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Warhol digital artworks found on floppy disks from 1985

Posted: April 24th, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Art, Digital | Comments Off

Andy Warhol, Andy2, 1985, ©The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visuals Arts, Inc., courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum

A team from Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Club in the US has found a series of previously unknown digital artworks created by Andy Warhol for Amiga Computers in 1985 and stored on floppy disks...

The team consisting of artists, computing experts, and museum professionals discovered 12 experiments by Warhol on disks stored in the archives of The Andy Warhol Museum.

According to the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry (FRSCI) at CMU, the artworks were a result of a commission by Commodore International in the mid-80s.

Keen to demonstrate the graphic arts capabilities of the Amiga 1000 personal computer (shown at bottom of post), Commodore approached the artist to create a series of digital pieces on prototype Amiga hardware and with state-of-the-art software imaging tools.

Andy Warhol, Campbell's, 1985, ©The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visuals Arts, Inc., courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum

The project began when New York-based artist Cory Arcangel first learned of Warhol's Amiga experiments via a YouTube video of the Commodore Amiga product launch.

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With the support of Carnegie Museum of Art curator Tina Kukielski, Arcangel then approached the Andy Warhol Museum in December 2011 about restoring the Amiga hardware in the museum's possession.

He then contacted CMU art professor and director of the FRSCI, Golan Levin, who offered a grant to support the investigation – and Levin also introduced the artist to the university's Computer Club, which boats expertise in 'retrocomputing', the restoration of vintage computers. However, after working on the disks, the club discovered that even reading the information stored on them risked damaging their contents

According to FRSCI, most of the disks were "system and application diskettes" onto which Warhol had apparently saved his own data (including files such as 'campbells.pic' and 'marilyn1.pic') in completely unknown formats.

Andy Warhol, Venus, 1985, ©The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visuals Arts, Inc., courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum

The Club persevered, however, and managed to resurrect 28 digital images that were verified by the Warhol museum (eleven of which feature Warhol's signature). The images were made using processes such as 'pattern flood fills', 'palletized color', and 'copy-paste collage'.

Throughout the investigation the team's efforts have been documented by the Hillman Photography Initiative and the resulting short film, Trapped: Andy Warhol's Amiga Experiments, will premiere on Saturday May 10 at Carnegie Library Lecture Hall in Pittsburgh (7pm).

According to FRSCI, the screening will be followed by a conversation with some of the team's key players, including artists Arcangel and Levin; Michael Dille, who just completed his PhD in robotics at CMU, and Keith A Bare of the CMU Computer Club; and outside guest Jon Ippolito, a professor of digital media curation at the University of Maine.

The Trapped documentary will then be available online at nowseethis.org on May 12.

A detailed report (PDF) about the CMU Computer Club's retrocomputing work on the Warhol/Amiga image recovery project can be found here. The works were extracted from the disks by members of the CMU Computer Club, CMU's Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry (FRSCI), the Hillman Photography Initiative at the Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA), and Arcangel. See warhol.org.

Commodore Amiga computer equipment used by Andy Warhol 1985-86, courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum


What’s On

Posted: April 23rd, 2014 | Author: Antonia Wilson | Filed under: Advertising, Art, Books, Digital, Graphic Design, Illustration, Music Video / Film, Photography, Type / Typography | Comments Off

CR's pick of exhibitions, design events and creative activities for the week ahead including Paris Photo in LA, Hyères Festival of Fashion & Photography, Introduction to Letterpress with New North Press in London, Motion Factory behind-the-scenes animation exhibition in Paris, publishing symposium Art-Information at the ICA, and Off Life's #QuickDraw Live event in London...


Paris Photo Los Angeles
Paramount Pictures Studios
25-27 Apr

The second US edition of the celebrated art fair, with exhibitions of contemporary and historical work by established and emerging artists, presented by international galleries and art book dealers, set against the backdrop of the vintage sound stages of Paramount Pictures. The main event includes new solo shows and installations, Young Gallery exhibitions, and bookseller projects on show in the New York Street Backlot, a film set replica of New York City's streets.

