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Posts Tagged ‘design

“If you’re lucky, people will get the message”*…

 

From the early 80s to today, a graphic look at “The History of Icons.”

Special bonus:  browse through the sketchbook of pioneer Susan Kare.

* “If you look at that blank canvas and say, ‘Now I’m going to create a masterpiece’ — that’s just foolhardy. You just have to make the best painting you can, and if you’re lucky, people will get the message.”  – Susan Kare

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As we point and click, we might send mercantile birthday greetings to John Vansant Wanamaker; he was born on this date in 1838.  A gifted merchant who helped define the modern consumer era, Wanamaker’s flagship store in Philadelphia– an enterprise that helped define the “department store”– was designed by famed architect Daniel Burnham, featured a pipe organ, an art gallery and a 2,500-pound bronze eagle that became a favored meeting place for Philadelphians.

Wanamaker was a committed innovator:  he was the first to use electric arc lighting in a retail setting (in 1878); and starting in 1910, sensing its potential as an advertising medium, he used his stores as a base for experimentation with radio– starting a radio broadcast station in the store in 1922 to initiate radio receiver sales.

Wanamaker served as Postmaster General in the late 19th century, introducing the first commemorative stamp and laying the groundwork for Rural Free Delivery.  And in the early 20th century, he helped establish Mother’s Day as an observance.

An aggressive advertiser and promoter, Wanamaker is credited with the famous observation, “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

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Written by LW

July 12, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Over the years I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it”*…

 

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“Fabulously glamorous puppets model fashions and bewitch men at The Cypress Club in London, 1960″

Part of Vintage Fashion, a subset of the 85,000 historical films available from British Pathé.

* Yves Saint-Laurent

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As we canter down the catwalk, we might send elegant birthday greetings to Giorgio Armani; he was born on this date in 1934.  A fashion designer probably best known for his mens line, Armani brought clean, tailored lines, natural fit, and subtle colors to his work.  While he was warmly received from his first collection (in 1975), Armani became a sensation in the 80s when his clothes were worn by Richard Gere in American Gigolo and by the protagonists of Miami Vice.  By the late 80s, his “power suits” had become a symbol of success.  Today, Armani’s brand adorns home goods, books, and hotels in addition to clothing; he’s widely regarded as the most successful Italian designer ever.

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Written by LW

July 11, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated”*…

 

Picnic season is upon us.  One might wonder whither the ubiquitous design, illustrated above, adorning paper cups and plates in parks and backyards across the nation– Solo’s highest-grossing design ever…  In fact, many did wonder, and took to the web to investigate.  The crowd made some headway– they discovered it was created by a designer named “Gina”– but it took an intrepid reporter, Thomas Gounley of the Springfield (MO) News-Leader, to get the whole (and fascinating) story.

Read it at “The Internet is looking for who designed this cup. What does Springfield have to do with it?

* Paul Rand

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As we have some more potato salad, we might recall that it was on this date in 1880 that O Canada, the song that would become our northern neighbor’s national anthem (de facto by 1939; officially in 1980) was first performed, in French, at the the Congrès national des Canadiens-Français.  Commissioned by Lieutenant Governor of Quebec Théodore Robitaille for the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day ceremony, Calixa Lavallée composed the music, after which words were written by the poet and judge Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier.  English lyrics were created in 1906; but the second English version, created in 1908 by Robert Stanley Weir, were more popular and became the official English lyrics.

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Written by LW

June 24, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Got no checkbooks, got no banks”*…

 

Trinidad and Tobago, the tiny twin-island nation off the coast of Venezuela, has struck gold. Its newly re-released $50 note (TT) earned top billing in this year’s competition convened by the International Bank Note Society (IBNS).

Designed in partnership with the British banknote manufacturer De La Rue to commemorate the 50th (golden) anniversary of the country’s Central Bank, the $50 note shows familiar takes on its national symbols like its coat of arms, a red hibiscus flower, and a red capped cardinal bird, its wings fanned out like a palm tree. The back of the note depicts a smiling carnival dancer, collaged in front of the 22-story Central Bank and Ministry of Finance twin towers, which are the tallest buildings in the entire country…

Read the whole story and see the runners-up at “The world’s best banknotes of the year.”

* Irving Berlin, “I Got the Sun in the Morning”

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As we reach for our wallets, we might recall that it was on this date in 2012 that Facebook went public.  The IPO was the biggest in technology and one of the biggest in Internet history, with a peak market capitalization of over $104 billion.  Some pundits called it a “cultural milestone”; in any case, a great deal of money was “printed.”

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Written by LW

May 18, 2015 at 1:01 am

“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

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