Note: I wrote this process post a while ago about a project I completed last November. There has been so much going on these days that I forgot about it in the depths of my terribly cluttered hard drive. As I have transitioned to thesis mode now, there are less of these sorts of projects in the pipeline. This is one of my favorites I have completed at the Academy thus far and it was interesting to revisit. This is the article in its original form, as I wrote it last December.
This semester we were asked to immerse ourselves in one topic and research it through a series of week long projects. The content of each project would be the result of our extensive research, and we were expected to pick a topic robust enough to be worthy of 15 weeks of study. Each project encouraged us to explore different design solutions and helped us hone in on a visual style that we could use for the final project, which would synthesize all of our work into one deliverable.
For the last month of the semester, we were tasked with compiling all of our research into a book that we would write, design, and bind ourselves. It was to have a minimum of 48 pages (6″ x 9″), a hardcover, and provide some meaningful insights about our topic which we uncovered during our semester of research. In addition to providing a worthy and refreshing commentary, it was to be a covetable piece of graphic design that felt visually appropriate for our topic.
The topic I chose for the semester was Mega Cities (urban areas with a population over 10 million people). The original focus of the project was an examination of what makes a city successful — what it is about a massive city that makes it unique. It eventually dovetailed into an exploration of the ways these cities are confronting the problems they face and how increasing populations make solving these problems more complicated and time sensitive. These problems are becoming increasingly relevant as the world’s urban population continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. I flirted with numerous other topics, some of which I thought were quite interesting, but I found that Mega Cities would provide me with the most interesting and engaging material.
The Pirelli poster I wrote about yesterday came from this great book, Poster Collection: Zurich-Milan. Inside is a great and varied assortment of posters from the Museum fur Gestaltung Zurich’s collection. My favorite was the Pirelli tire advert, but I love the above as well. Starting from the top, designed by Max Huber, Silvio Coppola, Giancarlo Iliprandi, and Anna Monika Jost. The cool thing about the book is much of the work is rarely seen elsewhere. There is some commentary, but I recommend this book mainly for the visuals.
I almost didn’t want to post this link just so I could snag a few of the books, but I don’t think I really need to add any to my collection right now. The Strange Attractor turned me on to Counter-Print’s great selection of vintage design books. The real beauty here is the pricing; pretty reasonable compared to what I have seen elsewhere. The main attraction for me though are the great pictures and excellent page selections. Counter-Print: please, please keep your archive of sold books going (the grayed-out selections at the bottom) so we’ll always have a record of some of these rare finds.
Design books in general have always been a dichotomous obsession for me. On the one hand I am compulsively drawn to them; as if owning a physical copy of the images inside will allow me to understand or appreciate them better. But on the other hand, I rarely refer back to these books once I’ve owned them for any amount of time. They look nice all stacked up on the bookshelf, but whether they serve any real function beyond that I can’t really say. I suppose they are good to refer back to for inspiration or reference but for some reason I never actually take the time to crack most of them open. I suppose they aren’t really meant to be all that functional, perhaps they’re best viewed as a collection and something to be enjoyed as a whole. At any rate, you could do your own collection some serious good by checking out what Counter-Print has on offer.
In support of the film, we are doing a giveaway of a couple signed posters and Glaser’s new book Drawing is Thinking. The grand prize will be onehand-signed (by Mr. Glaser himself) film poster and one copy of the book (displayed above). The runner up will receive onehand-signed (by Mr. Glaser himself) film poster. To enter, just comment on this post and be sure to leave your email address so that we can contact you if you win (email will not be publicly visible). The winners will be chosen at random from the comments on Tuesday, June 30th, 2009. Click here to enter!
If you’re in the San Francisco area, make sure to get out to the Roxie and catch this before it’s gone. It will be showing through the 25th of June. Also worth checking out is the Hilman Curtis short film on Glaser if you haven’t already.
