Last evening, AIGA Portland hosted Brian Singer, president of AIGA San Francisco, principal at Altitude Associates and creator of the 1000 Journals Project. It was in 2000 when the project began as one hundred journals were initially sent, containing only basic information about the project, a blank slate, and an artful cover. As many of you may recall, that was around the time of the (first) dot com bust and Singer was at the epicenter the tech quake; San Francisco. Much like the economy today, there appeared to be more time for exploring ideas than there was available paying work and it became clear that people were feeling a need to reach out to others in order to rekindle connections or spark new ones. In those eight years the project has expanded to include one thousand traveling journals and has prompted a new online effort, 1001 Journals, which picks up where the last bound journal left off, as well as a book and movie. In this era of online social media, it's good to be reminded that a hand-scratched note or illustration still colors the personal nuances that pixels can only aim to render. An exhibit of the 1000 Journals Project is underway at SFMOMA and runs through April 5, 2009.
Shouts-out to Stephanie Wagner, and her team of volunteers and facilitators at AIGA Portland, for their assistance in bringing Brian to town. It was a pleasure to attend and to hear first hand how the project was conceived and how it continues to evolve and flourish.
We've had a good week at Pinch. As we mentioned at the beginning of the month, we were anxious to get to work and that work began by reaching out to friends, clients and prospects. Those efforts have begun to bear fruit, and we couldn't be more excited by the quality of the organizations who are, in turn, seeking our assistance.
Our brand development work with Oregon Trout and Smith & Fong in San Francisco is some of the more fulfilling work that we've tackled in some time. We expect to announce the launch of the newly redesigned Smith & Fong site in fairly short order. And the new brand language, name, and visual identity for Oregon Trout will be unveiled at the end of February.
We were pleased to learn yesterday that we had been awarded the Metro Multifamily Recycling contract, particularly given the stiff competition from around the region. A multitude of very good firms were in the hunt for that work. The week has also provided inroads to good people within organizations for which we maintain great respect; Vancouver's Formos (developer of StreamBank), Oregon Wave Energy Trust, and Oregon Council for the Humanities to name just three. We hope to assist in their varied project development efforts, as well.
The kind words continue to flow with regard to the Pinch site redesign, for which we're quite proud. Like painting a bridge, it's a continual work in progress. At this point we can say that the primer has been applied. And during the writing of this post, we just learned that Bespoke (our little rant space) has been added to Alltop, Guy Kawasaki and Nonomina's collection of top-shelf news feeds from around the world in design. It's good to be considered in the same company as Josh Rubin's Cool Hunting, Design Observer, and Zeldman's various properties.
We hope your week is progressing with the same level of promise. And if not—as we did for so many weeks—we would encourage you to take heart. It's only Wednesday.
Pinch. A Design Office. produces a daily Twitter stream we call @Pinch_Bespoke. The premise is simple: six tweets a day on issues related to brand, design, and sustainability. We were pleased to provide another glimpse of PUMA City, one of our favorite examples of shipping container architecture, as well as announce the upcoming opening of the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart. We share contemporary work from Post Typography and Piece Studio, both from Baltimore. Mike Dempsey looks back on Raymond Hawkey, we remind you about Hille Furniture contributors Robin Day and Fred Scott, and DesignWorkPlan reminds us about the words of Eric Gill. As always, we thank you for allowing us to share our work and our incessant ramblings.
This is the tenth 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. As always, Byron entertains and shows a knack for having his finger on pulse of Portland, then and now. Who else can wrap the mythical Calvin Swine and the esteemed Charles Eames to illustrate his idea? Nobody, that's who. And that's why we love the young feller'.
Not many products are designed in Oregon because, of course, the state manufactures little in the "mass-market manufacture" sense. Oregon, as home to Jantzen, White Stag, Speedo and Nike, has a large name in the active sportswear field, but much of the styling or manufacture for these brands is done out-of-state. Pendleton's fashions are Oregon-directed; Gerber Blades, Columbia Outdoorwear and several other products can be called Oregon-based in the national marketplace. Oregon is a surprisingly large supplier of printing and publications, and the growing electronics industry has required some specialized product design.
