Last week, in the first talk in the Graphic Design department’s 2014 Visiting Designers Lecture Series, Dan Michaelson discussed his thought-provoking work with partner Tamara Maletic. Through their NYC firm Linked by Air they specialize in designing interactive websites for such organizations as the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Yale School of Art as well as unique physical spaces for clients like the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) and Printed Matter. The threads that connect their projects, says Michaelson, are modularity and participation.
A Linked by Air installation proposed for a building in Chelsea
“We usually start with a sketch of a completed website and then break it down into modules that site visitors can edit,” Michaelson explains. On the Whitney’s website, for example, users can create their own pages – accessible to all – with images of their artwork. The children’s version of the site, which Michaelson described as “more sophisticated and more hallucinogenic,” provides easy-to-use tools like Pattern Maker so that kids can contribute their own ideas.
An image created using Pattern Maker
Linked by Air also created a modular, participatory site for the Yale School of Art, which (Michaelson shared with a certain amount of pride) was named “suckiest website of 2010” by the social news and entertainment site Reddit. “The radical experiment in content production” was based on a physical notice board, where the terrain and information are constantly changing. “The site is now seven years old,” Michaelson notes. “It’s not great every day, but it still feels new every day.”
Signage at the AIGA’s 365 Show in New York
Cyrus Highsmith 97 GD, a senior critic in Graphic Design who’s also a long-time senior designer at Font Bureau, has been posting a great series of sketches, drawings and “random glyphs” to his aptly named Cyrumblr site.
The award-winning creator of such keepers as Antenna, Biscotti, Ibis, Prensa, Quiosco, Receiver and many more typefaces packs a lot in a little with his latest posts.
Sweet little surprises pop up almost every day, like this apple – from another new surprise from Highsmith: Apple Bear Cart, his first children’s book. Not surprisingly, it’s an alphabet book full of cool cats and other great finds – all made to delight his 3-year-old daughter (and presumably perfect for any toddlers on your gift-giving list).
Find more of Highsmith’s work on Occupant, his main site.
At a recent sabbatical presentation, Graphic Design Professor Lucinda Hitchcock spoke about visiting Berlin and observing the details surrounding its memorials as part of her ongoing research into typography, form and narrative. The quiet austerity of the Peter Eisenman–designed Holocaust Memorial (above) made a lasting impression on her, but she was equally taken with some of the more controversial work created by other artists.
Places of Remembrance, for example – a “living memorial” designed by Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock that was installed in the wealthy Bavarian Quarter in 1993 – integrates a series of signs into modern city life that call out the increasingly horrific Nazi laws enacted in Germany in the 1930s and early ’40s. One sign memorializes the day that Jews were ordered to give up their pets. The installation was originally so upsetting to local citizens, Hitchcock explained, that the artists were forced to add a smaller tag to each of the 80 signs indicating that it is part of a memorial. Hitchcock befriended the artists while in Berlin and invited them back to Providence as visiting designers for Graphic Design’s graduate program.
Another powerful installation she experienced first-hand, Stolpersteine (Stumbling Stones) by Gunter Demnig, is a collection of simple, 4-by-4-inch brass markers hammered into the sidewalks in front of the homes of Holocaust victims rounded up by SS troops for deportation. The piece is subtle, Hitchcock said, but each simple, handcrafted marker tells its own terrible story.
And the equally intense Library by Israeli sculptor Micha Ullman remembers the infamous Nazi book burning that took place in Bebelplatz in 1933. An underground room of empty bookshelves is visible from above through a glass plate set into the sidewalk.
“It is the quiet absence of detail – the suggestive white cube of emptiness – that tells the most profound story,” said Hitchcock. Among the courses she teaches is a Graphic Design elective called Setting the Site: Type and Message in the Environment in which students explore the possibilities of developing spatial narratives.
In an opinion piece published earlier this week on LinkedIn, President John Maeda offers his thoughts on the “latest ‘logo-gate’ episode” around the new identity Yahoo! unveiled last week – after a 30-day lead-in in which the company posted a new logo du jour.
