Aging Well

Five things that age well.

1. Acrylic paint left in the tube.

2. Wine in the cask or the bottle.

3. Scotch Whiskey in a barrel.

4. Honey, as it settles.

5. And lastly–but not leastly, as my girlfriend tells me–me. Happy Birthday to me.

Toormix : Catalan Vine-ttes

Minimal Brand Concept
Minimal Brand Concept

Follow TOORMIX HERE. Or here.

Anyone who knows wine understands the subtle complexities involved in not just the finished taste and final product, but also the extraordinary complexities of the craft. Throw in the extreme complexities of not just the geographical topography of a region that makes a specific wine, but also its inherent climactic patterns and characteristics, and we have the following work from Toormix.

This is a profound and perhaps unique version of branding a geophysical region because it isn’t just about a place. The place makes the product as do the people. The product, therefore isn’t just a crafted beverage. It is a place.

Toormix’s work is representative of perhaps one of the most sophisticated graphical treatments we’ve seen thus far. Not just for the visual complexity of the designs, but also for the necessity of a carefully crafted concept. There is a careful and gentle balance between chaos and rigid order present here rarely seen in good design, let alone, the usually fragile practice of wine packaging. The wines and their packaging from Catalonia will not only occupy shelf space, they will take it. Bringing together the varied disciplines of infographics, marque-making, pattern-building, cartography, and packaging, the consumer’s end experience is now a more educational one.

Though traditional wine packaging does not usually encompass all of these variables, Toormix’s work is representative of the thought and care branding deserves. Not only will a buyer of Catalan Wines know their vintage better, they will know the region.

Icon Development
Icon Development
Brand Construction
Brand Construction
The Brand
The Brand
Brand Variations
Brand Variations
Color Palette
Color Palette
Graphic Concept of Applications
Graphic Concept of Applications
Different Individual Territories
Different Individual Territories
Regional forms
Regional forms
Stationery
Stationery
Designations
Designations
Poster1
Poster1
Poster2
Poster2
Poster3
Poster3
Poster 4
Poster 4
Poster 5
Poster 5
Poster 6
Poster 6
Poster 7
Poster 7
Poster 8
Poster 8
Poster 9
Poster 9
Poster 10
Poster 10
Poster 11
Poster 11
Packaging
Packaging
Packaging
Packaging
Regional Posters with Products
Regional Posters with Products
Regional
Regional
Tote Application
Tote Application
Tote Application
Tote Application
Shirt Application
Shirt Application
Shirt Application
Shirt Application

Please visit Toormix’s site to see other examples of their exceptional work. All work is © Toormix 2012. Imagery used with their permission.

ChromeToaster’s New Zealand On Screen

New Zealand On-Screen
New Zealand On-Screen

A fantastic collaboration between New Zealand On Screen, Chrometoaster, and Storybox, this marque and the accompanying graphics again fit into the overall scheme of products and services offered by New Zealand. Within the nation itself, there is a reverence for where they come from as a place and a simultaneous love of film. A few of my favorite things. Nation-branding, mixed typography, pixels, cargo containers, traveling exhibitions and celluloid. Visit Chrometoaster’s site for a study of the work.

New Zealand On Screen Experience
New Zealand On Screen Experience
New Zealand On Screen Experience
New Zealand On Screen Experience
New Zealand On Screen Experience
New Zealand On Screen Experience

Transformative Geophysical Branding

from designboom
Image and marque by Wolff Olins

Transforming the ‘brand’ of a city might be something we’re not used to here in the States, but we are currently living in a global world. Every four years, at the Olympics we see excellent examples of some of the most in-depth and sophisticated systems of branding as seen very recently in London. Designboom covers it in-depth here and lists most of the major players. Design Boom’s post.

The logo, like or dislike, is instantly recognizable. The color palette is more relative to an age and a time then a specific city or place. It captures a spirit, a human energy seen every four years, no matter the region. And it uses the visual and typographic language of the region to express that energy, in context for the world to see.

from designboom
Variations from LOCOG

The simplicity of the typeface and its playful, bold energy works with the mark as well as the extensive and elaborate pictogram system. No impact is lost and the message is delivered uniformly without losing its punch. But the Olympics in London is perhaps one of the most visible examples of a new form of branding taking place constantly around the world.

from designboom
Typeface by Gareth Hague at Alias
from designboom
Pictograms by someone

My next few posts will highlight some exceptional examples of what I see as a new form, but what is already a valuable part of the rich visual cultures seen around the world. Though some of the work is a few years old now, the concepts are still fresh. Through the strategy of branding and visual thinking and forms of graphic design, we will see branding of a place and a space.

