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A great new book out entitled “Pantone, The 20th Century in Color” incorporates beautiful color plates with accompanying narrative by authors Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker that describe the last 100 years in the evolution of the color spectrum through the lens of the groundbreaking 1963 Pantone color system developed by Lawrence Hebert of Pantone.

The system codified the color spectrum, so that a certain shade of a color can be uniformly agreed upon and unknowingly revolutionized the world of graphic design. One can think back to any decade of the past century and certain colors and hues are easily associated with each time period. Serving as more than a mere color index, the book succeeds in describing the evolution of colors’ social imprint on culture, illustrated through advertisments, product design, fashion and general day-to-day life across generations.

Just close your eyes and visualize the 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s–it’s easy. That’s what’s so great about this book. From a historical perspective, filtered through the nuance of aesthetics, we have each period literally ‘colored in’ for us. Beautiful and simple.

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Interesting little article from the WSJ about the throwback trend in consumer packaged goods. While the trend itself isn’t all that remarkable, I found the “Chip Flashback” sidebar amusing. Here’s a simple recipe for creating a throwback package:

  • Colors: The brown, orange and yellow palette is ‘very time stamped’ to the 1960s. Limitations in printing techniques also meant that only a few colors could be used.
  • Letter Blocks: Often used by TV shows and stations in the 1960s to highlight color-television technology, says Mr. Murphy.
  • Typeface: ‘Doritos’ is in a dramatic but playful serif font typical of the 1970s, says Mr. Wallace. (Serif fonts have feet at the edges. Sans-serif fonts do not.)
  • Flat Design: Before computers, shadow effects and colors that gradually blended into one another weren’t common.
Follow these rules and your brand can go retro, too.

Beautiful animated infographic (watch it here) from the folks over at Flowing Data. It tracks the expansion of Wal Mart (and Sam’s Club) across the United States from a single store in Arkansas to the ubiquity we now know. Enjoy

“David McCandless turns complex data sets (like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates) into beautiful, simple diagrams that tease out unseen patterns and connections. Good design, he suggests, is the best way to navigate information glut — and it may just change the way we see the world.”

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Most people don’t have a clue what goes into designing a logo, let alone a complex identity system. Pentagram’s Paula Scher has written this little essay that takes on the common gripes and misunderstandings about identity design, specifically, What They Don’t Teach You About Identity Design in Design Schools.

For what it’s worth, this is my favorite passage…

I never knew a designer that got hundreds of thousands of dollars to design a logo.  Mostly, designers get paid to negotiate the difficult terrain of individual egos, expectations, tastes, and aspirations of various individuals in an organization or corporation, against business needs, and constraints of the marketplace.  This is a process that can take a year or more.  Getting a large, diverse group of people to agree on a single new methodology for all of their corporate communications means the designer has to be a strategist, psychiatrist, diplomat, showman, and even a Svengali. The complicated process is worth money.  That’s what clients pay for. The process, usually a series of endless presentations and refinements, persuasions and proofs, results, hopefully, in an accepted identity design.

Photographer and mathematician Nikki Graziano overlays graphs and their corresponding equations over full color nature photography.  This set of engaging compositions reminds us of the elegance and “art” of math, and its essential function as a descriptor of natural phenomena. Click through the image below (and keep clicking) to check out the full “Found Functions” set.

Related article on Wired

By Nikki Graziano

The current issue of I.D. magazine has an interesting feature about toys. Actually, it’s not about toys as much as it is about our recollection of the toys we grew up with. They ask a series of designers and critics to consider their favorite toys from their youth and write a brief  essay about what that toy meant to them. The result is subtly fascinating. Each essay serves as a tiny memoir, a love letter to the toy, and a dissection of the object itself. They take something that has been taken for granted, or relegated to nostalgia, and breathe some new life into  it.

I love sports. I love infographics. Therefore, this site, FlipFlopFlyBall really hit the spot. It offers several dozen, fresh, beautifully-designed infographics that show you a side of sports that you don’t usually see. Take the above graphic, for example. It’s a lovely poster that shows the relative size and shape of the thirty MLB parks.

While it focuses heavily on baseball, the site seems to be delving into other sports. Note the “size comparison of lots of sporty balls” towards the bottom of the page.

Enjoy.