I just finished reading Never Sleep, the new book by Andre Adreev and Dan Covert of dress code. As a student, the back of the book (pictured) kind of freaked me out when I first saw it. My brief and occasional foray into the world of freelance has exposed me to some differences between school and the professional world of design, but I’ve always figured I’ll be in for a wake up call when I graduate regardless. I was psyched to see a book written about this exact process, and I spent last night (as the title suggested) reading the lot of it.
The book chronicles Andre and Dan’s transition from design school to the professional world. They describe, in-depth, just about every aspect of their journey; studying at CCA, working for MTV, and the eventual creation of their own studio in NYC. Along the way, they include examples of their own work from each stage of their career, as well as various essays by professors and professional designers (many of which are available on the site). The book describes just about everything that happened to Andre and Dan, even the occasional IM conversation, and this makes for a very engaging read. The third person narrative is just about as random as it is amusing, and is ultimately very accessible and insightful for the struggling design student (that’s me).
Dan is Ohio. Andre is Bulgaria. They is dress code. At the combined age of 50 their work has been recognized by shiny awards, appeared in lots of magazines, coffee table books, and 3 museums. They met while studying graphics designs at California College of the Arts. Then moved to New York and got jobs with MTV working in motion and print—before stupidly leaving their dream jobs to start a studio of their own. (Buy)
Hopefully won’t be needing either of these anytime soon, but with a cover like that, I’d take the Arctic one around with me regardless. Both survival manuals, along with a desert and jungle version, are up over at things magazine. You can even read the entire book if you think you might find yourself in an ice or sea related predicament.
Conserve your energy. Do not rush around aimlessly. Avoid fatigue. Get plenty of sleep. If you cannot sleep, just lie down and relax your body and mind. You will not freeze to death unless you are utterly exhausted.(link)
I purchased The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton because I loved the cover. I think it was the colors that first caught my eye. I was also intrigued by the shadow and the shape it created; how it almost touches the statue in the most perfect way. The eye follows the line it creates, and it helps reinforce the hierarchy of the page really effectively. For whatever reason, and as the title indicates the book may elucidate, the whole design makes me happy every time I look at it.
Why this design makes me happy, and to a greater extent, why architecture of a certain aesthetic caliber appeals to us, is largely what this book explores. It is a must read for designers of all disciplines as it pursues the question at the core of what we do: Why make things look beautiful (what does “beautiful” even mean?) and not just purely functional? One of my favorite parts of the book describes the principles of some nineteenth century engineers that felt like they had determined the end-all criteria for evaluating structural design:
The engineers had landed on an apparently impregnable method of evaluating the wisdom of a design: they felt confidently able to declare that a structure was correct and honest in so far as it performed its mechanical functions efficiently; and false and immoral in so far as it was burdened with non-supporting pillars, decorative statures, frescos or carvings. Exchanging discussions of beauty for considerations of function promised to move architecture away from a morass or perplexing, insoluble disputes about aesthetics towards an uncontentious pursuit of technological truth, ensuring that it might henceforth be as peculiar to argue about the appearance of a building as it would be to argue about the answer to a simple algebraic equation.
As the rest of the book unfolds, Botton examines, as eloquently as he does above, the alternative to what these engineers proposed. Why it is that we strive to make things beautiful, and what qualities beautiful work possesses. The parallels between his chosen arena of architecture, and other realms of design, are easily drawn, and make it very worthwhile for interested minds in every field. My favorite paragraph is on page 72, and does a nice job bringing together a lot of what he discusses in the book:
In essence, what works of design and architecture talk to us about is the kind of life that would most appropriately unfold within and around them. They tell us of certain moods that they seek to encourage and sustain in their inhabitants. While keeping us warm and helping us in mechanical ways, they simultaneously hold out an invitation for us to be specific sorts of people. They speak of visions of happiness. [Buy on Amazon]
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On an unrelated Note: Peter, of Buchanan-Smith, wrote in to clarify the attribution information of a previous post on designer Josef Reyes. The work presented was produced by the studio Buchanan-Smith, where Reyes works as a designer, and the post has been updated to credit the work to the Buchanan-Smith studio. Definitely make sure to check out their site, they have a lot of great work.