Tuesday, March 31, 2009

fruitful design

In the wake of Arnell's Tropicana packaging debacle arrives a fruit juice package design that's sure to awaken and inspire the senses. Industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa, formerly the head of IDEO Tokyo, has created packaging that looks and feels like the fruit contained inside. Fukasawa, who established Naoto Fukasawa Design in 2003, asserts that “materials are not the mother of design. Materials and means are the result of thinking how to create a sensuous effect.”

Fukasawa's fruit juice package designs were featured in the Haptic exhibit at the Nippon Design Museum in Tokyo. Curated by Kenya Hara, Haptic combines multidisciplinary works from architects, fashion designers, product designers, artists, graphics and interior designers - united by a common thread of sensory stimulation. “The ancient term haptic refers narrowly to the sense of touch,” says Hara, “but I prefer to use it in a broader sense as something that on sight awakens all the senses.”

Fukasawa currently works as a professor at Musashino Art University and a visiting lecturer at Tama Art University. The recipient of over fifty awards, Fukasawa has authored such books as An Outline of Design and The Ecological Approach to Design.

Friday, March 27, 2009

mixed tape

I always love me some recycled art. Much like walking into a used record store, you sense the history - a soul that is left uncovered; a narrative untold for the imagination to build and romp around in. The stories, the emotions... if these records could talk... There's something to be said for infusing value into something perceived as value-less. For creating new meaning and new stories from the old and reinventing the discarded.

Enter the work of iRI5. The Georgia-based, self-taught artist works with all sorts of donated and discarded media - playing cards, credit cards, cassette tapes and used books. Her pieces are primarily figurative (featuring well-known public figures), though she asserts her fascination with "the workings of the world, from physics to fantasy."

I particularly love iRI5's cassette tape portraits - there's something very fun about the connection between the media (tapes) and the artists who have inspired and driven the evolution of the media (musicians). As reported by NoiseAddicts, "using these old tapes, iRI5 has turned them into works of art in a series that she calls 'Ghost in the Machine.'"

Check iRI5's website for more examples of her work.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

castles made of sand

It only seems appropriate, considering the current state of affairs in the housing market, to share the work of Amy Casey, which features imagery of houses in a tangle. They're chaotic, but without a trace of frenetic energy. There's an eerie calm - a surrealist objectification void of the human impact. The urban dreamscapes feature somewhat generic-looking houses dangling in knotted disarray, which tend to pose as representations of the anxiety and nervousness caused by today's state of affairs, destruction in the wake of natural disaster, our fragile vulnerability and the "illusions of safety."

Yet, the Cleveland-based artist also seeks to represent the silver lining of destruction. As stated by Casey: "My created world bands together to come up with coping plans...I am fascinated by the resilience of life. Every disaster is followed by a rebirth where we try to cobble together a plan b out of what remains." The 'plan b' depicted in Casey's work is evident - her paintings have a cobbled-together, jungle gym, feel that accepts the new reality - you can almost see the kids climbing the rubble-house fort-world or a carefree frisbee gliding from one stilted, dangling house to another.

Casey primarily works with acrylic on paper and is represented by Zg Gallery in Chicago, Illinois.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

whopper wearables

The King has gone arty... the Burger King, that is. On March 7th, The Home of the Whopper opened its first Studio Boutique located at Universal CityWalk in Orlando, Florida, where visitors can design and screen print their own edgy BK shirts. The Studio also boasts an art gallery featuring the bergerrific work of Manhattan-based artist Joshua Davis and Chicago-based artists Lana Crooks, Eugene Good and Joey Potts, among others.

It's an interesting move for Burger King to position themselves as a lifestyle brand. Following the attempts of McDonald's to transform the customer experience from a greasy pit stop into a nano-nosher digital hangout, Burger King is another chain walking down the one-off boutique path in hopes of peripherally changing the hearts, minds and brand associations of the hipsters of the world.

