Over at Design Observer, Rick Poyner takes a look at filmmaker Chris Marker’s book Commentaries. Poyner describes the book as “The volume collects the “commentaries” or scripts — effectively spoken essays — written by Marker for his earliest films.”

Commentaires presents the scripts of five films directed by Marker: Les statues meurent aussi (1953, co-directed with Alain Resnais), Dimanche à Pékin (1955), Lettre de Sibérie (1957), Description d’un combat (1960) and Cuba si (1961), as well as an unmade project, L’Amérique rêve (1959). In each case, Marker puts stills from the film into or alongside the text. It would be easy to take such plasticity for granted today, although this degree of integration of text and image in a film book, or any kind of small-format book for continuous reading rather than reference, is still unusual. At the time, it was a remarkable accentuation of the image in relation to the text. Marker uses wide fore-edge margins, and spaces between the paragraphs and other kinds of writing, such as song lyrics, to create open, dynamically organized layouts. The effect is to make all the elements appear to float in loosely placed, almost provisional arrangements. Turning the book’s pages, text and image strike the eye as being equally important.

The format of Commentaries, of course, was the inspiration for one of my favorite books The Medium is the Massage by Marshal McLuhan and designed by Quentin Fiore. Richard Hollis, the designer of the John Berger’s book, Ways of Seeing, also cited Commentaries as the inspiration for his design. Here’s Michael Rock looking at Ways of Seeing as an example as print “destabilizing” digital, as it too started as a television show that was then translated to book form:

The television program had moderate success but shortly after it aired Berger joined with producer Mike Dibb and graphic designer Richard Hollis to produce a printed version of the televised series. Clark had also produced a book to accompany Civilisation: a huge, lavish, full-color coffee table monster that must have weighted 10 kilos. In contrast Berger, Dibb and Hollis produced a slim paperback, 127 x 203mm, of only 166 pages. Even more radical, the book was produced in black + white, reducing the famous art to mere notations on standard, uncoated paper of a trade book. It was published by the BBC Books under the Pelican Books imprint, a division of the venerable Penguin Press organized to publish books to educate rather than entertain the reading public.

Frank Chimero also looks at this idea in his talk Designing in the Borderlands and Austin Kleon recently posted a few spreads from another book Quentin Fiore designed: Buckminster Fuller’s I Seem To Be A Verb

Steven Heller and Radislav Sutnar discuss aspects of the life and work of 20th century designer Ladislav Sutnar, featuring objects from the collection of Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

invisibleOS

"Good design is invisible.” —Dieter Rams

Today Apple announced a brand new visual overhaul to iOS led by Senior Vice President of Design Sir Jonathan Ive. Ive, forever inspired by industrial designer Dieter Rams, has spent the last decade perfecting Apple’s hardware. From the iMac to the iPod, iPhone to iPad, Ive and his team have worked to religiously follow Rams’s famous maxim of designing hardware that is “invisible”, hardware that recedes, void of decoration to allow the functions of the device to be its centerpiece.

Since Ive took over software design in October, debates about skeumorphism versus flat design and the future aesthetic of iOS have run rampant, each side proclaiming to be the better of two. The new design, eskewing fake textures and buttons for translucency and typographic navigation, shows that the skeumorphism versus flat debate was the wrong one. Though the design may no longer be classified as skeumorphic, it surely isn’t flat either. The change in Apple’s iOS is about going from stylized interfaces to invisible interfaces. And it turns out we’ve been headed this direction for years.1

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Christian Annyas has a great gallery of the evolution of the Chevrolet speedometer design. They had some great ones during the sixties.

I remember watching Thunderball a few months ago and loving the speedometer on the car Bond was driving.

Christian Annyas has a great gallery of the evolution of the Chevrolet speedometer design. They had some great ones during the sixties.

I remember watching Thunderball a few months ago and loving the speedometer on the car Bond was driving.

“The worst design writer is one who doesn’t tell a story. Facts are nice, but it’d be better to have the facts telling you some tale of highs, lows, and woes.”
Steven Heller, from this feature in The Village Voice, after being awarded the Cooper-Hewitt Design Mind Award.
“The teaching of art is the teaching of all things.”

I’ve been going back and listening to some old episodes of BBC’s wonder In Our Time podcast. I really enjoyed this one on the famous Victorian art critic John Ruskin and this quote from Ruskin’s writing stopped me dead in my tracks.

I took four art history courses in school (two general art, and two design-specific) and found that the best art history courses always teach you more than expected. I think learning about art also teaches you about cultures and people and religion and politics. I’ve found the more I learn about art, the more I want to learn about everything surrounding it.

