Zaragoza Guerra, a color expert and stylist from East Boston, sent me this hilarious link to Unhappy Hipster. This image cracks me up because it reminds me of the constant battle we have in our backyard. The battle stems from separating the decomposed granite pebbles (a la Bryant Park) from the grass. Our kids have grown to appreciate the rigor, and after a backyard game of whiffle ball they automatically get on their knees and check for any stray pebbles in the grass. We have raised them well!
As the visual influence of branding consultants infiltrates every aspect of North American culture, from international retailers to entrepreneurial local restaurant operators, vernacular graphic design has disappeared from the city. This becomes evident when looking at photographs of cities from as recently as the 1970s, when the art of the hand-painted sign – designed by the sign company – graced at least half the storefronts. Trucks might be the last bastion of this visual language – big blocky letterforms, short names, and a strong color background seem to make the most impact.
Perhaps others have commented on this last gasp of quotidian graphic design. If a book hasn’t been done to capture this language – perhaps we should produce it – before these moving signs are also subject to a more self-conscious identify strategy.
For a good snicker (or belly laugh), check out the following blog, which demonstrates the perils of placing hot (or in this case cold) bodies in architectural photos. I’m so glad I never bought that knock-off Womb Chair; unhappiness trails that thing.
While we take color theory very seriously at Utile and try to deploy a sophisticated color strategy in most of our projects, nothing beats the most recent research that has unlocked the Avatar-like color range of dinosaurs. See today’s NY Times for the full story.
There is a blog on the Times site that features Nicholas de Monchaux, Assistant Prof at UC Berkeley (former Yale undergrad studio mate), who has developed, with his students, a program called Local Code. The Big Idea: use GIS information to identify the strange, leftover patches of pavement that belong to no one, are unmaintained, and whose density seems to prefigure other deeper health and societal issues. Near concentrations of these lots there is more crime, higher incidences of asthma, stormwater fiascos. So why not devise a strategy to fix them? It is worth watching the video alone; many clever graphic techniques.
The most fruitful post-article google search was on the work of artist Gordon Matta-Clark from the 1970’s. Fake Estates: Reality Properties was one major precedent de Moncheaux cited that suggested looking for, and acting upon, these “gutterspaces”. Matta-Clark searched out and acquired 15 of these land scraps from the City of New York (at $25 a piece), with the prospect of creating a network of urban artscapes upon them. The graphics above show the official documentation on one of the spaces and an incredible graph of the dimensional weirdness of these leftover sites. Genius. Matta-Clark died at 35, before completing the project.