In addition to the main show, the Sound & Vision series includes conversations with artists and curators, plus film and video screenings of work seeking to push the boundaries between photography and moving image. There's also book signings, a tribute to Dennis Hopper and his photographic work, and a rare unveiling of the LAPD Photo Archives dating from 1920s - 1960s.

www.parisphoto.com/losangeles

 


Hyères Festival of Fashion & Photography
Villa Noailles, Hyères
28 Apr - 25 May

This annual event in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur showcases the work of a shortlist of photographers and fashion designers at Villa Noailles, a modernist mansion in the hills above Hyères. Alongside the competition there are conferences, concerts, and other exhibitions from former winners and established artists and designers, including Steve Hiett, Jean-Michel Bertin, Kenzo, Oliver Sieber and Marc Turlan. Keep an eye on the CR blog for more on the festival later this week.

villanoailles-hyeres.com/hyeres2014


Introduction to Letterpress
New North Press Studio, London
26 Apr (10am - 5.30pm)

Hands-on letterpress workshop, for anyone after beginner's level practical knowledge of the craft, from composition (hand-setting, spacing and locking-up type), to printing (inking and pulling the press), using a library of over 700 wood and metal fonts.

www.new-north-press.co.uk

 

Motion Factory: les ficelles du monde animé (tricks of the animation world)
La Gaîté Lyrique, Paris
24 Apr - 10 Aug

The digital arts centre showcases the work of 15 animation directors, with stop-motion short films and adverts, behind-the-scenes footage on storyboarding, model and figurine making, set building, collage, and other techniques and production methods from sketching to clay modelling, puppets to digital elements. A participatory stop-motion film project runs alongside, being created frame-by-frame for the duration of the exhibition, on Tuesday evenings.

Work comes from directors Kyle Bean, Kijek & Adamski, Johnny Kelly, Pic Pic André, Peter Sluszka Jamie Caliri & Alex Juhasz, Sumo Science (Will Stud & Ed Patterson), Sean Pecknold, Kangmin Kim, Joseph Mann, Andrew Thomas Huang, Hayley Morris, Elliot Dear, Emma de Swaef & Marc James Roels, Mikey Please, Conor Finnegan and Yves Geleyn.

www.gaite-lyrique.net/en/node/6058

 


Art-Information: Editorial Strategies, Text-based Formats, Publishing Contexts
ICA, London
26 Apr (11.30am - 6pm)

One day event exploring publishing within contemporary art and curatorial practice. Talks cover a variety of topics including formats, distribution, editorialship, art direction, publishing as practice, changing notions in authorship and reader participation, and interactive digital publishing, with some speakers drawing on archival Pop strategies and editorial engagements of 1960s conceptual artists.

www.ica.org.uk

 


Off Life: #QuickDraw Live
House of Illustration, London
24 Apr (8pm)

Previously a Twitter event, #QuickDraw from Off Life street press comic and new talent platform, moves into the new House of Illustration Gallery, for an evening of fast-paced illustration. Participants work with top comic artists to create work around set themes, with final pieces projected or hung around the gallery and tweeted out. You can still take part online, responding with artwork around themes on Twitter with #QuickDraw, and work could appear at the live event. Plus drinks and music throughout the evening as part of the gallery's housewarming season.

www.offlife.co.uk/quickdraw
www.houseofillustration.org.uk


To submit events for consideration, please email whatson@creativereview.co.uk


Designs of the Year category winners announced

Posted: April 23rd, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Art, Digital, Graphic Design, Magazine / Newspaper, Photography | Comments Off

The Design Museum has announced the category winners in the 2014 Designs of the Year Awards, which include the Portable Eye Examination Kit (PEEK) in the digital section, The Seaboard Grand piano keyboard in product and James Bridle's Drone Shadows project in graphics (shown above)...

The seven category winners provide the list of projects from which the overall Design of the Year is chosen – and announced on June 30 this year. As ever, there are some intriguing choices, not least because of the political charge running through the work which has topped the graphics category.

