File this under “I don’t know who you are anymore.” From Duffy & Partners, the folks that brought you the Gattica-esque, futuristic redesign of, um, Fresca, comes the likewise 3D modernity of yet another “huh?” brand. Jack-in-the-Box franchises have existed under the now-retro-looking brand for some time now and, well, doesn’t everything need to be redesigned every so often in order for it to remain relevant? Take the departed Paul Rand-designed UPS logo that was ultimately replaced by the 3D shield design or the latest Pepsi logo that looks more like an outtake from a previous redesign than a finished piece, IMHO. Personally, I feel nostalgic for older brands and that probably makes me less objective as a designer or re-designer. The new Jack look seems to be hesitant to decide which century it wants to be a part of. On the one hand, the script type feels like a bit of a throw-back, but then the “in the box,” which has now been reduced to tag-line status, could easily say “x-box.” I think Duffy has done some good work, but this is not among its best. Just look at their Knob Creek suite of labels and try to compare the quality, relevance and messaging of those to this one.
War Posters (flickr set)
I’ve got a victory garden going, don’t you?
New Yorkers do pride themselves in having excellent senses of direction. Just get lost anywhere in the city and droves of passers-by will offer you the quickest route to your destination. How will they know you’re lost? You’ll have no doubt unfolded an MTA Subway Map turning it this way and that. And, if you were savvy enough to pick up the May 2008 issue of Men’s Vogue at an NYC newsstand and were lucky enough to get the right copy, then you might be flipping around a 2008 Subway Diagram (re)designed by Massimo Vignelli himself. Vignell designed his first version for the MTA in 1972 and it stood, barring numerous updates and service changes, until 1979 when the MTA unveiled Michael Hertz’s currently and more geographically correct design. Vignelli’s design was often criticized for not being a very good “map,” per se, but he gallantly defended it. “Who cares? You want to go from Point A to Point B, period.” he told the NY Times in a past interview. You’ll notice his 2008 version is called “2008 Subway Diagram,” not “Map.”
Talk about “visual junk.” If your notion of Dada is no more than a Duchamp urinal then please click on over to UbuWeb (with your French-English dictionary) and peruse their Dada Magazine archive. Founded by Tristan Tzara in an attempt to broaden the reach of Dada’s core ideas throughout Europe, Dada (the magazine) published works of art, prose and poetry and survives as a wonderful example of early DIY subculture publishing both in content and form. Of the three issues available online, Dada 3, published in December of 1918, is the most striking of the titles sporting some innovative page layouts and a terrific cover design (inset). Notable contributors over the years included Giorgio de Chirico, Robert Delaunay, and Wassily Kandinsky just to name a few.
Surely by now you’ve come across Metroscript–a relatively new OpenType script typeface that’s being hailed as “one of the most complex digital script systems on the market” and rightfully so. Designed by Michael Doret of the Alphabet Soup type foundry, Metroscript takes full advantage of the OpenType format, which makes possible and incredible number ligature combinations and, thus, lends a more hand-made look to headlines and copy. My particular interests in it are from the standpoint of the computer-generated, cut-vinyl signage industry and its new tool for getting that hand-made look. Will it displace some old-fashioned hand-painters? It’s possible. Metroscript essentially presents the designer with a Rubik’s Cube of ligature options–most of which look good enough to print. So, I imagine many designers might end up wanting to use their comps as the finished product.
Okay, so I’m a few months late posting this, but here it is nonetheless. The 2008 version of TheBrainDesign’s Publikum Calendar is a socialist nightmare of graphic design and visual anarchy somehow corralled into a website, downloadable calendar and video documentary–just to name a few of the outlets for this inspiring international effort. The designers and artist represented hail from all over Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. If nothing else, it’s visually interesting stuff. And, yes, these images to the right are each different months of the Publikum Calendar.
Once again, digging through my library I find a book I meant to write about a while ago but got passed over: Reinventing the Wheel, by designer, critic and Paul Rand biographer Jessica Helfand, is a wonderful reference of pre-HTML, interactive information design. Whether they were meant to assist in determining the crop yields of hybrid corn or to help identify the branch and rank of a person in military attire, the information wheels (or volvelles as they’re formally known) featured in Helfand’s book so often demonstrate the perfect balance of form and function that so many of us strive to achieve in even our simplest of design projects. Circular designs in general (see: 45 RPM record labels) present unique design and typographic challenges. But Reinventing the Wheel’s examples weren’t merely round canvases that needed to be adorned with type and color, they were born out of the necessity to solve sometimes complex data-mining tasks with a simple twist of a disc. If you’ve ever taken apart an info wheel and seen the absolute anarchy hidden beneath the upper, slotted disc, you probably already appreciate the technical skill and grace required to simply make it work. This invaluable book is as much a collection of what’s been done as what is possible.