel from my late elementary years.  I really appreciate the story because it is such an unusual plot about a man with an unusually low IQ who begins an experiment on a rat.  The rat, Algernon, ends up teaching the man alot about life and even relationships between humans and animals.  I eventually decided to avoid this book due to the lack of interest compared to other books.

so! here is where you come in, please give me some feedback!!!!

option 1:

Crank by Ellen Hopkins. She began writing nonfiction books for younger ages until the unfortunate turn of events when her teenage daughter began a struggle with drug addiction.  This is the first of her series of books involving serious issues among young adults like books titled Glass and Burned.

The novel is a story depicting the difficulties in growing up with divorced parents and the issues that may arise from the situation.  The reader follows the initially innocent life of Kristina, a gifted high school student who seemingly had it all together.  Throughout the book we see the unraveling of her life as she is consumed by addiction and insecurity.

this novel is written in a unique prose... almost poetry.  Each page is a puzzle or play on words.  The pages are arranged in ways that force the reader to jump from paragraph to paragraph or even word to word in strange ways.  I feel this was a way of creating a feeling of anxiety and confusion to further incorporate  the reader into the plot.

jumpy, driven, frantic, painful, stiff, powerful, unrefined, belligerent, meaningful yet emotionless, complicated, battle of self

this story conveys a message of the incredibly difficult theme of human connection and relationship along with the huge theme of addiction and bondage

protagonist... Kristina painfully approaches rejection, addiction, illness and even death and eventually the glimmer of life in her newborn child.

antagonist... the isnt necessarily one antagonist. But if i had to point one out it would be the unmistakable desire for human connections like love, appreciation and approval, which in turn forces the protagonist into a spiral of sex, drugs and alcohol.

-"the monster" (crank)
-"Bree is back" Kristina's alternate personality, the one who does drugs

the important part! I chose to redesign this novel not because it is one of my favorite books or even because i liked it, but more because I feel like the subject matter is so foreign to me that designing a cover would involve a challenge.  It would push me to design based on something i am not comfortable with (drugs, insecurity, bad relationships, death)

option 2:

The Buddah of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi

It is said that this is an autobiography where Kureishi is the main character, Karim.  Karim is a mixed-race teenager growing up in London.  The story unravels as you watch him grow up in a broken family as they search for identity. Kureishi also wrote a similar story of identity struggle called The Black Album.

Throughout the novel, Karim tries to escape his lowly life as an indian boy by traveling and making new friends in the slums of London.  He eventually gets a job as an extra in a derogatory play which leads to more opportunities in the theater.  He meets important people and finds a way to move to america.

music, identity struggle, sex and love, family values, drugs, experimentation, race, adulthood, sibling rivalry

The message is one of self discovery and the making of your own path.

protagonist, Karim, evolves from a teenage boy to a young adult

antagonist, all of the family members and adults who treated karim with disrespect because of his race and situation

-"My name is Karim Amir, and I am an Englishman born and bred, almost"
-"There were kids in velvet cloaks who lived free lives."

I chose this book for the sole reason that i liked reading it.  Because i feel comfortable with the subject matter and the amount of back story going on in the whole novel, there would be plenty of ways to show the cover.