Friday, May 13, 2011

What does Start Trek have to do with Singapore? Well that's hard to say, but this logo for the SDP (bottom left), the Singapore Democratic Party, caught my eye for the obvious similarity to the star trek symbol/badge (top left). According to the SDP, their logo is "a circle (which symbolises unity amongst Singapore's ethnic groups), behind an arrow (representing political progress in Singapore)." One could probably apply similar themes to Star Trek's symbol. It does seem to me that in the subtle differences, a lot can be inferred. The round edges of the Star Trek symbol are straight out of the era in which is was made, in the 50s and 60s such rounded angular shapes were popular in American design; from Vegas to advertising illustrations, they were simply part of the visual language of the time. And in the case of SDP's logo the sharp triangle brings to mind other Asian points of reference, like Mitsubishi's logo.

Also interesting to note, Singapore saw 14.5% growth in 2010, an amazing number, but the gains of recent years have been going mostly to the top, while the cost of living and property prices for average Singaporeans have increased much more than wages. I guess every galaxy has the same problems.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Not much to say about this one. Just thought it was well done. It's for the 54th San Francisco International Film Festival. You can see why they use an abbreviation!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The tax debate isn't going anywhere, in fact it's likely to become more contentious and prevalent in the run up to the 2012 election. Here at CITY POOL we take a look at visual look at the tax brackets.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Foursquare is an app that allows people to "check-in" at locations with a mobile device. You know, like when your Facebook friend's status says "XXX checked into Starbucks", that sort of thing (although in that case they might be using Facebook Places). I've done very little to get the 411 on the Foursquare identity, but I shouldn't have to just to understand their logo. So here's what confuses me.

The purple golf ball looking thing, I have no idea what that is; for the guy version it sort of looks like he's dribbling a basketball behind his back over that turbo tax-ish check mark. Or maybe the guy is skateboarding? And speaking of the characters, what's with their mouths? It looks like they have no jaw or teeth, and there lips just hang there like some sort of alien species. The girl's raised eyebrow makes her look nervous, but I guess I would be too if I was straddling a giant check mark.

For a company who's wants to be among the likes of Facebook and twitter, there identity and illustrations feel awkward and confusing. I've worked on projects that referenced Foursquare, and when trying to reduce it down to a Icon, it's still confusing and nearly meaningless, you have to have the check mark plus the purple ball and a couple shades of blue, ouch!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Recently The Whitney Museum decided to completely rethink the core of how a membership program works. The Museum decided to give their members more control and the flexibility to "curate" their own membership.
Instead of the standard, often age-based, tier system, where higher donations translate to increased benefits. The Whitney's new membership approach allows people to mix and match their benefits. If you're a social butterfly, you can choose to be invited to exclusive member parties; Family man? Family events would probably be your best choice.
Therefore, the primary goal for the ad campaign was to communicate the idea of mixing and matching benefits facilitated by the new customization options. Utilizing snappy icons and colors already created by the Whitney's design team, we explored several options before arriving at this solution.

For more info on Whitney Memberhsip

*(note we've added fades and a play button to the end of these two example ads just for demonstration purposes,
in their native context they began automatically and held on the final frame).

Friday, January 14, 2011

I've been in China the past three months, and will return for six more come next week. Happy New year, here's to getting more *rice in 2011.

*Cantonese slag for money, as in bread or dough for Americans.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Just came across this piece of French graphic design ephemera, and thought it was beautiful.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I know what you're thinking, not the sexiest name. But the brand's identity isn't bad. I came across one of their branches in Hong Kong last week and the store front and logo, that little snakey/DNA strandy thing, caught my eye. For the record I'm not sure what that symbol is supposed to be, but it's quite possible I'm missing something obvious. I don't care though as I like it, they use it a lot standing alone and it looks great. As far as the bank itself, wikipedia provides this interesting background snippet:

"Despite its British base, it has few customers in the United Kingdom and around 90% of its profits come from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Because the bank's history is entwined with the development of the British Empire, its operations lie predominantly in former British colonies, though over the past two decades it has expanded into countries that have historically had little British influence."

The bank clearly has an eye for design and even hired design superstar Stefan Sagmeister for the following commercial:

For my money the "long run" part is the best.

