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Posts Tagged ‘design

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way… But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself”*…

 

“We’ve taken a complete rethink of how wood is used as a material,” said designer Gavin Munro. His production method upends traditional furniture manufacturing processes that involve cutting down trees, trucking logs, sawing the wood, then gluing back them together, generating a lot of industrial and ecological waste in the process.

Over the last four years, Munro and his team at Full Grown have been nurturing hundreds of willow trees, patiently waiting for the right harvest time. Guided by Munro’s studies in tree shaping and botanical craftsmanship, the trained furniture designer is using grafting techniques to coax the tree branches to form chairs, tables and lamp, and frames…

More at “This designer doesn’t make chairs. He grows them—from trees.”

* William Blake

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As we agree that there is nothing like a tree, we might recall that it was on this date in 1898 that the first school of professional forestry in the U.S., the New York State College of Forestry at Cornell, was created by an act of the New York State Legislature.  Dr. Bernhard Fernow, then chief of the USDA’s Division of Forestry, was invited to head the new College, and set about creating a 30,000 acre demonstration forest in the Adirondacks.  In part to test his theories of forest management and in part to help pay for the program, Fernow and Cornell entered into a contract with the Brooklyn Cooperage Company to deliver them wood…  and set about clear-cutting large swaths of the forest.  As a result of the public outcry that followed, the school was defunded and closed in 1903.  (It “reopened” under new management in 1911 at Syracuse University, where it has been operating since.)

Dr, Fernow

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Written by LW

April 8, 2015 at 1:01 am

“People who enjoy waving flags don’t deserve to have one”*…

 

Every self-respecting country has a unique name, a national flag, an anthem, a coat of arms, banknotes, passports, letterhead, and stationery.  Newly formed countries have to design them.

From Anne Quito, the story of South Sudan’s development of an “identity package”: “Branding the World’s Newest Country.”

* Banksy, Wall and Piece

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As we salute, we might recall that it was on this date in 1325 (according to legend) that Tenochtitlan was founded.  Located on an island in Lake Texcoco, in the Valley of Mexico, it became the capital of the expanding Aztec Empire in the 15th century, until captured by the Spanish in in the early 16th century.  At its peak, it was the largest city in the Pre-Columbian Americas.  Today the ruins of Tenochtitlan are located in central Mexico City.

Reconstruction of Tenochtitlan. (National Museum of Anthropology of Mexico City)

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Written by LW

March 18, 2015 at 1:01 am

“No one has yet tested the pencil/To see how many words it can write”*…

 

Johnny Gamber cares about pencils– so much so that he’s into his tenth year of blogging about them.  Fellow lovers of lead (and of superior sharpeners, stationery, erasers, and the like) will want to head over to his site: Pencil Revolution.

(Readers might also want to luxuriate in Henry Petroski’s glorious paean, The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance.)

* Xi Chuan, Notes on the Mosquito: Selected Poems

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As we crank the sharpener, we might recall that it was on this date in 1811, in Arnold, Nottinghamshire, that the angry textile artisans attacked a textile factory– the first of the Luddite Riots.

The Luddite movement emerged during the harsh economic climate of the Napoleonic Wars, when stocking frames, spinning frames, and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the artisans with less-skilled, low-wage laborers. Although the origin of the name “Luddite” is uncertain, a popular theory is that the movement was named after Ned Ludd, who allegedly smashed two stocking frames in 1779, and whose name had become emblematic of those who fight against technology that eliminates traditional jobs (or culture).

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Written by LW

March 11, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Make things as simple as possible but no simpler”*…

 

Botticelli, “The Birth of Venus”

 

Posters promoting the Masters and their masterpieces:  From Sydney-based designer Nicholas Barclay, a ten classic works of art, reduced to their essences…

Peruse each of them (about half-way down the page), and check out his other distillations, on Barclay’s site .

* Albert Einstein

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As we wonder what the docent will make of these, we might recall it it was on this date in 1979 that The Clash played the Harvard Square Theater on the first leg of their first American tour, “Pearl Harbor ’79.”

The band, backstage, with their idol (and opening act on the tour), Bo Diddley

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Written by LW

February 17, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I’ve always thought that parallel parking was my main talent.”*…

 

Culver City, California

 

When Nikki Sylianteng got a $95 parking ticket last winter, she realized that she was dealing with much more than a fine: she was dealing with a design problem.

