design

40th anniversary of the Swoosh

Article: 40th anniversary of the Swoosh

In 1971, Phil Knight, the owner of Blue Ribbon Sports (I know, the first thing I thought of was beer, too), wanted to launch its own brand of running shoes distinct from others that it imported. Knight approached Carolyn Davidson, a freelance graphic designer he hired couple years prior at the princely hourly rate of…

Dot drawing of Mona Lisa

Article: Dot drawing of Mona Lisa

Melbourne-based graphic designer Thomas Pavitte created an ongoing bucket list of creative endeavors he wants to accomplish, including setting a Guinness world record. Not finding a record for the most complex dot-to-dot drawing, Pavitte created this drawing of Mona Lisa from 6,239 dots, which is a slightly more advanced version of the dot drawing activity pages in the Highlights magazines that I used to read as a child. It took Pavitte nine hours to link together all the dots (see a time lapse video of him in action here). The completed drawing looks abstract up close but becomes clearer the further away you stand.

The Art of the Menu

Article: The Art of the Menu

The Art of the Menu is a new blog from the people at one of my favorite design websites, Under Consideration. Collecting and highlighting interesting and unique menus from restaurants around the country with a succinct review on the sidebar, it’s like “MenuPages.com” for foodies and design snobs. Now, if restaurants could only fix their obsession with Flash and PDF menus on their horrible websites (hat tip @MichaelSurtees for this observation).

Artist Amy Twigger Holroyd made an entire BMW engine out of yarn

Article: Artist Amy Twigger Holroyd made an entire BMW engine out of yarn

Amy Twigger Holroyd is nothing if not a knit wit. No, seriously – she’s getting her PhD in knitting, specifically “Enabling Fashion Ownership through Material Intervention in Knitted Garments.” But if her degree doesn’t persuade you of her wits and knits, I’m betting this will: at this summer’s Lichfield Festival, Holroyd used her knitting know-how to create an entire BMW engine with the help of a few crafty kids.

Automotive cross-stitch embroidery

Article: Automotive cross-stitch embroidery

Lithuanian artist Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene incorporates delicate, cross-stitched floral patterns into common household objects like plates, lamps and (unexpectedly) car doors, which are particularly impressive. The effect is especially awe-mazing in the close-up photos.

Dieter Rams on good design at Soho Phaidon

Article: Dieter Rams on good design at Soho Phaidon

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Dieter Rams and it won’t be the last. His Ten Commandments of Good Design have been the guiding light for designers since the mid 1950s. But his ideas apply to non-designers as well. His call for innovation, honesty, attention to detail and aesthetics as well as an awareness of and responsibility to the environment are ideals to live by, not just design by. His design ethos is sexy, his designs, clearly, are sexy too, and Rams is pretty bangin’ himself – the close-cropped blonde (now white) ‘do, black turtlenecks and little tortoise shell glasses has had this German girl in something of a tizzy for years.

Frank Lloyd Wright's gas station in Minnesota

Article: Frank Lloyd Wright's gas station in Minnesota

I have a feeling that many residents in the small city of Cloquet, Minnesota routinely drive by the R.W. Lindholm gas station, which opened in 1958, without having any idea that it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It wasn’t just any old gas station, but a one-of-a-kind structure that the great American architect envisioned would be central to his vision of the hypothetical Broadacre City, “a decentralized urban landscape that many have interpreted as a sort of super-suburbia,” with the gas station expanding beyond its traditional utility and taking on a larger social role in the city. While this vision thankfully never came to pass, certain elements of the design were adopted: “…it helped popularize the now ubiquitous overhang, and other elements (including an angled plan that afforded sight lines, and generous, slanted windows) were appropriated for Phillips 66 stations across the country.” Okay, class is over, but before you go someone needs to update Cloquet’s Wikipedia page to highlight this piece of architectural and design history. It’s worth bragging and boasting about!

Helix, a card game based on your DNA

Article: Helix, a card game based on your DNA

Among the many ooh and ahh-inducing technological wonders on display in MoMA’s current “Talk to Me” exhibition is the card game, Helix, or rather its prototype. Why does a card game need a prototype, you ask? Because Helix is unlike any other game you’ve ever seen – seriously. For starters, it requires your DNA. Yep, before you can begin the game players send a swab of their saliva to a lab to be analyzed. From that data, the game’s designers create a customized 50-card deck based on the traits and tendencies revealed by your DNA. One card might be for obesity, another for depression and another for curly hair. The game begins when each player lays their cards on the table and engage in duels that “reward strategy and decision making but are limited by genetic reality.”

THE HAPPY FILM, support the new doc by Stefan Sagmeister

Article: THE HAPPY FILM, support the new doc by Stefan Sagmeister

Watch the smile-inducing trailer.
What does it mean to be happy? How do we measure it? Is happiness like a muscle we can flex at will, and if so, “is it possible to train our mind in the same way we train our bodies?”

A short while ago, artist and designer Stefan Sagmeister decided to put these questions to the test with a three-part practice involving meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy and prescription drugs – and make a documentary about his experience called THE HAPPY FILM. Through experiments and explorations (“from the sublime to the ridiculous”) loosely based on his pivotal book “Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far,” Stefan will test “once and for all if it’s possible for a person to have a meaningful impact on their own happiness.”

Redesigning Venice works in theory only

Article: Redesigning Venice works in theory only

The 2011 Venice CityVision Competition is like lots of other city-based urban redesign contests in that it challenges architects, engineers and designers to come up with innovative ideas that make use of new and sustainable materials and building methods in a way that’s visually arresting and ultra modern while also making reference to the city’s history. It’s a lot to ask, especially when you consider that the winning proposals are hardly ever implemented.