If your interested, here's a making of with SS:

Funny enough I once saw Stefan at a AIGA small talk and I remember he spent part of his early design career in Hong Kong, pretty cool all these years later he still has a presence here!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I came across this nice little dog logo today at my local Veterinarian's office. It's for a photographer who takes animal portraits, their named Red Leash Studio. I really like the curvy line on the bottom that indicates his fluffy hair and hides his feet. I also have a soft spot for Scottie dogs even though I'm not a dog person, but Scotties cut awesome profiles, they're just graphically pleasing shapes.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The other night I found my self falling down an internet rabbit hole that started with searching for the "Unite or Die" cartoon by Benjamin Franklin. I eventually found my way to a site selling all manner of military badges, the apply named As you can see from above they are all over the place ranging from abstract to cartoony, serious to ridiculous, attractive to terrible. Anyway here's a selection I can't resist sharing, enjoy.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the plethora of BP parody logos out there right now. But the subject is well covered so I'll keep this brief. There are a few different contests going on, the two largest I know of are Greenpeace's, and one on some site called "Logomyway". Not surprisingly there's quite a range of skill levels participating. To date the best I've seen is Draplin Design's, who was also pretty early to the party—having posted his sketches on May 28th. But I also love the two above, the Keep Calm and Carry On parody (a parody within a parody I suppose, but fitting since BP is a British company) from a designer named raithy; and BS by Mark Peters via GOOD. The irony of all these parodies is that there are in one way the sign of a strong brand and logo. There's a lot for people to work with, and many different interpretations still can be recognized as BP. I'd go so far as to say more people are inspired to make parodies because it's so easy to flip it and it's fun. I don't think Exxon parodies would as being as interesting. I wonder if in the end BP will keep it's name but change it's logo, or perhaps change both? That's one job I'd refuse to do.

Monday, June 7, 2010

This is not an ad.
well, it is, but it's one we created for a client...

The 2010 Whitney Biennial, which just closed,
is the Whitney’s best known exhibition.

"This year marks the seventy-fifth edition of the Biennial...and while Biennials are always affected by the cultural, political, and social moment, this exhibition, simply titled 2010, embodies a cross section of contemporary art production rather than a specific theme...Balancing different media ranging from painting and sculpture to video, photography, performance, and installation, 2010 also serves as a two-way telescope through which the Whitney’s past and future can be observed."—The Whitney

City Pool's role was to extend the established 2010 Biennial branding to the web, through animation. The poster and print advertising campaign featured blocks of text and color at different angles, which inspired the direction that was ultimately chosen.

As these examples show, having established angles to work with allowed for a fun panning back and forth along different axes.  This in turn allowed each chuck of information to be isolated, building up to the final reveal. The Whitney was seeking quick, crisp, movements; which meant no fading*, to which we happily obliged. With the speed, scale, bright yellow, and overall energy of the ads, we were quite happy with the results. The online campaign was very well received, and was updated for a final push shortly before closing to feature the Whitney's special around-the-clock hours. Were pretty confident those ads got peoples attention too. All said, it was a pleasure working with the Whitney Museum of American Art.

See more on the Whitney Biennial here.

*(note we've added fades and a play button to the end of these two example ads just for demonstration purposes,
in their native context they began automatically and held on the final frame).

Friday, May 28, 2010

Speaking from experience Rome is not the first place I would look for good design in the municipal sphere, Rome has a lot of confusing signage in many tourist spots, and the subways often seem to lack enough signage to begin with*. But I really like the identity for the city's transportation system. atac ROMA looks nice and contemporary and has some flexibility too. The flexibility of course comes from the ribbon like line that can be extended and used in different ways. With buses, trains, and trams all being elongated shapes it makes perfect sense to use a line as an element, so I say kudos. Even in the case of a minibus it still looks pretty good.

One feature of the identity that's been around for quite some time is the coat of arms; featuring "SPQR" which stands for "Senatus Populusque Romanus" or "The Senate and the People of Rome" a motto which is at least 2,000 years old.

As for the red/maroon stripe, it looks like has been an element of atac ROMA's look since at least 1980, probably earlier still.

But what I think really makes the current Identity is the type, I like the juxtaposition of the modern all lowercase sans-serif for "atac" against the historical Roman square capitals.


*in my opinion, no offense my Roman friends

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This ambitious logo was seen just the round the corner from my place. It's for a company named "Globe Fence" which it seems is still around and still using a variation of this logo. What makes this logo so interesting to me is how simultaneously direct and ridiculous it is. The company's name is GLOBE FENCE so the logo is a fence encircling the Globe! (imagine evil laughter). But the icing on the cake is how the continents are drawn, as if it there was no reference to be found and the person doing so had to rely on a fuzzy mental picture. North America seems to have lost the Gulf Of Mexico and molded straight into Central America, South America's west coast is a whole lot bigger, And my favorite, Europe and the Middle East, which almost make a key like formation with what I would guess is Spain and Portugal being connected to England and Ireland. Africa seems to be the most accurate, even though Antarctica seems to have slid up right next to Madagascar! Awesome!

Monday, May 3, 2010

As promised here's a selection of NBA logos, and some notes.

1. The Spurs Have the 4th most championships (with 4). After taking a colorful misstep away form their original logo left they have evolved their logo very intelligently.

