Monday, April 30, 2007

Inspired Rags

Recently there was an interesting post on a blog that I follow. The author references magazines in search of inspiration. It's something I do for certain projects, but I should also use them when I'm NOT looking for something specific. I'm so jealous of her mag collection and it makes me wish I had kept more of mine. Unfortunately there's no room in our current apartment, but perhaps when we're back in the States and space is easier to come by.

Here's a quick quote:
"Inspiration. Did you know that it also means "to draw air into the lungs"? That was interesting to me, and fitting. I think you could compare the feeling of being "inspired" to that feeling you get when you take a deep breath..full, clear, relaxed."

Click here for the rest of the article.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Tube it

I had a post a few weeks ago on information design. I had to do a quick follow up, as one of the best examples ever was brought to my attention in TimeOut London last week... The London Underground Map.

Harry Beck fist designed the map in 1931, but it was promptly dismissed. He was young, and an engineer, not a designer. But sometimes it takes a fresh perspective, and
around 1933 it was finally published to the delight of tube passengers. It has since become iconic design, and is now used as the bases for subway maps around the world, including New York and Tokyo.

To read the full article, click here.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Design 100 (continued)

So, how many of you actually went to the site to see the other top picks? Be honest. Well, if you did, kudos. If you didn't, it's you're lucky day because I have a few more favorites that I'd like to display here.

First is Timorous Beasties. This London pattern is so great... modern toile. I first saw it introduced last year in patterns on fine china dishware, but it's nice to see how it all goes together in this larger format.

Here's a sample from Josef Frank. So bright, happy and whimsical. Anthropologie now has a limited range of his work available in the US!

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Monday, April 23, 2007

The Design 100

Time has listed is Top 100 in Design. Click here to see the full article. From their web page:
"Good design is everywhere these days. Great design—the objects, places and ideas that fuse functionality and aesthetics and then push the boundaries a step further to capture the imagination—is more elusive. Take a look at the standouts."

Here are some interesting designs from the packaging section.

Sak's Fifth Avenue. They've modified their logo a bit, and then they zoomed in, chopped it into squares and rearranged it as prints to use on bags, scarves and skirts. I love the boldness of the black and white shapes that are created.

Coke Blak. I love that Coca-Cola kept their iconic ribbon, but used it in a while new way. This product is infused with coffee. I'm a big fan of the "bean" icon at the top. Smart.

Pangea Organics. You know me and organic! The boxes these skin-care items come in are actually plantable! The boxes are embedded with seeds like sweet basil. Just soak in water and plant! I love it.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

What's old is new

Following on the heals of Wednesday's post... here is some more inspiration from Italy. This time we're looking to the past. It is important in design to know where things came from, and to respect the past. Looking at ancient buildings, symbols, and art is interesting from a historical sense, but also an artistic one. Techniques and style, patterns and colors, can often be a spark for modern interpretation.

Below are some shots from Rome (first 2), Amalfi (next 3), and Pompeii (last 3). It's such a wonder that we're able to study art and architecture that is thousands of years old.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Natural Beauty

Recently, I spent several weeks writing about present and future trends. After my trip to Italy I have rediscovered the beauty found all around us in nature. This is beauty without a past or present. It just is. It's not trendy, or cool, and sometimes we don't even see it. But if you need a lick of inspiration, it's a wonderful place to start.

You can find the most amazing colors and textures in nature. And the interplay between nature and human creation (buildings, gardens, streets, etc) is equally intriguing. So, I leave you with a few pictures that remind me to stop, smell, and look, at the roses.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Moo Two

I just returned from a fabulous visit to Italy, to find the most exciting thing waiting for me... my
Moo Cards! It was like Christmas.

They are so totally cute. Here are a few pix, but they don't do them much justice. The cards themselves are 1" x 2.75". Teensy tiny, and all the better for it. They're printed on heavy paper, with a nice feel to it. The printing is ok, but for £9, who can complain? I'm lucky to get a coffee for less than that. Anyhow, enjoy the pix. If anyone gets a set, let me know, I'd love to see them.

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Thursday, April 5, 2007


Tomorrow we leave for a week in Italy. We'll be indulging in all the local wonders. Perhaps in between the wine and cheese I'll have time to take some pix for this blog. Stay tuned...



All design is about communicating. It may be about relaying a feeling, mood, need, desire, or just simply about getting the facts across. Advertising tends to lean more towards creating a feeling associated with a certain product. Packaging design does the same, but often requires more of the "hard facts."

And then there is a specific discipline called "Information Design." This is a whole different breed. Basically, it's about taking hard facts, and translating them into a representative visual. I've recently started working on an information graphic for one of my clients, and I can tell you, it's not as easy as it seems at first glance! But it's certainly interesting.

From Wikipedia:
"...there are two key differences between graphic design and information design. First, because effectiveness is critical, information designers argue for their solutions primarily in terms of effectiveness, and engage routinely in testing and user modeling. Second, information design recognizes and uses a broad range of communication modes and channels, not just graphic ones, and language plays a central role"

The AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) hosts an award program each year called AIGA 365. There are some fascinating examples in their archives. But they also have a section devoted entirely to information graphics. Below is a sample designed by World Vision.


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Moooove it

Moo Cards are all the rage... or so it seems to me. For those very familiar with the "blog-o-sphere" or "New Media", this may not be news. But I've seen them popping up a lot lately, and I've finally jumped in myself.

Basically, you load up to 100 photos of your choosing to the website. You then enter the info you want on your card, and in 10 days you receive a set of these adorable, skinny-mini cards with full-color images on the back. I've put mine together as business cards, with portfolio pieces on the back. But I can see them being great as save the date cards, birth announcements or moving cards. You don't have a lot of control over the formatting of the information, but the imagery makes them so personal, that it's unlikely you'll ever see one just like it.

Additionally, Moo Cards work with sites such as and second life. So if you're already signed up with those, you can transfer your imagery rather seamlessly.

Now these cards have taken on a life of their own. People leave them around major cities and form treasure hunts. Others trade the moo cards of popular artists, much like baseball cards. Perhaps someday someone will want on of mine??

I'll update you with pix once I receive my set. Below is a picture from the Moo Cards website.

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Monday, April 2, 2007

Trendy (part 13)

Lucky # 13. This is the final installment of the trend report. Yippee! And you thought it would never happen :)

Letterpress printing has been popular for a while now. But the trend continues, so it's worth noting again. Letterpress cards/prints/books have a unique feel to them. The subtle texture that is created by the press gives it a high quality feel, while the lines are always crisp, clean and beautiful.

From Wikipedia:

...fine letterpress work is crisper than offset litho because of its impression into the paper, giving greater visual definition to the type and artwork. Today, many of these small letterpress shops survive by printing fine editions of books or by printing upscale invitations and stationery, often using presses that require the press operator to feed paper one sheet at a time by hand. They are just as likely to use old printing methods as new, for instance by printing photopolymer plates (used in modern rotary letterpress) on restored 19th century presses.

The process requires a high degree of craftsmanship, but in the right hands, letterpress excels at fine typography. It is used by many small presses that produce fine handmade limited-edition books, artists' books, and high-end ephemera such as greeting cards and broadsides.To bring out the best attributes of letterpress, graphic designers need to understand the capabilities and advantages of letterpress. For instance, since most letterpress equipment prints only one color at a time (unlike presses for offset printing which often use four-color process printing), designs are best limited to one or two colors. Photographic work is usually avoided entirely. Letterpress printing's strengths are best crisp lines, pattern work, and/or typography.

Below is a beautiful card from MoonTree Letterpress.