Sochi 2014 Olympics Logo

Now that the 2014 winter Olympics have wound down, it is fun to look back at the decision the Russian Olympic committee had to make between two competing logo choices.

Choosing the logo for the Sochi 2014 winter games

Which would you choose? My first reaction was certainly the top one – it looked fresh, Olympic-esque and contemporary. The one at the bottom had so much Russian old-schoolness, it seemed like they were still stuck in the Soviet-Russia era, and have not caught on the graphic design evolution.

But following the argument on Sans Raison made me a convert (it’s too detailed to be quoted or reproduced her – please head over!) – as she carefully and patiently compared between the 2 final candidates, and espousing the merits of this logo that has much more long-term strength in its identity; that Olympics logo frequently falls into a certain cliche (like the one at the top). Eventually I became a convert for the second one too.

Of course, seeing it being applied in context gives it a whole new render/perspective as well:

socchi-carhelmet

In context, it does hold a lot on its own (although the shade of blue on the logo in context seem much friendlier too). You can also check out the full identity in action at their official website.

Apple’s Offer Letter

apple-offer-letter1

You can see how much design lives in Apple’s DNA – the same type of care, consistency and quality that they put not just in the products that faces the external parties (iPods, ads, etc.) but internally as well. Shown above are the offer letters and HR paper work that was delivered – the signature Apple simplicity and elegance, even with the same type of punchy lines on the top of each page  (“Ah paperwork”; “Ready, set, go”) .

The Sound of a Car Door

We’ve (probably) all heard stories about how the sound of a car door greatly affects the perception of its value, and how engineers/marketers/car-makers would spend countless hours perfecting the perfect ‘thud’.

closing-car-doors

[Picture source]

Here’s a much more detailed analysis on this topic – with sound samples to explain exactly what makes a car-door sound cheap, and what may make it sound better.

Phone-Miniaturization Russian-Doll

cardboard_phone_2

cardboard_phone_3

Came upon these set of Russian-doll style mobile phones made of cardboard which simply goes to show how much our devices have shrunk over the years. With each generation we’re probably thinking in our heads “how could we have lived with anything that was before?”

[by Kyle Bean]

Karim Rashid Interview


Karim Rashid is definitely no stranger to many of us – here’s an interview from Nylon TV in his home as he talks about design – you can just catch glimpses of how he has filled up his house with design objects mirroring his personal style – though he also mentioned that he’s getting more and more dematerialized.

Hmmm. Actually I’d love to see Karim Rashid doing design that doesn’t have a tangible, physical expression…that should be quite interesting.

50×70 Posters for Social Communication

Good 50×70 is a design contest/collection of social-conscious posters addressing seven of the critical issues affecting today’s world. Posters were chosen as the media for the contest as they’re the most direct way to convey a message and can be easily translated to other media. The creativity unleashed through the competition is then supplied freely to charities. Some that caught my eye:

reduce-co2

aids

guantanamo definitivo 3

Many more here!

Demystifying the Design Process

In my daily work, I’m heavily involved in design research and design strategy, and creating the framework/angle in which the design team can approach a project. One of the things that I have always yearned to do is to create a series of ‘standard steps’ to take – a design strategy/framework set, if you will – the basic ‘design process’ that can lead to sound strategies that leads to creatively-directed and successful work both internally and for our clients.

This of course, is a good thing. With a more structured process, there is the effect of leverage – the same results can be replicated and amplified through more designers. Even for myself – this could be a good library of ‘known-solutions’ to fall back on – projects can get on faster and easier, without having to spend too much time re-thinking each project as they come.

heart-wire1

But I always seem to come to a stumbling block. I can try to summarize all of the frameworks/methods that I know of, or have applied in past projects, but inevitably they boil down to a few issues.

The strategies/approaches can become simplified – but to what extent? If I boil it down so that it can be applied across different projects, it can end up somewhat like IDEO’s Method Card (which I do have in my cabinet), which is good enough as a ‘spark plug’ to remind one in the existence of a particular approach, but hardly sufficient to take it and run (it’s not a ‘play book’).

If I do not simplify – and choose to instead include all the little extra steps, the creative angles, the specific techniques, then it’d seem to revert back to a very specific and narrow method, suitable perhaps for that one particular project of that one client, but difficult to transfer across projects (it cannot be generalized).

And today, I stumbled upon this quote by Michael Beirut – an old Design Observer essay from 2006, to be sure – but I thought “Wow, that captured my dilemma!”:

When I do a design project, I begin by listening carefully to you as you talk about your problem and read whatever background material I can find that relates to the issues you face. If you’re lucky, I have also accidentally acquired some firsthand experience with your situation. Somewhere along the way an idea for the design pops into my head from out of the blue. I can’t really explain that part; it’s like magic. Sometimes it even happens before you have a chance to tell me that much about your problem! Now, if it’s a good idea, I try to figure out some strategic justification for the solution so I can explain it to you without relying on good taste you may or may not have. Along the way, I may add some other ideas, either because you made me agree to do so at the outset, or because I’m not sure of the first idea. At any rate, in the earlier phases hopefully I will have gained your trust so that by this point you’re inclined to take my advice. I don’t have any clue how you’d go about proving that my advice is any good except that other people — at least the ones I’ve told you about — have taken my advice in the past and prospered. In other words, could you just sort of, you know…trust me?

Beirut’s main struggle seem to be “how to convince clients of the worthiness of his (team’s) ideas while the process appears fuzzy, unexplainable and/or non-logically-sequential”. In my case, the struggle is the attempt to sequential-ize and formalize a process that is in itself a blend of intuition, experience, fuzziness and voodoo magic.

The temptation to create a play-book (just like how football coaches do) is still strong – and I’d probably still want to (try to) do that. But perhaps I can take a page off Beirut’s experience and acknowledge that hey, not everything is a straightforward and repeatable process – particularly not in the fuzzy front end of design.

studio juju @Milan Fair

Singapore-based designer-duo Timo Wong and Priscilla Lui formed “studio juju” based on the philosophy of a hands-on approach to designing and crafting. For the Milan Fair they  launched some of their collections:

Rabbit
None of the tables are the same in height, dimension or shape. The arrangement becomes fluid and, hopefully, will inspire an indefinite interaction when people sit themselves along the curves and place their cups on different heights and shapes.

rabbit

rabbit-2

One Shelves
A set of small boxes that can be nested together to take up the least amount of space and expanded without tools to form a big shelf. stack and arrange the boxes to fit different rooms.

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one-shelves-2

 

Why are Browser Icons Round and Blue?

Voltage Creative asked an interesting question:

Every single (even moderately successful) [note: except Opera] web browser’s logo has been round… Why?

Some plausible explanations:

  • IE was a blue rounded icon and everybody just followed suit
  • The globe is the best representation of the Internet (and it’s round and blue)

I tend to concur with the blue-globe metaphor explanation – if you look at most of those icons, there are explicit globes in it and you can’t quite have a square globe, can you? Which leads me to think – is there any better metaphor apart from the globe for the Internet?