...In this case, it certainly can't hurt. The recession-affected and those strapped for cash could use a reason for it to be cool to hang out at Burger King. Everyone wins. But until the ratio of this new brand experience changes from the current 1 : 11,550 outlets, it's still a one-off touchpoint and perception of the brand.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I absolutely love these clean, elegant and clever ads from Italian ad agency Armando Testa for Cuki Aluminum Foil. There's a real simplicity in communication here - a single, detailed image used to playfully convey Cuki's message: their foil will protect, with armor strength, the foods that most need protecting in your refrigerator. The parallels in both visual (through color and texture) and metaphorical (utilizing the message of safety and protection) content created between the armor and the aluminum foil makes this ad campaign a home run.

Monday, March 23, 2009

the wild things

Stunning film poster for Where the Wild Things Are published in Nick Magazine

Nearly two years in the making and riddled with rumors of complications and director-studio drama, Spike Jonze's highly anticipated adaptation of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are will finally take the big screen on October 16th of this year.

What we have seen from the film so far - the stills and film poster - expose a raw approach from Jonze, with stark, rugged on-location sets shot in Melborne, Australia against soft vanilla-sunset skies. The images are gorgeous and appear to lend themselves to the very real, very authentic and honest way the book has touched its readers for 40 years, speaking directly to the raw and sometimes overwhelming and scary emotions kids feel. Jonze certainly had an enormuous task before him to adapt the adored book, which chronicles the journey of the disobedient Max, who is sent to bed without dinner and escapes into his world of Wild Things.

According to Jonze:
"One of the things I was worried about is that the book is just so beloved to so many people. And as I started to have ideas for it I was worried that I was just making what it means to me, and what the book triggers in me from when I was a kid. And I’d be worried that other people were gonna be disappointed, because it’s like adapting a poem. It can mean so much to so many different people. And Maurice was very insistent that that’s all I had to do... just make what it was to me, just to make something personal and make something that takes kids seriously and doesn’t pander to them. He told me that when his book came out, it was considered dangerous. It was panned by critics and child psychologists and librarians, because it wasn’t how kids were talked to."

While the film can certainly be categorized as massively complex, the rumor mill (per usual) inflated any tensions that may have existed between Jonze and Warner Brothers - in an interview with Moriarty, Jonze dispells the myths and details the massive undertaking to capture his vision - from an all on-location shooting to the complicated sound stage setup. Jonze also offers insight into his casting selections from James Gandolfini to Catherine Keener and Forest Whitaker, to the Wild Things costumes from Henson, to the Score from Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Carter Burwell to the post-production effects by Framestore.

Where the Wild Things Are is absolutely in my Top 5 most-looking-forward-to-films of 2009.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

lacy lovelies

As more of our labor and production becomes automated, and machines and robotics increasingly carry out our goods and services, my appreciation for all things handmade increases exponentially. When I first saw Aoyama Hina’s work, I immediately assumed her lace-like paper art had been done using a laser cutter. I was blown away to discover Hina had made her intricate and delicate paper cuttings by hand – using standard scissors no less.

The Japanese artist, who now resides in France, first sketches her design on paper, then with epic patience applies her scissors. Hina’s most impressive work is perhaps her “Sentences” series, which consists of phrases she cuts out of paper while utilizing the most intricately flourished of fonts.

As stated by the artist herself: “My passion is to create a finest cutoff beyond the level of the very time-consuming needle lace making. I don't follow traditional but I am trying to create a mixture of the traditional and modern styles and to produce my own world through this super fine lacy-paper-cuttings technique.” Hina’s innovative applications of her technique include the creation of a paper-cut comic strip – here the contrast between lace making as a traditional craft and the modernity of the medium she uses coupled with the output she produces is evermore present.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

models need not apply

There's an interesting, emerging trend right now in fashion editorials: fashion illustration. It seems more and more publications these days are looking towards illustrators and painters for their next layout, reaching beyond the traditional fashion photography approach standardized within the industry. It isn't surprising to see the bubbling of this trend - after all, art and design are driving desire and sales and our savvy consumers are demanding both form and function. I recently posted about my favorite fashion illustrator, but have come across another that has peaked my interest: Jonas Löfgren.

