Thursday, 31 July 2008

The New Staffordshire Identity

This is the new logo developed by the design agency ‘Dragon’ for the Staffordshire Tourist Board as part of their overall re-branding/new identity. Dragon where given the difficult task of creating an identity for the county that would appeal to a huge and very diverse target audience whilst highlighting all the different things you can see and do in the county – from an action packed day at Alton Towers to some culture and history at Drayton Manor or relaxing by the canal. Dragon have tried to highlight Staffordshire as ‘a world of possibilities’ (Design Week May 2007) and although I initially thought the logo was far too complex I have since realised that I was wrong. Although the logo is comprised of seven elements, plus the name, the fact that they are all monotone silhouettes and fit together to form a circle (or a globe) makes the logo look simpler. The different elements actually project the idea that the county has very diverse attractions and offers something for everyone much better than a single element ever could.

Quick Dry Paint – Ambient Media

This is a brilliant piece of ambient media by the design and advertising agency FPP for a quick drying paint brand Hammerite – I think it could also work really well if photographed and used alongside a slogan or tag line in more traditional press media.

Fruits – Japanese fashion at its most colourful

I came across this book on my girlfriend’s desk (she studies fashion at Leeds College of Art) entitled ‘Fruits’ which documents a revolution in Japanese fashion in the 1990’s centred in the Harajuku district of Tokyo. Not coming from a Fashion back ground this has to be one of the most fascinating and unusual books I have ever read. It begins with a short introduction in which the author explains how the trend started in the mid 1990’s as people became lass passive of the fashions they wore, seeing them as a way to express themselves and began to customise clothes themselves (but on a much larger and to a greater extreme than we see here in the UK). Its also explains how the trends mixed traditional Japanese items such as kimono obi belts with western influences such as tracksuits. This merging of the two fashions is referred to as Wa-mono. After this introduction the author lets their photography do the work and the book is a collection of around 200 full page photos of people wearing their own customised clothes as unless you had been in Tokyo in the 1990’s as seen the trends for yourself it would be difficult using words to describe the outfits.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Graffiti Art Victim Fights Back

Regardless of your views on Graffiti artists are good (genuine artists expressing themselves within their surroundings) or bad (vandals defacing other peoples property) you might fin this photo interesting. It shows a ‘conversation’ between a Graffiti artist and the person who’s property they where tagging (who obviousaly didn't appriciate it). The plumbing shop that has the graffiti on has been graffitied repeatedly and the owner has had to cover the tags many times (the shop is covered in patches of paint covering the tags). This time the victim has clearly become annoyed with having to repaint his shop and decided to fight back – by leaving his own tag abusing the vandal and calling him a ‘Fuckwit’. I don’t know if this was an attempt to embarrass the vandal into stopping or if it was just a act of frustration – I’ll have to go back in a couple of weeks and see if it had any effect or not.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Michon Recruitment Advert

I came across this job advert whilst looking through some old design magazines for potential agencies to send my CV to for some work experience and this advert really struck me and set the company out from all the others advertising in the magazine. Firstly after pages of small ads all filled with copy this was the first full page ‘designed’ advert, which obviously made it stand out – but more importantly as a potential candidate for a job you immediately start to build up an image of the agency. As the agency has clearly spent a lot of money on the advert you immediately feel that this is a big agency prepared to spend money on recruiting the very best staff. They have also taken the time to design a clever advert further emphasising the idea that they take recruiting people very seriously. The ad itself is well laid out (the copy follows the line of the meat cutter) and the copy is clever and clearly had some thinking put into it. All these elements build up a positive image of the agency, one that really values it staff, one that you want to work for – all this before you have seen the type of work they produce, the clients they have or how much money they offer.

Da Font – Free Typefaces is a website that is definitely well worth adding to your favourites bar – it is an online library of thousands of typefaces that you can search by name, author and most importantly style and then download for free. I have found it really useful – especially at the early stages of creating logos as it has a huge verity of unusual and unique faces. The site isn’t quite perfect though – I have found that some typefaces wont convert to PDF or cause your computer to crash if you try print a document with them in (although most of the time if you convert them to outlines you can get around this) so it is best to test them out before you use them on a job. Also as they are free to download from a public site it means anybody else can use them as well – which could be a problem in the case of a logo.

Never Cross a Black Cat – Charlatans short films by Poison Pen Films

Never cross a black cat is the latest short music film for The Charlatans by local production studio Poison Pen Films, the music promo arm of the studio Mezzo Films based in Headingley, Leeds. Poison Pen have worked with a lot of big bands recently including The Holloway’s on their video for the song ‘Generator’ and The Pigeon Detectives for ‘I’m not sorry’.

The ‘Never Cross a Black Cat’ films are a take on the superstition that you shouldn’t cross in front of a black cat – except this time it means don’t annoy one. The promos tell the story of an old lady and her black cat, in the first video the lady is gently rocking in her rocking chair, with the black cat at her side, its tail wagging under the rocking leg of the ladies chair – which is fine until they get out of sink and the cat gets its tail caught. The video then zooms in on this ‘innocent’ cat and you see what the cat would like to do to the old lady to get its revenge – and you realise why you shouldn’t cross it. The second video is based on the same idea, except this time the lady is going down some stairs on a stair lift holding a cup of tea.