“In my opinion, the logo they’ve settled on isn’t nearly as interesting as their willingness to change it every day for 30 days,” the president writes. “That act itself communicates innovation far more than any aesthetic choice they made about their logotype.”
President Maeda comments briefly on the history of logo design and the difference between designing identities for print vs web. And he goes on to say that the company’s top leader, Marissa Mayer, may, in fact, be “the perfect living logo.” Here’s his rationale:
Design isn’t just about how something looks – it’s about how something makes you think. Now that the logo has been revealed, I miss it changing every day. But I have to commend Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's visibility and ownership. Leadership matters, and having a leader who understands the digital universe makes her the perfect living logo…. she’s unafraid to lead creatively. Creative leaders aren’t averse to try, fail, try, and to ultimately succeed.
At last week’s Care New England event on health care and design, medical professionals and designers heard from RISD students and alumni about some of the latest innovations and trends in this growing field.
RISD’s Career Center Director Greg Victory, conference organizer Michael Esordi 91 GD and Care New England CEO Sandy Coletta compare notes at the conference.
Organized by Michael Esordi 91 GD, manager of digital marketing at Care New England, Collaboration=Innovation focused on the work of Elio Icaza Milson 15 ID, Amy Goldfeder MID 13 and Ximedica CIO and co-founder Aidan Petrie MID 85.
Airbnb, the popular alternative lodging company founded by Brian Chesky 04 ID and Joe Gebbia 05 ID/GD, is creating Hollywood & Vines, a first-of-its-kind short film made entirely out of Vine videos. And they’re running a contest right now for the best clips.
“We would love to see what creative RISD students and alumni can do with Vine,” Chesky says in announcing that they’re inviting submissions of videos through tomorrow. Winners get a $100 Airbnb coupon and their Vine will be shown on the Sundance Channel. Time is short, so get moving!
Though NYC-based designer Megha Khandelwal 07 GD majored in Graphic Design at RISD, she discovered a passion for jewelry here that inspired her to go on to study at the Gemological Institute of America. She now designs one-of-a-kind jewelry around the gemstone that inspired it, working with sterling silver, 18K gold plating and a variety of precious and semi-precious stones to create unique but affordable pieces. Check out her new Megha Jewelry website, where you can search by color, line or price.
As a summer design intern at ARTtwo50 in San Francisco, Lizzy Gregory 15 GD is working to expand the art market through an iPad app that allows users to buy original artwork by emerging artists for a set price (of… you guessed it: $250).
The concept is simple. After downloading the app, users photograph a room crying out for artwork. Based on the colors of the room and size preferences, ARTtwo50 recommends appropriate pieces. You can then browse through recommended artwork and see it virtually hanging on the wall in the submitted photograph.
“By helping buyers visualize art in their own homes,” Lizzy explains, “we hope to connect people who have always wanted to own original artwork but don’t know where to start with emerging artists who are looking to sell outside of the gallery scene.”
During the summer, Lizzy has been busy generating supporting visual assets for the ARTtwo50 site, including the infographic above and the spare 404 page below. She has also been designing the Artist Portfolio interface, which is due to roll out soon.
Most of all, Lizzy hopes to recruit RISD students, faculty and alumni interested in selling artwork – and to spread the word so that more buyers will support emerging artists.
ID faculty member David Zacher MID 12 and current grad student Amanda Sim MFA 13 GD are key members of the team developing the first tactile wristwatch for a startup called Eone (its tag line DESIGNED FOR EVERYONE explains the name).
The brainchild of Hyungsoo Kim, a 2012 graduate of the MIT Sloan School of Management, the watch was covered in today’s Boston Globe and was one of the examples of smart design shown to US House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi when she visited RISD in late June.
Inspired by Paralympic swimmer Bradley Snyder, a Navy vet who lost his sight in an IED explosion during a tour of Afghanistan, Eone is calling its first tactile watch the Bradley. But the goal is to create tactile timepieces that are attractive to everyone, regardless of whether or not they’re sight-impaired.
