Apropos of nothing, really, but just because I love hypnotic design, here’s a lovely old-ish MTV spot:
Category Archives: Design
“A brief & beautiful bubble in design history”
I always love a good dive into learning not just the what and the how of how things—in this case materials from the US federal government—was designed, but why things were done that way.
This video’s all about the briefly groovy period in which Federal designers let it all hang out. From the NASA Worm, to the EPA’s funkadelic graphics, to, heck, the Department of Labor acting like it just took mushrooms, this was an unquestionably adventurous period. And then it stopped. What went wrong?
The Federal Graphics Improvement Program was an NEA initiative started under Richard Nixon, and its brief reign inspired design conventions, logo revamps, and graphics standards manuals. But it was also just a cash infusion rather than a bureaucratic overhaul. And as a result, we only remember toasty Federal Graphic Design, rather than enjoy its enduring legacy.
Star Wars + Lego + WWII aircraft 🤯
This is specifically designed to break my brain, isn’t it? Check out Jordan Fridal’s amazing MOCs that imagine World War 2-era aircraft in the style of Star Wars vehicles, all rendered in Lego! The Leia nose art below is just <chef’s kiss>.
[Via Henry Nack, naturally 😌]
“What is Mise en Scène?”
One of the great pleasures of parenting is, of course, getting to see your kids’ interests and knowledge grow, and yesterday my 13yo budding photographer Henry and I were discussing the concept of mise en scène. In looking up a proper explanation for him, I found this great article & video, which Kubrick/Shining lovers in particular will enjoy:
Lego Sky Lion
If I had just upsetting amounts of disposable income, I might have to get this for my son. 🙃
“The Last Of Us” Main Titles
Beautiful, haunting mutations, envisioned by Elastic:
2023 Design Trends
“I strongly believe that animation skills are going to be the next big thing in UI design,” says designer Michal Malewicz. Check out his full set of predictions for the year ahead:
“For All Mankind”
Hey friends—Happy New Year! I hope you’ve been able to get a little restful downtime, as I’ve done. I thought it’d be nice to ease back into things with these lovely titles from For All Mankind, which I’ve belatedly started watching & which I’m quite enjoying. The work is by Imaginary Forces, whom I’ve admired ever since seeing founder Kyle Cooper speak in the 90’s:
From the creators:
Lines deviate and converge in a graphic, tactile world that pays homage to the past while hinting at the “what if?” future explored throughout the series. Like the show logo itself, these lines weave and merge to create stylised representations of human exploration—badges, almost— ultimately reminding us of the common thread we share.
Heinz AI Ketchup
Life’s like a mayonnaise soda…
What good is seeing eye chocolate…
— Lou Reed
The marketers at Heinz had a little fun noticing that an AI image-making app (DALL•E, I’m guessing) tended to interpret requests for “ketchup” in the style of Heinz’s iconic bottle. Check it out:
❄️ Good tidings to you & yours
Whether or not you’re celebrating Christmas, I hope that you’re having a restful day & keeping warm with family & friends. Enjoy a couple of tidbits from the Nacks—including some Lego stop motion…
…and that heartwarming Christmas classic, Die Hard. 😅
Adobe 3D Design is looking for 2023 interns
The 3D and Immersive Design Team at Adobe is looking for a design intern who will help envision and build the future of Adobe’s 3D and MR creative tools.
With the Adobe Substance 3D Collection and Adobe Aero, we’re making big moves in 3D, but it is still early days! This is a huge opportunity space to shape the future of 3D and AR at Adobe. We believe that tools shape our world, and by building the tools that power 3D creativity we can have an outsized impact on our world.
Ketchup goes AI…? Heinz puts DALL•E to work
Interesting, and of course inevitable:
“This emerging tech isn’t perfect yet, so we got some weird results along with ones that looked like Heinz—but that was part of the fun. We then started plugging in ketchup combination phrases like ‘impressionist painting of a ketchup bottle’ or ‘ketchup tarot card’ and the results still largely resembled Heinz. We ultimately found that no matter how we were asking, we were still seeing results that looked like Heinz.”
