HOW Design 2013 in review: Part three

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This is a continuation of HOW Design 2013 in review: Part two.

HOW Design Conference 2013 I am attending the HOW Design Conference 2013 in San Francisco, California. Below are my notes from the sessions I attended on Tuesday.

9:00 am-10:15 am – 20. Basic Principles of Identity DesignSagi Haviv, Partner and Designer, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv
What makes a great trademark? Is there some recipe for creating a simple icon that can effectively represent its brand and last for decades? If anyone can provide a glance into the art of creating iconic, timeless trademarks, it’s Chermayeff & Geismar partner, Sagi Haviv. Recently called a “logo prodigy” by the New Yorker, Haviv is the youngest partner in the history of the 55-year-old firm, where he has created trademarks for every type of entity from distinguished national institutions such as the Library of Congress to major commercial brands such as Armani Exchange. In this presentation, Haviv walks us through his firm’s problem-solving approach to identity design, an approach that has produced trademarks such as Chase Bank’s blue octagon, Mobil Oil’s red “o,” the NBC peacock, and countless other timeless icons that have become an inseparable part of our visual culture.

  • Twitter: @cghnyc
  • Logomotion video
  • Criteria for a good graphic identity (e.g., Chase, 1960):
    1. Appropriate (the right feeling for the type of business)
    2. Memorable (special, distinction to be remembered)
    3. Simple
    4. Original
  • The desire to like a logo from the first time you see it is very natural, but that is very difficult. The challenge is to think five years in the future. Can this mark come to represent everything about the brand? Think of the logo as a flag. Once it’s established, you don’t question it. It’s there to remind you of your associations with the company.
  • Seven ways to get there
    1. It’s not about you (e.g., Armani Exchange, 2009). You have to make a case.
    2. Don’t take a name for granted (e.g., Blip Networks, 2011). Question the parameters. They are the business experts, but you are the expert for identity. (Originally branded as, but purchased from Marvel.)
    3. Recognize chances for expression (e.g., Library of Congress, 2009). It’s normally difficult to infuse logos with a lot of meaning.
    4. Be sensitive to traditions (e.g., State Farm, 2012). Research: logo recognition study.
    5. Resist the expected (e.g., Women’s Tennis Association, 2010). Throw out the obvious, usually. (Didn’t use a tennis player silhouette.) Consider the context.
    6. Give your client credit (e.g., Harvard University Press, 2013). But don’t be afraid to claim your role in this conversation. Good design is your responsibility. Don’t be intimidated to present a good design, even if its pushing the envelope. Your client may surprise you.
    7. Fight for design you believe in (e.g., Conservation International, 2008). The simpler your logo gets, the more difficult it is to be original.
  • It takes two months minimum to develop a logo for a client, sometimes years. A lot of the time is spent on mockups on different materials, in different contexts, to demonstrate complete identity usage.
  • A logo is an acquired taste. It’s not something that you’re going to fall in love with immediately. Democracy is the worst thing that could happen for a logo. Focus groups are the kiss of death for a logo.

10:45 am-12:00 pm – 23. The Craft of DesignChristian Helms, Founder, Helms Workshop
Over ten years of being “kind of good” at design, writing and illustration, Christian Helms has built a practice around things that get him fired up. Through examples ranging from rock and roll to hot dogs and cold beer, Christian will talk about the importance of craft in design, and the results of incorporating personal history and passions in your work. He’ll discuss the value of embracing your inner geek, and share behind-the-scenes stories of success (and failure) in getting out of his own way and focusing on the joy of what we do as designers.

  • Twitter: @xianhelms
  • Love is the heart of craft
  • Influenced by James Victore
  • Example #1: Frank hot dog restaurant in Texas. Reinforces belief that as a designer, when we have fun and enjoy our work, so will the customers. Twitter: @hotdogscoldbeer
  • Example #2: Austin Beerworks brand (once Optimistic Beverages, Austin, TX)
  • Example #3: Alamo Drafthouse wines brand: The Bottle of Wits (The Princess Bride theme)
  • Jack Daniels project: Craft is about a commitment to a standard, to doing things the right way
  • “If whiskey and pork could have a baby, you would just eat the baby.”
  • Global rebrand of Southern Comfort
  • Marriage equality symbol for Willie Nelson, basically the patron saint of Austin. Don’t wait for permission to do something you care about
  • Nurture your inner geek.

2:00 pm-3:15 pm – 30. ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Talk About Color – Jude Stewart, Contributing Editor, Print
Join us for an amazing, eye-opening tour through color with Print contributing editor and color columnist Jude Stewart. She’ll draw from the themes in her book, ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color, a non-fiction compendium of brief, hilarious, and revelatory entries about color. You’ll learn about astronomers debating the average color of the universe, why brown isn’t in the rainbow, green’s unlucky side (from Ireland to China to the green wallpaper that may’ve killed Napoleon), very masculine pinks (including Mountbatten Pink, a pink paint used to camouflage warships in WWII)…the list goes on.

