Good title sequences are much rarer than they should be, an aesthetic often only considered by those making the opening credits of a Bond movie or the show True Detective. Title sequences are about setting a tone and style for a show and do so by doing either very little or a lot. The episodes and show may chance but the title sequence is the one item that ties everything up, alluding to what an audience knows and will find out if they stay tuned.
Art Of The Title knows this best and, to celebrate, they selected their top ten favorite title sequences of last year. The selections span from video games to movies to television shows and even promotional sequences. While just ten sounds paltry, their picks span a variety of styles and forms. For example the brilliant opening sequence for the decent game Alien: Isolation not only falls into an homage category, echoing the original Alien, but set the tone for a decidedly creepy (yet glacially slow) game. It’s place at number ten points out how stellar a year it was.
It’s a good little list, considering many of the titles were part of wonderfully considered and executed design efforts in entertainment (which is a rarity). There is even the wacky inclusion of “Too Many Cooks” which is just as absurd as the video but—hey—it truly is at its heart a title sequence.
Read the full list and see all the sequences in question by clicking here.
When I was working on a now cancelled socially conscious news show, I was responsible for producing a few segments that were high tech shows-and-tell that showed how technology can benefit the developing world. This meant that I was constantly trolling design websites to find objects like Yves Behar’s Kernel Diagnostic and Olafur Eliasson’s Little Sun, doing my best to get my hands on them to share. This was often a difficult, frustrating task but the results were always remarkable.
This has left a special place in my heart for design projects with good intentions, ones that seek to offer solutions through creativity. While reading Wired recently, something caught my attention that certainly fit into this world and, thankfully, I don’t have to worry about flying a prototype out to Los Angeles: Architecture and Vision has created a “water tower” out of bamboo that extracts water from the air, harvesting the resource for those in dry environments. It’s a novel idea executed in an exceptional way.
The tower—which they call WarkaWater, after the Ethiopian Warka tree—is composed of bamboo poles wrapped in a thin mesh net that catches water from rain, fog, dew, etc. It all funnels into a water tank and, apparently, it can collect almost thirty gallons of water a day. It requires no electricity, requires less than a grand to build, and is even designed to keep birds away.
The project is literally huge and has gone through many design incarnations, their most recent being the most viable, useful effort. Yet, like many designs for social good, the funding for clever projects like this is quite minimal and the creators have turned to Kickstarter for funding. They’re raising money through mid-February and, if successful, they should be able to start more serious testing of the tower this year—and they hope to employ the towers in Ethiopia in the next three years.
At a certain time of day, usually in the afternoon, both of my dogs get up from a nap and stretch in unison. They do not plan to do this together but they do on several occasions. It’s a remarkable little sight that always reminds me of two little people bowing: it makes me feel like a king. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to photograph this despite my best efforts. They are either not standing next to each other or it’s too dark. More often than not, the scene is too fast and my timing too imperfect: it is a moment I will just have to explain to people.
This is why photographer Tao Liu is particularly special: his work the result of pressing the capture button at the right time. Be it out of waiting or being really good at knowing when to take a photo, his photography is exciting in that it points out how ridiculous the most mundane shit in life can be. His photos are funny and relatable and, as you can see on his Flickr, quite abundant.
According to Peta Pixel, Liu is fairly popular street photographer in China—where he lives—and is a self-taught artist. His photography and style are born from his (assumed) former job as a water meter reader. He would take photos of little things that caught his eye on breaks and when walking to or from work. Obviously what he saw has hit something very relatable as he has become incredibly popular at pointing out life’s little idiosyncrasies.
If you recall almost a year ago, we shared similar work by photographer John Goldsmith. Both artists point out how ridiculous life can be and that, if you stop to take the time or simply look at something another way, you can have a good laugh at it. And, again: photography like this relies on expert timing. If I had an ounce of Liu’s capturing capability, I’m pretty sure I would have a pretty sweet double downward dog bowing photo Instagrammed by now.
With how fast technology in film has advanced, you would have thought that creating using stop motion would have become a thing of the past. This is far from the truth as new cinematic formats like Vine and YouTube have illustrated that they are avenues for stop motion to thrive (despite the meticulous and somewhat stressful process it entails).