But design innovation is not a great need in our cut-and-ship state, where most products are grown, harvested and shipped out — timber, fruit, wheat and vegetables. I suppose there's not much need for invention when you live with a "let-me-watch-my-garden-grow" attitude.
The cut-and-ship condition may have been responsible for Gov. Tom McCall's invitation to visitors, "Come visit, but don't stay." That is, visit, but then cut out, ship out. But now we're part of the international marketplace, with trees and wheat shipping out to the Pacific Rim nations and the Port of Portland acting as point of entry for massive numbers of Japanese cars. We have to think of the new intermix of one-world technologies and cultures. I knew the international mix was upon us when I suspected that our local Mexican restaurant served guacamole made with CooIWhip.
I've been a fan of the Holga 120-Series with its meniscus lens — and basically one measurable aperture — since I was a third-year college student. The vignetted capture that the leaky medium format plastic box camera created was unlike anything else I had seen outside of their pricier (and more advanced) Lomo series cousins. Ethereal results akin to a couple hits of acid and Floyd's Animals (or at least that's how I think I remember them). And while inexpensive, to refer to it as a toy never seemed entirely fair or accurate. In reality, it's a tool of considerable reach.
As others, Atlanta designer and photographer, Mark Weaver (Eye Static), has shared his results with Holgaroids, his Flickr set of Holga images captured while using a Polaroid back. Check it and if you haven't used a Holga, a Lomo, or the gorgeous Diana and would like to try your hand with one of these beautiful babies, pay a visit the Lomographic Society International site and take your pick.
There are far too many clichés. Far too many efforts to re-frame an issue, its description and its language, in the effort to blur our understanding. Far too many attempts to quiet the already contemplative. To borrow from a practiced re-framer in John McCain, it should be about straight talk. And with that, comes a call for clear communication. Today "marks a new day" in American politics which should – fingers crossed – signal a sweeping change in the previously divisive and failed strategies of a shamed ex-President's son and his yellowed, graying posse. It couldn't happen too soon. This is when the real work begins; we have no excuses in that we have received exactly what we asked for.
There exists a personal summons by thinking people to serve this administration in some constructive manner. For designers it started long before the election, thanks at least in part to Shepard Fairey and Sol Sender who in their own ways demonstrated that solid visual design can inform and inspire in ways beyond expectation. Steve Heller, Bill Drenttel, and Ric Grefé have been typically lucid channels and yet perhaps the most effective calls for action have come from the voting game-changers themselves; the younger, often hushed side of the demographic. These voices, pens and pixels have pushed the discussion of design well beyond the duct-taped principles of Intelligent Design (which is neither intelligent or design but rather an assertion) to address issues related to the role of visual communications in society. Beyond Design for Democracy's call for a consistent and clear national ballot format, the Citizens Briefing Book focuses on even deeper issues related to design in a document intended specifically for its audience of one: the president. And designers of all stripes are coming together to address the important issues at hand. Poets, artists, filmmakers and designers are finally, no longer the enemies of state, but rather the avenues for statesmanship. We are moved to design cleaner energy sources and we are demanding personal, corporate, and governmental accountability in spending, consuming and saving. Design is everywhere and even a more mature societal construct is waking up to the fact that without careful attention, a lack of design can be at very least costly or disenfranchising, or at worst a life-and-death issue for future generations.
One line struck me as especially pertinent in Obama's January 18 pre-inauguration speech. He said, "But never forget that the true character of our nation is revealed not during times of comfort and ease, but by the right we do when the moment is hard." Now I don't claim to know the origins of that idea or who originally coined it, but for me, it was Obama's clearest message. This is that moment. It's hard. To borrow from a tired cliché (and then let's agree to put them to rest), today marks the first day of the rest of our lives. Let's design it in a manner that is clearly defined and accessible for our children. And it's okay if it's beautiful.