With startup funds almost exhausted, the Eone team launched a Kickstarter campaign yesterday hoping to raise $40K. And less than two days into it, the prospects are looking exceptionally promising: they’ve already got pledges totaling over $104,000 (and rising)!
Eone founder Hyungsoo Kim, production manager Nick Gu, lead designer David Zacher MID 12 and lead graphic designer Amanda Sim MFA 13 GD
A group of 11 warmhearted RISD students just arrived in Washington, DC to participate in the 2013 Alternative Spring Break (ASB). For most of the week, the dedicated volunteers will roll up their sleeves to work at some of the busiest homeless shelters and food pantries in the area, including Carpenter’s Shelter, S.O.M.E. (So Others Might Eat) and Food and Friends.
RISD’s philanthropists have a reputation for doing good work. Last year students taking part in the 2012 ASB stayed close to campus to renovate the interior of a historical synagogue that had been stripped by vandals.
According to Jia Lee 14 GD, the group decided to travel to the nation’s capitol this year to gain perspective on the city’s systemic cycle of poverty.
“Washington, DC has one of the largest homeless populations in the country,” Lee explains. “We thought that there was much we could learn there and then share with the larger Providence community.”
Students battle it out on a big screen during a recent Super Smash Brothers Tournament to raise funds for the DC trip.
The RISD community has shown an outpouring of support for the students’ mission. Campus bake sales and clothing drives raised over $1,000 that was used to defray travel costs, says Lee. “So many people have been donating their time and efforts to help us,” she notes. “It’s really touching.”
The group also held a recent fundraiser in the RISD Auditorium. In the darkened venue, more than 100 students brought their best video game skills to compete in a Super Smash Brothers Tournament. After a hard-fought battle, Jacob Reynolds 15 IL was named the winner.
“We wanted to host an event that would make the student body excited to join,” Lee explains. “And who here at RISD doesn’t get excited about Nintendo games?”
Stay tuned to read more about the students’ service trip to DC!
Last week Six Things: Sagmeister & Walsh, a new show focused on an ongoing project about happiness by Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh 08 GD, opened at The Jewish Museum in NYC. Just last spring, Sagmeister invited the über-talented young alum to become a partner in his NYC-based design firm.
The partners made a splash with the nude portrait of themselves they sent out to announce the birth of Sagmeister & Walsh, which is known for its smart, playful, tactile, existential and multidisciplinary approach to design.
Making the typographic film If I Don’t Ask I Won’t Get
As Walsh explains in this post, Sagmeister has been researching the nature of happiness for almost a decade, wondering: “Is it possible to train my mind in the same way I train my body?” In Six Things, the studio is presenting five short films and a sculpture investigating factors that contribute to his own happiness, namely:
- If I Don’t Ask I Won’t Get
- Keeping a Diary Supports Personal Development
- Be More Flexible
- It Is Pretty Much Impossible to Please Everybody
- Now Is Better
- Feel Others Feel
Given a recent nationwide survey that says Jews report the highest levels of well-being among all religious groups, Sagmeister & Walsh present their personal meditation on happiness along with some interesting supporting data.
Six Things continues at The Jewish Museum through August 4.
In 2012 Nick Felton 99 GD (aka Feltron) drank a grand total of one soda (ginger ale), 272 beers – mostly IPAs – and 1,484 glasses of water. How do we know? He kept track and is now telling us – in the latest edition of his annual Feltron Report, an obsessive, data-driven report about his personal life that he’s been publishing since 2005.
So who is Nick Felton and who cares what time he drinks coffee every morning? Maybe you don’t (it’s around 10:40), but Nick is an info-graphics specialist who’s intrigued by technology, data and how people live in a wired world. He has been recognized as one of the 50 most influential designers in America and last year earned the RISD Alumni Association’s Business of Design Award.
For his 2012 report, Felton partnered up with a friend to code an iPhone app called Reporter to simplify the process of recording every detail of his day-to-day life. Every 90 minutes, the app buzzes him to automatically record his coordinates and ask the same set of questions about what he’s doing and wearing, who he’s with, etc. If you’re just pining to keep stats on your own every move, Reporter is expected to go on sale later this year.