Monday, November 29, 2010

Color Transforms

Focusing once again on the advertising world in our society, one can see that color plays an important role in that whole design process.  Color can be used as emphasis or used as dominance or even used to create color schemes and evoke certain moods and feels.  But anyway you look at it, more often than not, color has the power to transform any design it occupies.

Coca-Cola companies have been known over the years as designing truly creative advertisements—both in the two-dimensional print form and in animation.  This Coca-Cola design is no exception and really plays with the capabilities of color.  Based off of the black and white background, I can really tell that the designers intended to have the bright colors be bold and stand out in the advertisement.  Initially, it feels as though there are hundreds of different colors of arrows throughout the picture.  But looking more closely, I realize that there are only seven or eight different colors.   Why is it that it seems like so many more when one is looking at the picture as a whole?

In his book, The Interaction of Color, Josef Albers answers that very question.  He points out that “color has many faces” (8).  Based off of the surroundings of a color, it can appear differently to the human eye.  When a color is surrounded by warm colors (reds, oranges), the shade will actually appear differently than it would if it were surrounded by cold colors (blues, violets).    For the Coca-Cola advertisement, each color is surrounded by so many different colors, making one pink arrow sometimes appear tinted slightly different that another one.  Then by combining that concept with all seven colors that are represented in the design, the advertisement appears to have significantly more colors and shades than it actually has!

Utopian Design

In our society, it has become more and more important for the designs that are created to serve a greater purpose than just looking “aesthetically beautiful.”  Currently, there are issues in our society that need addressing, and that is what designers should be doing now.  Look at the oil crisis that is now occurring around the world.  The world in general is all too dependent on oil and gasoline. And unfortunately the earth does not have an endless supply to keep giving humans as they need it.  Not only is the price of oil and gasoline steadily rising at a rate that we probably cannot keep up with, but also one day there will be no more gas left to use.  On that day, what would our society do about one of our most important inventions: the car?

Yes, there are scientist and engineers looking to create a car that does not depend on gasoline at all, but so far they have been unsuccessful in creating a practical one.  In the meantime however, there has been a greater effort by automobile companies to design and produce cars that are more environmentally friendly.

The third generation Toyota Prius was first debuted in January 2009.  This car was designed to improve society in many different ways.  But most notably, the car has an average miles per gallon rating of 51 over 48.  According to the U.S. Environmental and Protection Agency, it was ranked as the number one most efficient vehicle based off of mpg.  All in all, the Toyota Prius was designed to improve society and create “Harmony between man, nature and machine.” (3rd Generation Toyota Prius slogan)

Dangerous Designs

For decades, the tobacco industry has been creating and designing advertisements that are intended to catch the eye of audiences.  Just like any other company, they design advertisements in order to convince consumers to buy and use their product.  However tobacco companies are at a slight disadvantage because they product has been proven to be harmful and dangerous to humans, and for that matter society in general.

Looking at this advertisement and its design specifically, the tobacco industry plays off of the idea that smoking a cigarette makes a man irresistible to women.  While typography plays a minor role in the layout of the ad, the main emphasis is truly the interaction between the man and the woman.  After all, the slogan, “Blow in her face and she’ll follow you anywhere” is presented in white and without any color with the intention of sort of blending into the background.  Then, appropriate for a cigarette advertisement, the cigarette is directly in the center of the ad, creating emphasis by placement.

This is another cigarette advertisement that seems almost more dangerous than the previous advertisement.  This one was carefully designed to attack the idea in people’s minds that smoking is harmful and dangerous.  It sends the message that if doctors can smoke these cigarettes, then how could it be harmful?

In both cases, the design intended to make consumers want to buy their product.  However, by buying the companies’ cigarettes, the consumers are in fact putting themselves in danger.  Because of this, the “danger” was probably an unintentional consequence to the advertisements and designs.  As far as I can tell, these cigarette companies are probably more concerned with selling their product than harming consumers.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Logorama, created in 2009 and directed by the French animation collection, H5, is a purely fun animated cartoon.  It was awarded the 2010 Academy Award for Best Short Animated Picture.  The plot line is fairly simple—the story of a police chase and search for a highly dangerous and wanted criminal. 

