This gorgeous piece of hardware is the Elekit Tube Amplifier, designed by Koichi Futatsumata. I’ve always been obsessed with tube amps but I’ve never seen one look this good. Of course, it would look best if the rest of your furniture is of a similar spec — which is not the case for me — but maybe this is so amazing that it can elevate even the most drab of living spaces with its sexy minimalism. The only problem is that I want to buy it right now and it appears to be impossible. I find way too many concept pieces that look amazing but never find their way into the marketplace. At least this one looks like it might eventually be for sale. (But by then Apple may have released their “newest creation” and I won’t have any money left…)
I saw a commercial for the new Nautilus Mobia today and was pretty impressed. Considering the fact that it comes from an industry not exactly known for aesthetics, the Mobia sports some nice lines and an overall iPod-esque (the designer’s own words) vibe that’s pretty attractive. Designed by famed ID firm Frog Design, the elliptical/treadmill hybrid even scores in the interface department with a clean, no nonsense display.
Unfortunately, the Mobia branding falls flat on it’s face. Perhaps another firm designed the logo and Frog was forced to apply it to their creation, I don’t know. I do know that it just about ruins the entire experience. The logo — which appears to have been designed by a marketing team years before the unit itself and completely independent of any input from the product design team — fails to align stylistically with any of the machine’s physical characteristics. And what’s with the name? Mobia? It sounds like a new VoIP solution or some sort of dolphin harness. It doesn’t sound athletic or sleek at all. Oh well, I would still take one and just scratch off the logo. Then I really wouldn’t have to leave the studio again.
Less and More is the new book about the work of Dieter Rams. The book itself is massive — 808 pages of images and descriptions of Ram’s ground breaking designs. It’s bound beautifully and comes in a really nice display box. Publisher Gestalten wins again. I just received mine from Vitsoe, but you can preorder it from Amazon if you prefer. If you go the Vitsoe route, I would also suggest this poster displaying Ram’s 10 Principles of Good Design.
Less and More elucidates the design philosophy of Dieter Rams. The book is the ultimate collection of images of all of Rams’s products as well as selected sketches and models – from Braun stereo systems and electric shavers to the chairs and shelving systems that he created for Vitsœ and sdr+. In addition to the complete visual presentation of his designs, the book contains new texts by international design experts that explain how the work was created, describe its timeless quality, and put it into current context.
I’ve been geeking out on ’70s supercars lately and came across these gems depicting a BMW concept from 1972. The “E25 BMW Turbo” was commissioned to celebrate the 1972 Munich Olympics. BMW tasked famed automotive designer Paul Bracq to create the concept of which only two were ever built. Honestly, I love the front angles, but not really feeling that rear end. It feels very hatchback/kit-car-ish and the doulbe logos are killing me. Thankfully some of the finer points made it into production in the form of the M1 and some others.
That first shot is just off the charts; in the background you can see BMW’s Munich headquarters which was designed by architect Prof. Karl Schwanzer shortly before his death in 1975. In the other shots you can catch the games tent and the communications tower providing apt backdrops for the Turbo.
Every year around this time I like to pretend I have a rich uncle or something and then think about what they would get me for Christmas. This year rich uncle would get me a Linn Sondek Limited Edition Retro LP12 with the walnut finish. I’ve been thinking a lot about home stereos lately, I really want to build a solid system for listening. For a long time I’ve lived by a rule that I’d only spend money on things related to making music or graphic design. This means I have a great set of monitors in the studio, but in my living room I listen to music on a $200 set of Logitech speakers. For some reason I never really thought about how ridiculous this was, especially considering how much enjoyment I get out of listening to music.
