Date Archives October 2010

Kyle Poff

I came across the work of Kyle Poff, a Chicago based designer who’s doing some really great work with branding and identity. My favorite piece of hi works is the COOKIEBAR logo at top with it’s criss crossed lines cutting through the name. The lines really have nothing to do with the brand or their products but in my mind they’re perfectly placed. He uses a lot of geometric shapes in his logos which I feel is a really smart move because they feel timeless and don’t really follow any trends.


Space Suit of the Week

It’s not exactly a space suit, per se… but this Metal Diving Suit from 1938 addresses the issues that space suits do; things like pressure, movement, and how to do stuff outside the suit.  I still haven’t come across any space suits with a claw and a pulley (?!) for hands, but I’ll keep searching. From the source, a description:

“FITTED with ball bearing knuckle joints, which provide mobility for the wearer, a new all-metal diving suit is said to enable a diver to descend to a depth of 1,200 feet. The suit eliminates the need for air lines, having a specially designed built-in air tank. Hand-operated grappling irons are a feature of the suit.”

Also, I wanted to bring your attention to a contest hosted by NASA and Etsy: if you make the best art (in one of three categories,) you could “receive a $500 Etsy shopping spree and an all-expenses-paid trip with a guest to attend the shuttle launch.” As in, the last shuttle launch. This is a crazy exciting contest, and I sincerely hope a reader will enter and win one of the prizes.  You can do it!


Love Land Invaders

I can’t help but imagine that if Richard Kern and Takashi Murakami had a love child it would look something like the characters in Ralph Lagoi and Kate Lace’s Love Land Invaders project. Set in Tokyo’s hyper-kitsch and fantastical love hotels, Lagoi and Lace have used the crazy environment as a springboard to explore an aesthetic that they refer to as “luxurious pop.”

Not only conceptualising the project, Lagoi and Lace also designed, styled, undertook the art direction, modelling and photography of Love Land Invaders. The effect is a pop-tinged play on kabuki that uses colour, sculptural elements and setting to create an otherwordly space. I could imagine Lady Gaga feeling quite at home in this avant-garde imagery, which plays with perversion, sensuality and abstractness.


‘Vertigo’ by Alfred Hitchcock

I find it fascinating to discover what films people can remember watching as children. In general, my childhood film festival was filled with predictable fare, such as Mary Poppins (1964), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), Grease (1978) and Ghostbusters (1984), but there was also the rather incongruous presence of Alfred Hitchcock’s films in this mix. Even before I had reached double digits my mother had taken it upon herself to sit me down in front of many of Hitchcock’s greatest films. Although she is not particularly interested in cinema from an auteur perspective, my mother was – and still is – a die-hard Hitchcock fan. Because of this I had watched The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) even before I could really understand what it was that he knew. When I was in my late teens I revisited many of Hitchcock’s films with the capacity to truly appreciate them – something I sorely lacked upon my first viewing. The one film that I tend to return to is Vertigo (1958).

…with the help of television, murder should be brought into the home where it rightly belongs.

-Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock’s films are recognisable for a number of recurring motifs: his penchant for drop dead gorgeous blondes, the insertion of his own walk-on cameos, his precise framing, murder scenes and the theme of obsession. Undoubtedly what his films are most renowned for is his considered play on the slow burn of suspense. As Hitchcock commented, “I relish a story that is so full of suspense that the audience is clutching at chair arms…None of this quick, smashing excitement that lasts about ten seconds – a good six or seven reels of worry is what I aim for.”

Split into two parts, Vertigo begins from the perspective of detective John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson (James Stewart). Suffering from severe vertigo he retires, but later agrees to follow the wife (Kim Novak) of an old college friend (Gavin Elster, played by Tom Helmore) after Elster reveals that he believes that his wife is possessed by the spirit of her dead grandmother (who had previously committed suicide). What unfolds is a narrative of duplicity, betrayal, desire, anxiety and neurosis bordering on insanity, which is later told from the reverse point of view.

