Archives For Design

Kite Runner

05/09/2013 — Leave a comment

Clearly I’ve missed out until recently when I saw the movie Kite Runner (based on the book of the same title by Khaled Hosseini). What drew me into the movie initially (since I will admit I’ve not read the book) were the titles by MK12 and their flowing whirl of dreamy watercolored calligraphy.

Lovely, right? So, what have you been watching lately guys? Seen any good movies?

For those who attended the 99% Conference a few weeks ago in New York, got a preview of stills from most of this commercial; but now that it’s be released to the public, we can all enjoy it:

What do you think, dear readers? Can a bank really stand for something? Would you do business with Standard Chartered Bank if it were in your town? And how about the visual side of the piece? Love it? Hate it? Are you a fan of Sagmeister and his work? Never heard of him before? What do you think??

I tweeted about this earlier this week but given the date and the quality of work, this recent redesign was worth sharing here as well.

As an interesting design challenge, Studio 360 charged the founders of Under Consideration, Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit, with the task of ‘redesigning’ Valentine’s Day. The duo approached the project as they might any other identity project and began by establishing the following goals:

  • Clarify expectations.
  • Simplify visual clutter.
  • Update color palette.
  • Revamp traditions.
  • Transform Cupid.
  • valentines_conclusion

    Their solution is elegant and thoughtful– the mark itself is simple and efficient, and the symbols and new traditions they suggest are equally inventive. A more detailed summary of the project is available from the Under Consideration Web site here.

    What do you think of their solution, readers? Would you use the Valentine symbol? How would YOU redesign Valentine’s Day?

    Image: Under Consideration

    The passing and loss of (Lee) Alexander McQueen today is beyond description. There is nothing I can say that has not already been said, I did not know him but I loved his work. Here are a few of the write-ups in the papers and some of his work that has inspired me over the years:

    BBC News
    Daily Mail
    Financial Times
    The Times
    2001 Times article
    The Wall Street Journal
    The Washington Post

    “People don’t want to see clothes. They want to see something that fuels the imagination.”


































































    Type Oscars

    10/02/2010 — Leave a comment

    It may be almost a month before the Academy Awards, but Ellen Lupton has already posted her picks for the Oscars of Type.

    Personally I love her Best Serif pick:


    Calluna, by Jos Buivenga

    Which faces made your list, dear readers?

    Have you seen Danny Yount’s titles for Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes? Wow!


    Read Art of the Title’s interview with Yount here and see the evolution of his work on this project as well as the full credits themselves.

    Image: Art of the Title

    When I was an undergrad in design school , I was one of the weakest drawing students among my peers our freshman year. My professors, patient and inspiring though they were, seemed to remain concerned about my weaknesses in the fields of drawing and craft; it was the final pin-up discussions at which I shone.

    When the second semester of my freshman year came along and my drawing skills still fell short of my peers, one of my professors, who held a master’s in drawing, pulled me aside and gave me some advice. He gave me a few tips on how to improve the quality of my work, but above all advocated simply for practice. One of the exercises he recommended was to draw simple shapes over and over again– to draw until they were coming out of my ears. By so doing, I would be training my hands to be more skilled at quality of line and form. So for weeks I drew obsessively– circles, squares, cones, pyramids, triangles, lines, lines, lines; it was the mad hatter’s geometry and it was exploding inside my sketchbooks.

    By the time I graduated with my BFA, I was selected as the designer of the year, so something must have clicked along the way; the mad hatter’s geometry had pushed me further. Today, simple forms like those from my professor’s exercise tend to creep into the margins of my sketchbooks and meeting notes– an unconscious habit, it now seems.

    When I came across the above video from the Design Council, one of the first things that came to mind was that exercise of drawing simple shapes over and over and over.

    Why be good when you can be better? What do you wish you could do better, dear readers? And how do you plan on getting there?

    “Accuracy is the least significant part of drawing… but you have learn to draw accurately before you can do anything else…”

    Five minutes with Milton Glaser on drawing from 2006.

    Video by C. Coy

    For the last two days, or evenings really, I’ve been reading The Barnbrook Bible as my break from work. It has been an absolute delight, leaving me further inspired by and in awe of Barnbrook’s work and perspective. I had the good fortune to spend some time with him at Grafic Europe in Berlin 5 years ago, but tried very hard not to be THAT person at the conference– the annoying fan who asks really specific questions about old work, celebrity clients and odd hypothetic situations.

    Earlier this morning, I decided to catch up on what I’ve missed in the Virus Fonts and Barnbrook Design universe online. In so doing, I came across a number of his motion pieces from the last few years, here is one of the latest breathtaking pieces:

    A Half-Rememebered Sentence from The Quiet Man

    Here are a few pieces from a series of political pieces he did in 2004:

    This is one of a series of three pieces produced in 1995 for BBC Radio Scotland:

    See more of Jonathan Barnbrook’s amazing work here on his studio’s Web site.

