For decades MIT Media Lab didn’t have a logo; now it has the potential for 40,000 of them. Brooklyn-based designers E. Roon Kang and Richard The came up with a fitting symbol to represent the preeminent research center dedicated to the convergence of design, multimedia and technology. Using three colors plus black, the algorithmic design features three intersecting spotlights that can be arranged into 40,000 unique shapes and 12 colors. Researchers can individualize the logo for their business stationery yet still link themselves to the Media Lab. The concept is geeky, serendipitous, and a melding of math and design to arrive at a different way of looking at things.
Lately Brooklyn -based illustrator and author Andy Rash, who usually draws in a more traditional style, has come out with a series that is a throwback to the crude bitmapped video game art of the 1980s. Rash calls this style “Iotacons” – iota means an extremely small amount. Full body portraits of politicians and pop stars look like they were constructed out of Lego bricks or mosaic tiles. What fascinating is that even distilled down to a few dozen pixels, these figures are recognizable as individuals and as personalities. We can pick out specific members of the U.S. Senate (below), the Supreme Court justices (above), the Allied-Axis leaders of World War II, the Beatles, and all of the Star Wars characters. It’s all very retro and fun, and it reminds us how far digital technology has come since the days when we only had pixelated images to work with.
Bear with me. This is hard to explain. We got interested in this story because we loved the graphics and packaging for the new Museum of Unnatural History in Washington D.C., which isn’t a museum and not a real store either. It’s the Washington D.C. location for 826 National, a nonprofit tutoring, writing and publishing organization founded to assist kids aged six to 18 with their writing skills. It got its start at 826 Valencia Street (hence the name), a storefront location in San Francisco’s Mission District. To make the place seem “cooler” to kids, the 826 founders decided to disguise it as a “Pirate Store” and stocked it with pirate supplies like peg legs, message bottles and hooks. Kids loved it and sales helped support the tutoring programs.