However the design of the video is very unique and is probably what helps grab the attention of audiences.  The setting of the film is a city (Malibu, I am assuming) entirely made up of logos.  Every part of the city is made up of a logo.  Even the townspeople are significant—an Esso worker, the Pringles man, and non-important characters are all the little AOL AIM people.  The story follows the police officers, that are also Michelin men, and they are chasing the bad guy, also known as Ronald McDonald.  There are endless recognizable characters and famous figures used in the story’s narration.  Products and logos also appear everywhere as the story is told. 

While this is just a cartoon, watching it makes me wonder if perhaps there’s a bigger idea or message behind it.  Looking at the stop signs in this city, there is only two options: “Stop” and “Shop”.   This combined with the design of the city, suggest that maybe we are a culture that consumes too much.  The entire city is created and filled with recognizable logos.  I do not think that the designers went so far as to suggest that the Michelin man is good or that Ronald McDonald is evil—but it is possible that they are looking down at the overconsumption of our cultures.

The Dot and the Line

The Dot and the Line was created by Chuck Jones in 1965, as an adaptation of Norton Juster’s 1963 book.  Originally, watching the first couple seconds of the film, I had no idea what to expect.   It was clearly a cartoon, probably intended for younger audiences, but the animation combined with the music reminded me of the 1940 Disney film, Fantasia.  For the first eighty seconds, for all I knew, the film was going to be entirely dependent on the music and animation, and maybe even without words.  But then the narrator began, and I was proven wrong.

The film is designed in a very clever way to teach audiences the significance and versatility of the classic line.  The film is very dependent on color and contrast to create the child-like atmosphere.  The colorful colors of all the other lines, the bold red chosen for the dot, and even the black used for the “wild and unkempt squiggle.”  The colors all seem to correspond with each of the “characters” in the story.

I liked how Juster/ Jones point out the different significant “roles” that lines play: the “celebrated daredevil” (a tight rope), a “leader in world affairs” (the Equator), the “fearless law enforcement agent” (the lanes on a street), a “potent force in the world of art” (a pole in a celebrated painting), and even an “international sportsman” (a tug of war rope).  All of these examples cleverly show how prevalent the line is in everything we see.

Finally the film ends with both the dot and the audience being impressed by the versatility of the line.  Once it learned to bend and make angles, it realized it was capable of so much more.  Mathematically, it could even make curves, and from that point there was no stopping him.  He could design infinite creations now—and compared to the “wild and unkempt squiggle,” there was really no comparison!  No matter how hard it tried, it could not appear designed.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Check It Out!

Professor Housefield presented this video to us in class last week, and as usual, the design of it really created quite a conversation.

Here is the video of a popular American song, “Check It Out” by artists and Nicki Minaj.  And while I first assumed that this would be a normal American music video, I quickly realized I was wrong… and not just because the beginning is an introduction by a Korean man.

This music video was in fact designed with a Korean audience in mind.  While the music and lyrics are sung in English, Korean audiences are able to get involved as well.  As Nicki Minaj starts singing the first verses and the chorus, Korean words and characters are graphically added into the background.  This occurs throughout the whole song as what can be described as a modified form of subtitles.  Sometimes the addition of subtitles to a foreign film or song will just add more of a detached mood and feeling—but here, the way that the music video has the words rhythmically and graphically popping out, it feels more designed.

Then from the perspective of an American, who does not know a single word of Korean, the design of the video still seems effective.  To the non-Korean speakers, the Korean characters simply act additional graphics.  There is no need to try and figure out what it says exactly, because I feel as though I can be pretty confident that the Korean words correspond to the English lyrics.  All in all, because both audiences can be included can feel included by the video, I believe it to be relatively well designed.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ergonomics of Design

Ergonomics is the science of human engineering, or the design of devices or systems with the consumer or users in mind.  Especially in industrial design and the design of objects, designers must look at the interaction between the humans and the object designed. 

Different object can be criticized based off of ergonomics differently.  In Professor Housefield’s lecture, we went over the basis of design criticism: safety, comfort, ease of use, performance, and aesthetics.
Apple is known for its creative and innovative designs and products.  I have written about Apple products and their designs in previous blog entries, but this time I am going discuss the iPad and its ergonomic criticism.

