Illustration

Comic Book Depiction of Volkswagen Emergency Brake System

Anyone who has read an action comic book knows what a cataclysmic impact looks like. Splat! Pow! Blam! Swoosh! Clouds of dust, explosive rays, stars. Adam&Eve DDB London worked with illustrator John Rogers to demonstrate how Volkswagen’s City Emergency Brake system can avert disaster by using a comic book illustrative style and visual sound effects. It certainly beats the more realistic approach of showing blood and gore, police cars and the message “don’t let this happen to you.”

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Advertising

IBM Billboards That Do Double Duty

IBM’s “Smarter Planet” communication platform, developed with its long-time agency, Ogilvy & Mather, added a low-tech, but highly appreciated approach to its outdoor advertising campaign. IBM looked beyond its digital technology business and considered what would enhance the quality of life in a community. It didn’t change its marketing message, but it did alter its outdoor advertising strategy. Incorporating a simple curve in the physical shape of its billboards transformed them into street benches, rain shelters and ramps — which all goes to prove that small changes can provide smart solutions for cities.

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Typography

Type Designers Talk Type

Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones of the influential type foundry H&FJ in New York City were recipients of the prestigious AIGA Medal this year. This video, created by the New York design studio, Dress Code, was shown at the Medalist dinner in April. Here, the two talk candidly about how they approach type design and talk about why it takes them a decade to get each project ready for release.

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Information Graphics

BBC Explains DNA

BBC Knowledge & Learning (K&L) is exploring a range of topics, from social history to science, in a series of three-minute online Explainer documentaries. In this case, London-based Territory Studio was commissioned to produce an animated film on the subject of DNA. The Territory team, led by art director/ animator William Samuel, chose a primer-like retro approach that didn’t veer off into futuristic complexities. The graphics are kept simple and elegant, using mostly circular shapes, a limited color palette and mostly circular movements to explain the double helix of DNA. The information also is succinct and accurate, with molecular biologist Dr. Matthew Adams teamed with writer Andrew S. Walsh to distill the text to the most fundamental elements required to understand how DNA functions and affects living beings.

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Illustration

UCLA Extension’s Masters of Design

The covers of most university catalogs typically show photos of the campus or students lounging around the quad, or just present a plain typographic title. The covers for the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Extension catalog are an exception to the norm. Since 1990, they have featured the works of several of the world’s best-known graphic designers, beginning with Paul Rand.

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Film

Of Saul Bass and the History of Film Titles

Years ago designer Saul Bass explained how he approached film title sequences to me when I interviewed him for an article. “Find an image that will be provocative, seductive yet true to the film,” he said. “It has to have some ambiguity, some contradiction, not only visually but conceptually. Not just isolating the prettiest frame, but finding a metaphor for the film.“

Beginning with his 1955 work on Otto Preminger’s “The Man with the Golden Arm,” Bass transformed the way film title sequences were perceived forever. He approached the task with a graphic designer’s eye, so that stills from his title sequences easily translated into a powerful iconic poster for the movie.

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Posters

IDA Congress Adopts a Global Perspective

IDA Poster 1

For its first-ever International Design Alliance (IDA) Congress in Taipei this October, the organization put out a worldwide call for a poster design. The response was particularly nice. Here are four by Helmut Langer, James Chen, Katsunori Watanabe and Kazumasa Nagai.

What’s intriguing about the IDA Congress, themed “Design at the Edges,” is its cross-disciplinary approach, encompassing industrial design, communication design and interior architecture/design, and its big global-issue program, covering economic development, the Internet, biotechnology, urbanism and international migration. Nothing lightweight about the topics. Not what you expect from a design conference. If the speakers stay true to these subject categories, it may be the first design conference that truly focuses on the role that design can play in addressing the major problems confronting the world today.

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Product Design

Food as “Protagonist” of Manga Plates

Manga Plate

As a senior project at the Kyoto Institute of Technology in Japan, designer Mika Tsutai came up with this manga comic drawing approach to decorating Japanese-style plates. It’s a sight-gag that really works best when dining Japanese style, where each dish is served on its own small plate, rather than served with side dishes and entrée placed together on one large dinner plate.

On Tsutai’s manga plates, the food itself becomes the “hero” or subject of the story — e.g., the fist drawing striking a pulverized food mass; the strawberry slices forming the woman’s earrings, a volcano erupting a red lava flow. The presentation is meant to be appreciated as a single visual image. Even the arrangement of plates imitates the panels of manga comic strips. This is just as Tsutai intended. “By placing these dishes in a particular manner, you can transform your dinner table into a story, just like that of a page from a Japanese comic,” he says. It’s an interesting concept for those who like to be entertained while eating, but it’s hard on the cook who has to plan the menu around the storyline. Via Design Boom.

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