James Bridle's ongoing project via booktwo.org is a series of installations which consist of simple outlines of unmanned 'drone' aircraft at a 1:1 scale. Since 2012 the drawings, which make the unnervingly invisible 'visible', have been created in various locations from Turkey to the US. (More on the series at Bridle's site, here.)

As judge Frith Kerr commented, the project "demonstra[tes] the power of graphic design, the simple outline requires no caption, no text, no explanation. Like a reverse conjuror he makes the invisible visible, this project is as far reaching as it is uncompromising."

Interestingly, chair of the judges Ekow Eshun also added that, "We thought it was an important piece of work and we also thought it enabled graphics as a category to really expand, and to ask new questions in new ways."

It certainly does that – and that's no bad thing – but just what "expand" means here is a moot point. If the aim is that the graphics category should look to include less commercial projects and more art-informed personal practice, then the success Bridle's provocative work is certainly a move in that direction.

The Designs of the Year exhibition is on at the Design Museum until August 25. The overall winner will be announced on June 30. More at designmuseum.org. Our report from the opening of the show – including a look at the brilliant exhibition graphics by OK-RM – is here.

Here are the other winners for the remaining six categories in the Designs of the Year 2014:

ARCHITECTURE: HEYDAR ALIYEV CENTER, BAKU, AZERBAIJAN
Designed by Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher.

"Elaborate undulations, folds and inflections modify this plaza surface into an architectural landscape that performs a multitude of functions," say the Design Museum.

"An intoxicatingly beautiful building by the most brilliant architect at the height of her office's powers. It's swooning fluid on the outside and inside, belieing its size and complexity." Piers Gough, CZWG Architects LLP

DIGITAL: PEEK (PORTABLE EYE EXAMINATION KIT)
Designed by Dr Andrew Bastawrous, Stewart Jordan, Dr Mario Giardini, Dr Iain Livingstone.

"A smartphone-based system for comprehensive eye examinations, PEEK is easy to use, affordable and portable, meaning that it can bring eye care to even the remotest of settings."

"What's great about PEEK is that being digital helps it do things that we couldn't do before. It's a portable optician – the camera can look at your eyes, the flash from the camera can hit the back of your eye and get a picture, you can use it as an eye test sight card, and you can then send the results to wherever you want in the world. It also feels like it can scale, you can get the kit to millions of people really quickly in one go – another advantage of digital. PEEK is enabling teachers in schools to test the eyes of kids without having to go to an optician and that feels like a really good use of digital technology." Ben Terrett, Government Digital Service

FASHION: PRADA S/S14
Designed by Miuccia Prada.

"Pop-art prints meet sporty details and structured shapes in this boldly coloured, powerful collection. Vogue said of the show ‘By next summer we'll wonder what we ever wore before.’"

"Prada's SS14 collection loudly declares the joy of being a modern woman. It mixes colours, textures, and paintings to leapfrog over the world of tasteful bland fashion. This is serious clothing that doesn't take itself seriously." Frith Kerr, Studio Frith

FURNITURE: PRO CHAIR FAMILY
Designed by Konstantin Grcic.

"Featuring state-of-the-art ergonomics and pioneering design, the construction of the chair not only allows movement in all directions, but actively stimulates it thereby promoting healthier sitting."

"No one on the jury had to argue the case for this exceptional chair - we just had to sit in it. Instantly its effect on the body is tangible and the mind can be satisfied with the balance struck between its material finesse, presence and purpose. It should absolutely shake up the educational sector and give students a truly happier experience in the classroom because it is seriously comfortable and joyous without risk of becoming a cartoon." Kim Colin, Industrial Facility

PRODUCT: THE SEABOARD GRAND
Designed by Roland Lamb and Hong-Yeul Eom.

"The Seaboard is a reinvention of the piano keyboard, reimagining the keys as soft waves that enable continuous and discrete real-time, tactile control of sound through three-dimensional hand gestures. The design combines contemporary minimalism and traditional handcrafted quality."

"This intriguing new digital instrument is the first I've seen that departs from an analogue piano typology and adds something new via its surface interface and design – lending some new musical freedom within a very controlled aesthetic. As a result of its design, the player knows the instrument can do the 'something else' that digital can uniquely provide, that an analogue piano doesn't. Apparently it's very intuitive for musicians and makes experimentation easy – I think we all enjoyed having a go." Kim Colin, Industrial Facility

TRANSPORT: XL1 CAR
Designed by Volkswagen.