The latest example of exemplary IRL animation is a little video by Japanese coffee makers Maxim Stick. According to Design Boom, they created 1000 cups of latte art to tell the Up-like story of a boy and girl meeting, falling in love, and growing old together. It’s a very cute representation of love and, as the ending suggests, lattes” warm the world.”
While only a minute and a half, the microfilm is a showcase of very careful work. Each cup used in the video is a cocoa dusted panel in a moving comic. You get a glimpse of this at the start, when you see the initial cup being made. Because I am easily frustrated and have very little patience for creating in this manner, I have nothing but respect for the people who make this video because you know it must have been incredibly difficult given the medium and style. The result is absolutely perfect though: all the hard work and caffeination definitely paid off.
In the world of cool, young chocolatiers in the United States, only a handful of names will come to mind because those are the only chocolates you see in stores. You have your Brooklyn old schoolers Mast Brothers, cool, mini-makers Woodblock Chocolate, glorified toffee treaters Alma, and the real San Francisco treat TCHO. One of the most important (and somewhat under the radar) makers is Los Angeles’ Compartes, an undoubtedly luxe and incredibly hip brand that eschews artisanal annoyances for no-hype-all-flavor sweets.
The brand has big news, too: they very recently expanded from a Brentwood storefront, adding a Melrose Place cubby hole hidden from street view (and technically within coffee shop Alfred). It’s an interesting triangular space designed by AAmp Studio that is most befitting of a chocolate store. The goods are a limited selection that include a wall of Love Nuts, a display of chocolate bars, and a glass case of truffles. Yet, that is irrelevant: the shop is an exercise in brevity and beauty, a quick stop into considered foodie charm.
The design details make the space. The main attraction is a conflicting tiled floor consisting of a black rectangle and triangular brick arrow that leads from the truffle bar to a corner of chocolate bars. A tension (and an eyeline) is created that brings the small room together. A wall of Love Nuts is arranged in a seemingly infinite gradient, placing you in a delectable loop almost demanding your trying each flavor of nut. The counter wisely features a giant logo that doesn’t overpower the room, instead adding a sophistication equivalent of a boutique hotel. If you want to hang for a while, indulging, a small cactus lined seating area is available under a gorgeous white neon sign in brand founder Jonathan Grahm‘s handwriting which reads “Chocolate Is Art.” And, in Compartés case, it really is.
It was a wise move for Compartés to add another location, expanding from their sleepy Brentwood headquarters to a trendy, busy Melrose location. The area may have difficulty in maintaining an identity but the design of the space is so crisp and pristine that it will outlive most of its surroundings. Who doesn’t like chocolate, either? The new Compartés is definitely cause for celebration.
Tiga may not be as prolific as we (Well, I.) would wish him to be but you have to hand it to the dude for sticking to a very strict aesthetic of high luxury circa futuristic 1986. He hasn’t released anything bigger than a single since his 2009 album Ciao! and, while Non-Stop is one of the best Acid House mixes in recent history, he still leaves you wanting more. Yet, when Tiga delivers, he delivers.
An example of this: his latest single “Bugatti” came out in July and offered a very Germanic, very eighties, and very contemporary fusion of Krautrock and Tech House. Just when the song was gathering a *thin* layer of dust, Tiga released one of his best videos yet that is like watching a mixtape of sexy late eighties commercials from an alternate dimension, where men receive ketchup bukkake treatments and women play backgommon on men’s crotches. Needless to say, some of this video is NSFW.
Directed by Helmi, it consists of quick cuts and dramatic shots edited to the metallic cadence Tiga bases the song on. It’s broken by shots of him in varying outfits shouting “BUGATTI!!” at the camera. Like the song, every “scene” picks up a different piece of debris that results in warping the reality of this eighties world: remote controls spit, sexy legs have lost their bodies, people turn to dominoes, etc. Helmi plays with a visual vocabulary over and over and over again, presenting them in different shapes and forms like parallel universes orbiting next to each other without noticing. The effect is hysterical and absolutely ridiculous—and absolutely Tiga. As the song’s lyrics suggests, the Bugatti at one point was the car to have if you are a macho, aggressive, power suit wearing, ski lodge loving dude who works in finance: the video is a parody of that.
