This is the second essay in a collection of twelve written by Byron Ferris for the "Design Sense" feature of the Sunday Northwest Magazine insert of The Oregonian during 1984 and 1985. – Ed.
Recently London's Victoria and Albert Museum showed a collection of objects formed in plastic. The shapes of the items — pens, phones, kitchen utensils and calculators — were appropriate to their functions, examples of living design at work.
Closer to home, Ron Brentano, curator of technology for the Oregon Historical Society, reports that the society has put aside a few plastic items to add to its old celluloid — yes, that was an early form of plastic - backings for hand mirrors and dresser sets and even older frames for daguerrotypes and tintypes. A small table radio — almost a prototype radio — and examples of scrimshaw-like artwork, done on plastic, form parts of the society's more modern plastic collection.
Except for the "scrimshaw." the items seem to be pretty functional — plastic lends itself to some pretty fussy stuff, it's true, but also to some good design that is both practical and attractive.
Things have a funny way of working on the internets. The Word of Mouth devotees liken it to that Breck commercial "You Tell Two Friends..." from way back. However you wish to describe it, we've been pleased that someone, somewhere, has taken notice of our little workshop. A month or so ago, we mentioned that a couple of the tastetrackers (SeptemberIndustry, AisleOne, Thinking for a Living and FFFFound!) had picked up on the goings on at Pinch. We even had our first taste of the sincerest form of flattery from a friend in China. Well, late last week, lightning struck yet again. It's been nice to receive the props from Screenfluent, minimalsites, Web Creme, and Most Inspired. A couple of thousand page views per day is pretty decent for a shop of our reach. That is to say, a reach that was previously, somewhat limited.
All the while, other things have been clipping right along. Client work continues, Bespoke keeps growing, and we've "launched" our Twitter feed, at twitter.com/Pinch_Bespoke. It's based on the simple premise of providing six tweets a day on issues related to brand, sustainability and design. A week in has produced some interesting results with some prominent players in the industry deciding to follow along. We hope you will, too.
A weekly assembly of what we, here at Pinch. A Design Office., might be talking about, listening to, reading, or otherwise coveting. For the most part, we'll try to keep the links somewhat focused on design. Sometimes, not. We do hope you'll enjoy. Note: We are still reposting missing past issues. Thank you for your patience.
Note: This is the first of a set of essays written by Byron Ferris for the "Design Sense" feature of the Sunday Northwest Magazine insert of The Oregonian during 1984 and 1985. Mr. Ferris, for six decades a hub for design in the region, is working with Pinch to share the history of design in Portland between 1950 and 1978. He has granted our office permission to reprint these essays. We will post one per week, unchanged from the original typeset text, over the coming twelve weeks.
I'm sitting here thinking about sitting, which is half way between standing and lying down. We all do a lot of it.
Sitting separates humans from animals. I can't think of many others of God's creatures who sit on the ends of their spines the way we do. Pandas, maybe, and bears begging for peanuts. Monkeys almost, but they rarely own chairs. Dogs and cats sitting around usually keep their paws on the floor.
To help us humans, thousands of chairs have been designed, some formed for work and some for overstuffed relaxing. Form follows function.
One of the most difficult design tasks must be shaping a chair for the dentist's waiting room. It shouldn't be too comfortable, because the sitters really don't want to be there. On the other hand, they'd like to be comforted, in the hope that the nurse won't call their names.
The dental chair is another matter. It is shaped for comfort, and when the dentist tilts it back, it's half chair and half couch. I've even dozed off in Dr. Knauss' chair, but maybe it's the nitrous oxide. I've often wished that the airlines would install dental chairs for long flights, although I suppose that would be funny-looking.
Like seemingly everyone else, Mad Men, the televised midcentury rendezvous with the New York ad game, has been a bit of a fascination around the Pinch office. The sets, the pitches, the ladies, the booze. And thanks to the wonders of the digital video disc, we can come and go at our leisure. You might say in that regard, we're a bit like Don Draper himself.
And like seemingly everyone else, we also stumbled upon this set from Dyna Moe, a freelance designer and illustrator (fittingly) practicing in the Big Apple. We simply couldn't resist making it ours; or at least as ours as Bespoke will allow. Besides the agency's dashing, yet troubled Draper, Dyna Moe gives nearly equal time to Joan (and her Xerox machine), Mr. Sterling (and Cooper), Peggy, Sal, Pete Campbell and the boys; Paul, Ken and Harry.