"The world’s the most efficient liquid-fuelled production car; it requires only 8.4 PS to sustain a constant 100kph on a level surface in still air, a speed the car can reach from rest in 12.7 seconds."

"Here is a car that seems like it's come out of a dream of the future, it's refined, it's elegant, it can go for miles and miles on a single tank of petrol and it looks beautiful, dangerous almost, in its dramatic shapes and lines. Nothing has gone to waste here - all of this is about going as far as you can on as little as possible. It succeeds as a concept for what a car could be, for almost what a car should be in the future, except it exists now.' Ekow Eshun, writer, journalist and broadcaster, Chair of the jury.

The Designs of the Year 2014 jury:

  • Ben Terrett, Government Digital Service
  • Ekow Eshun, writer, journalist and broadcaster - Chair of the jury
  • Frith Kerr, Studio Frith
  • Kim Colin, Industrial Facility
  • Piers Gough, CZWG Architects LLP
  • Tina Gaudoin, Acting Editor in Chief of Elle Decoration and independent fashion journalist

Previous Design of the Year Winners:

  • 2013 GOV.UK – UK Government website by GDS
  • 2012 London 2012 Olympic Torch, by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby
  • 2011 Plumen 001 by Samuel Wilkinson and Hulger
  • 2010 Folding Plug by Min-Kyu Choi
  • 2009 Barack Obama Poster by Shepard Fairey
  • 2008 One Laptop Per Child by Yves Béhar

Lush gets a digital makeover

Posted: April 23rd, 2014 | Author: Rachael Steven | Filed under: Digital, Graphic Design | Comments Off

Method has created a new website and customer magazine for cosmetics brand Lush, with a surprisingly minimal design...

Founded in the UK in 1994, Lush now has stores in more than 50 countries and sells environmentally friendly products made using natural ingredients.

The brand's new website features the same black-and-white scheme used on its packaging and in-store visuals, but its distinctive script font has been replaced with Helvetica. There is a greater focus on editorial content and the homepage now includes articles on fair trade, an organisation in Colombia that supplies its cocoa beans and the use of music in Lush spas.

The new website

 

The old

Lush's customer magazine The Lush Times has been given a similar makeover and the script font, scrapbook style visuals and colourful icons have been replaced with more Helvetica and full bleed photography.

The new Lush Times


The old

David Eveleigh-Evans, managing director at Method's London office, says the new look is designed to simplify Lush's visual language and focus on the stories behind its products, such as how ingredients are sourced.

"People who know Lush know it's an ethical business, but we needed to communicate that to a wider audience and the people who might see it as just a nice smelling soap shop," he says.

 

The agency has been working on the project for around a year, after Lush asked for help launching a YouTube channel. "We soon realised that it was going to be a much bigger project - clarifying what the brand is, who they are and what they are about," adds Eveleigh-Evans.

As well as placing more emphasis on articles, social feeds and customer reviews, the new site replaces shots of packaging with images of products. Product pages also provide full ingredients lists, which link to pages explaining the benefits of those ingredients and a list of other Lush products which contain them.

Eveleigh-Evans says this is designed to highlight the fact that those who shop with Lush know exactly what they are buying, and that most of its products are unisex. It also aims to capture the sensory experience of being in Lush stores, he says, where customers are invited to sample items before buying.

Another new feature is The Kitchen, which will list a new set of products each day, made in limited runs and sold exclusively online. "This came about in the prototype. We thought it was a good way to showcase Lush's USP; that it owns its supply chain and can create fresh products at speed," adds Eveleigh-Evans.

In its copywriting and in-store visuals, Lush has always exercised a strong tone of voice with a friendly, light-hearted style. Product names include Happy Hippy and Tisty Tosty and descriptions often feature puns or jokes. This was evident in the brand's packaging too, and in the colourful imagery and illustrations used in its previous magazines and the old website.

