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Industry Redesign Requested

Taylor Design is in the design and service business, so we know a bit about both. Last week’s United flight to and from Chicago for a meeting illustrated the airline industry’s dire need for a design and service revamp. From beginning to end, our simple one night business trip was a miserable experience, illustrating severe service shortcomings and dreadfully poor design decisions. For example:
– Since airlines charge $25 for bags, everyone brings them on the plane. The overhead bins quickly fill up, leading to an immediate stall and confusion in the boarding process.
– On the jet, the seats no longer align with the windows, due to the airlines pushing them forward to fit more seats in the cabin. So not only are travelers crunched for leg space, they can’t even look out the window.
– The terminals at both LaGuardia and O’Hare were packed with people in every direction, with travelers laying on the floor, sitting on trash cans, or standing for lack of seating. Clearly transit planners did not anticipate growth, or they would have designed the terminals to be much more expansive with a better traffic flow.
– Our flight arrived 4 hours late to Chicago and 4 hours late returning to New York, so forget about planning. The delays were mainly due to the weather, so I can’t complain about that, but communicating the delays via my phone was confusing and often wrong.
The list goes on and on—based on previous experiences from TSA body searching to missing luggage to getting bounced due to an overbooked flight—leading one to wonder when someone in the airline industry will take a time-out and look at their business model from the passenger’s viewpoint.

Ale Art

 

I spent the last four days in Burlington, Vermont celebrating my son’s graduation from UVM. During lunches and dinners with family and friends, I sampled several different local beers. Besides the unique flavors, textures, and colors, the packaging on the bottles and cans was uniformly excellent. A recent article at Seven Days explores how Vermont craft breweries—including Collective Arts Brewing, Magic Hat Brewing, Burlington Beer, and Otter Creek Brewing—are packaging their products in aluminum cans, which offers graphic designers a 360 degree canvas upon which place their creations. Cheers to great beer art! read on

Shaper of the Computer-Connected World

If someone were to ask me who created the personal computer, my answer would be either Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. If someone were to ask me who created the internet, my answer would be Al Gore (just kidding). But a recent obituary of Robert Taylor (no relation), who died last week at 85 in California, sets the record straight. read on

Addicted to Digital

One day during Christmas break, with lots of family around, I stopped to notice that everyone, including myself, was either on their phone or a computer. No one was talking with one another. No one was moving. The TV wasn’t even on. read on

Hung on You

As a young rock fan in the 60s and 70s, I loved the album art as much as the music. Beyond the type and graphic design, I was intrigued by the outfits worn by The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, and other British Invasion groups, whose albums my Mom would pick up in the discount bin (anyone remember the Tremeloes?). There were bright pink military coats. T-shirts made of the Union Jack. Frilly Victorian patterned shirts. I was too young to understand the fashion influences and I never really connected the dots until last week. Apparently it was a man named Michael Rainey, who died last week at 76, who ushered in London’s swinging fashion scene of the 1960s. He opened the Hung on You store in 1965 and began combining Edwardian tops with jeans, floral chiffon shirts with striped pants, and other flamboyant outfits that formed his avant-garde and “turned customers into peacocks.” So cool—okay, groovy—to make that connection and to understand the fashion choices of my rock idols.

Download a Masterpiece v2.0

A while back I had written a post about Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and their open access policy that allows unrestricted use of any images from its digitized artworks in the public domain. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has just joined the movement. Now, anyone can download images directly from the Met’s website and can use them however they want. That’s over 375,000 images from the Met’s collection, a big chunk of the 1.5 million works in their archive. An additional 65,000 artworks have been digitized, but are not in the public domain. read on

Trends of the Times

For years, my morning routine included a walk to the curb to retrieve the day’s news wrapped in bright blue plastic. But the NY Times delivery person never seems to arrive on time anymore, so I have turned to the NY Times iPhone app as my coffee companion instead. While I miss the experience of a big sheet of paper, I am rewarded with the most up-to-date news, links to relevant articles, and a truly awesome virtual reality section. And let’s face it, I have arrived where so many have landed long ago: paperless news. A recent report outlined a series of broad changes at The Times, including a reimagining of the print newspaper and a heightened emphasis on graphics, podcasts, video and virtual reality. They are also shifting the balance away from print-focused roles, hiring journalists with more varied skills to deepen engagement with readers as a way to build loyalty and attract subscriptions. “Our future is much more digital than print,” David Leonhardt, a Times columnist, says. And it is beginning to show in the company’s bottom line. Last year, The Times generated nearly $500 million in purely digital revenue, up from $400 million in 2014. In an era awash in fake news, this is an encouraging trend and a positive sign for the future of professional journalism and the survival of the NY Times. (Photo courtesy of Wired)

Asian Influence of an American Classic

While you’ve no doubt heard of Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh, you’ve probably never heard of Tyrus Wong. A Chinese-American artist, he was the visionary behind Walt Disney’s 1942 animated classic, Bambi. The story has it that he spent nights, after long days doing animation, painting watercolors to show his own vision of the new film’s look. His style emphasized the film’s animal characters in the foreground with minimal brushwork, gentle washes and slashes of color in the background—in the Asian tradition. The film went on to receive three Academy Award nominations and in December 2011 it was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Mr. Wong died this month at the age of 106. read on

Repelling the Bike Thief with Style

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I started riding a road bike a few years ago, encouraged by my father who rides daily with his bike team in Florida. I typically only ride to and from work. But when my travels take me elsewhere, I am at a loss as to how to secure my bike. Conventional bike locks fall into two categories—the U-shaped lock, which is heavy and not long enough to attach to anything, or the cable lock, which is like trying to untangle a coiled snake. In last week’s New York Times design issue, an article featured a beautifully simple bike lock designed by Rinat Aruh of the design firm Aruliden. This lock is thicker and longer than most U-locks on the market, big enough to secure a front wheel and a bike frame to your average street level post. The inside of the lock is coated with silicone rubber to prevent scratching the frame. And it’s also very secure. Made of titanium-ion-plated steel, it has dual locking mechanisms that require a well equipped thief to cut through both sides in order to take the bike. If that weren’t enough, tamper-sensitive accelerometers will trigger a sonic alarm and alert your smartphone if someone starts stealing your ride. And if the thief manages to get away, a GPS chip embedded in the lock will lead the police right to it. Well done Rinat—a beautiful combination of form and function.

Born in the U.S.C.

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There was an interesting letter to the editor in the NY Times last week:

“It is time for the United States to split into two countries, since we have two clashing cultures that are not compatible. The West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington) plus the northern part of the East Coast (New York, New Jersey and New England) should join with Canada to become the United States of Canada. The rest of the country can remain the “United States.” We will petition the Canadian government to accept our representatives and senators into the Canadian Parliament. Problem solved.” – Claire Frankel, New York

Claire, here are a few flag suggestions.

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