Squarespace Logo offends designers, rationality goes out window

Squarespace Logo

Earlier today Squarespace launched a new feature to their site called Squarespace Logo, a WYSWIG editor that allows people to create their own logos. Within minutes my Twitter stream (of mostly designers) was a flood of snark and anger, some claiming that the company had “badly fucked up” and that it “perpetuates design as throwaway“. Of course, as designers, everyone had to start using the logo maker to make “Fuck you Squarespace” logos, because that’s constructive. Deep breaths everyone, deep breaths.

Historically, most forms of art have some sort of “disruption”. Digital cameras turned everyone into a photographer, Photoshop turned everyone into a designer, and now Squarespace is stealing the food from your children’s mouths. Here’s what’s really happening. They’ve created a tool that let’s non-designers and people who don’t know designers create a simple mark for their business. This is a tool for people who don’t have the money to hire people like us to make them fancy logos. Hell, maybe they don’t even have the fancy taste level we designers have. And that’s ok.

A big part of being a designer is being confident in your skills and knowing that people will hire you for those skills. If you feel like a computer program can do the same level of work that you’re currently doing maybe that’s a signal to brush up on those skills? I think this tweet by Derek Huber sums things up rather nicely, “They may have the tools, but that doesn’t give them taste that we, as designers, sharpen and hone”. Well said.

Let’s keep on doing what we’re damn good at.

Bobby Solomon

January 22, 2014 / By

Matthew Williamson’s Emoji GIFs

Matthew Williamson Emojo Gif Art 1

Emojis are bomb dot com. Who doesn’t like emojis? Show me that person and I will show them a light slap to the side of the head because emojis are the best. How else would I drunkenly text that I am enjoying drinking red wine without a yellow sunglass wearing face and a cartoonish glass of wine? Emojis, dudes and dudettes.

Artist Matthew Williamson must agree because he shares some crazy emoji artwork online. These aren’t just creations made in honor of emojis: these are off-the-wall, batshit crazy .gifs that collide emojis at each other in the funniest of ways. They are incredibly recognizable and are effortlessly cool: there is nothing to dislike about Williamson’s emoji .gifs.

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January 22, 2014 / By

Sony steps up their game with the new 4K Ultra Short Throw Projecter

Sony's 4K Ultra Short Throw Projecter

“I really want that new Sony ________.” That’s something I haven’t said in about, oh, 15 years or so… and it was probably about the Playstation. Hopefully though we’re seeing Sony shift back towards their roots as true innovators of products. The Short Throw Projector feels like it’s truly innovating on the concept of television, outdoing both traditional projects and ditching the idea of boxes hanging on walls altogether.

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Bobby Solomon

January 21, 2014 / By

‘Sonic Movement’ rethinks the sound of cars

Sonic Movement

Where we live in Southern California, the Prius is the It Car. So many people own one! Popular, yes, but it also has turned into a status symbol: owning a Prius means that you are able to afford one, that you care about the environment, and that you are alternative enough to say no to a luxury brand and yes to a Toyota. Even if you don’t believe in any of those things and are just driving one out of hype or peer pressure, you still are A Prius Owner. Did you not see that episode of South Park?

There is one thing to say about the Prius and most electric cars: they are so quiet! If you’ve never heard one of these cars, that’s because there is nothing to hear. They have a very low, unmistakeable hum—but they are anything from automotive. The absence of a sound leaves something to be desired and also leaves room for trouble. How is it possible to avoid a car if you can’t hear it? How will a lack of car noises affect the sound of cities? Is there a way to rethink the sound of cars?

That is what Sonic Movement is: it is an effort to think about the sound design of cars since they will eventually go silent.

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January 15, 2014 / By

A Rat’s Nest

Nest - HAL - Google

I was disappointed by the news that Google had acquired Nest. Nest to me seemed like a beacon of hope for home electronics, that someone was starting to care about the neglected appliances that we use day in and day out. Nest’s CEO Tony Fadell learned his skills by helping to birth one of the most important and iconic objects of the last 100 years: the iPod. To think that such a man was setting his sites on these forgotten products had me dreaming of a fully connected home that would truly respond to our lives. I believe he was also an underdog of sorts, trying to right the wrongs of grandfathered industries, and who doesn’t love an underdog? It’s inherently built into us to want the little guy to come out ahead, I mean, look at Tesla. In less than 10 years they’ve become the darling of the auto industry, beating the old dogs at their own game.