An Appetite for Aristocracy

Opulence, via DirectTV commercials
Opulence, From Russia With Love

Very recently, I saw ‘the Opulence Guy’ of the famous Direct TV meme on an episode of Sons of Anarchy as an Irish Arms Dealer. This inspired an entire conversation about wealth and its manifestation in our culture.

Capitalism in its current form is a breeding ground for insatiable desire. It is as if desire has become our sixth sense. Stephen Colbert recently interviewed Chrystia Freeland, author of the recent Plutocrats and Global Editor-at-Large at Reuters. This report highlights the ultra-elite and their going global in today’s world. Perhaps their desire is better than the average bear’s.

Roth and Shapley, two Americans, were recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for their research and practical applications of Matching Theory, which ‘has improved the performance of many markets.’ Our desires are made more accessible. The current manifestation of matching theory ‘matches’ organ donors with those that need them in the case of the New England Kidney Exchange. Or doctors to hospitals that need their specific qualifications in their first year of employment. I can only imagine what the next application of this currently helpful and constructive theory might be. Especially when even the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences uses the term ‘economic engineering’ loosely in its praise of these theories.

Recently, I was struck when a colleague and I were discussing the applications of the now popular Raspberry Pi. Its intent of spreading knowledge and stimulating the teaching of basic computer science in schools makes the technology of computers as well as their applications possible even to countries that are developing. The first use my colleague could come up with was using it to upgrade his television into a computer. Opulence.

I am struck by commercials for companies that feed desire with the promise of instant cash. What they do not tell you is that this cash comes with a four year repayment plan for the instant gratification received. These commercials often air right after the commercials for Las Vegas. Followed by the ones for ETrade. Followed by some insurance company telling us how to save money. And another insurance company. And a bank called Ally, your friend that isn’t new, it’s your old friend GE again.  The gilt must be laid on our chairs. The chains must be made longer.

Since much of our manufacturing and industry has moved to China, it seems advertising emphasizes ideas more so even than product. Let’s push the idea of wealth and luxury and opulence further. Produce a tourism commercial. Let’s make the carrot just a little closer to the horse, but let’s make the wire holding it just a little longer behind the scenes.

Design a website for Sallie Mae. Check the latest statistics on the average college graduate’s student loan debt. Make the loan company’s logo friendly and welcoming.

Listen to the radio for news on Congress and its handling of our budget. Let’s produce a film for Atlas Shrugged in two parts. Make sure the stay in theaters maximizes profit, but increase the speed by which it reaches the general public via NetFlix and DVD.

Watch the History Channel’s series The Men Who Built America. Learn how a few men built an entire nation on the backs, blood, and sweat of thousands of their ‘ordinary’ brethren. Learn how to make heroes of these men once viewed as crooks. I doubt these shows will cover the meeting at Jekyll Island, or even Woodrow Wilson’s own views on the Federal Reserve.

Listen to the debates. Watch two elite men discuss finance and money as if it were a regular everyday thing to spend billions, even trillions of dollars. Talk about jet lag. (Don’t forget to increase the cost of an average plane ticket either). Are these men even capable of understanding the average American’s ‘real-life’ any longer? Forget the debt of the country. How about the debt in our homes? The chains we drag with us like some Ghost of Wealth Gone Past.

How many zeroes does a trillion dollars have anyway? It seems the more our culture emphasizes wealth and the channels by which we acquire it, it simultaneously decreases the capability by which the average person may actually understand in a realistic way how money works. Palahniuk’s violent solution of erasing the debt record in Fight Club comes to mind, a Great Flood of understanding and an encompassing simplification that functions to physically limit the playing field of humanity once again.

