Design Communications

W-a-a-a-y Before Pantone

A fascinating post appeared recently on the Colossal blog about a color matching guide that predates Pantone by well over two centuries. The Dutch color guide, produced in 1692 by a person who identified himself as A. Boogert, was virtually unknown until a Medieval book historian named Erik Kwakkel at Leiden University in The Netherlands happened upon it while looking through a French database. In nearly 800 pages of handwritten Dutch, Boogert meticulously explained how to change the proportion of water and paints to achieve different tones. Along with detailed notations, Boogert individually painted swatches of the exact shade on the facing pages. In his introduction, Boogert said he prepared the book for educational purposes – which would have been a wonderful gift to the arts except that color offset lithography did not exist yet. As far as we know, Boogert was only able to create one copy of his book. Hopefully he was able to share his manual with other Dutch painters in his vicinity. It would be nice to think that Boogert played some small role in making the 17th century “The Golden Age of Dutch Painting.”

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Motion Graphics

Projection Mapping Feat

Directed by Filip Sterckx for a Belgian band named Willow, this music video for the song “Sweater” is a tour-de-force in 3-D projection mapping. Three projectors were used to beam backgrounds onto the floor and two blank walls, while the singer feigned movement by “strolling” on a treadmill. The video seamlessly takes the guy through multiple settings, down an escalator, across a park, on a boat and into the water with air bubbles rising from his scuba diving gear. Great concept, optical illusions and execution.

Sustainability

The Scoop on Poop

It’s tempting to turn this story into a string of crappy jokes, but the subject is no laughing matter. In Seattle this week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted a two-day “Reinvent the Toilet” fair, attended by scientists and entrepreneurs eager to demonstrate their wares. To put these inventions to a credible test, the Foundation placed an order for about 50 gallons of fake poop. The Gates also offered over $3 million research grants, which were part of a $370 million grant initiative to improve the world’s water, sanitation and hygiene.

According to the Foundation, four out of every ten people around the world have no place “to go.” That adds up to 2.6 billion people without access to a toilet. Poor sanitation results in half the world’s hospitalizations. It is the cause of 2.5 million cases of diarrhea in children under five and 1.5 million child deaths a year, according to a United Nations report. Even in industrialized nations, the amount of water consumed each flush puts pressure on the environment.

In sponsoring this cash competition to come up with a toilet of the future, the Gates Foundation set several requirements. The toilet must operate without running water, electricity or a septic system. It must not discharge pollutants, preferably capture energy or other resources, and operate at a cost of 5 cents a day.

This week’s toilet fair resulted in some very promising solutions, including using soldier fly larvae to process human waste to produce animal feed. Other approaches turn human waste into charcoal and fuel. In announcing the cash prizes for the best designs, Bill Gates said, “If we apply creative thinking to everyday challenges, such as dealing with human waste, we can fix some of the world’s toughest challenges.”

Although coming up with the next toilet isn’t as glamorous as, say, creating the next Eames chair, it shows that design runs deeper than cosmetic solutions.

This video was produced by Loaded Pictures, with illustrations by Jay Bryant.

Viral Marketing

Mercedes-Benz Made You Look

You read about VW’s transparent factory (below); now take a look at Mercedes’s invisible car. Mercedes-Benz’s new zero-emission F-Cell car is being marketed as a vehicle that is virtually invisible to the environment. The reason is because it runs on hydrogen fuel cells that convert compressed hydrogen into electricity to power the motor. The only emission is water vapor. To promote this fact in a memorable way, Mercedes blanketed one side of the car with LEDs and mounted a Canon 5D Mark II camera on the other side. The LEDs displayed whatever the camera filmed, causing passersby to stop and gawk at the “invisible” car.

Photography

Making the Plunge

San Francisco-based photographer Ryan Heffernan took these dramatic shots for a Japan Rags ad campaign. What looks like a freeze-frame photograph captured with split-second timing is actually a composite of three different stills.

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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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Posters

Where’s the Panda?

WWF Panda Forest Ad

The World Wildlife Fund, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2011, has produced some terrific ads over the years. This is a series that we hadn’t seen, although it was produced by BBH Shanghai in 2008. The ads address the misconception in China that the World Wildlife Fund only protects Giant Pandas that are native to the mountain forests of central China. To raise awareness of WWF’s other conservation activities in the country, this black-and-white print and outdoor ad campaign integrated WWF’s panda logo (and China’s national symbol) into images of antelopes, forests and water.

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