Now the underdog has taken a $3.2 billion dollar buyout so that Tony Fadell can focus on designing again, not running a company. I’ve heard some rather smart remarks from folks, like the fact that consumers invited Nest into their home, not Google, and that Google’s commitment to “Not be evil” fades slowly year by year, becoming the very thing they vowed not to be. To me the underdog has chosen the financially lucrative route, not the path that slowly leads them to greatness.

I have no idea how this path will turn out for Tony Fadell and the Nest team. I honestly wish them luck and I hope they continue to develop great projects without the influence of Google. To me that’s the true test. It’ll be interesting to see what the Nest team produces over the next 5 years and to see what influence, if any, Google has over the company. I also hope that that they continue to make groundbreaking projects, the trajectory that they were on, that continue to make our homes better places to be. Only time will tell, but you can consider me seriously conflicted over the matter.

Nest + HAL image by Farshad Nayeri

Bobby Solomon

January 15, 2014 / By

Museum Of Internet

Museum Of Internet 1

If you give a person the Internet, he or she or whatever it is will want to share a selfie. The 2013 Word Of The Year is the main subject of Internet art lampooners Museum Of Internet‘s work. The online creatives are at the intersection of conceptual art, Post-Modern humor, and Internet follies: they take memes and misuses of technology and contextualize them in a way that reveals how sad and hilarious humans are.

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January 9, 2014 / By

“Display Centric World” – A horrifying vision of the future from Samsung

Display Centric World by Samsung

This new video from Samsung is literally one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. I wanted to post it because it’s a great example of blue sky thinking gone way too far. Titled “Display Centric World,” you’re invited to a reality where literally EVERYTHING is a display. It could be the window in your small town cafe, the cutting board you chop vegetables on, or even the closet doors where your dad can electronically walk in uninvited. EVERYTHING.

I’ll start out by saying that I like how the video is trying to focus on humans. Their concepts seem to want to connect us better to one another and to augment our day-to-day lives for the better. Hell, the tagline for the video is “Technology Begins with a Love for You”… barf. Unfortunately, they didn’t do a lot of thinking around why you’d need to have all these screens all over the place. Do you really need to see what the weather is outside on a piece of glass that let’s you see outside? Does your alarm clock need to fold in half? Do you need to play rainbow Jenga with a kid from another country?

It’s funny that the last portion of the video falls into the cliché of “boardroom presentations,” as if they’ll ever be a day without Powerpoint presentations. Watching their crazy car meeting, all I could imagine was the stress of having to design a presentation for a gigantic glass panel (Do I have large enough assets?!) which can then shift into six independent panels that display all new kinds of data (I’m still waiting on final copy!!). I’d quit instantly.

To me, products like those big ass “smart watches” fall into the same category as this: they may be great ideas in theory…but how are people actually benefitting from them?! Why do people actually need these products? It’s interesting to note that there are no “smart glasses” in their vision, a la Google Glass. Does Samsung not believe that Glass is a viable product for the future? Did they not want to seem like they were ripping Google? Or perhaps they’ve already started on their crappy version which will be on a shelf near you very soon?

This is product design masturbation, a bunch of needless ideas that make Samsung seem like they understand where technology is going without actually thinking about what the future really needs.

Bobby Solomon

January 3, 2014 / By

An Interview with Kai Brach of Offscreen Magazine

Kai Brach 1

Print-only publications are a rarity nowadays. And one guy running it? Unheard of. Yet that’s the story of Kai Brach and his self-described “old-fashioned” magazine, Offscreen. Exploring a more human side of tech, Offscreen is a beautifully designed publication with quality only possible in print.

The next issue is due out at the start of next year. And with Kai’s Christmas Wishlist giveaway having just begun, it’s a good time to check Offscreen out.

We spoke with Kai about what it means to run a print publication today: the challenges, process, and vision Kai has for what makes Offscreen different.

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December 11, 2013 / By