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Is Apple a design company?

Like many others, I spent some time today looking over the suite of new and updated products from Apple at this years WWDC. Most interesting of all, however, was a new brand ad, communicating the pride they have in signing their products 'Designed by Apple in California'. Read more.

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Is Apple a design company?

Like many others, I spent some time today looking over the suite of new and updated products from Apple. The new Mac Pro is cool, the new iOS look and feel was very, let’s call it, “new”, and the other stuff they shared was one, the other and often both at once.

I try not to bring up Apple too much in discussions with my clients, as most times I do, it’s dismissed. It seems many people in marketing and business don’t think the laws of the real world apply to the Cupertino based company and the enviable brand they’ve built - as if by magic Apple are able to play by a different set of rules.

I spend a fair bit of time thinking, reading, learning about and admiring Apple. I’m also using at least one and often a few of their products every waking hour of my day; from listening to music from my iPhone in my car driving to work, working on a Mac to reading on my iPad Mini before bed. I admire the company greatly. Most people roll their eyes when I say that, and I understand why; I sound like a fanboy, as if I’ve been seduced into the cult.

But what I admire about Apple is their culture - a way of thinking, working and making things that, as far as I can tell, has been indelibly marked by the force of will, personality and values of their charismatic founder, Steve Jobs. Steve was fond of saying in many of his keynotes that Apple sits at the intersection of the liberal arts and technology, and in a Forbes article he probably hit upon his most eloquent expression of the ideal;

“It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough – it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”

It wasn’t until today I realised Steve wasn’t just talking about Apple - the above metaphor, of an intersection of liberal arts and technology, is the perfect expression of what design is. The different disciplines of design are distinguished along technocratic lines - architects and interior designers understand a mullion from a spandrel, industrial designers learn the myriad tolerances of different materials, web designers know PHP from CSS, and graphic designers know all sorts of stuff like how to export a PDF.

Technological differences define and separates design disciplines, be they the productivity software we use, our technical jargon, the production or construction methods. But all design disciplines can speak the language of less is more, of balance and form, of composition. We can all admire and appreciate each other’s output, we all have a favourite painter, illustrator or photographer. From my experience, most people in the design industries are socially progressive, politically aware and have read a book or two.

Often in my work I try to distill a ‘brand idea’ - a snappy two or three word expression of the core idea that underpins a business, the products they put out to the world, what they value, their culture and heritage.

Probably seems obvious - Apple is, at it’s core, a design company, free from clients and budgets. A design company where perfection is the only goal and how much your work changes the world is the true measure of success. Today I realised, again, why I love Apple so much - they’re the perfect design company; they have colleagues not clients, incredibly high standards, and a huge impact in making people’s live better - which sounds to me like any designer’s dream job.

 

 

Posted by Clinton Duncan in Advertising, Branding, Design, Identity, and Digital.
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Ryoji Ikeda @ Carriageworks

Contemporary art in Sydney's larger public institutions can often be a hit and miss affair, but Carriageworks currently has on show a particularly good work with Ryoji Ikeda's Test Pattern #5. Read more.

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Ryoji Ikeda @ Carriageworks

Contemporary art in Sydney's larger public institutions can often be a hit and miss affair, but Carriageworks currently has on show a particularly good work with Ryoji Ikeda's Test Pattern #5.

Consisting of a series of celing mounted projectors pointed directly down upon the viewer, Ikeda's Test Pattern #5 is a sensory overload of sound and light. Monochrome linear visuals morph in reaction to the stochatto rhythm of the electronic music. Drums pound against the high pitched squeal and crackle that only sound from a digital source seems to deliver.

Viewers are invited to walk amongst the field of light, engaging with their whole being with the artists' forceful, seemingly malicious intent. A cursory glance at this work would read dark and foreboding; a cavernous, ominously darkened room, violent music and no colour at all. And yet, watching other members of the audience, from the young to the old, the reaction is delight, joy. Many jump and skip in time to the racing lines of light, as if playing a game of rope,  while others lay flat, relaxied and calm amongst a cacophonous audio visual assault.

 Art is often hung on a wall, or mounted on a plinth - precious, unapproachable, "do not touch!" - the penalty of breaking these rules can be painful for all concerned, often most acutely the artist themselves. I'm reminded of a story of an unfortunate German tourist who sat on James Angus' delicately intricate wooden sculpture 'Seagram Building' at the MCA in Sydney a few years back.

It's interesting to note, and heartening for a designer like myself who likes to bend the rules and ignore obviousness, that such an uncomprimising, apparently brutal work like this could be such a crowd pleaser.

 

Posted by Clinton Duncan in Art, Design, Digital, Environmental and .
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Is this the most advanced directional sign in the world?

Showing the way to go. Where digital content sharing meets cutting-edge wayfinding systems Read more.