Pinch. A Design Office. produces a daily Twitter stream we call @Pinch_Bespoke. The premise is simple: six tweets a day on issues related to brand, design, and sustainability. Last week looked at Nick Felton's new tool Daytum, brewer Stella Artois, legendary designers Florence Knoll Bassett and Wim Crouel and the young conquistador, Nacho Carbonell. Of course we added a few projects of our own and we basked in recognition from two of our favorites: Visuelle and minimalsites. Follow along with us and don't be shy. If there is anything that we can do to improve this service, we want to hear from you.
Considered by many to be the "artistic heist of the century," Phillippe Petit's 1974 wire walk between New York's World Trade Center towers is an immersive study in design wrapped in an auspice of art. And for me at least, the walk itself was much like the conclusion of any creative endeavor — a bit of a letdown. Consistent with the views of many designers and artists, Petit serves to illustrate that the end of any creative pursuit only forms the path for the beginning of another. When he argues that "there is no why," Petit expresses yet another wire walk between the disciplines of art and design and his own questions surrounding an undetermined future.
The title Man on Wire describes both the complaint tagged to the police report and Petit himself. It's a tight little story of a man who clamors for attention for the work best performed within his own most personal moments. Igor Martinovic's cinematography is upstaged by the rich and ruddy quality of the film that Petit wisely captured and collected from an early age. Without this footage, the visual style of the picture would suffer. But Petit is both an accomplished aesthete and skilled in the process of design at its core; from the measured construct of his planning sketches, to his work and personal relationships, his personae, his acts of performance, and his mad daring. "Now, it's impossible, that's sure. So let's start working," Petite says at one roadblock. And the process begins.
The early 1970's demonstrated a era of promise in America and New York's Twin Towers represented a sanguine spirit of worldwide cooperation, optimism, and progress. The beauty and seeming innocence of that era — to then be chronicled in 2008 — can't help but borrow on the emotion surrounding the events of 11 September, both innocent and tragic. The contrasts in imagery naturally reminds of what the Manhattan skyline once was, and the efforts displayed in the construction site footage recalls the incredible and horrific power of each tower in free fall. Petit's clandestine preparation can't help but stimulate consideration about the terrorists' planning and prompts the viewer to ask himself, with some trepidation, "what is next?"
We had been aware of Matte Stephens' work but until recently had never extended a hand to make his acquaintance. That changed this weekend, albeit by e-mail, when we asked Matte if he'd mind if we linked to his Flickr Set. The 34-year-old Portland illustrator has established a style that undeniably channels the work of mid-century masters Alexander Girard, Charlie Harper and Alain Grée. And yet Stephens' approach is his own in constructing a contemporary palette (and cast of characters) that seem so comfortably rooted in the Pacific Northwest. Apparently tastemaker Jonathan Adler, and design-forward brands such as Herman Miller, American Express, and Velocity feel as we do. Stephens creates seriously arresting work that can't help but tease up a smile.
On the opening day of the Detroit, ahem, 2009 North American International Auto Show, we're seeing some interesting technology geared toward environmentally-focused consumers. The new Prius, in addition to offerings from Volkswagen, Audi, Honda, Ford, and yes, even that lovable oaf of an uncle, Chevrolet, are announcing major releases and upgrades for the sustainably-minded.
MotorAuthority.com is reporting that two enthusiasts are working on a sports car prototype that emits zero emissions and draws its energy from the wind. The car is the RORMaxx Formula AE (shown above) and will be able to accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than four seconds and buzz along for 200 miles on a fully-charged battery.
Pinch. A Design Office. produces a daily Twitter stream we call @Pinch_Bespoke. The premise is simple: six tweets a day on issues related to brand, design, and sustainability. This week links New York's 56 Leonard, Herzog & de Meuron's inimitable fusion of art and architecture. Plus, the office and cooking tools you just can't afford to live without, along with offerings from Pentagram, Castiglioni, Holmris, Szpajdel, and a few projects of our own. We invite you to follow along with us and we hope you'll let us know if there is anything that we can do to improve this service.
This is the ninth 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. The Editors.
Sigmund Freud opened up the idea that each individual is the psychological product of individual experience, that we are molded by outside influences and by choices often out of our control.
