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Category Archives: Design

No Cutting Corners on the iPhone X

Brad Ellis at Medium explaining when a circle is not a circle:

Here’s where the nerd part comes in, iPhone X rounded screen corners don’t use the classic rounding method where you move in a straight line and then arc using a single quadrant of a circle. Instead, the math is a bit more complicated. Commonly called a squircle, the slope starts sooner, but is more gentle. […] Overall, these decisions seem minor, but from a design viewpoint they’re fairly opinionated. Even when designers are willing to spend social capital to push these ideas, most organizations won’t put resources behind them.

2018 Creative Trends

Shutterstock is out with their creative trends for 2018. These design ideas to watch are based on search and download data to find the biggest year-over-year changes. The top three trends are Fantasy (“from mythical beasts to magical landscapes, symbols and styles”), New Minimalism (“beyond crisp, clean lines to feature bold, vibrant colors and fluid styles”) and Space (“awe-inspiring galactic beauty and a darker, more dystopian feel”). Their “One to Watch” is Holographic Foil — searches for that glitzy ’80s aesthetic have jumped 435% at Shutterstock. Other trends include Natural Luxury, Punchy Pastels, A Global March, Cactus, Digital Crafts, Ancient Geometrics and Cryptocurrency.

Why Good Old-Fashioned Physical Marketing Can Still Be Incredibly Creative

Nicola Brown at

Psychological research tends to suggest that constraints make us more creative. Ironically, the more creative tools we have at our disposal, the less creative we tend to be with them.

In a recent experiment, researchers the University of Illinois and Johns Hopkins University found that those who were primed to think about a problem from a scarcity-of-resources mindset came up with more creative solutions than those in the abundance-of-resources mindset. They concluded that when people have an abundance of resources, they have no incentive to use what’s available to them in novel ways.

So the “limitations” of the print medium in a digital age may actually be a driver of creative success. From newspaper ads, direct mail, and billboards to shareable photo opportunities, some of the past year’s most memorable campaigns revealed that the most out-of-the-box creative thinking often comes from grappling with the constraints of a singular, traditional format.

Jony Ive’s Perfect Magazine Is One with No Content

Limited edition cover by Apple’s chief design officer, Jony Ive (left) and more traditional newstand cover by Leonie Bos (right).

Apple’s chief design officer Jony Ive is something of a legend in Silicon Valley. He’s the man whose golden touch is credited with the iconic designs of some of Apple’s most successful products, like the iPhone, iPod, and iMac.

But while Ive is very good at designing cutting-edge technology, it seems that he cannot do the same for a magazine cover. I mean this in the literal sense: when presented the opportunity to design a “limited edition” cover for Wallpaper magazine, Ive seems to have drawn a blank.

The magazine cover is meant to coincide with an extensive interview Wallpaper — which covers architecture, design, and art — conducted with Ive on the subject of the new Apple Park building and the iPhone X. But you wouldn’t be able to tell that from the cover. With the exception of a converting Wallpaper’s ordinarily black logo to a retro Apple-inspired rainbow, there’s no way of actually knowing that this interview is inside. […]

In the case of Ive’s magazine cover — an object that is supposed to perform the very basic task of informing you what it contains to read — the only conclusion I can draw based on Ive’s design is that his ideal magazine is one with no content at all.

Yes, one “basic task” of a cover on a newsstand is to inform a prospective reader about a magazine’s content. But this is a limited edition cover that is only sent to subscribers. In this case, the cover can be more (or less depending how you look at it). In other words, it can be avant garde without much risk. Subscribers are already invested in the product and will read it even if the cover doesn’t draw them in. On the flip side, being completely different and “wrong” has drawn a lot of attention from the blogosphere and this free advertising will help increase sales, which is another basic task of the cover.

Why We’re Starting a Print Magazine After 20 Years of Publishing Digitally

Paul Petrunia at Archinect

We can satisfy our reader’s cravings while they wait for a render to complete, and still give them something more substantial to inspire and enlighten at the end of a long work day. As a publisher, we believe it’s our responsibility to not just entertain but also elevate and enliven the profession’s discourse by maintaining a high standard for editorial.

Why Typography Matters — Especially At The Oscars

My first thought when the wrong film was announced for Best Picture was, why didn’t the presenter’s catch the error? Then the correct card was shown on screen and the reason became clear, incredibly poor design. Here’s a great explanation:

oscars-best-picture-2017Benjamin Bannister writing for freeCodeCamp:

I would imagine there are multiple redundancies so that something like this does not happen — especially at the Oscars! But there’s one thing the Academy possibly didn’t consider, or forgot, for this year’s winner cards: typography. […]

That’s horrible typography. I will emphasize horrible again. Horrible. Or to be nicer, not good. Look at it again. Of course, anyone could’ve made the same honest error!