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Is this the most advanced directional sign in the world?

As part our ongoing passionate affair with all things signage… we discovered a new exciting leap forward in wayfinding technology.  

This slick looking design product (by Points) features an interactive menu along with rotating directional wayfinding blades that rotate, whilst responding to pre-recorded environmental needs - it has the ability to updates as everything around it does.

And it can respond to relevant, popular, or timely events approach, the push panel menu refreshes its options. It packs motors, gears, sensors, wiring, and a support structure into a such a compact slender design.

Features of this sign system include:

Rotating digital screens – Rotating digital screens on the blades have the ability to be programmed to communicate;  custom locations, talk times, stages, allowing Points to direct people to where they need to find.

Customised information that changes and updates during the day – Data is are pulled in via local data APIs, allowing Points to serve up the nearest and best places for that time of day. It additionaly pulls info such as open/close times and daily specials for nearby restaurants and cafés. 

RSS – Points can be hooked up to any RSS feed from which it can pull information like local and global news relevant to whatever crowd is present.

Twitter – Points pulls in hashtagged and geotagged tweets that are associated with brands, talks, concerts, etc., serving up-to-the-minute comments and interactions relevent to the surrounding audience.

Foursquare – Check-ins, Mayors, and Tips can all be pulled in via Foursquare, highlighting trends and hotspots around a given area or event.

Easily Extendable – Points is designed to be extended via custom data or APIs so that it can dispense data and information that’s relevant and needed for a particular event.

All in all, we think it's the start of some really exciting leaps in the integration of digital content, social sharing and wayfinding technology. Way to go!

 

 

 

Posted by Paul Taboure in Digital, Environmental, Insights and .
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Your own personal UAV Navigator

Technology is evolving at a fantastic rate and some of the brightest new minds at MIT's Senseable City Lab have developed a unique approach to assist wayfinding through complex environments. How you ask? Your own personal UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) or 'Drones' as they're often called. Read more.

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Your own personal UAV Navigator

The team at THERE are always looking at the latest technology and wayfinding ideas for potential inclusion in a project. Sometimes this is an easy and obvious fit, sometimes it requires a little stretch of the imagination to see how it might work. But that's what makes the future so much fun to think about.

MIT Senseable City Lab have developed an APP called - SkyCall. In short, if you don't know how to find where you're going, the APP calls in your own personal UAV as a guide. Using your GPS location, the UAV flys to you and then guides you to your destination.

Using a quadcopter's ability to sense it's environment and proximity to objects is just part of the brilliance of this development. We can foresee this sort of system being utilised in education campuses or perhaps hospitality applications on remote locations, guiding tourists safely to their destination. How it could play out we're yet to see, and it might be a little while before it's a commercially available system, but the premise alone is well worth a mention. 

In other drone news, entrepreneurs in the US have begun exploring the feasibility of drone transportation fleets - tacocopter anyone?

 

Posted by Gordon Eckel in , Digital and Environmental.
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THERE Re-invents the Showroom

A great piece from Australian Creative on the launch of the Stylecraft Website Read more.

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THERE Re-invents the Showroom

By Australian Creative

After six years together, an agency gets to know a lot about a client. So when THERE redesigned Stylecraft's website, the agency went beyond the same old same old functionality. 

It's not just that the agency streamlined the search and specification of Stylecraft's volumes of products. The new site has also been fashioned into a collaborative productivity tool. It allows designers and architects to collaborate with each other, as well as the Stylecraft staff, to source and select the right product to meet their briefs. 

 

“At Stylecraft the prospect of developing a new website was quite daunting given the product depth and required functionality. I must confess that all of my preconceived concerns, whilst not being unfounded were quickly put to rest as THERE methodically stepped us through how we were going to create not only a new website, but one that was going to be functional, user friendly, device friendly, an important tool for each user (internal and external) and most importantly, reflective of the Stylecraft brand that THERE had helped build over the past six years,” stated 
Anthony Collins, managing director Stylecraft, in his applause.

The site makes searching and specifying as fast as possible. This accomplishment answered the major design challenge of the project, and resulted from proper collaboration from all members of the team. “At THERE we build the type of relationship and deep understanding of client objectives, partnered with best of breed design and technical execution. This site was a big effort from teams across both Stylecraft and THERE. The site is beautiful not just in it’s visual simplicity, but our team of designers went deep into the process of using the site to find some valuable insights and brilliant solutions to everyday challenges that confront specifiers,” THERE creative director, Clinton Duncan explained



Users are able to create Collections of products and associated finishes that can then be saved and shared among a design team, or with a Stylecraft representative. There are options for exporting or downloading resourcing from the site - for example the site allows a user to download all images, cad and certifications from a large number of products with a single click of a button, saving the designer hours of tedious work.