This strong personality may seem absent in the new design but Eveleigh-Evans says the aim was to give Lush a "blank canvas" which they can add to and customise. More creative will be added over the next few months, he says, and Dalton Maag is designing a digital version of the script font for use on the site.

"Lush has a strong tone of voice but there were a lot of different styles and voices on the site. We wanted to pare it back and give them a canvas on which to grow. The core brand language is still very present, but it's a little more neutral and still gives Lush flexibility to update it and experiment," he explains.

At the moment, Lush's minimal new site seems a little at odds with its in-store visuals but it will be interesting to see how this develops over time. The new site presents a better user experience and, coupled with the magazine, a sleeker image, but it does feel as if some of the brand's personality has been lost. The new design also feels a little like other beauty sites, which Lush has traditionally been keen to distance itself from.

It does, however, provide a better platform on which to showcase the interesting tales about Lush's products and ethical initiatives, and is more in keeping with the minimal signage on its shop and spa fronts, which feature a black and white logo instead of the green and yellow one used on packaging:


Made Thought rebrands G.F Smith

Posted: April 22nd, 2014 | Author: Rachael Steven | Filed under: Digital, Graphic Design, Type / Typography | Comments Off

Made Thought has designed a new visual identity, website and brand book for paper company G.F Smith, which it says aims to better reflect the brand's heritage and the people behind its products.

The identity features a new sans typeface and two brand marks. The first bears the company name above the strapline '1885 onwards' and is described by G.F Smith as a "mark of custodianship". It will replace the company's previous logo, which SEA developed from the company's original logo in 2003, depicting a sheet of paper passing through a paper machine

 

The old mark

 


 

The new


"We wanted to bring the focus back to the company's founder, George Frederick Smith, adding a more human element," says Made Thought co-founder Ben Parker. "It was important to do this in a progressive way, which is why [the strapline] reads '1885 onwards instead' of 'established' or 'since 1885'. It reflects the company's past but also its ... desire to look forward rather than back," he adds.

The second mark also features the company name but the full stop between Smith's initials has been replaced with an image of a hand turning a sheet of paper. Described as a "curator mark", it symbolises the hand-crafted aspect of the company's work – such as selecting new paper ranges and preparing custom orders.

 

Parker says the mark will be embossed and, like a watermark, used as a symbol of quality. In some cases, it will appear without the accompanying brand name. The positioning of the symbol allows the thumbnail in the hand to act in the same way as the full stop in the custodian mark, providing a symmetry and consistency between the two, explains Parker.

The new typeface is a humanist sans, which Parker says reflects the company's mix of human craft and "efficient mechanisation". "It is a combination of the machine age and the more calligraphic line," he says.

 

 

Made Thought has been working with G.F Smith since 2012 and last year, rebranded its Colorplan series with a new logo, website and promo book (see our blog post on it here). While working with the company, Parker says the agency felt more could be done to communicate its heritage, and presented a 'clarity' framework in 2013.

"There are some genuinely great stories surrounding the brand, and this was all about making people aware of that," says Parker. "Most brands would give their right arm to have such an impressive heritage, and there are some genuinely great stories of triumph over adversity in G.F Smith's past," he adds.

 

 

To co-incide with the rebrand, Made Thought designed a brand book titled Portrait of a Company, with copywriting by Patrick Baglee. The book is divided into three sections, providing a look at the company's past, its staff and its future ambitions. The publication includes letters, ephemera and sample books dating back to 1890, which has been documented by a former employee.

"A lot of G.F Smith's archive material was lost during the second world war [when its warehouses were bombed], but a retired member of staff has been documenting what exists. They have around 800 pages so far, and they keep finding new items ... if the material is appropriate, we'll definitely do something with it, or at least use it to populate the website," says Parker.

 

 

The brand book comes with 12 different covers, each featuring a portrait of an employee. Made Thought has also designed length of service badges for staff – from a nickel one for those who've served for less than five years to a 24-carat one for employees who've been there for 30 years or more. Each comes packaged in a Colorplan box and Parker says both the book and badges aim to celebrate the company's positive relationship with staff.