Before the 1895 publishing of Freud's experiments in hypnotism, which under clinical conditions revealed underlying problems of troubled patients, most folks thought they were mere cogs following ordered patterns of society. They believed in God and government, and they had the patterns of life properly established in their minds.
The Victorians lived in a proper way within an ordered class structure. In the "Upstairs/Downstairs" years, the standards were well-established – not that the parlormaid didn't aspire to finer things, but her choices were limited.
The upper class collected paintings and hoarded antiques from ancestral estates. Some gathered Asian art as the spoils of colonialism. In the Victorian/Edwardian eras you knew you were lower class if you didn't have any of that stuff.
But here we are in the last 20 years of the 20th century, and "times they have a-changed." Herman Kahn, the socio-economist, noted "the period 1948-1973 was our time of economic boom." During those post-World War II years the United States blossomed with exuberant manufacturing, and the affluent suburban consumer society was formed. Although British observer Stephen Bayley notes the "overwhelming of the American consumer goods industries by imports from Europe and Japan" by 1973, when the U.S. economic boom faded into silence, we now have a worldwide trade marketplace filled with innumerable goods.
Monday proved to be a good start to a new year in business. I was again reminded of why I love working and living in this humble little city. We had just thawed out from what was an unusually white holiday break. The kids had tacked on a few days to their already long vacation and I got the sense that folks were more than a little itchy to get back to work. Among other things to look forward to, 2009 marked what will be a new federal administration, and at least for the folks who I chose to spend time with, that's reason enough to be optimistic. Fact is, for our firm, business was way down last year. That was due to many complex factors but the general view of the economy certainly didn't assist in loosening the purse strings attached to brand development. It's overly simplistic to lay blame on outside forces, but this economy is larger than a few guys (and a girl) working out of a small design studio in Portland, Oregon.
The day started with a sense of ordered measure. I was alone in the office (Conahan was designing a new skate park and McIsaac had his jetset on, spending at least part of his holiday New York trip with friends of the studio, Hal Wolverton and Alicia Johnson). Lisa was at Forest Park Conservancy and I was accompanied by nothing more than a quiet phone and a satchel of trip hop cuts that I had compiled during the break. It seemed that everyone—clients, neighbors, partners—were engaged in a collective inhale that occurs just prior to jumping in headlong.
Today, we welcome the return of The Tuesday Flickr Set. As addressed yesterday, it's been somewhat swept under the rug in favor of less important tasks, like new business and taxes. In an effort to post these each and every Tuesday, I'll work to scale back the commentary supporting our weekly inclusions. But as you know, we have a tendency to ramble on a bit. Or at least I do.
To make up for past omissions, I'm digging you a group pool. Yes, it's like the set that goes to eleven. Folk Typography is administered by San Francisco photographer, Cassidy Curtis. He oversees a nice collection here, from nearly 1,000 sources and largely composed of found typographical references. Spend some time. It'll be worth your while.
About the form, Curtis writes explains "Folk Typography is also known as outsider typography. Surprising, original letterforms created by people who are not designers, typographers, calligraphers, or graffiti artists – in other words, people outside of all traditional schools of typographic influence." The way it should be.
With regard to Bespoke, I've made three personal resolutions: First, I'll post at least once every business day, no matter the length. It may be as simple as an image that we've found somewhat inspiring, or a link to some manifesto or project deserving of attention. Second, to revive the Tuesday Flickr set and The Pinch Digest. Both of these departments have required some effort in the past, but over the holidays, I compiled and penned a nice bank of posts to fill those weeks that see neglect. And third, to begin a monthly interview series. The format will remain focused; six questions (do you see a pattern emerging?) posed to a dogmatic subject in (or on) design. We'll call it The Straight Six. The goal is simply to further the discussion about design, whether it comes from the point of view of an author or an architect, a photographer or an educator, a stripper, sculptor, director, designer, hustler or whore. Without being overly rigid, we believe that design is the focus of our culture and perception can (and should) originate from anyone. We look forward to 2009.
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