Based off of my use, the safety level of the iPad is pretty high.  There really are few risks in using an iPad, at least on a physical danger level.  I do not personally know of any examples of serious injuries caused by iPads or spontaneous combustions of any sort.  Apple seems to have made the iPad a safe, durable product. 

The description of the comfort level of an electronic is significantly different from the comfort level of an object such as furniture, or a chair.  While comfort level is a subjective opinion in both examples, they are still very different.  A person can sit on a chair and say that its too stiff, or too squishy.  But with an electronic, some people will feel comfortable working with some electronics, while others are simply not comfortable using it.  A lot of times, there is something about the feel of the screen, or the functionality of it that makes it either comfortable or uncomfortable.  Personally, I believe that the comfort level of the iPad is rather high.  The soft and smooth feel of the screen really adds to the comfort level of the electronic as a whole.

Ease of use goes along with comfort when critiquing an electronic.  For most people, the easer the electronic is to use, the more comfortable it usually is.  Like many Apple products, the iPad was designed very intuitively.  The average person really can figure out how the iPad works quickly after they get it.

Under the performance category, the criticism looks into the products productivity and durability.   Performance-wise, the iPad can do so many different things.  With thousands of applications to choose from, a person can use an iPad to listen to music, watch videos, check e-mails, play games, and obviously thousands of other things.  And while the iPad is relatively new on the market, its durability so far seems strong. 

Again like the majority of the Apple products, the aesthetic design of the iPad is pretty strong as well.  The film Objectified presents the idea that good design looks as if it was not even designed at all.  The iPad has that same look.  The design looks almost effortless and uses elements of simplicity and unity to create the perfect electronic.  Then when the iPad is actually in use, the product uses its high quality screen and colors to keep consumers interested.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kinetic Typography

Typography really is one of my favorite elements in design.  I am pretty sure I have already blogged about it a few times, but it really is something I have always been drawn to; something I've always played around with.

By definition, typography is the way that language looks, or maybe the design of words.  But kinetic typography is the use of animated text to convey art and design.  Kinetic typography is another way that image and word interact with film in a design setting.  It is used to add emotion and emphasis to the messages being expressed.  Some films do this by messing with the proportions of different words—some are smaller, others are bigger.  Or maybe the designer uses elements of pattern or repetition to create those same emotions and ideas.

Here is one example of kinetic typography created by Heebok Lee, a design student at the Carnegie Mellon School of Design.  In this video, he uses an excerpt from Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem “Renaissance,” and uses a combination of animated text and music to create this powerful video.  Rhythm and speed are two of the most important elements as he tries to dramatize the message behind the segment.  Then with the addition of the classical music by Real World Multimedia, he is able to draw the audience even further into the film. 

Someone (other than Heebok Lee) posted this film on Youtube, and one comment that was left describes how powerful the words and design of the video really is.  Pisayoz writes, “Mute it. You can still hear the music.”  His statement is one hundred percent true.  The video does not even need the music, because the kinetic typography and the words on their own really stand out and convey a strong message.  

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Si Scott- Word and Image

Last year I studied British designer and illustrator, Si Scott.  I remember being entirely fascinated by his design and art pieces, mostly because of the intricate detail in all of his pieces.  The majority of Scott’s pieces are done in black and white, so he does not depend on color to make his pieces more interesting.

Scott also likes to incorporate words and typography into his designs.   Many of his pieces have even been campaigned into advertisements for companies like Adidas, or Coca-Cola.   With different pieces of advertisement and his other typography pieces, Scott really plays with the connection between word and image—because sometimes, he makes the word the actual image.
I have already discussed the relationship between words and images in the field of advertisement, and Si Scott’s advertisements are no exceptions.  Looking at his foreign Nike advertisement, he uses his usual design style with concepts of the movement and line, and combines it with words to create a unique typography.  Then he uses that typography and font to create the shape of an athlete.  This approach was then probably interesting and attractive to companies like Nike, because it is so original (from an advertising standpoint). 

Looking at this piece in his collection entitles “Mercy,” Scott designs with the word “love,” and he conveys the main idea through the words.  Because it’s all done in black and white, Scott uses other elements.  In this piece in particular, the use of lines, and the concept of line quality work together to form movement, balance, and flow.  The thickness of the line quality in some areas adds balance to the piece as a whole.  Then the continuous line flow adds to the feeling of movement that Scott tries to emphasize.