 

 

"G.F Smith employs around 190 people and 36 of them have been there for more than 20 years. They really look after their staff and the employees take a genuine pride in their work, which is a rare thing. The service badges are a small acknowledgement of that," explains Parker.

G.F Smith's website has also been given a makeover and provides a detailed look at the company's history, as well as new services including a 'we recommend' filter. The homepage features a video of a 'collection wall' showcasing G.F Smith's products, which was constructed in Hull using 10cm high A4 stacks.

 

 

"To some extent, the design process has been simply about ‘joining up the dots’ and exploiting what already exists.... Most importantly, we have wanted to reflect a human dimension to a remarkable brand that still proudly carries its founders name more than 130 years later," says Parker.

 

 

 

 

 

Comment
Given their target market, it has always been a surprise just how poor a lot of marketing communications materials for paper companies are. GF Smith has been an exception. Previous incumbent SEA helped position the company as a paper brand that knew how to talk to designers. But the old mark had begun to look a little tired. More importantly, this new identity positions the company in line with current thinking around the future of print as being about luxury, craft and tactility rather than mass communication: The medium is the message.

No doubt much of the debate about this redesign will revolve round the spacing of the G . and F on the top line of the mark and the relationship to the dot of the ‘i' in Smith. It's the obvious thing for people to pick out and may jar with some. But I find its idiosyncrasy enjoyable and endearing. How dull the world of corporate identity would be without such flourishes.

Seeing it on the pin badges suggests the ‘vernacular' British designs of the 19th century - think of the great railway companies for example - while the type choice places the work within the current ‘austerity graphics' trend that Farrow's Peyton and Byrne identity has been such an influence on. But on the book cover and business cards it feels far more contemporary: not an easy trick to pull off but very much in line with Made Thought's intentions for the project.

Overall, a beautifully crafted project that succeeds in keeping G.F Smith distinct from its rivals as one of the few real ‘brands' in the sector and one that graphic designers have a great affinity with.

Patrick Burgoyne


Typography is a practice

Posted: April 17th, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Digital, Graphic Design, Type / Typography | Comments Off

Adobe's Typekit has just launched a new site dedicated to honing typographic skills, via a series of lessons and resources, under the name Typekit Practice...

"Typekit Practice is a collection of resources and a place to try things, hone your skills, and stay sharp," runs the site's introduction. "Everyone can practice typography."

On offer are featured lessons, including one on using shades for "eye-catching emphasis", a list of useful online references (blogs, articles, talks etc), and a reading list of books on typography. Of course, there are also links to Typekit's own fonts and its accompanying blog.

The Practice site is designed and maintainted by Elliot Jay Stocks, Tim Brown, Bram Stein and the Typekit team.

Aimed at both the type novice and expert, Typekit Practice is certainly informative – the lesson on shades offers some good pointers as to the various shading techniques available – from 'drop' and 'close' shades to 'offset' and 'printer's' iterations – while the site itself is clearly laid out and nicely written.

As Brown writes on the TK blog, " Lessons stand on a foundation of references to articles, blog posts, books, websites, talks, and other solid resources."

"For example, John Downer explains why sign painters shade letters to the lower left, Nick Cox reviews Typofonderie's Ambroise, and Typekit's own David Demaree ruminates on Hi-DPI typography. We're working hard to accurately cite the sources of references, so that readers have a starting point for further research."

It looks like Typekit Practice could evolve into a useful collection of hints and tips for those starting to play with typographic technique, and for others looking for some well-researched information on the discipline.

"We have lots of ideas for Typekit Practice," writes Brown, "plus an extraordinary group of authors and teachers helping us think up valuable lessons and make good references. Come practice with us."

See practice.typekit.com.


Harvey Nichols’ new website

Posted: April 17th, 2014 | Author: Rachael Steven | Filed under: Digital, Graphic Design | Comments Off

Harvey Nichols has launched a new magazine-style website optimised for use on smartphones and tablets. It's an interesting approach to content marketing, but the site's design seems to have divided opinion...

