‘It’s a Shape Christmas’ – An Illustrated & Interactive Advent Calendar

The Shape of Christmas - Screenshot

Over the last few days I’ve really been getting into the festive spirit by visiting It’s a Shape Christmas. This special seasonal website is a digital advent calendar that features the work of 25 illustrators from all over the globe. Created by Shape Design Studio, the project is now in its second year and they’ve really brought together a great selection of talent and built a great looking website around their work.

Everyday you can unlock a new illustration from the calender, with illustrators creating Christmas themed pictures based on a number of different shapes. You can take a look below to see some examples of these including Barney Ibbotson’s hexagonal snowflake, Brandon James Scott’s circular present and Dave Raxworthy’s triangular birdhouse. They’re all great pieces!



The Shape of Christmas - Dave Raxworthy

Best of all, each illustration is also available to download as a wallpaper for either the iPhone or iPad so you can visit the site each day and get a brand new festive wallpaper. What more could you want! Go check it out here!

Philip Kennedy

December 18, 2012 / By

Instagram Profiles – The First Good Digital Scrapbook

Instagram Profiles - The First Good Digital Scrapbook

The other day I was trying to think up a tweet that would best sum up my feelings about Instagram. Unfortunately 140 characters just wasn’t enough for the ideas I had in my head, so I figured I’d write in a bit more depth, especially with the arrival of the new Instagram profiles.

It’s hard to believe that Instagram is only 2 years old. It’s occurred to me that your Instagram feed is a digital scrapbook that can be shared with others. Having the ability to look back through a collection of photos brings back memories for yourself and informs other people of what your life is like, whether they know you or not. Surprisingly there’s never been a service that’s been able to hit the nail on the head quite like this.

I think there might be two reasons for this: Social and Filters. The social part of the equation instills a sense of obligation. Most people aren’t going to post a ton of shitty snapshots onto their Instagram like they might on their Facebook. The filters part is a step in the upload process that makes you stop and consider if what you’re about to upload is worth a damn. This ties back into the idea of social obligations. In the end you have people sharing less mundane photos in order to produce a semblance of what they feel their life is.

With the release of Instagram profiles you can now share your feed with anyone. You can see mine above or click here to view it on the web. I think this is extremely helpful when it comes to people like my mom, who may not want to actively take photos on Instagram. This gives her a peek into what I’m doing, just like a scrapbook might.

The design is clean and straightforward, with a bit of interactivity in the hero area where the images fade in and out. I do think it’s weird that the area at the top is your most recent photos, especially when you scroll down and see them again. Wouldn’t it be better to have randomized photo in the hero area? The idea of seeing an old photo I’d taken would be great. I’m also not sure why they put divider lines between each row, it’s not like these are collected any other way than chronologically.

Overall I think the Instagram team really nailed he profiles and I’m looking forward to seeing how they evolve in time. Hopefully Facebook stays out of the mix.

Bobby Solomon

November 8, 2012 / By

If I Can’t Google You You’re Not A Real Designer

If I can't Google you

Last week I was at a backyard movie screening speaking to a friend of mine who was looking to have a logo made. She told me that she’d been recommended a guy in Portland from a friend who said he was pretty good. Knowing a few people in Portland I asked what the guys name was in the off chance I knew him. I didn’t, so I Google’d the guy, and nothing came up. I asked my friend to spell the designers name, thinking maybe I had misunderstood, but still nothing came up. My friend was being set up on a blind design date with a guy who was going to charge her $1500 to $2900 for a simple logo design.

This astounded me.

I often tell people, “It’s 2012, we should be _________.” – I guess I have a lot of notions of how the world should be. I find it hard to believe that in 2012 that a freelance designer who’s charging $3k for a logo design wouldn’t have a portfolio of any kind. It’s like going to buy a car and not being able to test drive it. It’s like going to the butcher shop and being hand a brown paper package filled with mystery meat.

Being a successful designer means that you allow the web to do the work for you. If you do good work people will find you and they will hire you – if you have a portfolio. Example – I decided over the weekend that I was going to redesign our apartment as it was feeling a bit cramped. The one thing I really needed was a place to put mine and Kyle’s keys and to hang our dog leashes, those random front door accessories. Randomly browsing the web I came across a Kickstarter project called Clip Tree, which was exactly what I was looking for. I found out about the Clip Tree through this article on Fast Co. Design who instantly turned this recent grad student into an industrial designer in the spotlight. All he had to do was put his work on the Internet.

I think it’s an absolute must to have some sort of web presence. When I speak to design students my advice is always the same – put your work out there for the world to see. Having a web presence doesn’t need to be complicated either. I personally prefer for a designer to use a portfolio site that’s out of the box like Cargo than try to be artsy and make your own website. Even sites like Dribble, Behance or Flickr will showcase your work in a clean, organized manner that gets the point across. I’d even be happy to know that a designer has a Twitter so I can get a sense of their personality to see if I’d want to work with them.

