'The Pitch' premiered on AMC last week and I’ve been curious enough to watch both episodes. There have been some insights, some voyueristic moments of peeking into the inner workings of an ad agency…. but overall dispappointing. Disappointing becuase the agancies are all unknowns, the brands (to me) all blah and therefore its not been very satisfying.
I would much rather go back to the scripted television of an advertising era that Mad Men recreates on another time slot on AMC that takes us back to a much juicier time 60 years back. I can’t believe 60 years later advertising is being presented in such a dull and dry manner. Let’s watch and wait.
I’ve been consulting with Herbalife in Downtown LA for some time and helping them migrate some of their global packaging systems to the new brand initiative. Of late I’ve stopped whining about not being able to find good food/ prop stylists and food photographers here in LA! Reason, I found Andrea Bricco! She’s done some wonderful photo shoots for me in the last few months and is worth checking out. Her site: http://www.andreabricco.com
I heart Chelsea Handler: I left my brain in New York
OK, I give up. I saw this guy earlier this evening at a very healthy/ very vegan West Hollywood restaurant. I know him from the ‘Chelsea Lately’ show. That’s the very inane 11 pm talk show that airs on E! on weeknights. He’s one of the many comedians I enjoy watching her bully almost every night. So much so, that I almost walked up to him and said, ‘Don’t let Chelsea bully you!’ But, hey, I don’t even know any of their names. I just watch the show. So, many, many googles later, including google images, that normally yields something, I gave up. I still don’t know what his name is. But I’ve seen him on the show, often. So, Asian guy, who looks like you have some other race in your parentage ‘Don’t let Chelsea bully you!’
Apart from that, I have to admit, that I remember, that at 11 pm every night Jon Stewart also spews on the important politics of the day. But I have not bothered to figure out which channel Comedy Central he is on since I moved to LA. I left my brain behind in New York! I’m very flattered when they say Chelsea Handler has 90,000 viewers. I like supporting the lady who hasn’t even reached a million! Even if I fall asleep by the time her soporific guests come on! Jon Stewart, I promise, I’ll watch your show one of these days/ nights! Someone give Chelsea better guests! I want to see her insult Demi Moore, instead of old David Letterman suck up to her! Did you see last night’s episode?!
Stefan Sagmeister, performance artist or designer?
I’ve not quite got the design sensibility that Stefan Sagmeister espouses…cutting oneself for a poster! Is that really graphic design?! But hey, who said, type had to be typeset on a machine?
And today, I chanced upon this video he did for TED, posted by my documentarian friend Miao who worked for him many years ago. I’ve never actually met him or attended a talk. May be we passed each other on the anonymous streets of Manhattan; but this talk truly connected with me in a way that no other work of his, has. He talks about shutting down your enterprise/ design studio every seven years and going off on a sabbatical. I did that, after I had been working for nine years, took time off, went to grad school, to let my brain breathe, as I put it. Along the way, there were a huge amount of challenges. And yet, I totally support this! When you start repeating your own boring formulae, look for a challenge, take a long break…very, very hard to do, and I don’t think I can do it again, but hey SS, thanks for challenging us, designers!
My old dept. at my alma-mater Parsons in New York, keeps changing its face. Every year either the website changes, or the name of the thesis show or the very courses and concentrations offered. Which is kind off cool, because its a program so immersed in changing technologies, that it’s forever evolving and responding… Looks like I might miss the graduate thesis show this year. I really like the clever title- Ones and Zeros being all about the digital world; very geeky!
These days the marketing term ‘stick’ has been really sticking. Will something ‘catch on’? Become popular? ‘Eat. Pray. Love.’ a book that came out a few years back about a New York writer who traverses the globe was absolutely the book to be avoided! At least by me. Every woman on the New York subway was reading it! But it was ‘sticking’. Hmmm…why did I want to avoid it? I don’t usually read a book, or watch a movie, till someone whose opinion I really, really respect, recommends it. So I ended up picking up the book a few years after it became big on Oprah, because my globetrotting, documentary film maker, strongly feminist friend recommended it. I know, I know….I’m crazy.
And then, I actually read the book and liked it. ( I was on vacation, I am embaressed to say! Life looks different when your toes are deep in sand and the dog-eared book in your hands is all you packed!) I even bought it as a gift for a few women I cared about, all the time suspecting that Elizabeth Gilbert was a far better writer than she was being genuinely honest about what she was actually going through.
All said and done, I was actually curious to see what James Franco, and Javier Bardem would contribute to its Hollywood version. And if you’ve read the book, and kept track of Elizabeth Gilbert’s life, her real life men did not really resemble these Hollywood hunks at all!