In the grand meaning of life and death, the economy is a system of exchange of energies and resources. To create false hope of opulence while simultaneously decreasing its likelihood is perhaps the greatest lie capitalism ever told. In our creative fields, it may perhaps become the foremost question of ethics that will dominate the future of our work. Is it moral to continue to propagate the impractical and overbearing liability of the American Dream for millions and our country and abroad?

I for one, vote for a redesign of the system to emphasize the energy and exchange more so than the booty. The rewards of the few in the large markets of the world could be changed with a change in general consciousness. Perhaps the favoring of life with all its simple riches over a dream and its imagined luxuries is just what America needs. The favoring once again of the people over their ‘kings.’

Sense of Design

Moataz Nasr
Moataz Nasr, An Ear of Mud, Another of Clay

Perhaps it was the 1800s when the Visual Turn happened, when man embraced his sense of sight as the truest of his gamut. The Enlightenment gave man the ability to give up the rest of his senses for his eyes most of all. There wasn’t time to sit and listen to the radio for long, we should invent something that inundates the eye. Television. Architecture isn’t majestic enough. It needs to be taller. There should be curves that are impossible. Food should look great, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be food, or even taste or smell like it. No need to have that experience of sitting on the stoop as a pie cools in the window. Smell is what creates memories. Hang on to them, but it doesn’t have too much of a function for problem-solving.

It’s obvious that design rests mostly within the visual realm. Most of us ‘designers’ do not understand that there is even a thing called ‘sound design’ or what it does or how that works. I cannot recall but maybe twice having a conversation about this weird sense of hearing that surrounds us all day long or about its quality. One of the two conversations had to do with the lack of sight, about how to design systems for the blind. Not only did most people in the room completely check out of the discussion, but I believe most were incapable of comprehension. I was impressed more by the completeness of the checking out than the lack of effort at understanding. This was a college setting. This should not be happening. And we were discussing a problem that needed solving.

I question why the emphasis of design is mostly on the visual, why this sense of sight is the most important or even why we consider it the most persuasive. The music I listen to can change the entire space of a day. Al Green can put me in the mood for love. Bach can create the desire for wine and a back porch on the beach in New England with a blanket, a sweater, a book, and my girlfriend. Radiohead makes me want to work, or lay on the floor in a dark room. And that is just music.

That doesn’t make mention of the creaks in the floorboards of that porch. The grating of the chains of a porch swing. The crackle that the tightly woven strands of wicker make when you shift your weight on them. Sound can create a space or a mood even more so than sight. It is essential for navigating our daily movements. It can create terrible irritation or complete pleasure very rapidly. Some cultures seem to have a deeper understanding of sound. Some cultures seem to elevate the ear above even the eye.

To comment, I imagine an installation devoid of visual stimulation. A completely dark room at a comfortable temperature with special hypersonic speakers set up to create ‘barriers.’ This starvation of one sense to highlight another will perhaps help create a new idea of ‘space.’ We know the starvation of one sense creates heightened acuity of the others over time, but for those with all their senses, could it also create a more dimensional sense of the world? To increase the emphasis on our lack of understanding, perhaps the sounds the speakers emit could be cultural in nature–the om of Tibetan monks, the drums of Central African tribes, the ululation of Arabic women.

Perhaps for designers, this gained level of consciousness will make us better problem solvers.  Relearning our need for sound and appreciation of all of our senses as a whole may not only help us reach a deeper understanding of ourselves, but assist in bettering how communications can be delivered or space be designed in the future. The discourse may gain a level perhaps forgotten long ago, when there was more time and more space.

Sigurd Solberg’s Incredible Work

I just wanted to highlight the brevity and severity of this man’s work. All creatives have felt like this little girl at one time in their lives. Perhaps this helps explain the increasing use of headphones. His use of sound is both quiet and sacred. The silence is as important as those first intimate notes handed down from Beethoven. Perhaps this video is evidence that energy companies will begin thinking of the future more thoroughly and treating the people of the world with more respect. Perhaps Sigurd’s cinematography is better reserved for the likes of the cinema. My vote is that things are changing in Norway. Skol, Sigurd. I look forward to seeing more.

Follow him on Behance here.
http://www.behance.net/sigurd

See the other videos in the campaign on fisken60’s channel via YouTubes.