The stories themselves are fun and I like the way the tension builds and the audience has no idea how the cat will react but it is the wonderful sketchy look of the illustrations and animations – it looks as if illustrated by hand with a black biro. I also really like fuzzy, crackly look of the furious cat when the camera zooms in – it looks just how you feel when something causes you to see red.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Jonathan Saunders Autumn/Winter Collection

These are a series of dresses produced by the Scottish designer Jonathan Saunders as part of his autumn/winter collection. I really like this collection because of his strong and confident use of bring and powerful colours at a time of year when designers traditionally create clothes with more earthy or dark colours such as browns, greens and burgundy. I also like the way he has used dark sleeves, sides and legs to draw your eye into the bright colours at the centre. Although I am not I fashion designer I really admire his use of colour and that he has had the confidence to produce some thing that goes against the grain of what other designers are traditionally creating.

Subservient Graduate – Self promotion website is the online portfolio / self-promotional website of a fellow University of Leeds design student. I think it’s a great idea, instead of creating a fairly standard website with his portfolio on (as many students, and agencies, do) he created an amusing take on the Burger King website The site uses Flash and allows you to ‘tell’ the graduate to do some thing – then he does it. It also plays on the idea that design students will do anything (well, just about anything – he wont do anything rude…) to get their first design job.

Sweden Graphics Illustration Warning of the Dangers of Over Fishing

This an illustration by Sweden Graphics that I recently saw and I think this is a brilliant example of how a well thought out and designed piece of work can get across a very complex idea with out using any words or flashy colours. The illustration shows a tower of cards – the top card has a human mouth on it, the one below a big fish, below that a smaller fish, below that a some plankton and blow that algae. There is then a human hand poised as if about to remove the card with the small fish on it – the message is simple, we all know what will happen when the hand pulls out that one card, the tower will collapse, and the same will happen if we continue to over fish until certain specifies are extinct.

It also reminded me of a piece of design work that I was show my one of my tutors when I was looking around the University of Leeds on an open day. A student had created a poster, which a silhouette of a Blue Whale made out of small silhouettes of bugs and insects – the tag line was ‘Save a woodlouse’. Again the poster was promoting a similar and complex idea in a very graphic way.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Blackpool Please Beach – New Identity

This is a poster illustrating the new Blackpool Pleasure Beach Identity designed by Johnson Banks and launched in the summer 2006. The poster shows how Johnson Banks has successfully combined the Pleasure Beach’s 100-year history (the 1920’s style typography) with all the thrills and excitement of a modern park with big rides (the beautiful shot of the Pepsi Max roller coaster at sunset). The re-brand has also aimed to dispel some of the negative images and stereotypes that are associated with the Blackpool and this simple, clean poster certainly helps the Pleasure Beach do this and stand out from the crowd of other similar theme parks with their busy and slightly garish adverts.

My personal favorite part is the logo (explanation mark with the words 'pleasure beach' in) as this visualy represents the idea of big exciting rides and the loud noises of a fun fair perfectly - it will also stamp onto tickets really well.

Bin Bags

These bin bags where created by Wieden+Kennedy as part of their WK Side project. The project takes four people from outside the advertising industry on to work for their London agency for three months on a verity of projects. These Christmas pudding bin bags show a completely different approach a mundane object and should be proof to designers (and especially design student like myself) that no matter how unexciting the brief may be if you have a creative imagination you can create something amazing.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Kocicka z Kavove Peny

Kocicka z Kavove Peny is children’s book I bought in a bookshop whilst in Prague last year. The book, which is written in Czech, caught my eye because of the unusual illustrations – each page had been hand sewn using a montage of different coloured thread and fabrics. I liked the way the ‘illustrator’ is able to use the textures of the different fabrics used and more depth feeling to the pictures – something you can’t always do with traditional pencil and ink. I particularly like one page, which illustrates a kitchen scene, so a kitchen towel has been used for the background. In case you’re wondering the book appears to tell the story of a cat and the adventure he has one day when his puts him out, including going to the beach and catching a rat.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

The Rows – Chester

I visited Chester last week and as part of trip I visited ‘The Rows’, a Tudor period shopping centre. The building itself is magnificent, it is a four-storey black and white timber building the really dominates the area and it is easy to see why people are drawn to it and it makes a fantastic location for the most fashionable shops. Instead of the ground floor shops opening out onto the street they are raised up and back, you reach them by going up a short flight of steps. There is then a covered walkway between the shops provided by the upper floors which sit on ‘stilts’ - I don’t know if the original Tudor architect designed the building to look like this or if it was a case of the upper floors being added at a later date and expanded over the lower ones to create more space. Another really nice feature are the original stone cellars which have also been converted into shops which you step down to from the street – some of these appear to be older than the above building with original stone floors, low ceilings and gothic features making me suspect that they could belong to an original building and the upper floors where added to them. It is a uniquely British building and walking in and out of the shops you really get a sense of walking back in time, a glimpse of what the shopping experience would have been like for our richer ancestors hundreds of years ago and that some things (people still like shopping somewhere they can escape from the British rain) haven’t changed at all.

I was also a nice change to see lots of little unique shops, as many city centres in the UK now look strangely similar with the same height street stores everywhere.