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Communication Design

Chronicling the (Extra)Ordinary: Tiny PMS Match

Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 18, 2014

© Inka MathewThe Pantone Matching System has gone from being an invaluable tool for designers to a cultural meme. The Pantone company is capitalizing on the public appetite for designer-chic by producing color-swatch themed goods, from iPhone cases, to mugs, stationery, and pencil cases. The creative community has taken inspiration from the iconic swatches, producing their own variations based on superheroes, skin tones, beer, chocolate, and food – both using food to create swatches, and matching food to swatches.

One inspired take on the Pantone system is cataloged in Tiny PMS Match, a blog created by designer Inka Mathew. For the past year, Mathew has been color matching objects from her daily life to Pantone swatches. Since the objects need to fit within a Pantone swatch, they are tiny, nondescript items that ordinarily would be overlooked: seeds, buds, a Froot Loop, a worn toy fish. But as photographic subjects, framed by their swatches, they become imbued with beauty and mystery.

The blog archive also serves as a touching visual journal of everyday life. For example, her travels are chronicled in the swatches, as a French thimble, an English souvenir, and seashells make their appearance. Family life is revealed in a Barbie shoe, children’s vitamins, and a wedding ring. Even the changing seasons are reflected, as the buds of local flowers are replaced with blossoms, seed pods and autumn leaves. It’s a lovely meditation on the extraordinary beauty to be found in an ordinary life.

© Inka Mathew Tiny Pantone Match

Images © Inka Mathew. Used with permission.

This Is the Story about “These Are the Things”

Posted by Rebecca Blake on August 14, 2014

Jen Adrion and Omar Noory of the design and illustration studio, These are the Things, are the paradigm of successful creative entrepreneurs. Young and attractive, their resumes are the stuff of designer envy: creators of cool maps featured on the tony shopping site Fab, illustrators with a steady gig with Afar magazine, purveyors of beautiful cards and posters, and subjects of a case study in a best selling book on successful start-ups. Yet at last autumn’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, Adrion and Noory dispelled any myth of an easy ride. In a talk memorable for its honesty, they described the daunting setbacks they’ve faced.

The lecture, titled ”How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Enjoy The Ride,” is illustrated with a graph showing Adrion and Noory’s meteoric rise, a suitable device for two infographic designers. Rather than showing a steady, straight angle towards success, the upward trend is punctuated with deep dips representing financial loss, anxiety, and thwarted plans. The two provide a frank recounting of their setbacks, from unmet expectations, to naïve mistakes and oversights in financial planning, to circumstances beyond their control.

Despite the grim topic of lessons learned, the lecture is hardly a downer. Both Adrion and Noory are brimming with energy and self deprecating humor, and many of their setbacks were the result of inexperience, hardly unsurprising for two 20-somethings starting their first company. What stands out is their ability to assess a bad situation, and do whatever is necessary to continue in the business they love. The lecture is a gift to the creative community, made all the more generous by Adrion and Noory’s openness.

A full transcript of their talk is provided on their website.

Portrait of Adrion and Noory, used with permission.

Jen Aldrion and Omar Noory

Dorm Room Tycoon: Information & Inspiration

Posted by Rebecca Blake on August 07, 2014

Dorm Room Tycoon sounds like a startup founded by a 20-something cobbling together the next big Internet sensation. In fact, it’s a collection of podcasts with innovators in design, technology, and business. A wide range of design disciplines is covered, featuring the likes of Jeffrey Zeldman (webdesign and coding), Erik Spiekermann (typography), Swiss Miss (communication design), and Jason Saint Maria (interactive design). The interviews are a relaxed exchange, as DRT founder William Channer and the interviewee seem to wander from topic to topic. Listening to the podcasts is rather like overhearing two very bright people having a comfortable conversation.

Channer started DRT in 2011. As a creative and mobile product designer based in London, he was frustrated by the dearth of solid advice on building a startup business. Reading profiles of entrepreneurs in technology publications exacerbated his frustration, since most articles focused on irrelevant life stories, or perpetuated origin myths. Channer decided to conduct his own interviews that would focus on questions about process, drawing out practical advice and life experience. He chose the name, “Dorm Room Tycoon,” to reflect the idea of starting small and doing something big.  