2. I've always found this old Kings logo (1971-1993) odd and kinda liked it as a result.

3. When it comes to The Blazers logo, I've read the pattern of lines represent 10 players (two teams of 5) squaring off, a pretty abstract idea for a basketball team logo and it's kind of amazing it has survived all this time. In 1990, after 30 years, it was rotated 90 degrees, a change I agree with, and then in 2002 it was sharpened up, a change I disagree with.

4. The Nuggets 1981-1992 logo is the best known example when it comes to old NBA logos, with its rainbowy, tetris-esc city skyline, it certainly stood out from the crowd.

5. The 76ers have one of the most enduring logos. For a while they were using a new logo but this season have returned to the beautiful original. (the 76 and stars made up the logo from 1963-1976, the basketball and "ers" being added in 1977 and lasting till 1997, before returning this year)

6. I think there are a lot of people out there who are fans of this old Atlanta Hawks logo (1972-1994). While the thick line style of the 70's does give it great presence, I'm not a big fan, it just doesn't feel like a sports logo to me, it feels like a phone company.

7. As a former fan I'm biased, but this Sonics logo from 1975-1995 is one of my favorites.

8. The Pistons are another example of a team which went in a new direction, but ultimately returned to something close to the original. (the orginal is seen here)

9. The Braves moved the late 1970's, which is too bad as this was a pretty cool logo, plus they became the Clippers, ouch.

10. The Nets weren't the only team to depict there entire state in their logo, Golden state did it, but they were certainly the least inspired. Their design can almost be boiled down to: "Hmmm, let's see the team is from New Jersey...okay we'll use a outline of the state...and it's called the we'll have it say Nets". That said, it does have a certain straight-to-the-point awesomeness, and does benefit nicely from the shortness of the name "Nets" allowing the type to be large and compact.

11. The city (San Francisco Warriors, now the Golden State Warriors). I love this one, it was only around from 1969-1971, but I love its sparseness and depiction of the Golden Gate Bridge.

12. I think this secondary Bucks logo from 1978-1992 is great, yes it's whimsical and doesn't exactly strike fear into the hearts of men, and perhaps it borrows a little from the Celtics, but I think it's much better than the overly literal, trying too hard to be masculine, deer they have now.

13. It's interesting to note that you don't mess with success, The Celtics (17 championships) The Lakers (15 championships) and The Bulls (6 championships) logos have all basically stayed intact since 1968, 1960, and 1966, with minimal changes. Of course in the case of the Chicago Bulls, their championships didn't come till much later during the Jordan years, but at this point I doubt the logo would be messed with.

Special thanks to Sports logos

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I thought these corporate logo parodies were pretty great. They are the work of Felix Sockwell, and I came across them in this New York Magazine article which details the creation of brand Sarah Palin, and all the money she's made.

Photo of Sarah: Brian Snyder/Reuters/Landov

Friday, April 23, 2010

I happen to be a basketball fan, and watching the first round of this years playoffs I was again reminded of how much I dislike the "NBA cares" logo. I'm sure the program is good and all, but the logo is God awful. They're of course going for the childish/naiveté/friendly/loose/feel-good, feel. But in my opinion it's just lame. The unfinished lines which extend past each other make this mark look really messy and clumsy. And for the record I very rarely think an earth depicted with the latitude and longitude lines looks good. It's just not sexy, doubt me? I could go on for a while pointing out other aspects I don't like, but I won't (I won't even mention the 3Dified version). I don't mind the heart, I think it's fine to have one, given the subject matter it's going to be at least a little cheesy, but the logo could be done soooo much better. This logo's been around for quite some time, but I hope it's days are numbered. That said, coming up I'll make nice with the NBA with a positive post featuring retro NBA team logos.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I must say I love Palau's flag. It's about as simple as it gets, and love how the circle is ever so slightly off-center. Beautiful. One would naturally think the yellow circle represents the sun against a bright blue sky, or perhaps the blue represents the ocean, and the yellow circle, a lone island.

But none of those observations are correct, the yellow circle actually represents the full moon. "The Palauans consider the full moon to be the optimum time for human activity. At this time of the month, celebrations, harvesting, sowing, fishing, tree-felling, and the carving of traditional canoes are carried out." If I had to guess, given that Palau has a year round tropical climate, I'd say people are often active at night when it's cooler, just like many other pacific island societies, and the extra light from the full moon make it a really practical time to get some sh*t done. But that's just my guess, and we can see from the flag, one should assume nothing. Anyway, supposedly the blue "is in fact a representation of the transition from foreign domination to self-government". I could imagine making a really cool t-shirt based on the flag, an all cyan shirt, with a yellow circle off the one side on the lower half of the shirt, it would be dope right?

