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Posted inOpinion

Starbucks Logo Goes Meh

Global coffee retailer Starbucks is turning 40 this year and they’ve announced a new logo to coincide with the occasion. Looking at the sweep of logos from the original topless two-tailed mermaid — though the company often calls it a siren — that appeared on cups at their first store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market to the more modern version, I can’t help but notice the march towards abstraction and a less coffee-centric brand. Gone is the word “coffee” and the color brown, and in its place is an almost Holiday Inn-like bland greenness that zooms in even closer on the increasingly de-nuded mermaid. What this redesign suggests is that Starbucks will continue to look beyond coffee and go more downmarket as it continues to grow.

Posted inOpinion

The Idiot’s Guide to Typefaces … and Fonts

This chart may be all you need to decide what font, I mean typeface, to use for a current or upcoming project.

Design historian Steven Heller reminded me a few weeks ago that I use the terms font and typeface interchangeably, point taken (even though my mom was a graphic designer and I should know better), but I have to admit to not being so concerned with the usage since I usually get blank stares when I use typeface with non-design people. Did desktop publishing ruin design terminology? Is the term typeface destined to be labeled arcane in the dictionaries of the near future? My guess is yes.

Posted inOpinion

New Gap Logo is a Generic Fail

Gap definitely knows how to make it viral. The question is, was the Internet scandal caused by its new logo actually worth the publicity? When the historically consistent clothing brand switched the logo on its website from the old three-letters-in-a-square to the new monstrosity, the web reaction was immediate and decisive: the logo sucks. Not only does it suck on the level of the 2012 London Olympic Games logo, unlike London, the re-design doesn’t even have the balls to be interesting.

The logo isn’t anything revolutionary. At this point, a switch to Helvetica — or Corporate A Pro Demi Condensed, News Gothic Demi or whatever it is — is about the oldest trick in the book. But what’s more surprising is that the design doesn’t seem to have anything to redeem it at all. It’s a masterpiece of ambiguity.

Posted inArt

Signs of Protest: One Nation Working Together with Marker + Paper + Political Opinions

Washington, DC — This is a protest post. A post about a protest in the city that is Paris done in the American wide style (not the Las Vegas lights-and-money-style) on the banks of the Potomac; the city of pearly bureaucrats, and neo-cons, and neoclassical columns; all things National, American, U.S.A. This post explores the signs at last Saturday’s progressive protest, One Nation Working Together: Jobs, Justice, and Education for All.

Posted inBooks

A Review of Designing Obama: The Book

By now, we all know that the 2008 Obama Presidential campaign was a great leap forward for the aesthetics of US election campaign, so it should come as no surprise that the director of the Obama campaign, Scott Thomas, decided to publish a book about the innovative Obama design brand and its impact on American pop and design cultures. The resulting book, titled Designing Obama: A Chronicle of Art & Design from the 2008 Presidential Campaign, is an attractive product that includes a short foreward by Pentagram partner Michael Bierut and an introduction by graphic design guru Steven Heller, who cleverly calls the brand “O Design.”

Posted inArt

The Timeless Beauty of Ugly

Lost and hungry is not a good combination. Imagine driving in an unfamiliar place, stomach growling … many miles ago you’ve dropped all your pretenses about needing to eat all-organic food … the urgency of hunger is upon you … suddenly you see it, a huge billboard with the words: MCDONALD’S NEXT EXIT. At that moment, you’re probably not thinking about the fact that it’s typeset in Arial, has no consideration for negative space, lacks attractive colors or that it’s just not a very nice-looking billboard. No, all you see, blazing from atop the trees and urban wasteland, is a glorious sign from God telling you all you need to know at that very moment.

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