The 30-year-old Swedish artist's most recent work can be found in Lula Magazine #8 A Perfect Mess, which features stylized illustrations of celebrity fashion icons in last season's collections, including Chlöe Sevigny in Louis Vuitton, Edie Beale in Chanel, Diane Vreeland in Marc Jacobs and Mary-Kate Olsen in Lanvin. His illustrations are reminiscent of Tokyo-based artist Yoshitomo Nara. They have a clever, whimsical restraint that teeters somewhere between caricature and photorealism.

Speaking of Edie Beale, I couldn't be more excited about this little nugget of joy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

shake it, baby

Last week the Khaki King, Dockers, launched the latest manifestation of their recent digital strategy: a shakeable iPhone ad to be launched within free iPhone games, including iBaseketball, iBowl and iGolf. The ad features Seattle street dancer, Dufon, who busts a move in some khakis, of course, when the phone is shaken. The ad utilizes the phone's accelerometer, or the movement-detecting technology that lets users change the orientation of the iPhone from portrait to landscape.

According to The Washington Post:
"[the ad] is similar to applications released by Gap and Target for the holidays. The Gap app allowed people to mix-and-match outfits with the swipe of a finger, while Target allowed you to search for gifts by shaking a virtual snow globe. The big difference is that the Dockers ad will appear in a free game that a user might want to download anyway, whereas Gap and Target were asking users to download their standalone apps."
In other words, the Docker's ad is the first push marketing (versus permission marketing) shakeable ad on the iPhone. At least they're entertaining us, right?

Patti Sircus Bender, Director of Brand Marketing at Dockers elaborates: "with the introduction of the iPhone and other technologies, it became clear to us that we need to talk to our target when and where he's open to our message...he's in gaming mode and in the mood to be entertained." Rightfully so, Dockers hopes to get back on the radar of 30-39 year old men by tapping into the evermore tech-savvy inclinations of this market.

Using Dufon wasn't a bad idea either - Dockers had found itself synonymous with sweater vests and hush puppies. In an effort to rebirth the cool, casual Bay area associations the brand once had, Dockers is now back to its original name Dockers San Francisco, while also adding edgier styles to its collection of traditionally conservative, pleated khakis.

Friday, March 13, 2009

alien invasion

Check out the new video of Royksopp's "Happy Up Here" from their new album Junior, to be released on March 23rd. The upcoming album will feature collaborations with Robyn, Lykke Li, Anneli Drecker and the Knife's Karin Dreijer.

The video was directed by Ruben Sutherland of UK-based Joyrider. It's interesting - a bit apocalyptic, and has some familiar imagery of skyscrapers under attack...not quite the uplifting video I was expecting, but well done and I always enjoy some alien encounter content.

It's no "Remind me", which is one of my all-time favorite music videos:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

waxing aesthetic

We find, day to day, that the constraints of communication forms often lead us to utilize or discover new methods, supplementing our verbal communication with written, body, gestural and visual languages. Borrowing from Marshall McLuhan, the medium ultimately becomes our message as the form of the medium impacts how the message is received and the meaning assigned. For Granville, Ohio-based artist Christian Faur, the medium - wax crayons - and message are decidedly one. McLuhan would say that Faur's medium is a form without content, a limitation Faur has broken through the creation of a visual, crayon language he uses to embed his pieces with secret codes and phrases.

Christian Faur had experimented with painting with wax, but wasn't satisfied with the results his technique produced. Still interested in wax as a medium, Faur had an epiphany at Christmas in 2005, when his daughter opened a box of 120 Crayola crayons he'd bought her. The artist decided to create art out of the crayons themselves, using thousands of hand-molded crayons framed in wooden boxes to create pixilated-looking, texturized relief sculptures. Faur creates his pieces through a pixilation process - first, he scans a photograph into his computer, reducing the image down into individual pixel color blocks. Next, he creates a map with a grid to code where each crayon goes. Because the crayons create large, 3D "pixels", the message and experience of viewing the pieces changes dramatically depending on orientation to the piece, at a distance creating a portrait or other photographic-looking composition.