Channer has applied what he’s learned from the DRT interviewees. Just this year, he launched Panda, a web app and Chrome extension, which provides a steady stream of news and inspiration. The web app provides a split screen with news feed of article links on technology, design, and job listings on the left, and thumbnails streamed from portfolio sites Behance, Dribbble, and Awwwards on the right. The news feed streams from technology and design aggregators, such as Hacker News, sidebar.io, and Layervault Designer News. Users can add the Chrome extension to their browser window, book mark the web app,  and subscribe to Panda’s  weekly newsletter.

Below: The speakers featured in Dorm Room Tycoon are tagged by color codes: red for business, green for technology, and gold for design.
Image © Doorm Room Tycoon. Used with permission.

Go North: Guild Member Discount for DesignThinkers 2014

Posted by Rebecca Blake on July 16, 2014

November 6-7
Toronto, Canada

Join the Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) and over 1,500 visual communicators for the 15th annual DesignThinkers Conference, a celebration of creativity and strategic design thinking.

The event welcomes a star-studded line-up of 25 international speakers, including:
-    Charles Adler, Co-founder, Kickstarter
-    Irma Boom, Netherlands-based Book Designer
-    Henry Hobson, Film Titles Designer, “The Walking Dead”
-    Wesley Grubbs, Founder, Data Visualization Studio Pitch Interactive
-    Aaron Draplin, Founder, Draplin Design Co.
-    Sybille Hagmann, Type Designer
-    Ellen Lupton, Author, Educator & Curator
-    Karen McGrane, Author, “Content Strategy for Mobile”
-    Debbie Millman, Author & Host, Design Matters
-    Paula Scher, Partner, Pentagram
-    Erik Spiekermann, Author & Creative Director, Edenspiekermann
-    Richard Turley, Creative Director, Bloomberg Businessweek
-    Jessica Walsh, Partner, Sagmeister & Walsh
-    Todd Waterbury, Executive Creative Director & Sr. VP, Marketing, Target

Members of the Graphic Artists Guild get special pricing! Register on the Group/Org rate. Early Bird rates end September 26. Learn more at www.designthinkers.com.

DesignThinkers © RGD

Make It Take It Campaign Addresses Packaging Waste

Posted by Rebecca Blake on June 04, 2014

Make It Take It campaign logoAs reported by Jennifer Elks of Sustainable Brands and covered on The Living Principles, a coalition of organizations devoted to addressing waste and recycling issues launched the Make It, Take It Campaign on April 30. The campaign attempts to pressure consumer goods companies into taking responsibility for the packaging waste generated by their goods. The campaign’s goal is three-fold: to pressure companies to change their package design to safe, sustainable materials; to make brands responsible for ensuring packaging is reused, recycled, or composted; and to educate the public on packaging issues and engage them in action.

The campaign’s first target for action is the Capri Sun juice pouch. The pouch is a huge source of litter since it can’t be recycled — its created from a laminate of aluminum and plastic. The public is asked to refuse single-use disposable packaging, and petition KRAFT, the manufacturer of Capri Sun juice pouches, to stop producing such unrecyclable packaging waste. Make It Take It also lists solutions to the packaging waste problem, from utilizing sustainable materials, to redesigning packaging to minimize the amount of material used.

Make It Take It is coordinated by UPSTREAM, a national environmental organization, partnered by eight other organizations: Green America, Texas Campaign for the Environment, 5 Gyres, Natural Resources Defense Council, Waterkeeper Alliance, Clean Water Action, Plastic Pollution Coalition, and Eureka Recycling.  Make It Take It is publicing advances in their campaign via their Twitter feed and Facebook Page.

For more information on design and sustainability, we recommend the following resources:

The Living Principles

Sustainable Packaging Coalition

Re-nourish

Below: Make It Take It’s campaign against the Capri Sun juice pouches. Used with permission.

Capri Sun pouch campaign © Make It Take It

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