The new website was designed in-house and built by agency Ampersand Commerce. It aims to offer a better and simpler user experience and new features include a 'MyHN' section where users can create a profile and shopping shortlists; a 'fashion emergency' button which takes them to a live chat with a stylist and a 'click and try' service, which orders products to store for a one-on-one appointment with an adviser.

The most noticeable change, however, is the emphasis placed on content. Users can still use drop down menus to browse products by department and category but the homepage is now a mix of editorial features and social content. Articles are grouped into six categories, including trends, editor's picks, inspiration and brand focus.

Features are identified by icons and hashtags and include a mix of full-screen photoshoots, scrapbook-style grids and more traditional product lists and written content. Colour coding and symbols are also used to group products, sections and services.

The site took around a year to build and five months was spent planning design and user experience. Harvey Nichols' multichannel director Sandrine Deveaux says designers were given a fairly open brief, but asked to "make products look stunning, ensure people find what they are looking for as quickly as possible and fuse content with product as seamlessly as possible."

The new site is the brand's first designed with smartphone and tablet users in mind, and Deveaux says the re-design was driven by a change in consumer behaviour. "We have heavy usage on tablet and mobile, and the move away from desktop looks inexorable,” she says.

"[This] creates its own unique challenges, especially given that the vast majority of our customers are iPhone users, where the screen size is significantly smaller than most android devices," she says. "One of the most striking changes is the shift from traditional left hand category navigation to persistent top level. We've been heavily influenced by tablet usage where long scrolls are the norm, and felt that left hand navigation isn't fit for purpose anymore," she adds.

Harvey Nichols isn't the first brand to adopt this kind of content marketing approach - Net-a-Porter, ASOS, Topshop and Urban Outfitters' websites all feature style guides and editorial features - but these are usually confined to a particular section of the site. Harvey Nichols' takes the idea a step further, putting equal emphasis on content and product.

This does encourage longer browsing and may lead to customers stumbling on new collections, but it won't be to everyone's tastes. While the magazine format has proved successful for high street brands, there's a careful balance to be struck by upmarket shops who want to offer more content and interaction while retaining a sense of luxury.

The response to Harvey Nichols' new site was largely positive on Twitter but on retail and marketing blogs, it has divided opinion. Some likened the layout to low-cost templates, while others felt the focus on content was distracting.

But perhaps some of this criticism is a little unfair. There is still a widespread expectation that luxury brand sites should focus on white space and full-screen photos, but Harvey Nichols aim is to do more than showcase products. As Deveaux points out, Harvey Nichols is a brand that's known for its cheeky sense of humour, and the new website clearly reflects this.

“Harvey Nichols positions itself as...being exclusive but accessible. One of the joys of the brand is that it differentiates itself with humour and wit. Our challenge is to ensure that the core values are communicated to the existing customer base at the same time as offering an online customer experience that appeals to the next generation of customers," she explains.


The shirt on your back: Guardian interactive explores Bangladesh’s clothing industry

Posted: April 16th, 2014 | Author: Rachael Steven | Filed under: Digital, Magazine / Newspaper | Comments Off

It's almost a year since Bangladesh's Rana Plaza clothing factory collapsed, killing more than 1,000 people. To mark the event, the Guardian has released a powerful interactive exploring life in Dhaka's factories and the journeys our clothes make from factories to shop floors.

The shirt on your back: the human cost of the Bangladeshi garment industry combines compelling video footage with photography, infographics and written editorial. It's a thought-provoking look at both the impact of the fast fashion industry, and the tragic events that took place on April 24 last year.

The interactive is divided into six sections: it opens with a video showing the frantic pace of daily life in Dhaka and goes on to introduce three factory workers who survived the collapse. Editorial and infographics also explain the growing demand for cheap labour that has led to hundreds of factories being built illegally or without planning permission and the daily pressures factory workers face.

Full-screen video footage of the collapse includes some harrowing scenes of bodies being pulled from the wreckage, interspersed with survivors' accounts of searching for their friends and family. At each stage of the feature, viewers are reminded how little a factory worker has earned, and how much retailers have made, in the time they have been reading.

