Wednesday, March 18, 2009


These drink boxes are the work of product designer Naoto Fukasawa. The designs are intelligent, but not intellectual. The work enters the consciousness through the senses, but these designs are not one-dimensional or skin deep. Awakening of the physical senses stirs both thought and memory.

Writes Kenya Hara about this work, "The gentle angles of the packaging reveal something in common with the feeling of holding a banana." I also noticed that the banana package, in relation to the others, is taller in its proportions. An exquisite detail which unites banana and juice-box is the folded flap/stem. It works so perfectly and is so unforced that the flap—though we've seen it countless times—now feels natural rather than manufactured. The subtle and sensitive coloration—the soft greens, the hints of red on the facets—and the choice of using the sticker as a label contribute to the rewarding experience of this work.

With each piece I notice a little and then a little more, each detail awakening the senses. The soy milk is also a tactile experience, this time in terms of texture rather than form. The exterior of the package has a rough cheesecloth-like feel. The proportions of the box also remind me of the proportions of a block of tofu.

Kenya Hara: "No doubt drinking from this package would feel very strange, as if you were drinking soy milk directly from a piece of tofu."

The strawberry juice is stunning in its color as well as its visual and actual texture. The subtle variations in the red of a strawberry are lush and realistic, and the placement of the white spot at the straw hole is playful.

Kenya Hara: To design is to "build" a structure with an image inside the mind of the recipient. In this case, the materials are not only external stimulation but also massive amounts of memories awakened by stimulation. Designing highlights subtle differences between recalled memories and reality.
All images and quotes are from Designing Design by Kenya Hara, pp 92-95, Lars Mueller Publishers.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Did You Know?

I was going though some books and came across some background on this well-known design, a Dylan poster by Milton Glaser. Glaser sites his interest in Islamic painting and the below image by Marcel Duchamp as references. Glaser writes that the combination of the Duchamp portrait with near Eastern design elements produced a uniquely American sensibility. I agree.

silhouette cutout by Marcel Duchamp, 20th century.

Instead of showing Islamic painting, I've selected examples of calligraphy, textiles, and tiles to show the sense of fluidity, emphasis on pattern, and floral motifs I see in Glaser's work.

Example of mirror writing in Islamic calligraphy. 18th-century. Wikipedia.

Embroidered Panel, 18th to 19th century. Wikipedia.

Islamic tile painting. Source did not include any work information.

Here’s another image by Milton Glaser, a poster for Julliard. It also works with a silhouette but it is compositionally distinct from the Dylan design in that the subject, rather than being obvious, is almost camouflaged. In the background you can again see the Islamic theme. I prefer the ambiguity of this piece.

Image source for Duchamp & Glaser: Graphic Design, Overlook Press, NY, 1973.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My Art Director is Four Years Old

My husband turned me on to this site about a four-year old art director. At first, I thought the blog would be a forum where people bitch about their unreasonable, tantrum prone art directors. But this is better. Bill Zeman's four-year old really is the art director of these projects, each of which has a brief and a few notes.

The drawings are uniformly playful and fresh. The dialog is so funny because it captures the spirit of a small child but does so in the format of a design brief, suggesting that this father-daughter relationship is a contractual business obligation.
The Brief: A bone dinosaur eating a little baby
The Critique: No! A baby dinosaur!
Job Status: Rejected
Additional Comments: He's just going to be nice to that baby he's got in his mouth

Go to Tiny Art Director to see more of Bill Zeman's great work.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Helvetica Moleskin

I wish I had one of these sketchbooks, but so do a lot of other people.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


These works by Chinese designer, Pazu Lee La King, are from the catalog of the 2008 First Edition Chicago international Poster Biennial.

It took me a while to see the letter forms made by the rope and hands, but after I did I was amazed at the clarity of the text. Both types of lettering in this first design work with value contrast to achieve legibility, darkening the hand or part of the hand that does not contribute to the letter form. I love how parts of the hands break outside the boundary of the picture frame, and how the large V acts as a drop-cap.

I enjoy seeing these images together. Both use the body as text in different ways, one on a dark and the other on a light ground.

I like the addition of the circles as frames behind the heads and the additional spattering. There is something confused and pathetic about these disembodied heads on their messy ground—also something comic, arresting, and beautiful. There is duality in the dark image as well between the word victory and its spelling through the image of bound hands. These designs suggest both triumph and a futility when it comes to "living."

Friday, February 6, 2009

Hide & Seek

The following images are from an October post on FontFeed. On the left is the logo for the 2008 Franfurt Book Fair. It is my least favorite of the images I've posted because of the additional wrapping type on the outside. It seems too busy for a logo—especially since the outside elements create three separate elements—but I do like the interior composition. In general, I like the abstract quality of all these images—the integration of text and design, and how the mono-stroke geometry of the letters and their equal-width counters are lost and found within the maze patterns.

T26 type catalogue cover (2000)
book cover for “Orientierungssysteme und Signaletik” (October 2006),
and cover for the G8 brochure (2007)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Power of Images

The image below is from a photo essay in documentarian Errol Morris’s blog on the New York Times. It shows George W. Bush after his final primetime address. This is a picture of a man who knows his fate and can do nothing about it. It is a face of despair. In this way it reminds me in appearance and substance of images of the damned. I do not feel judgmental or gleeful about the fate I perceive. Rather I feel a deep empathy and sorrow. I am moved, not hardened.

Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed

Detail from Massacio’s fresco, Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, c. 1424-28

'One of the Damned': detail from Michelangelo’s fresco, The Last Judgment, c. 1540

I’m glad I saw this photo of our former president. It does not exonerate any wrong-doing or mistakes, but helps me to see a human side of George W. Bush. Though I despise his actions and policies, I cannot hate him anymore. Something in my heart has changed; this is the power of an image.

See more photos and read Errol Morris’ interviews with several of the photographers.