Beyond the Mad Men work, Dyna Moe lays claim to a couple of fine video shorts, Welcome to my Study and Cakey! The Cake from Outer Space and, most notably, is the creative force behind Nobody's Sweetheart.
We do our best to keep our politics where they belong:
in the bedroom away from the office, but we just liked this drawing so much that we couldn't let it slide. Ripped straight from the headlines Flickr set of illustrator Chris Piascik. Do pay $4.00 a gallon Chris's photostream a visit. He's got some nerve questioning the Republicans some nice work to share.
Go ahead and call me a creative critic. I've never been a Tom Fishburne guy and it has everything to do with his illustrative style. It just doesn't appeal to me. But with that baggage checked, I must admit, the man knows the business inside and out. And no, the irony is not lost. So, this panel made the rounds a couple of years ago as I was contentedly reminded this morning when I linked to an unnamed blog of great promise (which, apparently had been moth-balled for nearly as long). I really must give Tom his due; he delivers amusing reminders of our daily struggle in much the same way as this and this.
I spent the weeks following my father’s death cleaning out my attic. I mean this in the literal sense: I deal with loss using a method that is derived in equal parts from both of my parents: like my mother, I brood when no one else is around. When I am with others, I detach, compartmentalize and push on through, like my father. But though I was alone during this time — my wife and daughter were in New York attending to one of my wife’s projects — the cleansing of the attic was an exercise of the second sort: a physical activity meant to shove feeling aside, where it can safely be forgotten.
A weekly assembly of what we, here at Pinch. A Design Office., might be talking about, listening to, reading, or otherwise coveting. For the most part, we'll try to keep the links somewhat focused on design. Sometimes, not. We do hope you'll enjoy. Editor's note: We are reposting missing past issues. Thank you for your patience.
In weeks past, we've mentioned our continued use of LinkedIn, the online business/social networking tool. For most, simply adding to their contacts list (becoming LinkedIn) is enough and that's certainly fine. LinkedIn can be a powerful means of augmenting your address book. For us, in addition to staying in front of our client network by adding new connections, we've attempted to update our status areas, pose a few queries, and answer some questions, as well. Beyond attempts to be helpful, we are somewhat fascinated to monitor how our responses might drive traffic to pinch.nu. As a rule, we tend to let the low-hanging fruit "do you know a good designer?" or "what do you think about this logo?" drop without much attention. But sometimes, a question is just too good to let pass. In the coming months, if we answer a question that involves our approach to brand, type, design or process, we'll post it here, along with the original question. We're interested in your feedback on our position, so don't be shy. As McIsaac mentioned in an earlier post, Bespoke is again accepting comments. So with that, we'll get straight to it.
Question: Is a logo strictly necessary for a brand? (Or is the logo just a means of memorizing a brand or does it add something more as a slogan?) Posted by: Guy Benchimol, Owner and moderator of the non-profit Google Group "Computer Assisted Management for Performance."
Editor's note: As you might imagine, most responded with a resounding "yes!" citing classic "good examples" of brands with recognizable logos and significant juice. You know the ones; Apple, Nike, Google. Hillerns fielded this one, and given the specificity of Mr. Benchimol's question, he took a slightly different tack.
Answer: I would offer another perspective to the majority of (very reasoned) answers supplied above. In full disclosure, I should provide that I'm in the brand development business and one of our core offerings is identity development which, more often than not, is built around or supported by a logo. In hindsight, I should likely put the term "logo" in quotes simply because, and contrary to popular opinion, a logo need not be a bug, need not be a wordmark (or logotype), and need not be assigned a specific color. No, a logo is merely a sign post or marker; a device for easily identifying something. For lazy marketers, it has become the Holy Grail. For intelligent marketers, it is simply a tool. So, do I believe that a logo is useful to brand development? Absolutely. But a logo is absolutely not necessary in the way that most people advocate.
Marty Neumeier of Neutron LLC suggests that Brand is the intersection of Name and Experience. You establish one (Name) and your Customers — or followers, subscribers, loyalists, whatever — define the other (Experience). My experience, first as a consumer and then as a consultant, leads me to agree. As you can see, under this illustration, the paths that join Name and Experience certainly do not require a logo. (I capitalized to define, emphasize and differentiate vectors.)