“It was my fault,” she admits. She says she had been “so happy to find a parking spot,” she didn’t read the sign carefully enough. But, Sylianteng also felt like she shouldn’t have had to read the sign so carefully.

She suspected there were many parking offenders like her out there, who wanted to obey the law but had trouble discerning what that law was. Cities could make it easier for them, and improve parking compliance, just by making the parking signs clearer. As far as she could see, she was surrounded by a pretty confusing system of signage.

So, she decided to fix it.

She didn’t do this by fighting the ticket, nor by running for city council. Instead, Sylianteng committed act of guerilla civic design, which shocked the gears of municipal bureaucracy into motion. Someday, when better signage comes to a curb near you, you’ll have to thank Nikki…

More of the story– and more examples of Nikki’s work– at “A Designer’s War on Misleading Parking Signs,” and at her site, To Park or Not to Park. (Culver City image via Jalopnik.)

* Calvin Trillin

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As we take the bus, we might send honorable birthday greetings to William McKinley; he was born on this date in 1843.  The 25th President of the U.S., McKinley was the first president to ride in an automobile (a Stanley Steamer, a steam-engine-powered car built in the late 1890s by brothers Francis and Freelan Stanley). McKinley was also the last President to have served in the Civil War, and the third President (after Lincoln and Garfield) to be assassinated (though some believed Zachary Taylor, who died in office, to have been poisoned).

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Written by LW

January 29, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design”*…

 

email readers click here for video

Although not anyone can be a designer, everyone who wants to can learn the elements of visual design: contrast, transparency, hierarchy, randomness, and so on. In fact, it doesn’t even take all that long. Just watch this 50-second video.

Animated by Toronto-based art director and motion designer Matt Greenwood, this video walks you through 24 of the most important visual design principles, ranging from rhythm to texture to color. It won’t teach you everything you need to know to be a designer, but it’s a good start…

More at “24 Of Design’s Most Important Principles, Animated.”

* Charles Eames

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As we seek elegance in all, we might recall that it was on this date in 1847 that Richard M. Hoe patented the rotary printing press.  Hoe had invented the press a couple of years earlier and improved it before submission. His creation greatly increased the speed of printing, as it involved rolling a cylinder over stationary plates of inked type, using the cylinder to make an impression on paper– thus eliminating the need to make impressions from pressing type plates, which were heavy and difficult to maneuver.  In 1871, Hoe added the ability to print to continuous rolls of paper, creating the “web press” that revolutionized newspaper and magazine printing.  His first customer was Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune.

Hoe’s Hoe “web perfecting press,” with continuous feed

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Written by LW

July 24, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Symbolize and summarize”*…

 

Saul Bass was one of America’s premiere graphic designers through the second half of the Twentieth Century. He created some of the best-remembered, most iconic logos in North America:  e.g., the Bell Telephone logo (1969) and the successor AT&T globe (1983), Continental Airlines (1968), Dixie (1969), United Airlines (1974), and Warner Communications (1974).  

But for your correspondent’s money, his major contribution was his extraordinary series of movie titles and posters, created for the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick, and Martin Scorsese.  Prior to Bass, movie title sequences had largely been a series of “credit cards,” functioning in effect as title pages.  Bass developed the opening as a way to set the emotional stage for the film to follow.  As screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi said of Bass and his second wife and collaborator Elaine, “you write a book of 300 to 400 pages and then you boil it down to a script of maybe 100 to 150 pages. Eventually you have the pleasure of seeing that the Basses have knocked you right out of the ballpark. They have boiled it down to four minutes flat.”

In the broadest sense, all modern opening title sequences that introduce the mood or theme of a film can be seen as descendent of Bass’s innovative work. In particular, though, one can detect the influence of Bass in the title sequences for some recent movies and television series (especially those set in the 1960s) that have purposely emulated the graphic style of his animated sequences from that era: e.g.,  Catch Me If You Can (2002), X-Men: First Class (2011), and the opening to the AMC series Mad Men.

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See a more complete frame board of Bass’ North By Northwest opening here; browse more of his extraordinary canon here— all courtesy of our old friend Christian Annyas.

* Saul Bass

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As we mute our cell phones, we might recall that it was on this date in 1956 that Alfred Hitchcock’s muse, the Oscar-winning actress Grace Kelly, became Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco.

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Written by LW

April 19, 2014 at 1:01 am

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