    I did not attend the AIGA biennial conference, Make/Think, last week in Memphis. I tried, but my planning efforts quickly became a logistical nightmare; in the end, I decided to save the money for a mortgage payment instead of the agony of figuring out travel to a town with out Southwest service and overbooked hotels (despite the fact that this is THE most important national graphic design conference).

    While catching up on what I missed (which should take a quite a while considering how densely they pack the programming for the AIGA biennial conference), I thought I’d share a few of the early highlights I’ve unearthed:

    AIGA Make/Think interviews with golden nuggets of tasty advice and entertainment for all, but mostly students. from drifting creatives on Vimeo.

    Charles Brock’s, of Faceout Studio, look at the Kindle as a book designer.

    Did you make it to Make/Think, dear readers? I’m still disappointed about missing Debbie Millman, Jill Greenberg, Stefan Sagmeister (even if I’ve heard him speak before) and about a hundred other interesting people.

    For whatever reason, I’ve been looking at a lot of letterpessed work lately. I’d like to share the work of an Austin-based couple, Heather & Thomas hollifield, also known as Letterpress Delicacies. The precision and clean lines of their design style is exciting.

    Taking a peek at their charming work available for purchase online via Etsy.

    Images: Letterpress Delicacies

    Building on an earlier theme of friends and former classmates, today I thought I’d share the fabulous work of another buddy from my college days at Carnegie Mellon. When I think about it, the CMU connection theme could easily become a feature unto itself on AmandaMuses, but we’ll just see, I guess…

    Anyway, Josh Urso, another product of the Carnegie Mellon Design program, produces stunning furniture in his New Jersey studio. Since the opening of his design studio in 2002, Josh continues to produce items that explore the limitations of material and structure. His work, inspired by mechanical processes and new materials, inspires curiosity and a playful enjoyment of daily life.

    I love his Ant Farm lights and Knoop tables, and of course the incredible Specter chair– I remember Josh’s prototype senior year in college watching the evolution of this amazing object come to life. He took limp cloth and made it live with resin and sheer inventive brilliance.

    It has been many years since I have been in touch with Josh, but from the look of his Web site, he is doing splendidly.

    Images: Josh Urso Design

    Today I would like share the work of Portland based, Mexican illustrator/designer, Alberto Cerriteño. Inspired by the pop surrealism movement, his work is densely packed with dreamlike whimsy.

    Prints of Alberto’s beautiful illustrations are available for purchase online at his Etsy boutique. And for those as enamored of his work as I am, he has a blog here.

    Images: Alberto Cerriteño

    As a designer, a former resident of Scandinavia and one who claims partial Finnish heritage, I am, not surprisingly, a fan of Marimekko. While I have never owned one of their classically simple Olkalaukku bags or one of their colorful dresses, I have often enjoyed the vibrant and playful patterns from this uniquely Finnish company. During the long Swedish winters, a visit to the Marimekko shop in Stockholm would often brighten my day with playful palettes and jubilant forms.

    Years ago, when I saw Kirsti Paakkanen speak at Future Design Days I became transfixed with the playful graphic style Marimekko produced and admired Ms. Paakkanen’s fearless approach to business and design.

    So this afternoon, I thought it would be fun to share a few samples of Marimekko’s new bags:

    Mari's Reversible Canvas Tote

    Mari's Reversible Canvas Tote

    Mari's Hobo

    Mari's Hobo

    Mari's Medium Tote

    Mari's Medium Tote

    Mari's Clutch

    Mari's Clutch

    Mari's Briefcase

    Mari's Briefcase

    I just love the stark graphic patterns; there is a whimsical nature to them that remind me of work from the late 1950s and early 1960s; Harold and the Purple Crayon comes to mind. All of the bags in this collection are made of Italian patent leather and the familiar canvas of other Marimekko products. Even the look and feel for the Web site and ads for this collection have a humorous feel that just makes you smile; a sunny treat for a rainy day.

    Images: Marimekko

    For as long as I can remember, art has been a profound source of joy and is something for which I maintain a healthy appetite. The portion of my brain relegated to art is no doubt the majority which might explain my distaste for all things trigonometric or vacuum-related. Anyway, I tend to spend a lot of time seeking out new work, artists and sources of inspiration. While I visit museums and galleries as much as possible, there are so many online sources from which to derive inspiration these days that it is almost staggering.

    Lately, I’ve been looking at illustration more and more. Today the work of Iveta Abolina, also know as OneSweetOrange has caught my eye. I tripped over her by way of and immediately found a number of her pieces that I would love to hang in my home. The graphic quality of her work and the organic flow of the compositions excites my eye. Here are a few of my favorites from her Etsy shop:

    Sonnet by OneSweetOrange


    Forbidden Thoughts by OneSweetOrange

    Forbidden Thoughts

    Little Bird by OneSweetOrange

    Little Bird

    At $20-$50USD, most of her work is terribly affordable; the only question is, which to buy? Take a look at Irena’s Etsy Shop and more of her illustrations and design work at

    Images: Iveta Abolina/OneSweetOrange

    The world is a little darker without one of the most brilliant contemporary American designers… He made things better, beautiful and fun… He was an incredible artist and designer..