Bob Fies- Word and Image in Design

There is an essential interaction between word and image in the work of a comic book artist.  In our Design class, we have spent a lot of time on the subject of comic books and how they are designed.  Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics, he introduces to the general public the basic definition of a comic.

Bob Fies is a different type of comic book artists.  His first successful comic book song that was written was called Mom’s Cancer.  This topic caught my attention though because it seemed like an unusual topic for a comic book.  Fies’s mom was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and Fies based the whole book off of the entire situation.  In the lecture that he gave our class, he focused on the book and how he developed it, as well as how language and words work with an image.

Comics combine the concepts of words and images, and through this combination, the two concepts add up to more than they are worth on their own.  Words convey half of the meaning, and the images convey the other half—but they must work together in order to convey the full meaning. 

Specifically in Mom’s Cancer, Fies uses the combination of words and image to create a powerful juxtaposition.  He could show multiple perceptions to a situation and play with the idea of space and time in ways that a normal book or piece of art could not.  Fies really understands that connection between the two and uses it for his advantage to convey just the right message in his novels.  

Mom's Cancer

Monday, November 1, 2010

Interaction of Form and Content

The Gary Hustwit 2009 film, Objectified, focuses on industrial design and the design of objects.  Different modern designers from literally all around the world comment and are interviewed in their video on their opinions and answers to the questions of modern design—specifically, how does form and content interact in the designing process?

Design consultants that live all around the world, have the job of understanding people and basically what their needs are.  The New York company, Smart Design, really focuses on the people they are designing for—and not just the average human, but also the extreme cases.  They realize that if they include the extreme cases in their designs, the average people will fit right in as well.  But what does this have to do with form and content?  These designers realize that the two concepts are dependent on each other.   Form is the materials used to create the object; it is the physical structure of the object.  The concept is then the idea behind that object.  These two come together when designers take a concept or an object, and give it its form and shape.  Form and concept intersect simply when an object is created and designed.

When discussing Apple’s designs, the film mentions that design is actually a continuous process, and designers are really constantly designing, asking themselves why certain objects look like they do.  Here again, form interacts with content, because an object’s form is continually changed to improve the object’s content.  Look at the development of the iMac or the iPod.  As designers look to improve how an object looks or with what materials new models are used, designers often improve the objects main purpose and content.

Designing in Their Society

Actual design in society: this is an example I came across of designers doing exactly what they do (design) in their very own community and society.  Back in April of this year, I traveled to London, England with my family for a vacation.  While we were there, we went to art museums just about every day, ranging from historical ones to contemporary ones.  Some of these included the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Tate Britain, the Tate Modern, and the list literally could have gone on and on.  All of these museums had their similarities and differences, but none of them could have prepared me for what my sister showed me one of the days we were there. 

Off of the Waterloo station in London, there is this two hundred meter tunnel that is covered entirely by graffiti from different artists and designers from not only all over London, but all over the world.  In fact, Banksy even had an art exhibit one time in the tunnel, but the walls are not just for famous people to design on—it is for anyone and everyone.   All you need is spray paint.

Pictures curtesy of my trip to London :)

Walking through the tunnel, there is no possible way you can see everything that has been painted.  Not to mention, if you come back a week or so later, chances are something new will be added.  Artists and designers use contrasting colors in order to make their art and designs stand out, because quite honestly, at first glance, the gestalt of the tunnel is almost too chaotic and overwhelming.  But certain pieces definitely draw the eye—perhaps due to its message and typography, or unrealistic scaling and proportions, or even in a few cases, its realism.  Regardless of what caught my attention, I was consistently impressed as I walked through the tunnel.  And with the creation of this tunnel, the amount of vandalism in other areas of London was significantly decreased because these “designers” now had a legal outlet. 

The Apple MacBook

I personally have a fascination with Apple’s designs.  In terms of industrial design, they create many different objects that are mass-produced.  In particular, Apple designed the first MacBook computer in May of 2006.  In my opinion, the MacBook is extremely well designed based off of its simplicity and usefulness.

Looking at the front panel, or the top when it is closed (depending on how you look at it), there is one single icon in the middle, in the center.  The single apple icon is so distinctively known pretty much all over the world, as the icon for Apple.  As the focal point, the apple icon is emphasized due to the isolation of the image.