Pass the Kemp!
[Via Aaron Hertzmann]
“Some total rando named John Nack blogged about it”
“Oh my God… Who is this Dave Werner guy and what kind of government lab built him?” So I raved back in 2006 (!). Dave was only a student back then, but his potential was obvious, and I’m so happy he reached out in 2012 and became the designer on my then-team. Now 10 years later, he reflects on his journey in this characteristically charming, inventive little video:
Design: “An Ozymandian Nightmare”
I loved this sharp, salty, and fast-paced takedown of Egypt’s new administrative center, “Where buildings are big and brains are smooth.” Even if you watch just part, I bet you’ll enjoy the design insights & deft turns of phrase.
Apropos of nothing (but who cares, I’m still on vacation 😛), I really dig the ways these guys make beats with a theremin (?) and drum kit:
DALL•E vs. corporate logos
I will never not be here for this kind of nuttiness:
Making the “Gaslit” Main Titles
“Not a single keyframe of animation was set in the making of the title, created by tweaking and bending the alignment knobs of a vintage TV,” writes Anthony Vitagliano. “Instead, I shot it using a vintage Montgomery Ward ‘Airline’ Portable Television, an iPhone, and a patchwork of cables and converters in my basement.”
Check out the results:
See Anthony’s site for high-res captures of the frames.
A 3lb. wind turbine promises power on the go
Hmm—dunno whether I’d prefer carrying this little dude over just pocketing a battery pack or two—but I dig the idea & message:
Once set up on its tripod, the 3-pound, 40-watt device automatically rotates towards the wind and starts charging its 5V, 12,000 mAh battery. (Alternatively it can charge your device directly via USB.) The company says that in peak conditions, the Shine Turbine can generate enough juice to charge a smartphone in just 20 minutes.
Video: Drones swarm through a bamboo forest
I have just four words for this: Guaranteed To End Well. 😅🚁💀
Lexus reinvents the (steering) wheel
I have no idea whether this is brilliant, terrible, or somewhere in between, but it’s interesting as a piece of design. Come on, let’s get yoked:
Recreating the Netflix logo with $30 of yarn
This kind of loving madness reminds me fondly of the papercraft animations that Adobe’s Russell Brown used to do for things like the Star Wars intro crawl.
Fly, Strandbeest, Fly!
I’ve admired Theo Jansen’s weird & wonderful Strandbeest creations since discovering them some 15 years ago, even getting to meet some in person in SF with the kids in 2016:
Now these creatures are heading into the sky! Check out the vid below, or jump ahead to roughly ~2:35 to see the latest (initial Freudian typo: “lateest,” which I quite like!):
“The Fastest Fruit I Could Think Of” 🍌
The San Francisco Soapbox Derby—going on tomorrow in McLaren Park—looks like a blast:
Here’s hoping that this year’s participants can capture some of past years’ old-school hippie charm. 😌
Giant Lego “wooden” rollercoaster
Did you think there is a world in which I don’t post this, my friend?
Happily, there is no such world. 😝
Per Digital Trends,
The coaster was constructed from just under 90,000 individual Legos, and Chairudo estimates that it took him about 800 hours to build. The mammoth replica is more than 21 feet long, four feet wide, and almost five feet tall, with a total track length of 85 feet. It’s so big, Chairudo had to rent a separate room just to construct it.
Lego “Suck It!” vacuum
Could this thing actually work? That’s hard to imagine, but the basic promise is amazing:
ShiftCam ProGrip looks clever
I know only what I’ve seen here, but this combination wireless charger & DSLR-style camera grip seems very thoughtfully designed. Its ability to function as a phone stand (e.g. for use while videoconferencing) while charging puts it over the top.
Lego Rube Goldbergs go “Up,” dodge boulders
Honestly, I don’t know whether these movie tributes are made with really good CGI or really good brick work, but either way I love ’em!
