Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Love Paris in the Springtime . . . (or any other time for that matter!)

I fell in love with this stunning video directed by Gustav Johansson promoting EF International Learning Centers. It took me back to my summer abroad back in college and also to my time backpacking through Europe where every day was a new adventure. I wasn't familiar with EF prior to seeing this ad, but after a little research, I discovered they have opportunities for students and adults alike. Looks like a good option to get out, explore a new culture, and learn a new language. Way more fun than listening to language CD's in the car and trying to learn Spanish like I've been doing (no bueno and still no comprendo).

Whether or not you want to go exploring, just sit back and enjoy this short clip that will make you feel like you took a mini vacay to Paris and back. And yes, because this is a design blog, not a travel blog, the reason I'm posting it is for the beautiful art direction of the ad. And the incredible accompanying typography that carries you throughout the visual journey.

Au revoir and bonsoir!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Colorful Kindergarten

At one point in my life, I was convinced I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. Shocking, I know. However, thanks to my high school's internship program, I had the enlightening opportunity to student teach during my senior year and realized that pulling apart fist-fights and helping potty train 5 year-olds (yes, you heard that right) wasn't exactly the career path I'd dreamed of. Serious props to all the kindergarten teachers in the world. It's a tough job! Although in hindsight, it was nice to have a principal to send the misbehaving students to. Unfortunately that doesn't exist for out-of-line design clients. Not that I've had many, just one hot-headed developer comes to mind who yelled and threw materials at me when he hated them (dangerous when granite was involved). When I asked my boss how to handle it, she simply said, "Duck and make a new selection."

But I digress. When I came across this fun project, it took me right back to that kindergarten class I bonded with so many years ago and thought this was the perfect learning space for all those cute, inquisitive kids. This project is located in Ljubljana, Slovenia and was in response to the lack of adjacent playground facilities for the kids. To deal with that issue, the designers created a solution that placed planks of colored wood around the perimeter of the building that pivot and can be flipped from colored side to neutral.

I find it odd how the exterior of the school is so vibrant and fun and in the interior is so monochromatic and static. Granted, as a designer, I love the simplicity, but from what I know about kids, they need more visual stimulation indoors to help them learn. Hopefully the Slovenian teachers adorn their spaces with highly creative bulletin boards like ours do.

But back to the architecture, I love that this school allows the children to learn about colors and also lets them change the architecture of their school. One day it's beige, the next red stripes, and the next, a full rainbow of colors. How many of us got that opportunity as a child?

More photos and plans can be found here. All photos by Miran Kambič.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Modern Picnic

First off, my apologies for falling off the face the virtual world for the past few weeks. School got crazy with finals week, then there was packing and a big move (ugh, I hate moving). But I'm back and promise more steady posting from here on out.

Here in the south, spring is in full bloom, and I wanted to share a playful product I came across that would be the perfect accessory for a blissful spring afternoon in the park. The Boxsal is "the modern" picnic box that comes in several cool prints. Wouldn't you just love to have your guy show up at your office at lunch and whisk you away for a romantic lunch in the sun? And whether your dream date is the musically-inclined urban hipster, or the professional 9-to-5er, there's a box perfectly suited to his style. Just remember that these come with utensils only, so your foodie should plan accordingly, otherwise it wouldn't be such a lavish lunch.

And of course, it's all eco-friendly and compostable because I just couldn't recommend it if it wasn't. Happy picnic-ing!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Natural Tootbrushes

Have you ever given a thought to all the plastic toothbrushes that are thrown away each and every year around the world?  How about all those people in developing countries who don't have access to toothbrushes and suffer from subsequent tooth decay and disease? Well, a brilliant student from the School of Visual Arts, Leen Sadder, has created a product (as well as a related ad campaign) that could actually solve both problems at the same time.

The Miswak is a natural branch, that when the bark is pulled off reveals soft bristles that are similar to a toothbrush (who knew?!).  A big challenge Leen faced was packaging and marketing this to the American market who won't easily be convinced to put a twig in their mouth.  Even with the beautiful packaging, this will likely still be a tough sell.  But I love the related ad campaign that uses the Tom's shoes model of buy-one/give-one THIS toothbrush.

I have to admit that I likely won't be ditching my electric toothbrush for a twig, but I would gladly purchase refill bristles for my toothbrush made from a natural material such as this. Are you listening, Sonicare?

Excellent work, Leen.  I wish more students would explore innovative ways to solve sustainability and social problems in school.  Just proves that you can change the world, even with something as small as a toothbrush.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tiny Treats


I love this itty bitty project by Marian Amodio located near Vancouver.  TINY is a super small shop (195 square feet to be exact) that features artisan foods for chefs and foodies sourced by local purveyors.  As someone who's always worked on large design projects, I think it would be such a fun challenge to design a cool project in a very small (and narrow space) like this.

Marian's work is in architecture but also art installations.  You can see she strategically incorporated the branding of the carefully curated and crafted foods this store sells and allowed that to influence her design.  The architectural design was composed of readily available materials used in unexpected ways.  For example, the lettering of the shop is created from baker's twine wrapped around strategically positioned nails.  Simple but brilliant!  Also, the cool ceiling is made from deconstructed shipping crates.  On her website, she says:

      "The interior architecture of TINY reflects this local, handmade aesthetic by taking everyday building materials and turning them into functional art.  The ubiquitous wood pallet forms the ceiling and the walls: lovingly hand selected one by one from the pallet farm on Mitchell Island and hung with care on a bright pink wall and lit by handmade Edison bulbs."

Beautiful work.  Definitely a designer whose work I want to follow.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Splash of Color

I thought I'd share a colorful mood board I recently created for one of my graduate courses.  I always love a good dose of color, but somehow the arrival of spring always brings about new inspiration with all the flowers and new green leaves showing up on the trees.

This fictitious project proposed a brand extension for an Italian fashion line.  This board expresses the brand's essence of color, pattern, urbanism, youthfulness, geometry and the best of Italian design which would be translated into a new home goods line of products.

It's interesting how the worlds of fashion and interiors are distinctly different but also related.  In the past, the trends and colors from the runways would trickle down to interiors products over a period of about five years.  Now, it's about a one year lag time, and I'm sure with the continued progress of technology that window will get even more narrow.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Perfect Touch of Colored Confectioneries

Here is the most exquisite example of interior branding I've seen to date.  Anagrama took the iconic french Maison du Macaron brand, Theurel & Thomas into San Pedro, Mexico in a memorable way.  They designed a stark white space, with the only pops of color coming from the product.  A true feast for the eyes and mouth!

The all-white trend has been done to death (although I must admit, I still love it), but taking it and using it to enhance the colorful cookie was pure genius.  And I love that the graphics, interiors, and product all seamless integrate together into a beautiful, luxurious experience.  This is just one more indication to justify my prediction that the macaron (not to be confused with the American macaroon) will be the next big out cupcakes!