From Croatia, with Love (and Inspiration): The Design Blog
Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 18, 2014
Croatian designer Ena Baćanović (aka Ruby Soho) made a splash when her “If I Wanted to Work for Free…” poster went viral in the summer of 2012. Few realized then that she is also the founder and curator of The Design Blog, a collection of inspirations and resources from around the globe. The Design Blog seeks to live up to its mantra, “Don’t Just Be a Designer – Be a Good One” by featuring beautiful work and resources. The homepage features selected projects, elaborated upon with text and photographs from the creators.
The site also has recurring sections, which showcase work and projects across a range of disciplines on selected days of the week, such as Designer of the Week, Web Design Wednesdays, UI/UX of the Week, Featured Video, and Friday Freebies. (The moniker “of the Week” is a bit ambitious. Although posts for each section are frequent, they don’t seem to appear on a weekly basis – hardly surprising considering the breadth of disciplines which are covered.) An extensive list of resources lists typography resources and inspirational blogs.
The Design Blog is all the more impressive when one considers that Baćanović is only 23 years old. She’s both energetic and multi-faceted. In addition to running The Design Blog and working on her own projects, she’s the drummer in the female band Punchke.
Images @ Ena Baćanović. Used with permission.
GIgapixel ArtZoom: Focusing on the Seattle Art Scene
Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 11, 2014
In October 2013, Microsoft teamed up with Seattle artists to create Gigapixel ArtZoom, an online panorama that shows off Seattle’s stunning vistas and vibrant art scene. Gigapixel ArtZoom was built on technology first demonstrated in 2006, when Johannes Kopf, Matt Uyttendaele, Oliver Deussen, and Michael Cohen at Microsoft Research improved upon existing gigapixel imaging. They figured out how to capture images of billions of pixels, and developed smoother panning and zooming technology that would permit viewers to properly explore the images.
The original image was beautiful, but stark in that the cityscape appeared to be sparsely populated. So in 2013, the team developed the Gigapixel ArtZoom, working with prominent people in the local Seattle artist scene. A plan was developed to create the panoramic shot of Seattle, and populate it with painters, fashion and costume designers, performance artists, dancers, and acrobats. On a beautiful day in October, from the top of a condominium tower in downtown Seattle, a team of photographers shot two panoramas using a Canon digital SLR camera, a professional 400 mm lens, and a Gigapan robotic tripod head. Since no single spot on the roof could yield a full panorama of Seattle, two shots were required and were later stitched together using Microsoft’s Image Composite Editor software.
During the next two weeks, the artists were posed in situ, photographed from the rooftop, and composited into the final image. Video crews also photographed and filmed the artists. The result is a stunning vista of Seattle, which viewers can pan and zoom in on from any computer or mobile device. The experience is a wonderful “Where’s Waldo” adventure; as an artist is centered in the screen, a pop-up window provides information and links to a video. The range depicts the diversity of Seattle’s art scene. Participants include landscape painter Tamara Stephas, filmmaker Wes Hurley, diva Sari Breznau, and the Kelly Lyles Art Cars, participants in the uniquely Seattle Art Car Blowout.
Gigiapixel Art is also memorable for the poignant scenes of everyday Seattle life that have been captured in the panorama. Panning across the image reveals a skateboarder mid-air, a father strolling with his infant, couples nestling by the river, and the crumpled sheets of an unmade bed, spied through a sunlit window.
Top right – GigaPixel artists from top left (going clockwise): landscape painter Tamara Stephas, actors in filmaker Wes Hurley's performance piece, opera diva Sari Breznau, and Kelly Lyles Art Cars.
Photos © Microsoft.
An Invitation: Intensive with Bob Gill, June 9-13
Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 31, 2014
An invitation to the first six intrepid souls to spend an intensive week with Bob Gill in his New York City studio, June 9-13. The workshop will consist of the following:
- A comprehensive evaluation of each designer's portfolio.
- A discussion of each designer's goals (attainable and unattainable).
- A complete description of Gill's process of changing ordinary design and illustration problems into exciting, original solutions that really work.
- A series of one-day assignments tailored to each designer's needs.
- Frank criticism of each assignment.
- Bagels and coffee.
Gill is in the New York Art Directors Hall of Fame and is one of the founders of Pentagram Design. His latest book is Bob Gill, So Far.
www.bobgilletc.com | email@example.com | (212) 460-0950
Web Design Trends for 2014
Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 26, 2014
It’s the first month of the year, and all our favorite web gurus and resources have been issuing their predictions for 2014. The opinions range, of course. An expert in responsive design, for example, is going to identify different innovative trends than a developer working on creating a new content management system. While reading through the slew of advice, certain predictions kept cropping up. Below are the most frequently mentioned trends taken from an informal survey of webdesign blogs:
Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Apple’s iOS7 dropped skeumorphism, and the design world celebrated. Almost every blog predicts that flat design will continue to be popular in web design, permitting the focus to be on the website text, with fewer and less distracting images. Web designer Joseph Howard of Pencil Scoop speculates that flat design will evolve into layered design as a way of creating more textured, distinctive layouts. Envato’s CEO Collis Ta’eed sees an upswing on trends such as long shadows, and also predicts layering and gradients applied subtly so as not to detract from the flat sensibility.
