Category Design

SF Design Week’s 2015 campaign reflects the cities spirit

SF Design Week's new identity reflects a cities spirit

Attempting to capture the essence of a place, such as the city of San Francisco, must be a daunting challenge. What’s defines the city to you may not resonate with others. Character, one of the finest design firms in SF, has taken on such a challenge and succeeded with stunning results.

For this years San Francisco Design Week, the Bay Area’s largest design event, Character crafted a campaign called “Look Closer” which highlighted the idea that design is all around us, even if it’s not obvious. This message was exemplified by a four physical letters made from intricate frameworks fronted by mirrors.

Each letter was hand-fabricated and placed into an environment with a direct relation to the SF Design Community. Beacons of timeless design. Epicenters of commerce and innovation. Nature and places of preservation. The designs we make as designers reach far and wide as do their implications for the future.

SF Design Week's 2015 campaign reflects the cities spirit

SF Design Week's 2015 campaign reflects the cities spirit

SF Design Week's 2015 campaign reflects the cities spirit

While the large letters in their beautifully photographed surroundings may be the centerpiece the entire campaign is a treat. 99% of the time I’m not a fan of orange but that’s absolutely the perfect shade. The type is clean, legible, and confident and the whole endeavor feels exactly what you’d want a contemporary design week to feel like.

You can learn more about the campaign’s design by clicking here.

VR company Oculus focuses branding on a perfect new logo

New Oculus Brand/Logo

This morning my digital friend and talented designer Cory Schmitz posted some new work he collaborated on with Mackey Saturday, Nicolaus Taylor, & Jon Malkemus, a rebranded logo for Oculus. For those out of the loop, Oculus is a virtual reality headset manufacturer who’ve almost single-handedly pioneered the direct to consumer market. Paired with their recent acquisition by Facebook they’re preparing to change the way we think about VR.

With such an intrepid, cutting-edge company though you can’t have a logo like the one below. I mean, it’s fine, it’s an eye and you need your eyes to see VR, blah blah. But it’s too cliché and is lacking that feeling of “this is the future strap it on your head.”

Old Oculus Logo

On the other hand the new mark screams simple futurism. The oblong O is a perfect representation of not only the brand but a visually cues into the Oculus Rift hardware itself. In a world of iconic marks it’s amazing to me that I’ve never seen a mark like this before, or at the very least, there’s no other recognizable brand out there utilizing an O shape quite like this.

I believe this branding is pretty new as I haven’t been able to dig up much more information or find any additional photos. It will be interesting to see how the overall brand scheme comes together. Excellent work to start.

Oculus Rift

‘The Birth of Saké’, a new documentary exploring the venerable world of saké making

The Birth of Saké

I’m extremely intrigued by the upcoming documentary The Birth of Saké from director Erik Shirai. Previously having helmed the camera for Bourdain’s No Reservations , Shirai’s film focuses on the workers and production seasons at Tedorigawa, a fifth-generation, family-owned sake brewery in Ishikawa, Japan.

What the documentary highlights for me is the intense determination and amount of hard work that goes into creating something so seemingly simple. In an interview with Bon Appétit magazine Shirai describes the challenge of sake making.

What people don’t understand is that you can’t just make sake with machines and program everything. There are all of these variables because it’s a living thing. Things are changing based on the type of rice, the type of grain, how it was steamed. You have to be able to adapt and work with it. Only someone who has that experience can do that.

As you’ll see in the trailer the cinematography is incredibly well-done, capturing the quietness of the Japanese winter but also the frenetic pace and demand that the job requires. The level of quality is on par with the work of other contemporary film documentarians like Jiro Dreams of Sushi director David Gelb or the production team behind A Chef’s Life.

Instrument surveys the current state of home automation

Instrument surveys the current state of home automation

Slowly but surely our homes are getting smarter. There’s an app for your lightbulbs, your thermostat understands your temperature preferences, and monitor every corner of your home with the touch of a button. Portland based design firm Instrument have created an impressive survey of home automation gadgets and how they fit into the lives of Gen Y, Gen X, and our beloved Baby Boomers.

