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Meet the Picasso of Design

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Trek Art Bike

What bothers industrial designer Marc Newson? “Ninety-nine percent of all cars, ninety-nine percent of all cell phones, and ninety-nine percent of all sneakers.” When journalist Chip Brown asked him if he felt assaulted by mediocrity, his answer “I’m constantly reminded of the opportunity that exists to improve designs.” This is something we talk about often in our studio, so I found myself nodding my head in agreement. How is it that the discipline of design has come so far, yet so many products today are so average, if not downright bad? A company like Apple has proven that great design sells. Yet I still can’t find a coffee maker that functions properly. You’d think that particular design problem would have been solved successfully years ago.

I was unfamiliar with Marc Newson until reading a recent article in the New York Times Magazine (January 29, 2012). A native Australian now living in London, he has created everything from furniture and household objects, to bicycles and cars, to commercial aircraft and yachts. He is one of those rare designers that seems to imbue each new piece with a personality all its own, using nothing more exotic than common materials, bold colors, and simple shapes. His fans include Apple’s chief designer Jonathan Ive and Reed Krakoff, creative director of Coach, who suggests “To me, Marc is like the Picasso of design.” Count me among Marc’s admirers as well, his product designs are fantastic. To see more of his firm’s work, like the Trek Art Bike from 2009, visit marc-newson.

Art Basel Miami Beach

Art Basel

So, I finally went to Art Basel in Miami Beach. It was something that had been on my radar for a number of years and I finally pulled the trigger.

I can’t buy a Jean-Michel Basquiat (maybe someday)…or a Keith Herring…or a Warhol…or a Hirst…but I love viewing contemporary art. The show is packed with work by a who’s who of art history stalwarts, contemporary art-stars, and artists you have probably never heard of (yet). Some of the work you know and many you won’t. But most of it is, well, just plain cool. For the art lover, Art Basel has it all.  read on

Social Networks are for Individuals

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Our clients at Taylor Design often ask us to help integrate their business with the latest buzz-worthy social networks, including Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. It is essential for companies to know where people congregate virtually in order to maintain their customer base and acquire new business. It simply makes good business sense for companies to build their e-presence through a variety of online marketing tactics.

As a successful and established corporate business, it can be a challenge to personalize the social networking experience for your customers and clients. Personally, I’d rather not be one of the millions of people lost in the shuffle. But how does a company go about personalizing the social networking experience?  read on

Beauty, the Easy Way

As designers we are more acutely aware than others how often images are retouched and what goes into a professional photograph, so it’s slightly easier to remember that ads often portray unrealistic images of beauty. When you’re a teenager, it’s not quite so easy to remember that. Every woman who has ever compared herself to a celebrity photo in an ad will enjoy this video for Fotoshop by Adobé, a fictional product that promises an easy beauty, or as the video’s author put it: “This commercial isn’t real, neither are society’s standards of beauty.”

It all started last year when NorwayFrance and England considered requiring fashion and beauty ads to include a warning label. The French Fashion Industry signed an “anti-anoxeria” charter to help promote healthy body images, self-esteem, and avoid “images of people, in particular youth, that could contribute to promoting a model of extreme thinness.”

This prompted Sephora to launch its first Photoshop-free ad campaign. On the other end of the spectrum, Cover Girl recently pulled a mascara ad with Taylor Swift because the eyelashes were “enhanced” and a misrepresentation of the product. The National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau, a media watchdog group, cited the ad as false and dishonest advertising. This is the first instance of this in the United States.

Now if only a link to this video can be included as a disclaimer with every new fashion ad campaign. Alright, perhaps that’s overkill, but a healthy balance needs to be found.

Dress Code Conundrum

What to wear, what to wear… Most professionals habitually ask themselves this deceivingly simple question each and every weekday morning. It’s a valid question, with a solution usually made infinitely easier by looking for helpful cues around the workplace; construction workers throw on jeans and work boots, accountants select between a black or blue suit, and nurses slip into their scrubs. Graphic designers, on the other hand, have had a difficult time throughout history defining an appropriately unique look, and have, for the most part, resorted to inheriting the fashion trends of other professions. In an industry whose practitioners solve complex visual problems on a daily basis, it might come as a surprise that the most perplexing visual problem is what to put on before heading to work. Even so, designers remain undoubtedly confused when it comes to personal attire, and this isn’t simply a problem of individual identity; evidence suggests the dress code conundrum has been an underlying crisis for an entire occupational demographic since graphic design’s inception.  read on

Trashing Your Brand Part II: The Komen Foundation

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Susan G. Komen For the Cure

Over the past thirty years, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation built a strong reputation fighting for women’s health. The institution’s looped pink ribbon became an ubiquitous symbol, finding its way onto American Airlines jets, Ford cars, Dell computers, and Yoplait yogurt. But a sudden withdrawal of financing from Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening threw the previously neutral brand into a vicious cultural debate. To most observers, Komen was putting politics ahead of women’s health. Under immense pressure, the organization apologized and reversed their decision a week later, agreeing to continue funding grants. But the damage was done and a once powerful brand has been badly tarnished.

Creating Annotated Screenshots the Easy Way

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How-to Easily Create Annotated Screenshots for Clients

As a web developer who creates custom content management solutions for clients, it can sometimes be difficult for our clients to remember everything we teach them during website training sessions. Often I receive minor questions after the session via email. If you’ve ever tried to explain step-by-step how to perform a certain task within a computer program through a plain text email, you know how difficult that can be.

Since I do this often for clients, I’ve found a system that is incredibly useful and allows me to show detailed instructions on how to use their web-based content management system software very quickly and easily. To use my method, in addition to having a Mac, you only need three things: read on

Vermont Stained Glass

Everyone hates ice storms. Forget about driving somewhere to run an errand or making it to work. As a skier waking up to a thick coating of ice this weekend, I was pretty disappointed. It did not seem possible that anything good could come out of this day. Who would have thought, then, that my disappointment would be completely erased by the surreal beauty of the candy coated trees reflecting the vivid purples, blues, pinks, and magentas that filled the night’s shadows and the lights of the new Vermont day. And, as if beauty overcame beast, the skiing was better than expected!

The Little People Project

Little People Project

While browsing a small art shop in Chicago I happened across a photo book called “Little People in the City: The Street Art of Slinkachu.” It’s such a unique and clever project, reminding you to pay attention to your environment and really observe life. Sometimes the best ideas stem from looking at everyday things from a new perspective. read on

EPA’s New ghgData Map

EPA's New ghgData Map

There is virtually unanimous agreement in the scientific community that human-caused global warming is real. So it puzzles me why climate change remains a partisan issue in the United States. “The theory remains unproven,” says Rick Perry. “Global warming is a hoax,” according to Michelle Bachmann. “I’m not one who would attribute it to being man-made,” notes Sarah Palin. In 2010, the Senate failed to pass basic legislation that would reduce greenhouse gasses (ghg). Seriously? Doesn’t a healthy planet benefit Democrats and Republicans alike? Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a searchable map that allows users to identify the nation’s major sources of CO2 and other gasses emitted from power plants, refineries, and chemical factories. It’s a wonderful example of dynamic information design based on real-world data. Now you can find out for yourself where greenhouse gasses are coming from—as close as your own backyard—and who are the biggest carbon polluters. Armed with this information, all of us can keep pressure on government and industry to combat global climate change.

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