Here’s a peak at the trailer. And I predict, the movie will do fantastic business, Julia Roberts’ and her very extraordinarily wide mouth notwithstanding!
I have to say I have had quite a love-hate relationship with the New York taxi through my New York years. On mornings when I could barely get out of bed and the subway ride would have been 45 minutes, the cab ride was 10! (Try living on the upper east side, and commuting to mid town all the way very very west!) God bless the speeding ‘desi’ cabbie- Bangladeshi, Punjabi and Pakistani! And then the times when I should NOT have been driving on a friday, very late night or a saturday, equally very late night, my implicit trust in the New York cabbie always got me home.
Coming to the hate part…I did loose a tooth and ended up with stitches on my forehead in a cab accident; being a passenger, but that’s another story.
On yet another note, NYtimes.com created this interactive graphic today that shows the ebb and flow of traffic through the week. (Jan - mar 2009). I didn’t really spend too much time studying it, I have no patience for that, but it made me very nostalgic. On a typical afternoon as I looked out my 6th Av window the last few years, the color on the street was always chrome yellow….or rather pantone ? yellow, the sea of taxis sweeping through Manhattan. It’s very New York!
I caught the latter part of a documentary on I.M. Pei on PBS earlier today that chronicled his work on the museum he designed for the Chinese city he hails from- Suzhou. Pei was 90 when he completed the project, and it was inspiring to watch his uncompromising vision and execution, interpretation of his Chinese heritage, and undying modernist approach to design/ architecture. And as this PBS write up reminds us, he was indeed the man who put the glass pyramid in the Louvre!
Also, as a designer who left ‘home’, I was interested in what relationship Pei’s work had with the China of his youth and how he interpreted it, and also countered its influences very strongly all his life, being a strong proponent of modernism. So, what really do we, as designers carry away with us when we leave home? The idiom of Indian design has been a fascinating subject for me, which I hope to return to again for more discussion.
My dear friend Neves recently sent me this link to some of Christoph Neimann’s recent illustrations. He’s an illustrator who’s work ranges from the very complex scientific, to children’s books, quirky, and like this one very, very witty. He’s been inspired by the iconography and style of google maps and has created some fabulous metaphors for New York, life and many other random things. They’re all maps, for all kinds of places! Don’t miss Casablanca.
His blog on the New York times website, the best place to see what’s fresh. NY Times
After watching the first five episodes, I’ve realized that I’m now hooked. The posters didn’t persuade me, neither did the TV ads, but the show itself has something. Maybe its the fact that its shot very much in the grungy streets, bars, cabs of New York that feeds my New York nostalgia. Or that its two very optimistic designers, one very pushy, the other self effacing, trying to make it in the city, feel familiar. Whatever it is, HBO’s new TV series ‘How to make it in America’ is working so far. Although its created by the guys behind Entourage, any comparisons are unfair. P.S. I could have done without Lake Bell, though.
I was excited to see that the LA Marathon comes to us. Many of the landmarks on Sunset Boulevard are right by us. I will grumble though, as I navigate the streets this morning, since most off my regular routes are blocked off.
Having graduated from a curiously disparate graduate program at the Parsons new School of Design, New York, I am always on the look out to see what new programs emerge at Design schools as time goes by and technology evolves. (I graduated with an MFA in Design and Technology and was an adjunct faculty for some time too with the Design and Management department)
These two new graduate programs caught my eye recently.
Parsons has launched an MFA in Transdisciplinary Design. The website says- Emphasizing collaborative design-led research, the MFA Transdisciplinary Design in the School of Design Strategies at Parsons will serve as an academic laboratory in New York City for graduate students seeking to define the next phase of design practice globally.
The complex problems that confront a networked 24/7 global culture call for broad design approaches. Parsons created the MFA in Transdisciplinary Design (TransDesign) for a new generation of designers who want to address pressing social issues using new ideas, tools, and methods. Students work in cross-disciplinary teams, consider issues from multiple perspectives, gain insight from industry leaders, and emerge with a portfolio of projects showcasing design as a process for transforming the way we live in the 21st century.
Very exciting! I’m jealous and will keep an eye on the kind of work coming out of there.
The other program that recently caught my eye was SVA New York’s MPS in Branding. Being a big branding evangelist, I’m rooting for this one. Let’s see how the students shape this program. One of Smart Design’s founders Dan Formosa is on the faculty. Having spent hours wrestling many design problems with Dan, I can vouch that the students are in for a treat!