Visually, the film stands out in terms of its complex and symbolic palette. Harsh reds and greens are invoked at various intervals to increase the sense of atmospheric unease. There is something quite sickly and unnatural about the use of colour that constantly calls into question perception and the act of looking. Hitchcock takes the idea of doubles and deception to the extreme by utilising mirrors as blocking devices that further call into question what it is both the characters and the viewer are observing. Vertigo is also the film that established the filmic vocabulary for simulating the sensation of falling. By focusing on a fixed point the camera is pulled back while simultaneously zooming in to produce a disorientating effect. The shot that uses this technique at the beginning of the film, where Scottie looks down while hanging from a tin roof, sets the tone for the rest of the film. The anticipated feeling of free falling is woven into Vertigo as a whole, setting in motion a film that is arrestingly tense and constantly teetering on the verge of plummeting into a complex emotional abyss. Do watch this film if you haven’t already. It is truly a classic in every sense of the word.


Martin de Thurah for the Danish Paviilion

One of my favorite directors Martin de Thurah has released a set of short films for the Danish Pavilion at the Expo 2010 in Shanghai. The videos were meant to reflect the spirit and culture of Denmark by pointing out key parts of their culture. The first video shows the journey of the famous Little Mermaid statue as it’s moved from Copenhagen to Shanghai for the expo (on a sidenote, here’s a photo of the exhibit). The other videos represent families, bicycles and water, which I suppose is the other key elements to being Danish.

The films themselves are tiny masterpieces. de Thurah always has ana amazing eye for details and emotions and I could watch his films nonstop. I think my favorite is the second video which is based around families. The video is like a physical manifestation of children’s imaginations which I think is great. I’d say it’s worth your while to sit back and watch all of these.


Light Lining the IAC by Seeper

Created by Seeper for the Vimeo Festival and Awards, this projection maps and manipulates the appearance of the IAC Building in west Chelsea. I’m a sucker for projections that animate the surface of buildings, and this video is no exception. The ICA building was designed by Frank Gehry, and features a curved, gradated glass exterior that’s unique to this project. The massing may make it seem like a less-than-perfect canvas, but Seeper has developed a way to project their crazy animations on the compound curves, nooks and crannies of complex geometries.

I’m not sure buildings want to move, but designers and architects seem hell-bent on animating traditionally static structures– if not in three dimensions, at least in two. It’s not a new idea, but now the economics of projection media are enabling building-scale animations to pop up all over the place, even as graffiti.


Thom Bradley

Thom Bradley is a recent graphic design graduate from Kingston University in London and in my opinion has a pretty remarkable portfolio coming fresh out of school. When I browsed over his work I was really impressed with his ability to create simple but bold branding that straightforward without feeling boring. As you can see he works in a pretty simple palette, not a whole lot of color, but I think I appreciate his work more for that. He has a sense of style and it feels consistent across everything he does. I’m looking forward to seeing what else he has in store in the coming years.


Charlie Engman for Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters has been reaching out to some rather talented people lately to shoot their lookbooks and other assorted merchandise, a move that in my opinion is paying off, or at least it’s grabbing my attention. Recently they had Stephen Shore shoot one lookbook, then I was sent a holiday catalog of products being shot next to X-mas trees and now they’ve got Charlie Engman shooting their latest endeavor. I swear I was just looking at his photos on Flickr and now his work is showing up in my inbox promoting the winter collection.

The image at top is my absolute favorite for a few reason. First, I love the tangle of dudes about to fall onto the ground. It’s such an amazingly capture moment that could have easily been lost. Second, the dude hunched over on the left side is in the big ass tangle of dudes as evidenced by his orange beanie and blue tie flying out. It actually took me quite a while to notice that. All of his images are pretty great though and use Photoshop in a subtle but perfect way.


Wet Wings

Darian and Lucy are a musical duo fro Christchurch, New Zealand who make up the band Wet Wings. I’ve been listening to their new album Skin To Soil for the past week or so and it’s definitely been on heavy rotation lately. They have kind of a New Order vibe, but if New Order liked to hang out at the beach a lot and they might have been hippies. I swear, these are compliments. Anyhow, take a listen and enjoy, this music is especially good for rainy days and early mornings.


Chris von Szombathy

I was inspired by Justin Lee Williams paintings that Danica posted about so I thought I’d to the mix. The images above are by a guy named Chris von Szombathy, a Vancouver, Canada based painter and designer who’s work is pretty out there. I picked out a bunch of his paintings to show, which are mostly fast food related. What amazes is me is how realistic he got these things looking, especially that giant hamburger stack. The rest of his work is design/illustration based and are all pretty weird. Lots more food based stuff, oddly sexual things, bears, old men with crazy beards… If that doesn’t get you excited to check out more of his work I don’t know what will.