Granted, my totally inflammatory headline more to freelance designers, but even so as a designer you should maintain some sort of blog or Tumblr to express opinions and ideas. I honestly can’t imagine a designer who doesn’t have strong opinions. Isn’t that the whole point of designing to make something the way you see it?

Honestly though, this piece should probably be titled If I Can’t Google You You’re Not Real.

Bobby Solomon

October 30, 2012 / By

Wind Map: Tracking The Invisible Force In Real Time

Wind Map

With Hurricane Sandy slowly making it’s way to the east coast you may want to check out Wind Map, a website that tracks the directions and speeds of the wind in the U.S. As you can see in the image above the wind is pretty strong right now, about 20 to 30 mph, but it’s expected to pick up as the day progresses. It’s a rather beautiful way of visualizing such an unseeable part of nature. Be safe east coast friends!

Bobby Solomon

October 29, 2012 / By

Rothko vandalized: The Internet helps to catch an art saboteur

Rothko vandalized: The Internet catches an art sabatouer

Yesterday a man named Tim Wright tweeted a saddening photo and caption, “Just saw this Rothko painting being defaced #tatemodern”.

Hyper Allergic, a blog centered around critical art thinking, picked up the story and ran with it, digging up a ton of data and eventually finding the guy who did it. I think they did such a great job of covering the story. They have 13 updates to the post, each with more and more data that helps give insight to the what and the why. It makes me proud to see folks on the Internet banding together to do some good like this.

Unfortunately, a beautiful Rothko was damaged, and worse than that, the guy who did it likens himself to Duchamp. A sad day for fine art. Hopefully this doesn’t mean that we’ll be seeing more great works behind glass.

Bobby Solomon

October 8, 2012 / By

The design thinking behind the new Disney.com

The new Disney.com

In the last year or so I haven’t mentioned my job very frequently, mostly because I’d been working on something that I wasn’t at liberty to share… that is until today. Yesterday, the small 30 person team I’m a part of at Disney relaunched Disney.com with a new look and feel, bringing the site firmly into 2012. Since January we’ve been hard at work trying to create our vision of what Disney is on the web, challenging a lot of the status quo and creating something exceptional.

I’d like to mention that the Matterhorn team, our previous codename, is the finest team I’ve ever worked with. I’ve never met more talented, driven individuals, and that without our tight bond this project could never have happened. I should also mention that these views are my own and not those of Disney, you know how that goes. Please read and get a glimpse behind the curtain of how we made it happen.

Continue reading this post…

Bobby Solomon

October 2, 2012 / By

The realists guide to email maintenance – A handy list by Matt Gemmell

I’m stealing this from Swissmiss because it’s so apt to my day-to-day that it’s scary. I’m not sure what other people’s email is like, but I tend to get a lot of emails in a day. It gets so bad that I then feel overwhelmed, guilty, anxious… Not generally good things. Matt Gemmell recently put together this great blog post that relates to people who do get a lot of email, and some handy strategies to handle the situation.

You won’t create contexts, and you certainly won’t file stuff appropriately. You won’t do your weekly review. You’re also probably not the overall person in charge of the next Mars mission. Those systems are not for normal people; they’re for obsessive-compulsives who just happen to prefer filtering email than counting toothpicks or quadruple-checking that the oven is off.

You, however, are a normal person, and the time you’d spend on all those formal task-management rituals is better spent aimlessly surfing the web, or even going home early. You’re just an ordinary lassie or laddie who gets too much goddamned email.

I am fully there with you. I want less hassle, not another job to do.

He spells it out so simply that I feel a bit silly for not already knowing this, but I guess it’s like AA, you feel better when you know there are other people out there just like you. Thanks to Matt I cleaned up my inbox and am already feeling less stressed about it.

Bobby Solomon

August 13, 2012 / By

Braun Japan’s Website Is Sexy and Simple

Braun Japan website

Braun Japan website

Braun Japan website

Braun Japan website

I randomly came across this Japanese version of Braun’s website the other day and was super impressed by the cleanliness and simplicity of it. Letting the images really speak for themselves, the site showcases the time pieces and objects that define who they are. The images above taken from the site don’t really do it justice, as it has this peaceful transition that further sets the tone of the site.

Also be sure to check out the Braun History section, which is a graceful descent into their past (though sadly, but obviously, in Japanese). And for further contrast, take a deep breath and check out the piece of work that is the American Braun website. Yeesh.

Bobby Solomon

August 13, 2012 / By