At the risk of sounding contrarian, I'd challenge you think about what a brand really is. I'd argue that writers are brands inasmuch as the celebrities or sports figures mentioned (in other answers). Short of their efforts to write themselves into their character or subject, or self-promote by way of book tours or otherwise, it's the Experience of the reader that defines the writer's (or the book's) brand. Think of the differences between the "brand" of Danielle Steel and that of say, Jane Austen. Beyond the considerable chasm of craft between these two subjects, there are many other Brand elements at work in the readers' minds. Then consider the confusion (sometimes, anger) in the mind of the customer during a so-called "rebrand" (which is most often centered on a visual language redesign) of one's alma mater or more superficially, their favorite grocery store, and then think how quickly that concern subsides. If the reason that the customer initially recognized, appreciated, chose, or evangelized remains, then the logo — in whatever form, new or old — matters not. Consider a brand such as Ferrari and tell me honestly that the Italian carmaker's logo is necessary to the experience of the brand. I'd argue that, while convenient for hocking tee shirts and hats, a logo for a brand such as Ferrari serves no active purpose. Whether you're a 12-year-old boy with a poster on his ceiling or a serious auto enthusiast, it's the product and the experience that truly defines that brand. Apply this approach to any corporate or social model and then vigorously commit other elements of the visual (and brand) language and it becomes apparent that the logo, while useful, is not "strictly necessary" as you had inquired.
We just received a note from the folks at Trollbäck + Company featuring this gorgeous set (click image for full set) of limited edition Obama buttons. By the time this post goes live, it's likely that one's options will be limited. Of course, we're hopeful. Instructions for first come, first served orders require providing a full name, full address and first and second set choices. Inquire directly by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Update: We received our set by mail this Saturday and it is, well, cute as a button.
I was quite content to spend an early morning for another installment of Career Tools, AIGA Portland's quarterly breakfast series. Frankly, I had gone in with a plan of saying a quick "hello," catching a bit of the action and then making my way to a client meeting with time to spare. As you've likely surmised, I stuck around. The presenter, Kelly Coller, is perhaps best known in this town for her retail design outlet Office PDX, which aside from shelling the most supreme workplace tools, also touts a lively design-centered event schedule. During most days, she is marketing director for Twenty Four • Seven, a Portland firm who serves clients worldwide in providing design strategy, retail and graphic design. Her presentation was called Grass Roots Marketing: A Handy Top 10 (which may well have gone to 11) and provided a portmanteau of strategies and tactics for freelancers and firms, alike. I came away enlightened and considered Ms. Coller pitch-perfect for this environment. Respectful of Kelly's content, I've requested permission from her to post a summary of the tips and most certainly will, if granted. Stay tuned.
Obligatory shouts-out: It's always nice to sit between previous (AIGA) board members and firm principals Kim Malek and Rick Hooker and current board secretary and designer, Lisa Holmes. I enjoyed seeing Jacqueline Bos and Brent Loosli, Brian Wright (who puts together AMA Oregon's Connect Networking series), Lia Miternique of Avive Design and yet another present board member in Jennifer Green, formerly of Volt. I'm certain to be missing other good friends in that run down, but can't overlook the behind-the-scenes works of Tiffany Jackson, Heather Dougherty, Steve Potestio of 52 Ltd., Joaquin Lippincott of Metal Toad Media. And of course, lest we not forget the efforts of the ever-talented Lindsey Hammond of HUB. Nice work, all.
Matthew Butterick, having drawn one of my favorite remixes of Bulmer, is now apparently an attorney. It's probably a better living than a type designer makes, and at least he gets to do some good, to wit: Typography for Lawyers, which could be subtitled "(and anyone else in business)", because most of its content applies equally to anyone who has to set type (which is everyone who uses a computer nowadays). I'll take issue with his opinion on hyphenation as it applies outside the legal profession, as sometimes word breaks are necessary to maintain a lively rag, which is more important to comprehension than you might think, but: this is good, well-written, and very necessary stuff. Via Design Observer.
A weekly assembly of what we, here at Pinch. A Design Office., might be talking about, listening to, reading, or otherwise coveting. For the most part, we'll try to keep the links somewhat focused on design. Sometimes, not. We do hope you'll enjoy.
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