While some has branded the video as “Wes Anderson Movie On Techno And Acid,” I say it’s more of a commercialist fantasy where Tiga gets to grab the tits of models from Esprit commercials while drinking Cold Duck. It’s a fitting follow up to the swank still “Plush” and cable access kookiness of “Shoes.” This is undoubtedly the video of the year. Or 1986.
“Gene’s Liquor” sounds like a reference your mother would make regarding your Uncle Eugene’s drinking habit. Yet, that is probably the exact opposite of what Gene’s actually is: it’s a Los Angeles based collective focusing on retro leaning deep house. The debut release from Laurent (better known as IVVVO) is certainly intoxicating a simple statement of a back-to-basics approach to contemporary dance.
The release—GL001—is just three unnamed songs. The first track has made it’s way out into the world and it’s a song full of rattling attitude based in a basic back beat that last the entire song, framing handclaps, drum cues, knotted bass hits, light cowbell, high hat, and more. The influence of jazz is definitely present from the makeup of the song but it has been funneled through a Detroit vision of early techno. It ultimately lands among new house classicists like Medlar and Andres, which is a very, very good place to be in.
If this is your type of sound, Gene’s Liquor is a new label to bookmark then: they’re going to keep pumping more shit like this out. Moreover, you should also look into Delroy’s other label LA Club Resource. Catch “Untitled 1” below.
At this point, Gary Baseman has probably marked everything off of the bucket list for his career. He has won several Emmys and had a huge, traveling (brilliant) major museum show and even successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign: dude has done it all. The latest addition to this lengthy list of creative triumphs is a luxury fashion collaboration, one on par with Kenny Scharf for Jeremy Scott and Yayoi Kusama for Louis Vuitton: Coach enlisted Baseman to provide complimentary monsters for their Spring Ready-To-Wear collection. This sounds like it could be a troubling pairing, yes—but the collaboration is absolutely spectacular.
Baseman’s characters are used in myriad ways: they are at the center of a few t-shirts, seemingly painted on purses, and even patterned very elegantly onto dresses. Like the shirts, the characters are even knitted into sweaters. No, they aren’t appliqué but woven into the material, a seamless and quaint and quirky effect that takes Baseman’s creations and transforms them from art objects or cartoons to these high fashion objects of intrigue. Coach wisely uses an understated palette of pastels—and a few complimentary prints like cheetah (which Baseman may have created)—to place his work at the center of the clothing. Moreover, the 1970s-meets-1990s design of the clothes somehow works here: it’s then and now, fake and real, imaginative and real.
What’s most surprising is this pairing: Baseman is phenomenal while Coach has become so suburban mall. Whoever thought to enlist over at Coach needs many, many high fives. The designer(s) who also worked with Gary to figure out how the pairing would manifest itself did an amazing job as well. Collaborations between art and fashion require a great amount of editing—and confidence. You can see more from the collaboration here.
There are few musical acts who actually employ the human voice in a traditional way that I find enjoyable. That is an incredibly ridiculous statement, I am aware, but I’ve never found work in this style to be interesting. I’d rather hear synthetic sonic experiments or human distortions: that’s more fun. But some bands hit a sweet spot usually occupied somewhere between indie rock and drum machine tuning. It’s a spot that acts like Wild Nothing and DIIV and Dog Bite, these sun faded bands making music for dirty beaches. The newest addition to this entry of acts is Hibou, a Seattle act who easily can break into this new genre of post-surf rock quite easily.
Sagmeister & Walsh is undoubtedly one of the best design firms working right now. They’re a powerful little team who have done everything from branding Jay-Z’s Barneys collaboration with jagged gold to providing an Art Deco trophy for the New York Festival. You can see very clearly that they love what they do and that they are very, very talented at it too.
As a means to create some friendly competition and put their work hard, play hard vibe to the test, Adobe invited Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh to participate in a series of creative tasks that involved their making the Adobe logo out of random objects. Produced by the always lovely Art Directors Club’s Young Guns division, the resulting project is an online game show called Sagmeister X Walsh. It’s a bright, fun, design based series that shows how creatives have to stay on their toes.