The words “Best Actress” is on there — at the very bottom — in small print!

You are on television with millions of people around the world watching. You are a little nervous, and you have to read a card. You will most likely read it from top to bottom (visual hierarchy) without questioning whether the card is right. That look on Warren’s face was, “This says ‘Emma Stone’ on it.” Faye must’ve skipped that part and was caught up in the excitement and just blurted out, “La La Land.”

I don’t blame Faye or Warren for this. This was the fault of two entities: whoever was in charge of the design of the winning card (Was it really a design? C’mon), and the unfortunate person who handed them the wrong envelope.

Still in Vogue: Luxury Magazines Defy Print Market Gloom

Mark Sweney writing for The Guardian:

Nicholas Coleridge, international president of Vogue to Tatler owner Condé Nast, said that content on a tablet or iPad cannot match the experience of that “magazine moment”.

“It is very hard to replicate the physical allure of a luxury magazine on other platforms,” he said. “[It is] something to do with the sheen of the paper, the way that the ink sits on the page, the smell of money and desire that wafts off the page. Readers move into a different mode when they engage with a glossy. Advertisers understand this.” […]

And returning to the discussion about page size from earlier this year:

In a seemingly costly, and counterintuitive, move [Glamour] magazine is to get bigger, to the size of Wired, even though paper costs are expected to rise because of the weakness in the pound since the Brexit vote..

Publishing director Jamie Jouning says that the move is fuelled by a demand from premium advertisers, who felt that the smaller size “has not always done full justice to their creative”.

Variable Fonts Are Coming!

Sara Cannon at Range:

There is a lot of buzz going on in the typography industry. It’s all about the introduction of Variable Fonts into our ecosystem. It’s being developed jointly by Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, and Google. […]

But as Tim Brown mentions, we have a long way to go. We need designers to make and offer variable fonts, rendering engines that can show the fonts, browsers and design software to support the rendering engines, and ways for people to design with these new fonts. Even though the world is not quite ready for variable fonts, designers should certainly be excited about the future.

I was excited about Multiple Master Fonts in the 1990s, too. Like OpenType Variable Fonts, they were to provide a way to create the perfect font width, weight or optical size to fit a designer’s needs. Unfortunately, MM Fonts didn’t gain any traction from font designers who preferred to sell fonts in prepackages styles. Or, from software companies who found it difficult to incorporate the features into design software. Or, from designers themselves who found it simpler to pick the a readily available style than to muck about adjusting and creating a new style in separate software.

I can think of terrific uses for this new technology, from adjusting a font’s width to match a headline’s length to fine tuning a font’s weight to match different type sizes. But if OpenType Variable Fonts are to succeed, it will require everything to come together including font selection, price, and ease of use.

Technology and the Art of Maps

Technology and the Art of Maps

Technology has changed publishing. And I’m not just talking about digital magazines or layout software or printing equipment. I’m talking about the what and why of its content. When I created a map for a magazine 15 years ago, for instance, it was extremely detailed. Every road was named, cross streets were included (at a minimum) and a detailed key was a necessity. This was the “style” because publishers expected readers to actually use the maps for navigation.

BMWMM32-mapsI remember discussing the elements of one map with a motorcycle magazine editor. Since some riders would tear out the page (or even photocopy it) to place into the clear pocket atop their tank bags for navigation, the map’s overall dimensions had to match the tank bag while the markers and text had to be easy comprehend at a glance.

Technology has changed that style, however. Today, editors expect a reader looking to follow a route will enter waypoints into their GPS. Maps have therefore become illustrations to accompany the story. They are simplified since readers are just using them for additional context as they read through article.

Which brings me to a couple of maps I created for the Fall 2016 BMW Motorcycle Magazine. You can see on the Oregon map just how simplified maps have become. The route is shown intersecting various cities and places but there are no other labels or crossing highways. Even the key is distilled down to a basic state polygon with a box to show scale.

The second map takes up most of a page and shows the terrific journey along the entire length of Africa. It’s an epic odyssey and I wanted the size of the map to reflect that. Of course, the African continent is pretty large and the route from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa is mostly on it’s eastern edge so much of the map would be blank. Rather than waste this space, the unvisited countries were filled with images from the trip to create an interesting visual.

Blade Runner

Dave Addey at Typset in the Future:

After studying Alien in intimate detail, it’s time to look at the typography and design of Ridley Scott’s other classic sci-fi movie, Blade Runner.

Another great film and another great examination of typography — the why, where and how it was used is great for helping us as designers self examine how we’re using type today. There’s also a lot of discussion of the movie itself for film buffs. / 855-MORR ART / 303-432-2922