design thinking

Shiny Brite and Design Thinking

Over the holiday weekend, my mom and I sorted through several boxes of my grandparents’ Christmas ornaments. Both born in 1913, my grandparents lived through two world wars, had two daughters and were married for 73 years. They had several hand-painted glass bulbs that we can date back to the 1940s due to the...

Copy Cats, 1915

For a dozen years I contributed a small feature in each issue of Print called “Separated At Birth.” The concept was simple: To reveal (or call out, if you prefer) design and designers who were (knowingly or not) overly influenced or had decidedly copied another person’s design or illustration. Similarly, Mirko Ilic frequently posts...

Lissitzky, Cut It Out!

The Lenin Tribune designed by El Lissitzky from 1920-1924 is an oft rebuilt icon of Modern “graphic” Constructivist architecture.  In 1984 (a fitting Orwellian year for celebrating utopia) Paul Groenendijk and Piet Vollaard issued a set of five avant garde architectural cut-out and paste-up models, of which the Tribune was one. They are now...

Stop Accepting Defaults

An interesting confluence of writings in the media: several authors questioning the use of defaults (some several years ago), most using their exploration to define why usage of default systems are a terrible idea. The current overuse of default systems in visual design: Rob Giampetro and Rudy Vanderlans. Google’s efforts and spendings in keeping...

What the Heck's a “Guilloche?”

In my never-ending quest to re-integrate ideas of artistry and technology, I’ve been shown another example. Here’s a gorgeous video showing how a guillocheur creates his work. A guillocheur is sort of a machine operator, sort of a craftsperson, sort of an artist, who creates the beautiful rosettes we’ve all seen engraved into the...

Design Isn't a Job. Discuss.

I’m a big fan of Alice Rawsthorn’s thoughtful writing on design; did everyone see this piece she did for the Times yesterday? It’s full of big implications. She’s discussing a show curated by Ai Weiwei in which designed objects are considered to be the artifact of not necessarily a professional endeavor, a basic human...

Botany Blueprint: Tara

Specimen #18: Tara (Caesalpinia spinosa) ith its flaming beans and razor-sharp noli me tangere spines, the tree we call, simply, “tara” (Caesalpinia spinosa), is a striking figure, in any landscape. My encounter with tara was by a Pacific tide pool, on a stormy day. The fiery-hued seed pods seemed to advise that we venture...

A Glimpse At Life A Century Ago Through The Sketchbook Of W.G. Read

One of the pitfalls of amassing an eclectic collection of “stuff” is that it’s often difficult to remember where and under what circumstances you acquired something. That’s the case with this sketchbook of W.G. Read’s. I came across it at least 30 years ago after having moved to Brooklyn from Madison, Wisconsin – that...

Fail? No, Win!

Hey, weekend, how you doing? Been looking forward to this one ending. This is a silly thing called Going to the Store, by David Lewandowski. There’s not much reason you’d know his name, but you’ve seen his work—he created the animated titling for last year’s Tron:Disappointme—uh, I mean Legacy. He’s currently getting into comedy...

Sutnar's Controlled Visual Flow

Back in the pre-digital days, when paper companies could afford to produce ambitious promotions (the kind that drove environmentalists crazy, but made designers ecstatic), some of the promotions were more than sales tools. They were and have become seminal documents of design practice – especially modernist pursuit. Among the most progressive were Marquardt’s DESIGN...