  • Twitter: @joodstew
  • The meanings of colors is hardly universal across cultures. For example, white in Asia is the color of mourning.
  • Colours & Culture infographic (2009) by Always with Honor
  • “Color is like sex. It’s mysterious. It’s unknowable. It never looks the same twice. No two people see the same thing. No two people feel the same thing.” – Stephen Drucker
  • A cheat sheet of color theory: color wheels
  • Primary colors – Subtractive mixing: RYB (pigments), CMYK (print). Additive mixing: RGB (light).
  • See: The Colour Clock
  • Color’s three properties: hue, saturation, brightness
  • Why isn’t brown in the rainbow?
    • Because it’s actually a low-intensity shade of orange. (This also explains why we lack brown traffic lights – a conundrum noodled by several philosophers, including Ludwig Wittgenstein.)
  • Pink’s decidedly butch side
    • Men/Empire: On WWII battleships (Mountbatten pink), on Japanese kamikaze fighter planes, symbolizing fallen sakura blossoms
    • On Wall Street men, at work or at play; Nantucket red; Financial Times (salmon press) in the UK
    • Drunk tank pink: tranquilizing ability of the color pink in prisons
  • Green: luck (and its opposite)
    • Unlucky ideas: Men don’t wear green hats in China; green magazine covers are considered poor sellers; green cars are hazardous
    • Lucky ideas: Muhammad in Islam; green room in theaters
  • Blue and gray
    • Yves Klein, 1950s Parisian conceptual artist, patented a color process (Yves Klein Blue)
    • “The color of truth is gray.” – Andre Gide
    • “For a painter gray is the richest color, the one that makes all the others speak.” – Paul Klee
  • Black: Scientists inventing super-blacks
  • What’s the average color of the universe?
    • It’s turquoise, or actually beige (biscuit white). The color of the universe is “cosmic latte.”
  • Book: ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color
  • The Story of Colors (Mayan creation myth) by Subcomandante Marcos
  • Clavelux color organ
  • Synesthesia

3:45 pm-5:00 pm – 35. What Movies Can Teach You on How to Be a Better DesignerJustin Ahrens, Creative Director, Rule 29
Great story has the power to shift the way we look at a particular subject, idea, or person. There is no better example of this than through the experience of film, which has the ability to make us laugh, make us cry, make us pause… As creatives, we have the opportunity to learn from filmmakers as they explore the the voyeuristic, the vicarious, and the visceral through visual storytelling.

In this session, Justin Ahrens will talk about how a better understanding of story can lead us to create some of our most powerful and memorable work.

  • Twitter: @justinahrens, @rule29
  • How to create the space you need to be inspired. Movies do that.
  • Movies, like design, can: cause us to stop, reconsider (opinions), adapt (emotionally, spiritually, practically)
  • What is your first movie memory? (His: The Sound of Music)
  • “Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.” – Walt Disney
  • Inspiration:
  • Opening credits/movie title sequences
  • “The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” – Muriel Rukeyser
  • Great books about screenwriting: Story by Robert McKee, Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder
  • Saul Bass
  • What story are you in? (What service are you supplying to your client?)
  • Sometimes you have to know which stories you’re not in to figure out which story you are in. Uses Stranger than Fiction movie clip
  • “In the end all we have… are stories and methods of finding and using those stories.” – Roger C. Shank, Tell Me A Story
  • Do you explore story?
  • “Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.” – Robert McKee
  • Ira Glass, American Life podcast: the majority of their time is spent finding stories, not making
  • “Always look ahead and above yourself. Always try to improve on yourself. Always strive to elevate your craft. That’s what he taught me.” – Yoshikazu Ono, Jiro Dreams of Sushi
  • “‘Good story’ means something worth telling that the world wants to hear. Your goal must be a story well told.” – Robert McKee
  • “The first demand any work of art makes upon us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way.” – C. S. Lewis
  • Community:
  • Harvey Keitel in Smoke: takes a photo at the same corner location every day. Create the space to stop and pause; that’s when the magic starts to happen.
  • How do you help others see?
  • “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau
  • American Beauty … look closer. (Plastic bag scene)
  • If we are mindful, the simplest things become beautiful.
  • As designers: we too are storytellers, simply a different medium; we too welcome a response; we too make an impact.
  • List of movies that inspire him: American Beauty, Toy Story, Spirited Away, Shawshank Redemption, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Stranger than Fiction, Amelie. His favorite film: It’s a Wonderful Life.
  • Feed yourself inspiration, understand the story you’re in, explore different types of story, prepare to see story, challenge the way you and others see (see differently).
  • Vimeo short: Moments
  • “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” – Robert McKee
  • Video project:

Continue to HOW Design 2013 in review: Part four »

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