Humor

Smart Cup or Empty Vessyl?

On Comedy Central’s Colbert Report last week, Stephen Colbert questioned the marketing strategy behind the new Vessyl Smart Cup produced by San Francisco-based startup Mark One. Designed by Yves Behar of fuseproject, the Vessyl is a digital cup with molecular analysis sensors that display the exact content and calorie count of the beverage within. In terms of attractive design and ingenious technology, the Vessyl is spot on. But to Colbert’s point: is there really a mass market need for it, especially at a cost of $199 per cup? Market research is a critical pillar of product development; without it, what you end up with is a geeky “parlor trick” that draws ooohs and aaahs, but few sales.

Design Education

Founding Fathers Stiff Flag Designer

As we celebrate Independence Day in the U.S., it seems fitting to give credit where credit is due to Francis Hopkinson, who substantial evidence shows designed the first American flag in 1777. Hopkinson, a New Jersey lawyer and signer of the Declaration of Independence, had a natural love of heraldry and art, and dabbled at graphic design (a profession that didn’t exist back then). During the American Revolution, Hopkinson was serving as chairman of the Navy Board’s Middle Department, when it got an urgent request to come up with an official banner of some sort that soldiers could carry into battle. At the time, the rebelling colonies were flying a flag that featured a variation of the British Union Jack in the canton surrounded on three sides with horizontal red and white stripes. (It looked like a knock-off of the British East India Company flag.)

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Packaging

Branding of Dripp Coffee

The visual identity system for Southern California-based Dripp Coffee Shop is intriguing for what is fixed and what is flexible. Designed by Turner Duckworth San Francisco and London, the Dripp branding system centers around a hand-drawn script logotype which angles upward. The rest of the visual content is structured within a grid of color blocks with minimal flat-graphic images. The flourished style of the letters sets the logo apart from the rest of the visual content and, by contrast, draws attention to itself. The silhouetted objects themselves can be changed to suit the product, season or event, as long as they retain the stylized look and simplified color palette of the brand – as shown in the set of posters below created by Turner Duckworth. This graphic system also accommodates changing needs and uses, including this sleeveless hot paper cup design by Istanbul-based designer Salih Kucukaga.


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Information Graphics

Statehood History Explained with Postal Stamps

This one-of-a-kind flag assemblage, from Kit Hinrichs’ vast Stars & Stripes collection, was designed by the quartermaster of a U.S. military post office during World War II. A closer look reveals that it is not just a flag made out of a bunch of used stamps and cancellation marks; it is clever information graphics. The blue canton is made from dozens of five-cent stamps, and the stars are cut from cancellation marks mailed from the state capital of each of the 48 states that were in the Union in 1943 (see detail after the jump). The unknown artist didn’t stop there. He placed the stars chronologically according to when each state entered the Union. The red stripes are composed of two-cent stamps (yes, they once existed!), and the white stripes are pieced together from envelopes mailed from the states that were part of the Original Thirteen Colonies that declared their independence from Great Britain on July 4th, 1776, and founded a new nation of united states. Something to think about while waiting for the fireworks to start. Happy Fourth of July!

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Product Design

OXO Founder Sam Farber’s Lasting Legacy

It is with sadness that we note the passing of our friend, OXO GoodGrips founder Sam Farber, who died Sunday at the age of 88. Farber, who received the “Design of the Decade” award from the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and BusinessWeek magazine in 2001, proved that ground-breaking innovations don’t have to be based on cutting-edge technology nor even have mechanical parts.

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Motion Graphics

Hyundai’s Hyper-Matrix Block Party

At the Expo 2012 in Korea, Hyundai Motor Group staged a mind-blowing display using a controller area network (CAN) called mechatronic. This is a message-based protocol originally designed for automotive applications and now also used in areas such as industrial automation and medical equipment. Hyundai’s Hyper-Matrix installation was designed by Seoul media arts firm Jonpasang. In just two months, the team built a mammoth three-sided display out of thousands of Styrofoam blocks that could be manipulated like pixels.The 11-inch cubes were driven by 3,375 customized actuators and stepping motors that moved the blocks back and forth according to a specially prescribed program. The high-speed data transfer program constantly reconfigured the cubes to create a mesmerizing show.

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Architecture

Art Meets Architecture

Typically, the observation platforms of landmark buildings are designed to offer breathtaking views of the city, not vice versa. At the ARoS Museum of Modern Art in Aarhus, Denmark, the recently completed viewing tower on the roof is its own work of art. Designed by renowned Danish/Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, the circular glass walkway is a multi-colored halo crowning the brick cubic structure built in 2003 by Aarhus-based Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects.

Known locally as “Your Rainbow Panorama,” the museum’s walkway invites visitors to see the city through curved colored glass arranged in the color spectrum. Explaining his intent, Eliasson says, “I have created a space which virtually erases the boundaries between inside and outside – where people become a little uncertain as to whether they have stepped into a work or into part of the museum. This uncertainty is important to me, as it encourages people to think and sense beyond the limits within which they are accustomed to moving.”

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Architecture

A Red Building That Is Totally Green

A spectacular façade isn’t all that the Kuggen, an office building in Gothenburg, Sweden, is all about. It is totally sustainable too. Designed by Winngardh Arkitektkontor, the Kuggen was inspired by a cog wheel (hence its name in Swedish) and the saw-toothed edges of a leaf.

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Interior Architecture

Technology and Art Converge in Las Vegas

In a town known for its over-the-top decor, the new $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan Hotel, which opened on the Las Vegas Strip in December 2010, is a show-stopper from the moment you walk into the main lobby. Designed by Digital Kitchen, the interior of the resort greets guests with a dazzling electronic art installation. Digital images dance up and down towering illuminated columns, dreamlike and surreal. Technology is integrated seamlessly into the design, offering the flexibility to change and refresh the texture, character and mood of the interior from a central control. It’s entertainment. It’s art. It’s a respite from the slots and roulette table.

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