Paul Rand on design

Article: Paul Rand on design

Want more design? Stay tuned for QUIRKY, premiering in August on Sundance Channel
If you don’t know the eminent graphic designer Paul Rand by name you definitely know his work. He created the logos for IBM, UPS, ABC and Enron, to name just a few. He’s also one of the originators of the International Typographic Style, also known as the Swiss Style (though he’s a Brooklyn native), which was created in the 1950s to emphasize minimalism, sans-serif typefaces and gridded, asymmetrical layouts.

Ji Lee lecture

Article: Ji Lee lecture

2011/03 Ji Lee from CreativeMornings on Vimeo.


One of my first posts here on SUNfiltered back in the spring of 2009 (insert aphorism here about how time flies and holy father I’m getting old) was a spotlight on my design crush Ji Lee, then creative director at Google Labs until his recent move to Facebook as their first creative director. Ever since I first learned of him and his work years ago, his ability to channel his creativity into both personal projects and his soaring career has long been a source of inspiration for me. In the video above, Ji Lee gave a recent talk at Creative Mornings (a monthly series of short lectures) discussing how the pursuit of personal passions and interests can have a positive, unintentional consequence on one’s career. If you’re in a rut this is a must-watch video.

Billboard swing set

Article: Billboard swing set

This billboard converted into a swing has been circulating around the blogosphere but I think its particular blend of imaginative urban design, architecture, and playfulness would appeal and resonate with our classy readers here. Conceptualized and created by Didier Faustino for Bureau des Mésarchitectures, “Double Happiness” was presented at the 2008 Shenzhen & Hong Kong…

Low resolution versions of famous book covers

Article: Low resolution versions of famous book covers

“Low Res Books” is a series created by RISD MFA graduate Benjamin Shaykin (and former art director of Mother Jones, one of my favorite news magazines ever) where he distills the familiar covers of popular editions of novels into their most basic pixelated form, whereby “they become abstract, mere suggestions of books” and “…while seemingly abstract, they act as a kind of semaphore, signaling a shared cultural connection between anyone who can decipher them.”

Consumer brand badges

Article: Consumer brand badges

Hope Chu adapted the military’s ribbons and decorations and created these “consumer badges” for her MFA thesis at RISD. Display your brand loyalties proudly!

Coffee cup design a day

Article: Coffee cup design a day

Bernat Cuni took the basic coffee mug and designed thirty different concepts for his One Coffee Cup a Day project. Most of the designs remind me of the flawed function product project that I previously blogged about here.

Giant comb bike rack

Article: Giant comb bike rack

The founders of Knowhow Shop LA, a design studio and cooperative artist space, created and built this 400-pound bike rack for a public art initiative in Roanoke, Virginia. It reminds me of a functional utilitarian Claes Oldenburg piece.

Build your own LEGO skull

Article: Build your own LEGO skull

This is just so cool: Clay Morrow created this LEGO skull. You can build your own by downloading the instructions provided here (pdf). Speaking of LEGO projects, check out this hack of an IKEA table decorated with LEGO bricks to give it a pixelated decorative design.

Classic Penguin covers mash-up with video games

Article: Classic Penguin covers mash-up with video games

I really enjoy Olly Moss’s “Video Game Classics” series where he “redesigned covers for some of [his] favourite video games, based on the classic Penguin Marber Grid.” This “marber grid” was a distinctive style guide created by Polish designer Romek Marber for Penguin book covers. [Via]

Stefan Sagmeister talks about what inspires him

Article: Stefan Sagmeister talks about what inspires him

If there’s one name aspiring young designers think of when it comes to inspiration, it’s Stefan Sagmeister. The inimitable Austrian designer has put his mark on everything from advertising to film, art installations and furniture. He hardly needs an introduction at all. It only seems fitting, then, for theinspiration.com to conduct an interview with Sagmeister about what inspires him, a question he broke down into three parts.

Upcycling a billboard into a bag: Relan

Article: Upcycling a billboard into a bag: Relan

Vinyl, aka PVC, is everywhere… and, as we’ve noted before (and as the film BLUE VINYL argued), it’s pretty nasty stuff. The best thing we could do is to stop making and using it, and substitute more environmentally benign materials. Second best… make use of all that vinyl that often goes to landfills.

Manhattan versus Brooklyn

Article: Manhattan versus Brooklyn

For those unfamiliar, there’s always a bit of friendly banter and rivalry among New York City boroughs. Things however had been calm until one Etsy’r launched a shot across the bow-klyn bridge at Manhattan with his artisan hand screen printed poster above. Well, Manhattanite James Campbell Taylor returned the fire with his own poster that was “designed using an international software giant’s latest creative suite,” “mass-produced by the overworked, underpaid slaves of a Manhattan-based corporate behemoth,” and most decidedly “not available on Etsy.”

Portable pocket pillow concept

Article: Portable pocket pillow concept

Key Portilla-Kawamura and Ali Ganjavian of design studio Kawamura Ganjavian created this concept called “OSTRICH (pocket pillow for nap, 2011)” to help provide some portable comfort for those power naps at your desk or at the library

Unique pottery plates

Article: Unique pottery plates

Maxime Ansiau created a four piece set of plates that puts a unique architectural-themed spin on Delftware blue and white glazed pottery.

Green tech finds (6/2/11)

Article: Green tech finds (6/2/11)


Mini electric Hummers, solar-powered prisons, and the climate risk posed by biodegradable products… this week’s green tech finds.

  • Autodesk meets sustainability: Design/engineering software suite Autodesk has now added a tool that allows users to generate environmental impact assessments of their creations.

  • Biodegradable products may not be climate-friendly: Turns out that biodegradable disposable tableware and such may have a real downside — the creation of methane in landfills (most of which aren’t set up to capture the potent greenhouse gas). (via @conservationval)