Drone’s Got Talent
Clouds & clouds of drones, specifically. It was fun to watch the Verge Aero team wow the audiences & judges alike with their choreographed aerial light show:
Lego + Indiana Jones + Rube Goldberg = Magic
Happy Sunday. 🪨😌
Opal Camera promises DSLR-quality web conferencing for $299
I’ve long envied friends like Adobe design director Matthew Richmond & principal scientist Marc Levoy who have the time, equipment, and energy to rig up high-end cameras for videoconferencing. Now Opal promises similar quality for the low (?) price of $299. Check out The Verge’s review, available in robo-spoken form here if you’d prefer:
Xenophilia: A new documentary on the origins of “Alien”
I’m surrounded by more than a few Xenomorph-obsessed folks, and this work should be right up their alleys—and potentially mine:
Design: “The Fish & The Furious”
I know that we’re on a pretty dark timeline sometimes, but these little bits of silly (?) human ingenuity keep me going:
I am excited to share a new study led by Shachar Givon & @MatanSamina w/ Ohad Ben Shahar: Goldfish can learn to navigate a small robotic vehicle on land. We trained goldfish to drive a wheeled platform that reacts to the fish’s movement (https://t.co/ZR59Hu9sib). pic.twitter.com/J5BkuGlZ34
— Ronen Segev (@ronen_segev) January 3, 2022
Stephen Colbert & crew had some good fun with the news:
Animation: Lego Super Mario Breakfast
Let’s all ease into 2022 with a sensible breakfast of pure, brick-flavored weirdness:
Cinematography: Breaking down the “Gom Jabbar”
I love hearing creators—especially obsessive ones like Denis Villenueve—discussing the details of their craft. Here the director takes us inside the making of one of Dune’s most memorable scenes:
Crazy Train: Record-breaking miniature railroad plays Christmas music via wine glasses
We use the lockdown for projects that we have always wanted to implement when there are no visitors. This week we broke the world record. A locomotive drives 220 meters of track through the entire Wunderland and strikes several thousand glasses, while playing a medley of well-known classical songs.
The Ames Window just broke my brain
Speaking of spinning things right ’round, this demonstration of the Ames Window is a quick head trip:
Design: Google’s “Dragonscale” solar roofs
For the last few years I’ve been curiously watching what I affectionately call “nerd terrariums” being erected on Google’s main campus. Now the team behind their unique roof designs is providing some insight into how they work:
These panels coupled with the pavilion-like rooflines let us capture the power of the sun from multiple angles. Unlike a flat roof, which generates peak power at the same time of the day, our dragonscale solar skin will generate power during an extended amount of daylight hours… When up-and-running, Charleston East and Bay View will have about 7 megawatts of installed renewable power—generating roughly 40% of their energy needs.
Check out a quick overview—literally:
Two fascinating minutes of Lego engineering
Trippy Lego kinetic sculpture
For about two and a half minutes you’re gonna say, “Dude, this is the most boring content you’ve ever posted; thanks for wasting my time!” And then you’ll see why I posted it. 🙃
Design: Electrified highways?
My little brother is a trucker, and although I can’t imagine a solution like this working for the rural routes he drives, it’ll be interesting to see how it might work for long-haul highways. Check out the idea (not cheap, but potentially highly impactful):
Check out all the sneaks at Adobe MAX
I plan to highlight several of the individual technologies & try to add whatever interesting context I can. In the meantime, if you want the whole shebang, have at it!
Jetson ONE 🔥🚁
For anyone who’s ever flown a drone but felt insufficiently self-conscious & at risk, let the good times fly!
The Jetson ONE measures 2,845 mm long, 2,400 mm wide, 1,030 mm high, and weighs 86 kg, and is capable of flying a pilot weighing up to 95 kg. It is also collapsible to 900 mm wide when not in use.
Includes LIDAR & a parachute for a cool $92k.