Video and motion:
Almost every web design trend article predicted an upsurge in the use of video. Chris Lake, Director of Content of Econsultancy, and Matt Hall of Web Ascender see video backgrounds becoming more prevalent as newer browsers and faster page load speed enables their use. (For a beautiful example, Lake points to The Guardian’s online article, “The Firestorm.”) Amber Leigh Turner on The Next Web predicts video will be utilized more often as a hero graphic in lieu of a banner image or slide show, while Howard sees room for video use to grow in blogging, Google hangouts, and news services. While parallax effects (slideshows and scrolling) have been around for a while, both Howard and Webascender predict their usage will continue to grow and become more mainstream in the websites of more prominent, established companies. Front-end designer Jonathan Cutrell on Webdesign Tuts+ sees a rise in animated and responsive icons, creating a new trend in user experience.
Design for mobile devices / increased scrolling:
It’s not a surprise that web design gurus see design for mobile devices continuing to increase in importance. Craig Butler, Director of OptimalWorks Ltd, predicts that from 2013 to 21014, mobile access will increase from one in five web visits to one in four. Both Benjie Moss of Wedesigner Depot and Dan Rowinski, Mobile Editor at ReadWrite, predict the long-anticipated death of the mobile web, the development of a secondary website designed to work exclusively on mobile devices. Moss doesn’t see this as an entirely good thing, pointing out that some businesses (such as restaurants) may prefer to direct content differently for desktop versus mobile viewers. The increased viewing on mobile devices has re-familiarized website visitors with scrolling, which is facilitated by swiping. As a result, Hall, Turner, and Lake all see longer scrolling sites becoming acceptable again, and outdated terminology such as “above the fold” being finally dropped.
SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics):
Another prevalent prediction is the increased use of SVG, in part driven by the popularity of icons. As Moss points out, SVG icons have a huge advantage, in that they are more efficient than icon font files, are responsive, and fit with the popular flat design sensibility. Animated SVGs, already popular as icons, will become more prevalent; Howard cites a number of tools and sources which ease their implementation. (Howard also predicts the death of the raster icon, in part because of the availability of SVG and icon fonts.) Cutrell highlights a beautiful example of SVG created by fixate.it, and sees the development of accessible tools for the creation of infovis (graphical representations of data).
Other web design trends include the increased use of CSS to generate imagery, the prevalence of larger images, both as hero images (replacing slide shows) and as backgrounds, the integration of more interesting typography, and the use of fixed headers. Check out our list of references below to read the predictions in full:
Fizz or Fame: 10 Design Trend Predictions For 2014, Joseph Howard, Pencil Scoop
2014 Predictions for Web Design, Collis Ta'eed, Envato
18 pivotal web design trends for 2014, Chris Lake, Econsultancy
14 Website Trends for 2014, Matt Hall, Web Ascender
10 Web design trends you can expect to see in 2014, Amber Leigh Turner, The Next Web
Web Design 2014: What to Watch Out For, Jonathon Cutrell, Webdesign Tuts+
10 Web Predictions for 2014, Craig Bulter, sitepoint
7 web design trends you’ll actually see this year (and how to survive them), Benjie Moss, Webdesigner Depot
In 2014, The Mobile Web Will Die—And Other Mobile Predictions, Dan Rowinski, ReadWrite
Too Close for Comfort: the Pitfalls of Designing your Own Identity
Posted by Rebecca Blake on December 27, 2013
Jord Riekwel, the proprietor of the design firm Larkef in the Netherlands, has written a thought-provoking article on the pitfalls of designing your own logo. Although he is a logo designer by trade, Jord discovered that he was at an impasse in designing his own identity. His own designs were lackluster, and he felt he needed another pair of eyes. So he hired “lettering artist” Sergey Shapiro, who created the warm, flowing Larkef logo.
Jord cautions creatives to not assume they can do it all, but to recognize they are not “polymaths”. After failed attempts at his own website design, and afer producing sloppy, trite copy, he hired a website developer and a professional copywriter to take on those two tasks. His take-away: “Invest money in good design. Hire a proper logo designer, web designer, copywriter, or photographer. You won’t regret it.”
Below: Larkef logo sketches by designer Sergey Shapiro.
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