The piece ends with a look at the aftermath of the collapse and international reactions to it, as well as how survivors' lives have changed since. Readers are also invited to comment on issues raised on the Guardian's website, or share photos of their clothes and details of where they were made on its user generated content platform, Witness.

Thirteen staff have been working on the interactive since October. Footage was shot by director Lindsay Poulton and director of photography David Levene, who travelled to Dhaka in November.

Francesca Panetta, executive producer and special projects editor at the Guardian, says: "As well as being a major news event, this story seemed to fit the interactive treatment very well - it's complex and there's a lot of detail, but it's also very visual.

"Covering it in this way allowed us to add some historical context and a look at where we are now, as well as some more nuanced details. Of course, there are a lot of challenges with this format...as you need a large team with very different skills and it uses new technology that has to be tested and refined," she adds.

The responsive platform is the same one used by the Guardian to mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech last August, and the interactive was designed by Daan Louter. The muted colours and simple graphics reflect the feature's sombre tone, without distracting from Levene and Poulton's photography.

Panetta says it was also important to ensure the design is intuitive and that viewers are aware of their progress throughout. "It had to be clear so people didn't feel lost and knew where they were in the story and how long [it] was going to take," she says.

At 20 minutes, it's a long piece and one that demands undivided attention, but the mix of content and varied narrative structure ensures it doesn't lose pace. "With any kind of narrative, you need to think about the momentum of the piece and whether you should be using writing, film or sound," explains Panetta.

"It's important not to lose that linear continuity or tension, so you have to really think about where to switch from text to video. We also used cinematic techniques with sound and music to provide some added continuity," she says. Music composed for the piece is based on location recordings made in Dhaka, and Poulton says it is designed to grow from the sounds of the city.

It's a moving interactive, and one of the Guardian's best to date. The mix of audio, video and written copy is much more immersive than any of these mediums could be alone, and the layered narrative provides a look at the clothing industry and its impact on Bangladesh's economy, as well as an insight into factory life.

See the full piece for yourself here.


Penguin to unveil new covers on WeTransfer

Posted: April 16th, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Books, Digital, Graphic Design, Illustration | Comments Off

Iain Sinclair, American Smoke. Cover by Nathan Burton

Penguin Books has launched a partnership with WeTransfer where selected book covers for new titles will be showcased via the full screen backgrounds to the file transfer website...

The first series to be shown via the website is for the publisher's Street Art Series of novels which feature covers by artists: ROA, gray318, Nathan Burton, Sickboy and 45rpm. The series actually launched last year – details on the ten participating artists are here – but today's launch will pilot what looks to be an ongoing collaboration between the publisher and WeTransfer.

Zadie Smith, Embassy of Cambodia. Cover by gray318

For the Street Art series the covers are photographed as still lives, surrounded by objects which reflect the subject of the books. If users click on the image they are taken to Penguin's online store.

While the project isn't launching with an entire set of brand new cover designs (three from this series were released in June last year), the tie-up is an interesting way of promoting forthcoming editions. WeTransfer has 20m monthly users so the cover artwork – and the book, of course – has the potential to reach a wide audience. The next series of covers will be premiered on WeTransfer later this summer.

Nick Cave, And the Ass Saw the Angel. Cover by ROA

Zoë Heller, The Believers. Cover by Sickboy

Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End. Cover by 45RPM

WeTransfer have also recently collaborated with the British Fashion Council, designer Nelly Ben and Where's Wally.


Stair Bears

Posted: April 14th, 2014 | Author: Creative Review | Filed under: Digital, Music Video / Film | Comments Off

A self-initiated project from creative agency DBLG creates a charming stop motion animation using 50 3D printed model bears

Natalie Greenwood, a producer at DBLG says "We often undertake studio projects as a platform to experiment and above all have fun. Fascinated by 3D printing we embarked on a project to explore the use of stop frame animation using 3D printing technology. Collaborating with our friends at animation studio Blue Zoo we set ourselves the goal of creating a two-second continuous loop using a bear originally designed for our Animal Planet rebrand [which we covered here]. After four weeks of continuous printing we created 50 3D printed bears walking up stairs each making a frame of our animation."

Here's the finished project

 

And some making-of shots