From the website-
The Masters of Professional Studies in Branding is an ambitious one year Advanced degree program from the School of Visual Arts…The required coursework for this degree program will be organized into five progressive segments: Culture, Behavior, Business, Commerce and Creative. Each discipline will work independently and cohesively with the others, but rigorous attention will be paid to each field to determine and define the modern practice of Branding.
I have to admit despite my many years in this country, I don’t understand American Football much! I’m glad I’m now in the city where the Lakers are big. At least I used to play Basketball and can support a home team and follow the game! (Yeah, I know there were the Knicks back in NY, but I never felt the need to go watch them!)
So every year when the Super Bowl rolls along, all I want to do is skip the game and watch the new, expensive, sometimes outrageous ads! And since I avoided the game this time, I trolled blogs today looking for the cool ads. wired.com sprang up this one that I actually though was clever.
As, us geeky designers would call it, it was a purely type driven ad by Google. Had just the appropriate use of sound and music made it come to life. Bing, suck this!
One of the major differences in my routine in LA is all the driving involved. I NEVER drove in New York (biked, yes) The subway was my absolutely favorite part of life in NY. Its consistent modular system, color coding, ease of use, easy access and of course reliability (!). Navigating the city, was never a problem, even when I visited the city for the first time as a tourist, I fell in love with the subway. The map and signage was originally designed by Massimo Vignelli in the 1972, and although he insists the map he designed was better, the iteration we use today is not so bad. (With Lella, this husband-wife team rank as my favorite design couple, and I heard them speak a few years ago…but I’ll save that story for another time)
Back to the subway…it is very well maintained. No, I don’t mean the subway is well maintained, I mean the subway brand and signage system is well maintained. Its been through some changes over the years, but there’s a consistent style that the MTA attempts to maintain. I came upon a case of typeface-misdimeanor at the Columbus Circle Stop once. The type was NOT Helvetica and I was so horrified!
LA does have a Metro, but I don’t know too many Angelenos who actually use it. I’m sure people do. I plan to try it one day. The buses look different in various parts of the city, coded by the individual city identities, as are the taxi cabs! How I miss hailing a cab on a night out! No wonder half of Hollywood is on TMZ in frequent DUIs. Too much driving required!
In LA you have to remember where you park as you traverse the city through the day…which level, which section, which street, which parking garage …and always having to decipher the parking instructions and the payment options. It once took me over half an hour to find my car in Park LaBrea! There’s a lot of reading of street signs too. Now, I come from India, where the best way to get directions is to keep stopping and asking people. Not here. My GPS, which is still just my iphone’s in-built GPS, is a life saver. Also, after my many NY subway traveling years I had finally memorized most Manhattan routes. I am proud to say I did not have to carry the subway map any more. (I said did not have to, but I still did!!) And now I have to learn all these complicated routes again, and oh I miss Manhattan. Streets went from 1 to the 100s from the south to north, avenues went from smaller to higher numbers west to east…and they ran perpendicular till Houston st. Hard to get lost. I circle neighborhoods in my car a lot these days…very very lost!
Finding parking takes up a major part of my day. And deciphering signs like this one- what is the rule and what is the exception?!!! These parking signs are crying for design help!
The New York Times website has had a huge edge over its paper version when it comes to the depiction of complex data. Whether it be timelines, spending habits, movie viewing habits or like this week the budget; the dynamic information gives you a far better understanding of the material. If the http://www.nytimes.com does indeed become a paid site as they hinted last week, I might consider paying for it to at least able to interact with their uber-well-executed info graphics!
Today the budget has been depicted department by department, in something that looks like this. i have to say i’m struggling with it. More, because I don’t really know a lot about what this country spends on or a lot about Obama’s recent decisions. But I’ll spend some time with it…
Are the cities of Los Angeles in need of brand revitalization?
I find New York to be a much more design-centric city in many ways. And I’ve been looking for signs of life in the LA design community as far as creating inventive, interesting and relevant work for the cities and residents is concerned. This article in Fast Company gave me hope. Santa Monica is revamping its bus stops and apparently the city itself.
Archdaily.com also reports: the firms Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects and Bruce Mau Design were awarded the Big Blue Bus architectural and branding package. I remember this current identity was designed some years back by Sussman Prejza. Curious to see how it shapes up. I also thought that in these current economic times projects of this nature would be scant. But this is great!
I’m a sucker for information visualization used effectively to help create design solutions. Love this one, its called shadow range studies. Especially helpful in the very sunny Santa Monica/LA where the sun is such a perrenial feature of our lives!