Sunday, April 24, 2011

Icon crazy

Andrew Belsey spotted this symbol. It was accompanied by some words, but have a go at interpreting it before clicking here for the answer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You can't see them but they can see you

I always feel there must be a story behind every informal notice you see stuck up around a building.

Seen at the Royal College of Art.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Laver's law and typefaces

Someone just asked me what's with Cooper Black - nice typeface but mostly seen as the credits roll for Dad's Army.

I remembered some kind of law of fashion cycles, in which our view of a fashion changes as time passes. So just went on 'tinternet and found it is known as Laver's Law

James Laver was a fashion historian at the V&A, and this appears in a 1937 book Taste and fashion.
"The same costume will be:
Indecent: 10 years before its time
Shameless: 5 years before its time
Outré: 1 year before its time
Smart: now
Dowdy: 1 year after its time
Hideous: 10 years after its time
Ridiculous: 20 years after its time
Amusing: 30 years after its time
Quaint: 50 years after its time
Charming: 70 years after its time
Romantic: 100 years after its time
Beautiful: 150 years after its time"
This seems to have worked quite well for flared trousers which have ceased to seem quite so ridiculous, and I feel I can once more share our 1975 wedding photos (merely amusing now, heading towards quaint). And it won't be too long before photos of blokes with their trousers falling down can be used for blackmail purposes.

But I'm not so sure it works so precisely with typefaces. I think Cooper Black is ready for mainstream re-entry, but I'm not ready to dust off Kabel.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Nothing's really new

Martin Andrews puts on frequent displays from the ephemera collection at Reading University. A recent one was of old letterheads - the sort with a picture of the factory, and illustrations of key products. Some of them were so full of pictures that there was very little room for words.

Here's one from my own modest collection (of two). What strikes me about letters like this is how similar they are to modern marketing emails, with a central message surrounded by pictures. And the references to telegrams in the letter reminds us that fast business communications have been around for quite a while.

I bought this example from the wonderful Ken's in Newport Pagnell, when our company was based there. Not just a motorway service stop, NP was also home to Information Design Unit, and William Cowley's parchment works, one of the last left in England.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Typeface test

Do you prefer (a)

or (b)?

Accessible or not

This taped-over access button at Camden Arts Centre looks a little callous until you see it's at the top of a flight of steps. Good luck getting your wheelchair through that door.