Then when the MacBook is actually opened, the computer’s design continues to create this pleasant and aesthetic design.  There is bilateral symmetry with all of its elements, including the speakers on both sides (depending on the size of the design) and the center placement of the keyboard, trackpad, and camera on the very top.  Technically speaking, this was all designed very practically, because no one would enjoy using a computer with any of these elements of center or randomly put to one side—that simply would no make sense.  Nevertheless, I think that is what makes the design of the MacBook so pleasant.  It was designed with simplicity, and it refrains from overly flashy or distracting features.  In fact, even when an indicator light is not in use, it is completely invisible.  One could not even tell that this light even exists when it is not in use—and doesn’t that seem most practical?  In the Gary Hustwit’s film Objectified, good design is described as something that looks like it requires the least amount of design.  To me, that’s the MacBook.  It looks so simple—barely even designed.  But in fact, it was designed… and with a consumer, like me, in mind.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Design as a Problem Solver

Just how much power does design have?  I have already argued that it is a language, a means of communication, and even a conversation.  But I recently ran across this article that suggests that design is even used to solve the problems of the world. 

Graphic designers create signs all the time.  For example, all of the street signs and highways signs have all been designed for the purpose of communicating and informing drivers and travelers.   But in 2004, a group of graphic designers noticed that a change in font on the highway patrol signs could increase “legibility” and “reaction times.”  Because of this, the Federal Highway Administration authorized the switch from Highway Gothic to Clearview.  According to the article, this change improved the reading distance especially at night by an additional 80 feet.  There was also a significant 14 percent increase in legibility by elderly drivers.  Just by changing the simple font of these highways signs, and thanks to graphic designers, driving on the highway was made safer than ever before.

Design has the power to solve problems, and it even has the power to improve human lives.  Because design is everywhere in our modern day world, we can always be impacted by it—for better or for worse.  Technically this article would be a basic example of design impacting the world for better, and hopefully more often than not, that is the case.   Because after all, is that not one of the most important intentions of designers?  Designing to make the world a better place.

Design as a Conversation

Design is a language of its own.  It has the power to send a message all across the planet, crossing over many language barriers.  Thanks to symbols and other images, people can understand each other in ways they never have before.  But also with design, people can communicate with each other in a brand new way, because design is also a conversation.

Look at advertisement as an example.  Here is a simple ad for an iPod.

Notice there are actual words in this ad.  Yet there is no confusion as to what it is for.  This can be used universally, and everyone understands it.  Design has the power to do that.  In advertisement, design can be a conversation between the designers/ creators and the consumers (or quite honestly, us).  They use this conversation to tell the consumers which product they should buy, as well as why they should buy it.

Thanks to the invention of blogs and the modern day Internet, the design conversation has also been transformed.  Now when a design is released, conversation is almost immediately stimulated among people.  In a previous entry, I blogged about Pepsi changing their logo, and if you look for twenty seconds on the Internet, you will easily be able to find people’s responses to change in logo.  Do people like it better? Or do they think its worse?  People’s opinions and responses can now be found all over the Internet.

Because the conversation has become so prevalent on the Internet, designers now are able to answer the responses of the consumers.  Design truly becomes a back and forth conversation that allows consumers to give input into a designer’s creation, while the designers can reconstruct and redesign pieces to make them more relatable than ever before. 

Compare and Contrast

Companies redesign and transform their logos every once in awhile.  Especially companies that are as well known as Pepsi tend to go through at least a slight transformation every ten to twenty years.  This is one of the recent Pepsi logos released in 1998 in honor of the company’s 100th anniversary.

Then ten years later, in 2008, Pepsi released this as their newest logo:

Design-wise, both logos really seem to be very dated from the decade that it was released.  The older of the two has that overlapping layout, while one of the most important factors in the newer logo is its spatial composition.  This logo uses the negative spaces to contribute to making the logo look cleaner and more modern.

But then looking at the first logo, texture is extremely important.  Both the actual circular design and lettering have shape and shadow that help make the logo appear actually three-dimensional.

Out of all of the transformations that the Pepsi logo under went over the last century, the transformation between these two was one of the most dramatic.  However while there are those blatant disparities, there are still some similarities that help the consumer still recognize the product.  After all, isn’t that what is most important?