One of my favorite professors in school was my first design history professor and the reason he was my favorite was because I found the most interesting things I was learning were not the things inside my design text book. He had an uncanny ability to make connections between cultures and images making for a more holistic history course that guided by design movements. Think James Burke or John Berger. Learning about art is learning about the world.

You could say Bill Bernbach was one of the original mad men. As a co-founder of advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach, he directed countless breakthrough campaigns but he is perhaps most known for the man behind the now-iconic Volkswagen campaign.

He would have been 100 today. Creative Review has a great round-up of some of his most memorable ads.

You could say Bill Bernbach was one of the original mad men. As a co-founder of advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach, he directed countless breakthrough campaigns but he is perhaps most known for the man behind the now-iconic Volkswagen campaign.

He would have been 100 today. Creative Review has a great round-up of some of his most memorable ads.

Great feature from Eye on Sister Corita Kent:


  Charismatic nun, artist and activist – in 1960s America the combination was irresistible, guaranteeing Sister Corita Kent a place in popular culture, if only as the woman who spawned “nun art” and made the Love stamp. Her public persona and artistic output were hugely influential, but although her picture appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine, Corita was never part of the mainstream, being too radical for the Church, too Catholic (and priced too low) for the art world and too much of a maverick to be pigeonholed in the broader contexts of social and political conflicts of the 1960s.


I’ve always wondered why her work is not discussed more in graphic design (and general art) history courses. The things she did with typography and shape were groundbreaking even though she continually referred to herself as an “artist” and never a “designer.”

Great feature from Eye on Sister Corita Kent:

Charismatic nun, artist and activist – in 1960s America the combination was irresistible, guaranteeing Sister Corita Kent a place in popular culture, if only as the woman who spawned “nun art” and made the Love stamp. Her public persona and artistic output were hugely influential, but although her picture appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine, Corita was never part of the mainstream, being too radical for the Church, too Catholic (and priced too low) for the art world and too much of a maverick to be pigeonholed in the broader contexts of social and political conflicts of the 1960s.

I’ve always wondered why her work is not discussed more in graphic design (and general art) history courses. The things she did with typography and shape were groundbreaking even though she continually referred to herself as an “artist” and never a “designer.”

“The best professionals understand their medium at a deep level. They embrace its history to shape its future. They’re pioneers not of originality, but of progress, breathing modernity into the very bones of their subject, re-envisioning it in a new light. To truly understand something, you should never stop learn­ing from it, as it’s this very process that allows us to grow as a professional, and in turn shape future generations of what you do today.”

—Peter Coles, You’re not Mr. Purple. Some guy on some other job is Mr. Purple. You’re Mr. Pink

I think the most valuable class I’ve ever taken that has made me a better designer was not a Photoshop class or HTML class or even a typography, it was a design history course. By looking at the history of this craft, from Sumerians writing on stone tablets to Gutenberg’s printing press to Saul Bass making film titles to Carson throwing away the rules, I could see how it’s all connected, how it all builds on what came before, expanding it and pushing it forward.

By looking back, you can see how how to move forward. I can jump into this long, twisting history and add something meaningful, pushing the craft into the future.

This is such a fantastic video tribute to the great Paul Rand:

For Paul Rand’s posthumous induction into The One Club Hall of Fame, Imaginary Forces created this short film, combining original animation with a videotaped interview of Rand himself, that encapsulated his unique and timeless contribution to the design community.

I’m not sure it’s possible for him to not be included in everyone’s favorite designer list. What a brilliant guy.

viafrank:

Have you seen Things Magazine’s collection of book covers from Pelican, called The Pelican Project?
You haven’t? Oh, well you should probably go sneak a peek. It’s a bottomless well of design inspiration, fine tuning your spidey-senses of clarity, concept, and conciseness. And, if you have visited, I’d go take a look again, even just to witness that beautiful, dusty, distressed blue.

Welp. There goes my afternoon. Seriously. This is a goldmine. 

viafrank:

Have you seen Things Magazine’s collection of book covers from Pelican, called The Pelican Project?

You haven’t? Oh, well you should probably go sneak a peek. It’s a bottomless well of design inspiration, fine tuning your spidey-senses of clarity, concept, and conciseness. And, if you have visited, I’d go take a look again, even just to witness that beautiful, dusty, distressed blue.

Welp. There goes my afternoon. Seriously. This is a goldmine.