Faur's Forgotten Children series

The codes and phrases woven into Faur's pieces are crafted from his own "crayon alphabet", where each letter of the alphabet is represented by a different crayon color. In his Forgotten Children series, Faur uses bright colors among monochromatic crayons to spell out kid's names. Faur has applied his crayon alphabet to other media, as well. Take his Mating Jacket, which when read vertically contains cheesy pick-up lines like "I think I could fall madly in bed with you" and "Grab your jacket, you've scored." The Mating Jacket reminds me of Tom Robbins' Skinny Legs and All (a personal top-5 favorite), where one of the main characters, Randolph "Boomer" Petway, creates a trenchcoat with a bunch of secret, hidden pockets sewn into it. In each pocket is a piece of paper with a different code of the artist's own devising, and each coded message reads affectionately to his wife: "Randolph Petway III loves Ellen Cherry Charles." A MUST read.

Christian Faur's Mating Jacket

Faur's work incorporates a variety of media - though his specialization lies in sculpture, painting and new media. Having earned his Masters of Fine Arts from the Austrian University of Danube Transart Institute, Faur originally earned his BS in physics and a minor in mathematics, which seems to intuitively translate through his use of codes and patterns. Faur currently serves as the Director of Collaborative Technologies in the Arts at Denison University.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

strictly commercial

For those of you who follow the evolution of some of the largest brands on the block, you may already be familiar with the new "go" campaign from Visa, which has unveiled their new global tagline: More People Go With Visa. The spots from TBWA are hopeful and fun, filled with warm fuzzies and all the things that make you want to use your Visa Check Card while in the bowels of a recession.

My favorite from this campaign is the European spot, which features Bill Shannon and the song "Come On Train". I saw Bill perform at Pop!Tech in 2007 - you can watch the Pop!Cast here. He's a pretty inspiring guy.

I also enjoyed the two US spots, mostly because they featured two of my all-time favorite bands (click the bands for their respective spots): The Moody Blues and Smashing Pumpkins. And while we're looking at commercialized underwater worlds of wonder, check out the new Nordpol spot for IKEA.

As reported by AdWeek's columnist Barbara Lippert on the new tagline replacing "Life takes Visa.":
"I can see that going is more forward-moving than taking, which you kind of have to sit back and do. But as a phrase, it doesn't roll off the tongue. It seems like it's been translated from another language, the awkward result of too many focus groups...For the record, I still don't get why companies need these advertising "manifestos." Consumers...respond to messages that resonate. 'Let's Go' is, however, armed with a secret weapon: Morgan Freeman, who I am naming the official voice of God in this age of mild Depression. His voice is so distinctive, his line readings so nuanced, that the sound just breaks through and stops time -- a little aural stimulus package."

It seems in these hard times that more companies are taking the linguistic cues of late. Hope, change, "go" - our brands are tapping into the emo-political lexicon that has already changed the behaviors of millions of US consumers. With the uphill battle our brands face today, they're wise to position themselves as a vehicle for transformation.


Today I was going to share one of my favorite things to receive in my mailbox each season: Neiman Marcus's The Book catalog covers, which are always a perfect blend of art and fashion. But as I was looking for some great images to pull, I came across something even better: The Neiman Marcus Pop-Up Book from the holiday season in 2007. Stunning. The 3D book was put together as a retrospective of their history on the 100th anniversary of the iconic brand, and takes on a Cinderella-like fantasy narrative which chronicles the journey of a young girl from the opening days of the store up to the present. The surreal imagery captures some classic Neiman Marcus iconography, including the butterfly, NM's famous Christmas decor and art collection.

This isn't your children's pop-up book. The book features painstakingly complex pop-up scenes constructed from photos (versus the illustration typically associated with pop-up books), which took two years to craft and perfect with the help of paper engineers in England and Holland and under the creative direction of Tim Flannery. Flannery chose renowned fashion photographer Geof Kern for the project, who used laser guides to capture his subjects at the exact same moment from multiple angles and cameras. The result of this dynamic team is the timeless dramatics of style brought to life through discovery, novelty and imagination.

Unfortunately, The limited edition Pop-Up Book is no longer available through Neiman Marcus. You can find used copies at Amazon to adorn your coffee table. For further reading, I found this interesting article from illustrator Wilson Swain and Paper Engineer and Author Ray Marshall in Kite Tales which details the pop-up book-making process. You can download the pdf and turn to page 10 where the article starts.