First of all, the color scheme is exactly the same, but I think that the Pepsi designer would never change the logo quite that drastically.  And while the circular part of the design was transformed slightly, they are essentially the same thing in both logos.  (Again, here the second may appear more modern than the first because of its flatter and cleaner design.)  Also if you look at the scale of the circular design in comparison to the actual letters, the proportions are similar for both logos.

Corporations and companies changes logos all the time.  Sometimes they'll look very similar to the previous ones, and sometimes they'll change significant characteristics.  Some will also look better, while unfortunately some will look worse.  But even if they do take a turn for the worse, I'm sure designers will switch it up again soon enough.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Google Designs

There is officially no doubt about it—Google has become apart of our society.  When there’s an argument that needs to be settled among friends, what do you do?  Google it.  It never fails to be right.  But even in a design sense, Google always seems to throw in as much creativity whenever possible.  For example, every possible holiday in the world, Google redesigns its logo to help make it more festive, and it is very clear that the designers of Google are always busy and seemingly coming up with new and inventive things.  These are some of the “holiday” designs I came across:

Happy New Years:

Happy Halloween:

Pi Day:

And even this “Happy 50th Anniversary, Flinstones!”

While these are all very interesting and creative, this past week, Google threw out a new and even more inventive one.  On October 8th, 2010, Google celebrated John Lennon’s 70th Birthday Anniversary with this particular Google design that was the first of its kind (as far as I have ever noticed):

At first glance I agreed it was definitely creative, but quite honestly that is the same thought I have for practically all of them.  But then I notice the small play button looking triangle… and sure enough, the Google logo transformed into this video:

Maybe I’ve just been missing these interactive Google designs, but I was definitely impressed by this one. And to all the Google designers, this one really seemed to take its dedication to John Lennon to a whole new level. 

Creativity from Without

When people design or create things, inspiration often times comes from inside the person.  But especially in our society today, there are designers that find inspiration outside of themselves.  Jonathan Ive is an example of one of those designers.  Born in 1967, Ive works as the senior vice-president of design at Apple, where he is most noted for designing the iPod and iMac.
In an interview with Design Museum in the United Kingdom, Ive is asked about how he came into design and what drives his designs.  His interest began from an early age, but he was specifically interested in “made objects.”  He loved taking things apart, putting them back together, and figuring out how they were made or worked.  Even at such a young age, he expressed interest in the composition of an object—its make-up and materials used.

As a teenager, he knew that he wanted to design and create things, but his interests were so broad, he didn’t even know where to begin.  Cars, furniture, jewelry, and boats—everything fascinated him.  But after considering his wide range of interests, he decided to pursue product design.  Then as his education progressed, he really started understanding the “historical and cultural context of an object’s design.”  This became extremely important especially as his career took off.

However for Jonathan Ive, his inspiration for design rarely came from within himself.   When asked why he chose to work with Apple, he explains that it was mostly because he felt “technically inept” and he could not figure out why he struggled with computers so badly.  Mac helped him out in that situation, allowing him to work with computers so much better than before.  Then later on, Ive returned the favor as an employee of Apple.

As a member of Apple now and a successful designer, Ive believes that design is “driven by the development of new materials.”  These new materials are created and exist in this tangible world, and from these materials, Ive is inspired.  So while many artists and even designers create from within themselves, Ive truly breaks the mold: he creates from without.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stone Soup

Image from
The concept of “Stone Soup” is one that I have known for probably the majority of my life and here is what I am going to refer to as the “Erin Sayson Abbreviated Version”:

There are some soldiers visiting a village in hopes of finding a good meal or a nice bed to sleep on.  However normally, when soldiers would come to visit a town, they would take advantage of the poor peasants and villagers.  So naturally, these villagers did not give the soldiers very much food.  But the soldiers decided to make due with what they had.  First they took a large pot and added stones and water.  Then eventually all the people in the village came out and brought a little bit of what they had, and together they made a soup for the entire village to share.  Then, in response, the villager’s view of the soldiers shifted from a negative one to a positive one, simply because everyone was included and working together.