In case your wondering why I'm interested in Palau, yes, as Liz Lemon would say "I want to go to there". With crazy rock island formations, a jelly fish lake (they don't sting), ship wreaks, coral atolls, tunnels and caves, beautiful beaches, fish, and flowers; who wouldn't?   
Sorce: Wikipedia

Saturday, March 27, 2010

We're all familiar with contemporary identities, we come across and interact with them all the time. But I think it's good to have other sources to drawl inspiration from, as the past has a lot to offer. These sites and links having been making the rounds recently, but in case you missed them, or missed the chance to bookmark them, here are some inspiring samples of yesteryear. (and corresponding links to the larger full collections)

These quirky fellows are from Bookscans

This black and white group are just a few of many from a Flickr set by user Eric Carl, and are scans from a "mid-70's edition of the book World of Logotypes".

And finally these colorful creatures can be found on the Museum of Flight site.

Note: if you like these, Grain Edit posts a fantastic selection of work in this vain, both old and new. Lastly, to view Flickr sets much faster, I recommend Flickriver. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I've seen a lot of variations on these logos, but this happens to be a beautiful set. I think the concept of re-appropriating logos like we do now a days on the web is a new and interesting twist to the lives of logos and identities. 95% of the time it enriches the identities and logos, but lets be real, people have to be familiar enough with the originals to begin with. Still it's nice to think that the bigger you get the more the world injects individual personality into you brand, a sort of balancing out that simultaneously keeps your brand a little fresher and hipper. The days of tightly controlled identities are gone; at least when you identity is in someone else's hands, and that's largely a good thing.

Anyway I came across this set on the Neferiu Records website which is a label based in Canada. I'm not sure if they're the original artists, or if they pulled them from somewhere else, but either way they've got a beautiful quality, and being hand-painted is of course the antithesis of how we're used to seeing them on the web. Also it should be note that Neferiu's got some great music. There's a fair amount of music on their site for free, or by pay as you wish, which is great. If you like electronic/instrumental hip-hop music, it's worth checking out. In the mean time enjoy these two sample tracks:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Strange Attractor is a great Art and Design blog, which is worth checking out not only for the great work they post, but for their great use of Flash. Think about that, it's not often we hear "a great use of Flash" but TSA provides us with a great example. Their simple, geometric, nice and thick "TSA" logo is omnipresent and deceptively subdued; being light grey on dark grey. But as soon as your cursor touches the darker grey area, transparent geometric shapes pulse from the TSA in a multitude of colors. Further more if you roll over the actual TSA letters the whole thing starts really going bananas, speeding up and flashing with color. There is no mention or indication this will happen, so it's a great surprise. Because of it's positioning and size, it's inevitable first time users will mouse over the logo and trigger the fun, but even repeat visitors like me enjoy it!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Simple shoes is an interesting company, they use a lot of materials that are better for the environment, or are recycled. I've had mixed results with the quality of their shoes, but overall they seem like a good option. I've never thought their logo quite fit there brand however.

Treatment wise, for a long time on Simple's website they used a beautiful bled ink look. I really liked this treatment and felt it was appealing and hip. But unfortunately it looks like they've recently started using the logo situated on what looks like a dirty tag (I'm not a fan).

But lets get to standalone black and white logo. "Simply" put I think it looks like an 80's feminine hygiene product. This is because of the typeface they've chosen, I just don't think it's the right choice. Weight wise it provides a nice balance against the silhouette of the shoe, so it I do think it works from that prospective. And I like the way the "P" bleeds out into the negative space, but with that precedent set, why leave the "L" in a limbo state? I would have either bled the "L" cleanly like the "P" or not at all and worked it out another way. But putting my lack of love aside for the logo I could live with it if it weren't for the fact that they put the logo quite large on the back of their shoes in the form of a green rubber piece. For every pair I've seen it's made the shoes look a little silly, and dorky, and I wish they'd have the confidence not to slap it on every pair in this manner; or at least make it white or something. Basically my criticisms stem from the feeling that they could appeal to more people if their logo, and there application of it, was better. Plus I'd be happier too, ha ha. A lot of the actual shoe designs are quite nice though. Check 'em out.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

This little mark is 28 years old, just like me. As odd as it might sound it, "The Happy Tooth symbol was created in 1982 on an initiative of the Swiss University Dental Faculties to distinguish products that are safe to teeth." I often see it on gum, about the only product us proud Americans like sugar free. Overall I think it's a pretty solid little symbol, when it's on packaging it's usually pretty tiny but it reads really well. I only have two criticisms, first I think the roots of the teeth are either too large or too long. Perhaps it's too realistically a proportioned tooth, and funny enough it somehow causes the little guy to look like a frog to me. The second thing I'm not sure about is the top cap of the umbrella being square, and why buts up against the other pieces the way it does. It looks like an after thought. If anything the cap should be be rounded, matching the rest of the symbol, and I wonder if it would read with negative space in between, the same way there's some negative space between each umbrella section and the umbrella and tooth.