“It’s a case of a functionally-rich site, that looks elegantly simple” stated THERE managing director, Paul Taboure. “A combination of intuitive design aesthetic sensibilities, deep knowledge of the Stylecraft business, along with a thorough understanding of the A&D audience, enabled THERE to effectively surpass expectations on a challenging and complex site.” 

The site is also responsive to mobile and tablet devices. This was a key requirement as, these days, designers and architects tend to work on site and on the go.

Posted by Gordon Eckel in Digital, News, Web, Architecture, Design and Interiors.
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PlanDo. Love your work, love your life.

Creating a new brand for online integrated career development platform Read more.

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PlanDo. Love your work, love your life.

Love your work, love your life.

We worked with the clever folk at PlanDo to establish smart brand identity and launch site for an online HR resource and career development tool for organisations and individuals, enabling all of us achieve our true potential, build our career, and discover our best self.

For sometime organisations have been encouraging people to take control of their careers, so PlanDo created a tool to democratise career planning, performance, growth, engagement and transitions. It's an integrated career development platform.

THERE were asked to create a brand strategy for this start-up brand. Deliverbles included; strategy, identity, art direction, tone of voice, icons and marketing website.

Part-career log, part-gamification, part-mentoring – all empowering. Empowered together you can plan and do amazing things with PlanDo.


www.plando.com.au

 

Posted by Paul Taboure in Branding, Corporate, Identity, Web and Digital.
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Another Day Made of Glass

A look at how we now, more than ever, nearing a touch screen world Read more.

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Another Day Made of Glass

Digital runs vertical through our THERE business and now more than ever, there are exciting advancemnts in the spatial world of environments

Take a look at vision for the future with specialty glass at its heart.

Source: Corning is one of the world’s leading innovators in materials science.

For more than 160 years, Corning has applied it expertise in specialty glass, ceramics, and optical physics to develop products that have transformed people’s lives.

 "A Day Made of Glass 2," is an expanded vision for the future of glass technologies. This video continues the story of how highly engineered glass, with companion technologies, is starting to help shape the world around us.

Posted by Paul Taboure in Digital, Environmental, News and .
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Test your inner design nerd

Online games to test your design skills. Read more.

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Test your inner design nerd

The Method of Action site has a range games and tools to help test your design skills and have a bit of fun. The site creates some educational entertainment out of what can sometimes be taken for granted.

The site includes keyboard shortcuts and touchscreen compatibility which adds to the intuitive, enjoyable user experience. You can tell that there has been some time invested with the clean UI design and attention to detail.

The kerning game 'Kern Me' allows you to move a few of the letterforms around to achieve the correct kerning and gives you a score depending on how well you’ve done. It also superimposes your result over the correct kerning to see how you might be able to improve.

Even if you feel like your version is correct there is an option for you to share your version with the site's creator as feedback.

Also not only can you can test your kerning skills but can also test your control with the pen tool.
Happy keming ;)

Posted by Dave in Design, Digital, Play and Web.
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You are here. Barangaroo Precinct Wayfinding Strategy Win

Establishing a unified precinct wayfinding strategy for Sydney's Barangaroo precinct Read more.

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You are here. Barangaroo Precinct Wayfinding Strategy Win

THERE are pleased to announce that we have been appointed to undertake a cohesive wayfinding strategy plan for Sydney's Barangaroo precinct. 

Barangaroo is Sydney's newest and most significant inner-city precinct. It is located on the north-western edge of the Sydney central business district and the southern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The site, once a huge concrete apron servicing commercial shipping and more recently passenger liners, is undergoing a remarkable transformation.

Over the next decade it is being re- shaped into a thriving public, residential and commercial precinct with a waterfront promenade running the length of the site. Incorporating a major new public headland park: Barangaroo Point, which will bookend Bennelong Point, it is one of the most ambitious and significant waterfront redevelopments anywhere in the world.

 In the near future, 23,000 people will live and work in the precinct, with 33,000 people expected to visit Barangaroo each day.

 With such a massive development being rolled out in stages,  our first challenges will be ensuring synergy between the design agencies working in silos to ensure an overarching guiding design principle to aid cohesion between them.

‘We aim to deliver an overarching wayfinding strategy for the Barangaroo to help galvanise the precinct as a whole’ says Gordon Eckel, Commercial Director. The aim will be to create a guiding framework and platform to ensure consistency and cohesion across the different buildings, stages and agencies.

 Barangaroo South will merge with the city, and visitors will be guided by wayfinding and signage systems with clear, consistent and intuitive information that will enhance the experience for multiple user groups. The Carpark wayfinding system will be an inventive and colourful modular system designed to guide an individual or group's journey through to the built environment and will support the vision for a bold new place. 

 

More on that to come…

Posted by Paul Taboure in News, Design, , , , Property, Digital and Environmental.
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