What does this story have to do with design?  Well first of all, today, Housefield assigned us a “Stone Soup” activity.  In this assignment, all of the members of my group brought a little bit of something creative from our homes.  After that, plain and simply, we had to create with it.  Definitely the hardest part was figuring out what on earth we were going to create with a bunch of cardboard boxes, paper plates, construction paper, ribbon, and other really random items.  As our group stared at the taunting supplies in front of us, we all just started spitting out ideas ranging from an article of clothing to even a teepee.  In the end, we agreed on this “well dressed” robot/ man that would be sitting casually on a bench waiting for a date.  Then one thing led to another, and all of us got to working on whatever needed to be done, helping each other out, and creating our very own “Stone Soup.”

I’d definitely say that our project was a success.  We easily got along throughout the whole process, and everyone threw out his or her own great ideas.  In the future, as a designer, that is exactly what we will be doing: working together with the people around us to create.  No one person can design completely on their own.  We will always need the help of those around us. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Is This Design?

In the first week of lecture, Housefield tried to introduce us to the world of design by giving us what he refers to as “the three big questions (plus one).”  By giving us these questions, he had hoped that it would help us understand design in its entirety better than before.  However the “plus one” question is actually the one that I am most interested in right now: what do we ask design to do?

My personal answer to that question is a seemingly endless list.  I ask design to clarify, to invent, and to create.   In general, I ask design to be purposeful.  Which brings me to this IKEA table I came across when I was shopping with my sister.  IKEA is known for their fashionable and trendy home furnishing and d├ęcor.  But then I look at this table, and I wonder about the “design” of this table.  To me, design must at least have some practicality and usefulness.  This table appears to be designed so that the chairs can fit perfectly under the table, but if you look at where the people sit, EVERYONE must sit in a corner.  Now if you ask me, the corner seat is the least comfortable of all seats at a table.  So practically speaking, this table would definitely be the last table I would ever prefer to use in my kitchen.

IKEA Fusion Table
On one note, I think this table is visually a good idea.  Spatially, I will admit that it is well designed to not take up a lot of room.  But practically speaking, I cannot see myself actually enjoying using this particular table because the comfort level seems so level.  And in my opinion, the actual usefulness and comfort of a table should be an important factor in the design.

Design: Verb? Noun? Or Both?

Is design a noun or a verb?  Technically speaking, one can design something, making it a verb.  Or one can see something that has design in it.  But practically speaking, what is design—a noun or a verb?

Just like most every other Design 1 student in Housefield’s class, I’m about to argue that it is necessary for design to be both a noun and verb.  You simply cannot have one without the other.

Based off of what is in society, design clearly exists as a noun, because design is literally all around us.  In the big things, there is design.  For example, look at the design of a street or a park or even a city.  There is design in the way it was structured and the way it was organized.  But there’s also design in the smaller things, like advertisements or newspapers or really any type of media.  In this case, the design exists in order to capture the attention and seem relatable to its audiences.

But then as a noun, can something have design without design existing as a verb?  I am going to have to argue no.  These streets, cities, and parks were designed by someone; just as media must have be designed in order to exist as well.  So plain and simply, if something has design in it, someone must have put forth the action and designed it.

Memories of Design

As a little girl, I remember my parents reading me children’s books all the time for a variety of reasons.  Maybe it was used to teach me a lesson, or maybe it was solely used for helping me fall asleep at night—but whatever the reason, Shel Silverstein’s book The Giving Tree, affected me in ways past those of a child trying to fall asleep.  It was more than the experience of reading or being read to with this book.  I specifically remember being fascinated by the illustrations and the design as a whole.  The books message was simple: do not take for granted the things and people in your life, because if you do, there will eventually be nothing left for you to take.  However for me, this was the first time I recognized that the design of a book was related to its message.  The Giving Tree’s illustrations as well as design and flow as you read, can similarly be seen as simplistic and easy to understand.

Image Copyright: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
I would also like to think that this book still affects me in the way I design now.  Visually, it was my first memorable introduction to clean basic lines, without a whole lot of distractions.  And now, that seems to be the kind of design I’m drawn to.  Clean and simple.  There was also something aesthetic about the way the book would be read.  Silverstein really kept the story flowing in a remarkably fluid manner.  From that very first time I was introduced to it, even at such a young age, I could not help but be drawn back to it again and again.