Archive for March, 2009

Shoot the Recession

So what does this recession look like? Besides your pink slip and COBRA package, the closed store on the corner (and the one across the street from the first one, and down the street from the second one), and longer lines at the Food Bank? Is there any humor in this? Any creativity?

(An aside, didn’t you feel a little disappointed that your pink slip wasn’t actually pink? There could certainly be a new market for well-designed, clever pink slips.  I’m thinking origami. A pink slip that turns into a beer mug, or a hammock. Maybe a voodoo doll. Something with a sense of recessionary spirit. I don’t think we need to accept mediocre non-pink pink slips. Let’s raise our expectations and standards.)

Slate, the online magazine has launched a new photo project, Shoot the Recession.

They’ve asked their readers to submit photos to their Flickr site, in hopes of creating a visual mosaic of this moment. As of today, 271 images to tell our story. Slate has published a  slide show, Great Shots of Tough Times.

Some other great shots:


From Sabeth718, via Flickr.


It is forbidden to talk about the crisis. From F Lahiguera, via Flickr.


From Dannnno, via Flickr.


From Lost in Transit Collective, via Flickr.

This is about as funny as it gets. I know, not very. Give it time.


Objectified | The film

Just when you thought no one was paying attention, you/we/they became Objectified. And this time, it’s a good thing.

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The posters, available from the Objectified website.

The new documentary, by Gary Hustwit, premiered at SxSW, and is next up at Full Frame Film Festival (also premiering there, my good friend Leslye’s documentary, Sweet Crude). The film has the design world a-twitter (figuratively, and I suppose literally). I have to admit, I get excited just watching the trailer.  As a result of this film, a few more folks will be able to explain to their mothers what they do for a living. And the rest of us can simply be inspired and grateful.

buy:design | keep calm and carry on

If it’s Friday, it’s time to shop at re:design.

Every economic meltdown could benefit from a little design.

Here’s the perfect poster for this moment in time. All it needs is a cup of tea.


Hand silkscreened reproductions of the vintage WWII era poster “Keep Calm & Carry On” available in Juicy Orange, Pretty Pink, Sunny Yellow and other lovely colors.  And $25.00 seems like a fine investment to recession-proof one’s psyche.

From SF Girl By Bay, buy it here.

And for the caffeinated,  DIY-inspired version:


From Matt Jones (and it really is DIY).

I want one of each. And I’ll also take a  cup of ginger tea, with an espresso chaser.

Yes, I am a publication junkie…but in a good way.

You can never have too much type or print in your home. My idea of a fun Friday night is dinner, drinks and hanging out at  Newsbeat, our local magazine stand.  And it’s not just for the design magazines. I am an equal-opportunity magazine lover.  Words, images, ink, that’s all it takes to give me a thrill.

Of course, magazines have been in trouble for a long time, and this recession is about to put a nail in the coffin. Over 500 magazines folded in 2008, and 47 have already closed in 2009. That’s bad for information, entertainment, enlightenment, beauty and humor–not to mention designers, writers, illustrators, photographers and printers. It’s bad for my Friday nights, that’s for sure.

Even though I know that it’s the advertising dollars that count, the advertisers will count me–so I have been subscribing to as many magazines as my pocketbook can muster. ReadyMade, Utne Reader, Good, More, Real Simple, Cook’s Illustrated. Plenty more to choose from, and I just might add Mad Magazine, Rolling Stone,  Mental Floss, Bark and Dwell to round out my stash.

My new favorite magazine, and the one I really want to protect, is  GOOD Magazine.  It manages to combines good design with good content that makes us better thinkers and therefore, more thoughtful designers.  The stories are smart, but not so seriously-self-important. They do a brilliant job with information graphics, making them accessible and really interesting. Anytime someone can make information fun, I am in.

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Here’s the deal. They honor design. They even give designers pages and pages to muse on. What are they thinking?

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And the goodness doesn’t stop there.  You choose the cost of your subscription. Then, choose a nonprofit, and 100% of your subscription payment is donated.

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Publications, especially alternatives, give us texture and insight and a new point of view. It takes courage, and a ton of energy,  to keep creating and producing month after month. Show and tell when done this well, isn’t easy. As an appreciative reader, pushing Good is the least I can do.


Now we’re talking | U.S. National Design Policy Initiative

Some of us really, truly believe that design can make a difference. And our country is in need of some difference.  A group called the U.S. Policy Design Summit is talking, proposing, lobbying and viral videoing to convince America that design is a critical answer to economic competitiveness. Check out their site for your inner policy wonk or wonkette.

The video:

A summary of the Summit Policy Proposal:

Redesigning America’s Future: 10 Design Policy Proposals  for the United States of America’s Economic Competitiveness and Democratic Governance.

1 Formalize an American Design Council to partner with the U.S. Government.

2 Set guidelines for legibility, literacy, and accessibility for all government communications.

3 Target 2030 for carbon neutral buildings.

4 Create an Assistant Secretary for Design and Innovation position within the Department of Commerce to promote design.

5 Expand national grants to support interdisciplinary community design assistance programs based on human-centered design principles.

6 Commission a report to measure and document design’s contribution to the U.S. economy.

7 Revive the Presidential Design Awards to be held every year and use triple bottom-line criteria (economic, social, and environmental  benefit) for evaluation.

8 Establish national grants for basic design research.

9 Modify the patent process to reflect the types of intellectual property created by designers.

10 Encourage direct government investment in design innovation.

It’s only talk, but it’s the right kind of talk. Time will tell if anyone is listening.

If You Could See What I Hear | Graphic Facilitation

Part of the fun of doing this blog is that it gives me an excuse to peruse other design blogs during work hours. This showed up via Quipsologies who found it via Design you Trust. But the real star here is Brandy Agerbeck and She facilitates meetings by making conceptual maps of the conversations.  It helps focus the participants, organizes information, and I suspect, increases institutional memory.  Plus it’s more fun than one should have in a 6-hour meeting. Wow.


An Inconvenient Truth.


The Rise of the Cultural Consumer.


Chicago Humanities Festival. Small Gestures.

All images copyright Bandy Agerbeck. Of course.

buy:design | The Uppercase Scarf

It’s re:design shopping day!

Typography for your neck. Think of it as a little fashionista “what the heck is that?” And of course, once people figure it out, you’ll be seen as both clever and typographically-correct. From Veer.


The scarf is made by Little Factory, and if capitalization rails against your proletariat sensibilities, it’s also offered in lowercase or numbers.  You can buy it here.