Monday, February 28, 2011

bird 1

logos and birds

"Children at eight years old can identify 25 percent more Pokemon characters
than wildlife species" (Balmfold, Clegg, Coulson and Taylor, 2002)

This week I'm interesting in exploring logos and branding - such familiar parts of our lives that we can theoretically recognise the identity of more companies than we can species of native birds. A few posts on birds will also pop up along the way - so that we can perhaps begin to redress this imbalance, if only in rather a small way!

First up are some visual explorations of just how entrenched our recognition of logos is - the 'Unevolved Brands' project from Graham Smith takes the marks of well-known companies and reduces them to geometric patterns of circles. The viewer is then encouraged to try and identify the logos based based on colour and layout alone. I felt quite morally smug when i could only identify a few ("i'm a great example to our generation! i'll bet i can name at least twice as many birds as i can logos!") but I suspect that this has something to do with it being a British site (and my not being British). Here's a few to whet your whistle, but there are literally hundreds (with answers) at

The other interesting project, which is in a similar vein, is by design consultancy Antrepo who explored the idea of stripping back the packaging design of popular products in order to increase their effectiveness. 'Minimalist effect in the maximalist market' manages to reduce everything to look as if it belongs in a Scandinavian supermarket, but it must be said that most of the outcomes are not only preferable to the original, but could also tempt me into making a purchase (let's be honest though, nutella doesn't have to work that hard as it is!).

It's interesting to see that in both these cases, there is a real focus on a return to simplicity and essence both in style and content - hope yet for those of us who enjoy a bit of space on our cornflakes box...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

beetroot rant

nothing to do with anything really, but isn't this great!! i found it on the blog of the lovely blue-mountains based design studio racket.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


this week has been a particularly busy one, and the big wide world about which we've been blogging feels like it's been going by particularly fast... a few days i woke up and felt like there was already so much that i knew wouldn't get done, and that perhaps i was going to be left behind as the rest of the big wide world raced on without me.

i was reminded of the beautiful images by yves marchand and romain meffre from their 'detroit' series - is beautiful, peaceful, melancholy and certainly worth a visit. perhaps being left behind can turn out for the best ...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

successful in the conquering and exploring department

Direct from my very own collection of 'things you know the name of, but don't know anything about' - The Hanging Gardens of Babylon (related to the weekly topic because the big wide world made me think about the wonders of the world, which got me onto the hanging gardens, and as they also fit into the 'greenery' part of this week's theme it seemed a perfect fit!)

I thought i would use this as a good reason to learn about ye olde gardens... To summarise, (thanks to the philosopher Strabo)-
"The Hanging Garden has plants cultivated above ground level, and the roots of the trees are embedded in an upper terrace rather than in the earth. The whole mass is supported on stone columns... Streams of water emerging from elevated sources flow down sloping channels... These waters irrigate the whole garden saturating the roots of plants and keeping the whole area moist. Hence the grass is permanently green and the leaves of trees grow firmly attached to supple branches... This is a work of art of royal luxury and its most striking feature is that the labor of cultivation is suspended above the heads of the spectators."
Eat your heart out Jamie Durie.

The gardens were built by the then King of Babylon as a gift for his wife who longed for the gardens of her Persian homeland, and they were filled with exotic plants and animals from around the world (Babylon having been fairly successful in the conquering and exploring department over the years). FUrther reading tells me that they might not have existed at all... I have good intentions to go to the library and borrow a book about all of this, but by the time i get there we'll be onto a new theme so stay tuned for a 'Solving the Mystery of Babylon' ps in the distant future.

I find the idea of these ancient gardens really enchanting, and when imagining them I'd always given them a kid of futuristic quality.... kind of like they were hovering (oddly enough!). If I could draw this would be a great place for a sketch... but alas I can't for the life of me, so I'll finish up with a few little pics I found about the place.

(no kidding, this actually comes up in the google search results!)

(to visit original sources, click on the images)

me, Tarzan

After looking through my iphoto albums the other day I realised that I have a slight obsession with vines, specifically, vines growing on buildings- I love them, can't get enough of them. My dream home would be covered with very very green vines. On all my trips overseas, a large chunk of my photos involve buildings with vines. In Boston, I went as far as taking a 90 second video of the wind rustling the vines clinging to a building (trust me, it looked amazing!). So here is an abridged version of my 'buildings with vines' collection.

Vines in Boston:

Vines in New York:

Vines in Paris:

Vines in the Loire Valley:

This first one is at the creepy church near the farm at La Briche.

Vines in Sydney:

Monday, February 21, 2011

greenery and the big wide world

I found the blog Orange Juice, ETC via Miss Moss (whose deserves a post all of her own, if only so I can gush over the amazing playlists she complies, for example here, here and my absolute favourite here...but i digress). Orange Juice, ETC is written by husband and wife, Elias and Theresa Carlson. Elias takes some amazing photos of the wide open spaces up in the north west of America, and i thought they would be perfect to kick start this week's theme: greenery and the big wide world. All images from Orange Juice, ETC.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Karte Von Australien

I found these great old maps of Australia from the University of Melbourne Library. They have a whole online collection of maps, not just from Australia but also Asia and the Middle East, as well as a whole collection of maps on Turkey/Constantinople dating as far back at 1493.

Australia, 1802

Snowy Mountains, Australia, 1963

Sydney, Australia, 1854

Australia, 1848

Australia, 1880s

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

peter orntoft

providing a social as well as statistical context are these great info diagrams by danish designer peter orntoft:
"I have used the context of specific opinion polls within each interest to shape and design diagrams. By doing so the receiver understands more layers of information about the data".

information is beautiful

David McCandless is the brains behind the amazing website 'information is beautiful' and the book, The Visual Miscellaneum, which presents both quantitative and qualitative data in easy to understand and engaging 'infographics'. For a stats nerd like me, this is pretty much maths at it greatest!

McCandless contributes to the Guardian data blog, which is worth a read, if only to marvel at his beautiful and well thought-out design

Both images below from McCandless' website. The first one is a plot of rising sea levels and the cities that are at risk for inundation. The second is a diagram depicting the words used most commonly in horoscopes divided by star-sign - I had a feeling that I was going to meet an interesting stranger! 

McCandless also posts links to other like-minded geniuses, one of which did an amazing 'solar system music box'. have a listen.

Finally, this is too great not to pop up here. It's McCandless' diagram mapping films that involve space travel and where they would have met up in time. Click on the image to make it bigger and release your nerd within.

Monday, February 14, 2011

James Hancock at Sheffer Gallery

On my way to work in the morning i walk past Sheffer Gallery, tiny art space on a side street. Sheffer is always closed with a graffiti'ed roller door so i never actually get to see inside. All this changed on Saturday when I went there for the opening of an exhibition by the older brother of a close friend of mine, James Hancock. I'm no artiste/designer by any stretch of the imagination so I'll spare you all my attempt at trying to describe his work. But here are a few pictures (admittedly they aren't the best photos - it was a bit awkward as the gallery was so small).

There is a particular series of Hancock's that i really like, and some of them were at Sheffer (and the rest can be seen on Hancock's website). I like it so much that i bought 'all the buildings in new york' for my gentleman friend.

The other project that Hancock has at the moment is the ambitious aim to draw all the building in new york, and you can see his progress on his blog. Here is a little taster (click it to make it bigger - it's worth it):

[Pardon my off-theme blogging!]