Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cool: My Dreams of a Star Wars/Adidas Crossover Have Come True

Post title and video ripped from AgencySpy. I'm a big fan of this surreal spot: not only does it pique the imagination rather than beating you over the head with the product, it also integrates reality and the fantastical world of Star Wars so skillfully it is hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Beckham and TIE fighters are featured together in the same fifty-nine seconds! Snoop Dogg/breakdancing/baseball versus the Death Star and lightsabers! Anyway, I watched this twice in row, and shamelessly reverted to a breathless fangirl at the moment when Darth Vader emerges from the mist accompanied by the strains of a remixed Imperial March. WATCH IT.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Live Unpackaged

I have just discovered a simple, ingenious gem that appeals to my love of design as well as my interest in independent businesses and my support of sustainability: the grocery store Unpackaged. Located in London, the store’s name alludes to its mission to reduce waste by offering a wide variety of foods (from fresh bread and produce to bulk grains to refillable wines), all sans packaging. Aside from the intellectually and emotionally satisfying concept, the store itself is also visually satisfying with beautiful design and arrangement. The store’s website is here, or you can check out the nice description and photo collection at WeHeart.

Photo courtesy of the Unpackaged site.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Consumer-Friendly Design

A friend and I were recently discussing the generally bad design of airplane interiors. It is incomprehensible to me that more airlines historically and currently do not make an effort to improve the atmosphere of the area in which their customers will spend so much time. I wonder how much positive customer response would be generated by an airline that made a sincere effort not to subject their consumers to what amounts to a temporary imprisonment in a grimy, cramped can. While that question will have to wait, a different area of the airline user-interface has roused the ire of designers. The cluttered, confusing American Airlines website prompted experience builder Dustin Curtis to write an open letter the company that included a sample redesign of his own making and the recommendation that the AA design team be fired. He has since qualified the latter statement after receiving an actual response from a member of the AA UX team. Although the response agrees with Curtis' fundamental argument (that the AA website is in need of a more customer-friendly design), it also enumerates the reasons why it looks the way it does and why it is supremely difficult to improve. The underlying reasons amount to bureaucracy and stymieing corporate culture, which is are more depressing than the visible result, if that's possible. AA apparently considers quite a few things to be more imporatant than consumer satisfaction. I suggest they rearrange their priorities.

P.S. Curtis' effort has inspired another designer to embark on a boarding-pass-improving adventure. You can follow the saga here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snack Attack Samurai

Doritos - Snack Attack Samurai

Doritos Are Crazy (Good)

Sooo, Doritos is doing the "Crash the Superbowl" deal again (six top contestants can be viewed here) and my money is on "Snack Attack Samurai" (see above) to make it to the top three. It reminds me of the 2007 finalist "Mouse Trap" which I thought was hilarious and combined surreal humor with one of the best payoffs I've seen in a commercial in a long time.
So best of luck to "Snack Attack Samurai", I hope to see you at the big game.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Modern vs. Medieval Methods

I have often wondered why--with all the technological resources available to us in the modern age--the annual quota of extraordinarily beautiful things produced seems to have remained constant since the medieval period. Of course, this sweeping statement must be qualified by the fact that the assessment of whether something qualifies as "extraordinarily beautiful" is made by me and therefor subject to my biases and aesthetic preferences. However, I do think my point is still somewhat valid: people are producing more (just consider the number of books published or the number of songs recorded, despite the discriminating efforts of "gatekeepers" such as publishers and record labels) but I consider the vast majority of it to be mediocre filler. I am also of the opinion that the output of the really superlative has not surpassed the level of the Middle Ages, and is in fact less than that of the Classical/Hellenistic periods in ancient Greece, for example. Why is this? What in the modern creative process is responsible for the fundamental change in quality when compared to antiquity? In what ways in particular were societies engineered differently so that so many of best creatives achieved prominence and produced work that has been honored and preserved (although I am sure that then, as now, great work goes uncelebrated)? How can we utilize technology so that instead of further enabling the indiscriminate filler mentioned above, it supports and improves the efforts of the most finely-tuned creative visionaries?
Anyway, these are some thoughts that occurred to me upon discovering the project Guédelon: Chantier Médiéval. Guédelon is a medieval castle in the process of being constructed in Burgundy, France using medieval methods and materials. The construction began in 1997 in an abandoned quarry and is anticipated to take 25 years to complete. A team of 50 people including quarrymen, stonemasons, woodcutters, carpenters, blacksmiths, tile makers, basket makers, rope makers, carters and their horses work on the project regularly, assisted by enthusiastic tourists during the summer season. The entire project sort of beggars belief, but I would love to be involved in a thing like this... and think how exciting it will be if they decide to furnish it historically accurately! Imagine the bevy of weavers, potters, armorers, carpenters, glassblowers and painters who will descend on Burgundy to complete the final stage of the project.
For more info check out their link (and thanks to Good's slow issue for the tip).

Image from Wikipedia Commons.