Auditorium

As someone whose experience in music has shaped and given definition to the person they are today, it gives me so much joy to present today's post to you. Art director Bjoern Ewers and copywriter Mona Sibai created this wondrous campaign at the Berlin branch of the Scholz & Friends agency to promote another chamber ensemble season at the Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker (The Berlin Philharmonic). Taking the audience to depths never seen before, the print ads, photographed by Munich studio Mierswa-Kluska, explore the nether regions of various instruments so that a closer understanding is reached of where the sound actually originates from, making viewers excited about the end result heard at a concert hall.

The way Bjoern has designed this really faciliates the comprehension of what constitutes the instrument makup. I can easily imagine a miniature crowd walking around these tiny "hallways" and "auditoriums", discovering what section of the organ or clarinet is in use as it is being played. In this intimate setting, the audience has a chance to associate the music to the instrument to the emotions they are feeling at that moment. It is this relationship that speaks to me the most, and the ads are so appropriate given the smaller nature of a chamber group compared to a large scale orchestra. 

It's been awhile since I last played my viola and I miss it. I miss being a part of something larger than myself. Seeing this campaign brought me back to a time when I was.

Philographics

Philosophy for most people is an intense, deeply personal, convoluted, and oftentimes serpentine experience that others can scarely hope to understand if they do not share the same beliefs. The study of life and its meaning is one that has been debated for as long as mankind could think, and as someone who has never had a problem walking away from decisions made only once, I thought that I would never fully comprehend what it takes to review, revise, and reconsider the same theory over and over again. That is, until I saw this.

This series of philographical posters by London-based graphic designer Genis Carreras explains the fundamentals of what every seemingly complex ideological system stands for through a variety of basic forms and shapes. Even though there are numerous ways to verbally describe each one, there exists the main core tenet from which the axiom was first born. It is that one spark of knowledge that Genis has chosen to design so that we may at least be creatively indoctrinated in our quest to figure out our own version of the truth. I could not have asked for a clearer way to be introduced to the arbitrary, the unexpected, the rational, the irrational nature in which society chooses to make its home.

Receipt

I recently stumbled across London studio BERG and was impressed by their forward-thinking strategy regarding all things digital. For those of you who haven't heard of them, the team behind BERG were the innovators who, along with Bonnier, thought of an integrated mobile solution for newspapers and magazines before the iPad was ever created. This kind of adaptive, contemporary, yet entirely possible prototype gives way to more feasible like-minded design down the road, and provides designers the inspiration and strength needed to constantly be thinking outside the box for creative input into future technological advancement.

This time, BERG has dipped a foot into the print pool by contributing designs for a remastered receipt concept for Icon Magazine's monthly "Rethink issue". Typically, receipts are simple slips of paper that provide strictly transactional information and are not usually compelling enough to keep glancing at. BERG challenges this by creating a brand new user experience between the receipt and the customer, allowing them to select useful data such as pricing and quality, and intermingling these with other social scoops like relevant events and trends to be displayed in a format that is easily readable on the fly.

This in essence establishes the first potential paper app of its kind. What could be next? To all the designers and developers out there, the phrase, "The world is your oyster" has never rang more true. 

Childhood

I had a conversation over the weekend in which we talked about our childhoods and how past experiences always end up manifesting themselves into our daily lives today through our work, our relationships with others, or the way we see the world. Related to this was a link my friend Linda sent me last week to a poster series that explores that very notion of something seemingly forgone becoming resurrected again as inspiration for something new. The designer of this integration, Christian Jackson, brings us a familiar yet minimalistic and futuristic view of the beloved children's stories that we used to fall asleep to. 

The way Christian has managed to extract the defining components of these stories to make them instantly recognizable to us is a tribute to his ability to fully understand the barest level at which these tales function as lessons for children and adults alike. In the Mary Poppins design, the big red umbrella that became known as one of the character's favorite means of getting work done is illustrated as sheltering those underneath it from the heavy rainfall of tasks that pressure us everyday. Likewise, the Rumpelstilskin poster exemplifies how obsession over a single artifact will consume you until it is all you have left. 