You may have heard of some of the items on this list but there were many there totally new to me. Have you heard of the Dyson 360 Eye? It utilizes “complex mathematics, probability theory, geometry and trigonometry to map and navigate a room.” Pretty sweet, right? It will also be interesting to see what’s announced at Apple’s WWDC event and see how they enter the fray. Will the Apple TV start being less TV and more hub of all Wi-Fi connected devices? We’ll know soon enough.

You can read Instrument’s entire list by clicking here.

Timeless copper and brass pens by ystudio


Like a lot of things these days, writing by hand is a “dying art form” that will soon cease to exist, just like books, newspapers, and records. I personally use a notebook everyday to keep track of all the things, which means I have a trusty pen that I take with me everywhere. Having the right writing instrument is pretty key, and these pens by ystudio have me drooling.

The Taiwan based shop has created a series of pens and mechanical pencils made from pure copper and brass. They’re definitely not cheap but you can imagine having these pens for years, if not your entire life. Plus the patina that’s built up with use is a beautiful demonstration of wabi sabi in action.

You can see their entire line-up by clicking here.

“Just focus on the cupcakes.” A satirical look at design studios and social media

Kimberly Harrington gets downright shady with this new piece in McSweeney’s titled, “Welcome to our design studio, where you’ll never see the light of day but you can bring your dog.” I’ve never personally worked in a design studio but this a great bit of satire which certainly hits on some (perceived) painful truths, especially for someone working as a social media manager.

Just a quick word on our creatives. You’ll notice that several of the designers have stacks and stacks of design books and publications on their desks, their Paul Rands, their Vignellis, and so on. This is great to capture. It makes the designers feel good because it allows them to think that one day they’ll also design an airline logo or redesign a subway wayfinding system or create timeless animated movie credits when in fact we all know that they’ll mostly be creating shitty animations in Keynote that only sales managers in the Midwest will see, and more importantly, not even give half a fuck about.


Maximilian Heitsch graphically explores shape and space

Maximilian Heitsch is a Munich-based creative working in the fields of art, graphic design and cultural events. He focuses on the interaction of space, movement and simplicity. The effect is a body of work that reflects the ideas and practices of artists like Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella. I’m a fan of the tension that’s created between the intersections of the shapes, how the brain creates meaning in the abstract.

Maximilian Heitsch

Maximilian Heitsch

Vaulted Willow, a colorful pavilion that looks like it could walk

Vaulted Willow, a colorful pavilion that looks like it could walk

When I think of the word “pavilion” I imagine standard 2×4 pieces of lumber slated together to make the most mundane of barbecue shelters. Architect Marc Fornes and his firm THEVERYMAN has succeeding in creating the opposite, a brightly colored shelter made from aluminum shingles that together create an amorphous blog that looks like it’s ready to slither across the land, titling it the Vaulted Willow. These are the objects I’d love to see popping up in more places, a thoughtful piece of architecture that tries to incorporate organic and natural forms.

The Kawara Chair finds a new use for discarded Japanese roof tiles

The Kawara Chair finds a new use for Japanese roof tiles

The Kawara Chair finds a new use for Japanese roof tiles

Designer Tsuyoshi Kawara has found a creative re-use for discarded Japanese roof tiles, utilizing them as the seat of his Kawara Chair. Using a wooden frame as the base Kawara has found a way to highlight the beauty and individuality of the tiles as they come in a multitude of glazes. And though a seat made of tile may seem precarious, Japanese roof tiles are fired at 1200 degrees celsius, much higher than the 800 degree temperature of European tiles, meaning that they can hold the weight of a person up to 250 lbs.

I love that the design is centered around a discarded object that already has an inherent beauty. Kawara smartly developed a solution for an object that was being discarded simply because it wasn’t perfect enough.

You can learn more about the Kawara Chair by visiting Domus.

Kara Haupt’s charming ‘Old Man Jägermeister’ concept

Kara Haupt's charming 'Old Man Jagermeister' concept

There’s something I love about redesign concepts when they relate to foods and drinks. We see so many of these products day in, day out that to see them in a new light fascinates me. Kara Haupt has created something that perhaps defies “redesign” and approaching the “reinvention” space, creating a new concept from something familiar. In my mind this looks like it would be an aged, super premium version of Jäger that you take shots of on your yacht. Plus, “old man Jäger” has a really nice ring to it.

You can see her full concept by clicking here.