Saturday, April 24, 2010

Flying 101

Kulula is a low budget airline in South Africa with playfully painted planes. Information designers will like this one, called Flying 101 by the airline - David Farbey sent this link to the infodesign café a while back, and I thought I'd pass it on.

Simplifying Time

'The one great thing was simplification. Simplification by organization, simplification by condensation and also simplification by being damn well simple.'
 Henry Luce, founder of Time magazine, quoted in The New Yorker, 19 April 2010, page 81.

And from an early prospectus, quoted in the same article by Jill Lepore:
'TIME is interested – not in how much it includes between its covers – but in HOW MUCH IT GETS OFF ITS PAGES INTO THE MINDS OF ITS READERS.'

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fading timelessness

I bring you a minor ink irony. Just noticed that my copy of Christopher Alexander's The Timeless Way of Building, which was bright yellow when I bought it last year, has now faded to white.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Extreme simplification: strip out everything they're going to forget

When I hung around in the world of branding, we used to talk a lot about essences - the main idea about a product or company. We sometimes used an exercise in workshops to tease out the essence of an idea - we asked people to sum up a concept or brand in less than ten words.

We'd start with some generic ones to get the conversation flowing:
Starbucks: OK coffee, comfy chairs
The Atkins Diet: Eat lots of meat, get thin
Credit card interest: Pay it all now, or pay more later
The off-side rule: don't hang around near the goal

Then we'd throw in some of their products to see if they could do the same thing.
Pay as you talk price plans

This is a form of extreme simplification. I was reminded of it on a visit to Kew Gardens today. Kalani Seymour, who is Interpretation Manager (it means she helps visitors to interpret what they see), is setting an MA project, and showed us around her enviable workplace.

On Kew's treetop walkway, Kalani has written and commissioned design for a series of ultra-short explanations of how trees work.  The way she put it was 'you strip out everything they're going to forget'.

Here's one of them. A kind of scientific haiku, I reckon.

Wheelie bin numbers: why so big?

Wheelie bins in Reading are often painted with enormous numbers. If you apply the ratio of size to viewing distance normally used for designing signage systems, I reckon these numbers are big enough to use on an airport runway, not a plastic bin that you're standing next to.

Big numbers are probably the result of people grabbing the best tool available for writing a number on a dark plastic bin - a pot of white gloss and a 2 inch brush left over from painting their house.

But our local garden centre now sells wheelie bin numbers in vinyl. Bizarrely, these are also enormous. I think we've witnessed the birth of a genre - to count as wheelie bin numbers, they have to be huge.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The declining public apostrophe: evidence mounts

Thanks to Andrew Belsey for this addition to the collection. I'm guessing which one of these Cambridge street signs is the newest - looks like apostrophes are going out of fashion.

On another matter, Andrew is fond of Polish peanut-themed chocolate snacks, and noticed this nice proof-reading before-and-after pair (clue: look at the foot of the image).

Please read this post in full and retain for future reference

Congratulate me, I'm now the proud owner of a chair from John Lewis. Those partners leave nothing to chance, and on the first page of the instructions we are enjoined to:
Please read the instructions carefully before use.
Please ensure the instructions are read in full before attempting to assemble this product.
Read this leaflet in full before commencing assembly. 

The list of tools required is particularly thorough:

So we are well prepared before attempting the actual assembly:


Expressive typography tries to communicates the writer's personality and tone of voice, and invites the reader to engage with an appropriate conversational stance. No, not an article in EmigrĂ© but this note from my sailing club. 

See also my earlier post on encroaching boldness.