Black/White

‘Both/and’ (rather than ‘either/or’) surface in mainstream design discussion (via gsa blog > eye blog > walker art center). But its interesting how people often contextualise their use of ‘state of flux’ to describe a discipline or area of activity, inferring that this state of flux may one day resolve itself, and that it is somehow a battle of ideologies, to be concluded. The flux is in reality almost not worth mentioning, as it is an ever constant, and the uncertainty, pluralism and duality it brings are positive, rather than negative.

Good Questions


“The period since the 1960s in particular has seen significant shifts in the perceived role of contemporary art in society, as well as the impact organizations displaying art have on economic and political infrastructures and vice versa. “Identity” attempts to animate the typically fraught relationship between cultural and corporate spheres, as contemporary art institutions become increasingly preoccupied with their own image. How do changes in the graphic identities of art institutions over the last five decades reflect the shifting landscape of institutional policy and strategy? How does the conception of ‘identity’ – through an organization’s use of graphic design, its marketing and branding – function to mediate between audience, artwork, and institution?”

via Artists Space. Coming to Tramway, Glasgow, Fall (or Autumn), 2012

Every Movement Needs a Logo?

Every Movement Needs a Logo says the New York Times.

“Of 6 established design practices, only @projectprojects understands that Occupy Wall Street does *not* need a symbol.” tweet Metahaven.

OASE Journal for Architecture

OASE Journal for Architecture has a new website and better still, editions 1-81 are available as PDF’s to download to your non-brand-specific portable tablet device. OASE is/has been designed by Dutch designer and educator Karel Martens, and is an exemplary example of design for an organisation which is consistently of the highest quality but which doesn’t need to conform to a rigid template or formula, and is coherent without needing to adhere to the dogma of consistency.

via OASE Journal for Architecture « Visual Communication.

Identity 9-1-1

The first of this week’s graphic identities to mark the ten year anniversary of 9/11, this from the Times newspaper. The headline above it is also quite telling. For an insightful analysis of the WTC site and events, from an architectural point of view, this article from Domus makes an interesting read. (Includes mention of a proposal by GSA New Build architect Stephen Holl).

Flat Land

Always a fan of drawing out connections where there are non, we were wondering why everything seems so ‘flat’ at the Design Museum at the moment. What we’re talking about here is about how the exhibitions are presented, rather than the subject of the exhibitions themselves — From the already-quite-flat work of Wim Crouwel*, to the not-at-all flat work of Dieter Rams, subject to a methodical and clinical flattening by Biblioteque, (and the promotional material for the current Kenneth Grange exhibition), we were wondering why this flatness, of a particular 1960’s/70’s variety, seems to be so popular with our leading Design Museum? This minor observation prompts the following wild and ill-informed conjecture:

Is the visual style of late-modernist/swiss-modernist design an easier sell to members of the general public than any other period in design history? Is the proliferation of digital technologies, (and the accompanying explosion of infinite possibilities), creating an inverse movement that is attracted to screenprinting, limited colour palettes, and the denial of the third dimension? Is there something in the air, from political and civil unrest, to financial insecurity, to the brave new web 2.0 of hackgate and wikileaks, that means we find a nostalgic and simplified view of design (and the world) reassuring and comforting?

*The caviat here is that to see Crouwels work in the flesh, it is not ‘flat’, and just to reiterate that this post is talking mainly about the way this work is marketed, partially about how it is curated and reflected upon, and digital emulations of a particular period in the history of Graphic Design.

Rainy Day Branding

Where the Cold Wind Blows (on Brand New) documents a dynamic identity for two municipalities — Gamvik and Lebesby — in the county of Finnmark, Norway. This relates, on one level or another, to everything in this blog, but specifically the question of dynamic identity being mistaken for flexible identity, and all identities being flexible, but some being more flexible than others (to coin a coined phrase).

We’re seeing quite a few identities taking advantage of the rise of a) the screen and b) digital print as primary communication tools, to create identities which move, responding to a range of variable ‘input’ data (in this case, the weather) but a lot of which seem to have similar (faceted, gradiated, modular) outcomes. It is noted on the blog that there are indeed aesthetic similarities to the Sagmeister Casa del Musica project.

Diet Coke Break

A refresh for one of the worlds biggest ‘brands’, where ‘make the logo bigger’ is taken to it’s logical conclusion, and both less and more are more. But what do the customers think? Here speaks one, from the erudite comments section on the Creative Review blog;

“Okay, I have to say this. I dont mean this in a derogatory manner, this is just how I read the can. I didnt even see the swirl from the o in coke. Therefore, I read the can as saying “dike” instead of di and oke from the way that it is cropped. In some angles, you cant even see the o. In most of the angles, at first glance, this looks like it reads “dik” or “dike”. What an abomination.”

And to provide the editorial balance for which this blog is renound, if indeed the maxim is correct, this is (part of) what google says the coke brand is.

via Creative Review – Turner Duckworth gives Diet Coke new look.

States of Design

MoMA design curator, Paola Antonelli, details how brands themselves have changed the landscape of contemporary communication; via States of Design 02: Brand design – Design – Domus.

Non-Straightforward Architecture: A Gentle Manifesto (1966)

“I like complexity and contradiction in architecture. I do not like the incoherence or arbitrariness of incompetent architecture nor the precious intricacies of picturesqueness or expressionism. Instead, I speak of a complex and contradictory architecture based on the richness and ambiguity of modern experience, including that experience which is inherent in art. Everywhere, except in architecture, complexity and contradiction have been acknowledged, from Gödel’s proof of ultimate inconsistency in mathematics to T.S. Elliot’s analysis of ‘difficult’ poetry and Joseph Albers’ definition of the paradoxical quality of painting.”

— Robert Venturi

Image Economies

…or Pergoogles.

NASA 1976 Identity Guidelines

The NASA 1976 Identity Guidelines manage to be both totally unique, and totally typical at the same time, which doesn’t happen much.