Plus Code addresses make the world more navigable
Finding my grandmother’s home in Ireland was one of the weirder adventures I’ve experienced. Directions were literally “Go to the post office and ask for directions.” This worked in 1984, but we visited again in 2007, the P.O. was defunct, so we literally had to ask some random neighbor on the road—who of course knew the way!
Much of the world similarly operates without the kind of street names & addresses most of us take for granted, and Google and others are working to enable Plus Code addresses to help people get around. Check out how it works:
Previously, creating addresses for an entire town or village could take years. Address Maker shortens this time to as little as a few weeks — helping under-addressed communities get on the map quickly, while also reducing costs. Address Maker allows organizations to easily assign addresses and add missing roads, all while making sure they work seamlessly in Google Maps and Maps APIs. Governments and NGOs in The Gambia, Kenya, India, South Africa and the U.S. are already using Address Maker, with more partners on the way. If you’re part of a local government or NGO and think Address Maker could help your community, reach out to us here g.co/maps/addressmaker.
Photo rig: The MotoCrane Radical
Many, many years ago, en route home from Legoland, we spied a crazy-looking photography rig atop a car on the freeway, so naturally the boys had to recreate it in Lego when we got home:
Design details of the Blackbird
I know it’s a little OT for this blog, but as I’m always fascinated with clever little design solutions, I really enjoyed this detailed look at the iconic SR-71 Blackbird. I had no idea about things like it having a little periscope, or that its turn radius is so great that pivoting 180º at speed would necessitate covering the distance between Dayton, Ohio & and Chicago (!). Enjoy:
Hilariously bad logo redesigns
Brilliantly inept. 😝
Reply to @mcdonalds easy
Come help me design The Future!
I’m incredibly excited to say that my team has just opened a really rare role to design AI-first experiences. From the job listing:
Together, we are working to inspire and empower the next generation of creatives. You will play an integral part, designing and prototyping exciting new product experiences that take full advantage of the latest AI technology from Adobe research. We’ll work iteratively to design, prototype, and test novel creative experiences, develop a deep understanding of user needs and craft new AI-first creative tools that empower users in entirely new and unimagined ways.
Your challenge is to help us pioneer AI-first creation experiences by creating novel experiences that are intuitive, empowering and first of kind.
By necessity that’s a little vague, but trust me, this stuff is wild (check out some of what I’ve been posting in the AI/ML category here), and I need a badass fellow explorer. I really want a partner who’s excited to have a full seat at the table alongside product & eng (i.e. you’re in the opposite of a service relationship where we just chuck things over the wall and say “make this pretty!”), and who’s excited to rapidly visualize a lot of ideas that we’ll test together.
We are at a fascinating inflection point, where computers learn to see more like people & can thus deliver new expressive superpowers. There will be many dead ends & many challenging ethical questions that need your careful consideration—but as Larry Page might say, it’s all “uncomfortably exciting.” 🔥
If you might be the partner we need, please get in touch via the form above, and feel free to share this opportunity with anyone who might be a great fit. Thanks!
Google taps (heh) Project Jacquard to improve accessibility
It’s always cool to see people using tech to help make the world more accessible to everyone:
This research inspired us to use Jacquard technology to create a soft, interactive patch or sleeve that allows people to access digital, health and security services with simple gestures. This woven technology can be worn or positioned on a variety of surfaces and locations, adjusting to the needs of each individual.
We teamed up with Garrison Redd, a Para powerlifter and advocate in the disability community, to test this new idea.
UI Faces enables easy avatar insertion
As I obviously have synthetic faces on my mind, here’s a rather cool tool for finding diverse images of people and adding them to design layouts:
UI Faces aggregates thousands of avatars which you can carefully filter to create your perfect personas or just generate random avatars.
Each avatar is tagged with age, gender, emotion and hair color using the Microsoft’s Face API, providing easier filtration and sorting.
Here’s how it integrates into Adobe XD:
Paralympics pack makes Lego more inclusive
These 3D-printable pieces are pretty great to see, as is Lego’s introduction of a kid who uses a wheelchair.
[Via Khoi Vinh]