Île de la Passion. A beautiful name for an island in the heart of the worlds largest ocean. Initially discovered by the pirate John Clipperton, hundreds of years ago, its romantic French name betrays the lack of habitability. An one the many barely explored islands of the Pacific, it seems to swallow people faster than the Island from Lost. Initially used as a pirate running spot, the exaggerated atoll became a “hotbed” of guano mining and was even a colony for Mexico. Yet every attempt to make the island habitable has been met by disaster or bad luck. Lacking few native plants or animals, its local life consists of little more than coconut palms, poisonous crabs, and ship rats. I think it inspired “Lord of the Flies.” Just a guess.
So when I heard about The Clipperton Project I got excited. A team of seventeen scientists, journalists, and artists will leave Mexico in Spring 2012 to set sail to Clipperton to do some soul searching. Not in a sense that they are searching for their own souls, but to reflect on our planet in a place that has rejected humanity. Each artist or scientist will spend a week on the island doing what they do best and bring the results and creations to art institutions across the world. This is a field laboratory for both art and science in the form of adventure – a forgotten concept in a world of lab coats and laptops. Jules Verne would be damn proud. To support this project, click here or simply spread the word.
Yesterday, Bobby posted architecture-inspired type from Chris Labrooy, and to follow up I thought I’d post a type-inspired building from a project called Granite City by Paul Mullen. The project turns a helvetica “A” into a kind of a-frame rendered to match the urban fabric of Aberdeen, Scotland. The broken windows, boarded doorways and scorched cars probably won’t win any points with the Aberdeen Tourism Council, but as someone who likes a-frames and this particular A, I’m happy to promote his work here.
It’s been a while since I checked out what the guys at Lab Partners have been working on and so the other day I gave their blog a little visit. The San Francisco based husband and wife team certainly have been busy and they’ve created a whole host of wonderful new thing in the last few months. Most recently they completed a commission for the folks at the British retailer Marks & Spencer and designed the fantastic biscuit tin that you can see at the top of this post. I know I’ll be heading down to my local M&S in the hopes of picking one up pretty soon.
They also have been busy working with the independent publishers Nobrow to create some rather excellent wrapping paper. Although the thought of ripping open such a pretty design does give me a little shiver I totally reckon you should think about getting some here. Finally the bottom illustration comes from the cover of issue 8 of the beautiful Canadian magazine Uppercase. You can see the full cover and much more over to the Lab Partners and make sure to keep up-to-date on everything else that Sarah and Ryan have been working on by following their blog.
Yesterday morning, Kyle informed me that Pitchfork, the music site that everyone has an opinion on, had launched a brand new redesign and that I should check it out. As a lot fo you know I’m a sucker for a well executed redesign, so I was curious to see how it turned out. Overall I’d say that the site seems to have some good ideas, but it feels like a step backwards. The one thing they’ve improved is their global navigation, which was old, crowded and in need of a spring cleaning. Other then that the design seems claustrophobic and monochromatic, lacking any style or vibrancy of the past design. Here are three things I’d do to put some life back in the site.
Open Things Up
The new design features not only a grey background behind the content, but a super dark grey background behind all of the content. It really makes the content look squished, rather than large and beautiful. You end up with a bunch of boxes that look too compact and your eyes don’t have a natural place to land. I’d suggest doing two things: Increasing the size of the page width to 980px to allow for more room in the gutters, and getting rid of all that grey. As you can see in my tweaked version, the results are instantly noticeable, the page looks like a breath of fresh air.
Bring Back Color
The other big thing I noticed in their new redesign is the glaring absence of red, Pitchfork’s trademark color. Like Target, Pitchfork is known for it’s punches of red all across the site, which never bothered me, personally. Now the red has been relegated to hover states only and random section titles. I’d suggest bringing the red back and using it in the logo, as well as headlines and other key points of interest.
Fonts Give Style
When I look at Pitchfork now, all I see is a Helvetica wasteland, and that’s not a dig at Helvetica. Pre-redesign the site was all in Lucida Grand, which maybe isn’t my first choice, but it certainly gave it some character. Helvetica is fine for stuff like body copy but there needs to be some sort of hierarchy between sections, and substituting a font for the titles and navigation gives it a little spark. I subbed in some Franklin Gothic, a clean and timeless font that looks good in upper and lowercase.
I also made some other changes as well that weren’t as evident but still make an impact. I adjusted the navigation to make room for the search bar. By doing that I was able to move the sharing tools to the other side of the page, giving much more balance to the header. I also increased the size of the header fonts a bit too make them more legible, and I made the body text a dark grey rather than black to improve legibility there as well.
The one last thing that needs some love is their new logo. In a general sense I really like the new logo. I’m not sure what font it is, but it’s unique and has an interesting character to it. I hate the way they’ve mutilated it though, with awkward cuts in the P and F, and the way they’ve attempted to force the points pitchfork into the K. It looks cheesy at best and really adds no value to the logo. In my version I cleaned it up and I think it looks much nicer.
As you can see, I didn’t do a whole lot, but the small details of stuff like this is extremely important, and I think they may have been overlooked. The only good way to end this post is: The devil is in the details.
Created for this years 54th Venice Biennale, Argentinian artist Adrián Villar Rojas has created a monolithic exhibit in the Artigliere in the Arsenale. Adrián, along with a team of builders, created the installation on site using clay over a framework of cement, burlap and wood. The effect created is stunning, like you’re walking amongst ancient ruins of some long lost civilization… that perhaps also had some anime. The sheer scale of the work is also amazing, the ceilings have to be at least 25 feet, it’s no wonder that it took two months to complete everything.
Thankfully, the amazing folks over at Vernissage TV have done a video tour of the space so you can see for yourself what you’re missing. To see some more information and photos about the exhibit, visit Yatzer.