I did not need to reread these stories in order to remember what they were about. Christian's posters were enough to not only spark my memory but also help me discern their morals as well. This ties back to the second part of my conversation on Saturday - that design always has a purpose. Whether it serves an agenda that the designer has or facilitates the viewer's understanding of the work, it is ever present as a means to an end. 

Maps

The next time you go on a road trip, you might want to step away from the almighty Google maps to take a quick look at the ones devised by illustrator and designer Christoph Niemann. Best known for his Abstract Sunday column in The New York Times Magazine, Christoph uses this space to come up with visual, amusing albeit accurate, wordplays that are relevant in society today. One such post, aptly titled "My Way", seeks to describe current events in a form that translates to a level any commuter could understand. 

I think that people today talk too much sometimes. Why spend 20 minutes explaining the economy when a simple, concise, jagged highway does the trick? Instead of explaining your weekend, show a roadmap with no traffic. The confusion of the New Jersey Turnpike needs no words - a series of tangled lines does the trick. These are better than any driver's manual. 

Reading Between the Lines

Today's post features Italian graphic designer Stefano Lionetti, whose poster series in typographic exploration, striking lines, and simple primary colors allude to the "Less is More" theory that we all covet. Utilizing Soho Ultra by Monotype as his typeface of choice, Stefano incorporates witty pangrams and the phrase all designers love to hate, "Yes We Kern", against a cream-based background to minimize additional noise and maximize the font to its fullest potential. The two black slashes in each poster serve to chunk the available white space evenly so that the viewer may assess the information provided in a methodical manner.

It is very clear by his work that Stefano is someone who takes great pride in carefully thinking through how each corner, hook, line, and sinker contribute to the rest of the piece. There is direction here, made all the more evident by his decision to keep everything aligned at the bottom and his refusal to occupy the remaining space available above the verbiage because it would not keep with the original pattern. As someone whose profession dictates that organization and detailedness are a way of life, I can definitely appreciate the amount of attention paid here. 

Solving Systems of Literal Equations

I was a psychology major in college and once took a course in brain lateralization, the study of hemispheric dominance versus handedness and how that affects your overall quantitative and qualitative prowess. According to this theory, the left side of your brain (right-handed people) is wired more towards logic, structure, and control, and the right side of your brain (left-handed people) is more fluid, understanding, and emotional. This suggests that a person can be either scientific or artistic, mathematically inclined or computatively challenged, and perhaps such can be said when generally speaking. But designer Craig Damrauer has sought to break away from this stereotype by creating his series, New Math, with 20x200. An exploration into what an equation would look like with words instead of numbers, the collection aims to define situations creatively via direct parameters and [sometimes humorous but true] variables that would make any algebra teacher proud.

The lesson to be learned here is that similarities, covert and obvious, exist between art and science. When you really think about it, what is the difference between the formula for general relativity and the formula for an experience? Both include a desire to drink the vast wealth of knowledge that exists and a craving to interpret that cognizance. We are all just looking for the answer to "why?".

Start Where You Are

Oftentimes when we see branding and identity work in our industry, it is related to the act of enumerating the definition of a second party. But Steve Rura, a New York City graphic designer, has taken the brave tread of ascertaining the existence of himself in his poster for The Strange Attractor. Starting at the highest possible level of actuality, the Universe, he then breaks it down tier by tier until he arrives at the most basic stratum of his being. A quote by Albert Einstein, which describes the human desire to compact ourselves to only what we know and want, is stated at the bottom of the trail as almost an explanation to why Steve took upon this exercise.

Along this journey towards blunt self-awareness, Steve implants his observations on several levels with humorous descriptions of how he views this particular part of his person, reassuring us that while the world may seem like uncharted territory, it is our own interpretations of each place that bring it to life. While the truth of the matter remains that there are some things we avoid realizing about ourselves because we dislike the way it sounds, these personal spaces still are and always will be a part of our souls. Steve's art brings us a step closer to understanding and accepting the latitudes of where we are.