So I was walking down Market street the other day and stumbled in to San Francisco Stereo & Theater Systems where they had a pair of B&W 683’s on the floor. I plugged in my iPhone (I know, MP3 is not worthy of a hi-fi system, but it’s all I had), cued up Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve’s rendition of Midlake’s Roscoe and proceeded to melt into the seat. I’ve never heard sound like this. Yes, I have Adam’s in the studio, but that’s a near-field system designed for professional use. They’re meant to sound very flat and honest, they’re not necessarily supposed to sound pretty and warm and they’re certainly not designed to fill up a large room.
So this all got me thinking, I need to build a proper hi-fi. I have an old (but powerful) Denon hand-me-down amp in storage that I could dust off, just add some B&W’s and I’m set. But then I started thinking that I couldn’t bring myself to play MP3’s through a system like that so I would have to start rebuilding my music collection based on FLAC and WAV, which could take some time. Finally I realized this would still involve D/A conversion at some stage (which I was thinking could be handled by a spare MOTU 828MKII) so it still wouldn’t be ideal. This is when it finally occurred to me that I need to get a proper turntable and expand my vinyl collection.
Enter the Linn Sondek LP12, which apparently sounds incredible and — as you can see from the photos above — is absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately it’s about $2500 so it’s never going to happen. There’s got to be some less expensive alternatives out there, guess I’ll have to dig around a little. At any rate, if my long-lost, wealthy second cousin is reading this, you can ship it all direct or I’ll take a personal check.
Beautiful shots of the original LP400 and concept models of the Lamborghini Countach before Crockett and Tubbs got back from Kragen with all the wings and spoilers. You may recognize some of the lines from the Bertone post, that’s because Bertone designer Marcello Gandini also designed the original Countach concept in 1971.
This is such a beautiful design, shame they had to go and muck it up with all the over the top junk. Although I guess if it didn’t have all that stuff we wouldn’t have such a perfect cliche ’80s car as a reference point in video games and movies.
Mid-Century Modernist posted a couple interviews with Dieter Rams. One is by Gestalten and the other by The Design Museum. It’s great to see this pioneer of product design is still getting the recognition he deserves.
By the way, can you believe this guy is still around? He’s the true definition of a living legend. That’s one of the coolest things about graphic design, our heroes don’t overdose on heroin at 27. They seem to live long, healthy lives, maintaining productivity well into later life. Must be all the sitting, or maybe all the designer reading glasses.
“Weniger, aber besser”
Spencer Nugent posted an interesting article on the Levels of Sketching over on IDSketching (that’s his image above). I don’t know a lot about industrial design, or the complex role sketching appears to have in the field, but I was really interested to read a little more about it. What came to mind immediately was the sketching process we are constantly encouraged to go through at graphic design school. I am always terrified of this part and try my best to avoid it (which is impossible). Of course, though the role of the sketch is different in this case — as it serves as a rough internal mock up rather than a deliverable for a client — it’s importance remains of a high level (for a number of reasons, many of which Milton Glaser explains in this video that’s been floating around the last couple weeks).
The sketching process for the project I mentioned a while back has been pretty intense. Recently I’ve been working through countless concepts and designs, sketching my hands off. I was lucky to figure out my direction/concept early on, but it’s taken me forever to figure out the right way to render it. This has meant ENDLESS amounts of sketches and crappy little mock ups. I guess I lack the patience to sketch well, and my process book looks like I was drawing blindfolded, drunk, and with my off hand.
Seeing the way industrial designers sketch, I am truly envious. To be able to render something that detailed and precise, without a computer sometimes, I can’t imagine. Of course, I am reacting this way because I grew up designing with the computer. “Process” to me has always meant keyboard and mouse, not pencil and paper. I recognize this as a potential weakness in my workflow, and have been trying really hard to incorporate sketching into this project. Results have been here and there so far, and I wonder if I will ever be able to develop my sketching ability to where it’s consistently worthwhile.
I know David Airey for one is a big proponent of sketching, and has written many interesting articles on the subject. How do the rest of you feel about sketching when it comes to the graphic design process? When starting a project (especially a logo design for example), do you start with pencil or mouse (or the hybrid, Wacom Tablet)?