Coolest chair you will ever see in a library

January 22nd, 2010

Climate change weather forecast

December 23rd, 2009

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All I want for Christmas is to Design a Billboard

December 18th, 2009

I’m a web designer, not a print designer. So I’ve never been immersed in the world of all things print, from flyers to business card to even, yes, billboards. But that is all I want for Christmas. I want to design a billboard.

My days are filled building websites, designer interfaces and user interactions. I build mockups, wireframes, cool navigations and super cool buttons, but I have never built a billboard. Until now.

So here is my proposal. I will design a billboard for free. No charge for my design services and all the iterations it takes for us to get it right. The only request I have is that I get a photo of the real billboard with my design on it. That’s it.  No hooks or gimmicks.

billboard-aging

So, shoot me an , or give me a call at 720-235-8538. First come, first served.

Happy Holidays everyone. I hope you get what you want too.

Motorcycle Logos from Smaller Manufacturers

November 28th, 2009

The Top Manufacturers Logos can be found here.

It’s not everyday that you see an old Norton riding up Mt. Evans or catch a glance at the industrial design of an Aprilia bike, or even have the fortune to see a Vincent up close and in real life. However, their bikes and their logos continue to evoke nostalgia, evolve into another version or be purchased by their next owners attempting to revive their brands. Here is a list of some of those wonderful motorcycle logos and a few thoughts on their designs.

aprilia-logoAprilia (Italian)

I like the red. I like the white. I like the cleanliness of the sans serif font selection and the attention to leading. The lowercase “p” does a nice job to balance the height in the two “i”s and the “l”. To me, this logo defines what the essence of motorcycles are about, everything that is necessary without anything that is extraneous and worthless.

benelli-logoBenelli (Italian)

The emblem style design of the Benelli immediately ushers us back a few decades and urges us to remember craftsmanship, passion and even a bit of country. The stars offer different angles depending on perhaps where you call home, but the lion brings us all back to the roar of the motorcycle kingdom. The green color is not seen in many motorcycle logos and while refreshing, is also a much gentler tone than the more typical red and black and blue.

bimota-logoBimota (Italian)

I find this logo striking. The red encircling the black lines above the bimota font is clean, clear and connects the “b” to a wheel and fork design. The font is bold and sure. The leading might be just a bit tight for most, but I love the connection of the “b” to the “a”. Finally, as any rider will tell you, it’s the thrill of leaning the bike over that draws us back time and time again, and this logo grants us that request with its two large circular sweeeps that remind me of a highway entrance ramp or an expertly designed racetrack.

bsa-logoBSA (British)

BSA, or Birmingham Small Arms Company, was a British motorcycle company that also produced guns. Who can argue with that combination? The BSA logo was tasked with more than just motorcyles, so its evident that the treatment is a bit more usable than most. It also appears much more dated with the italic uppercase typeface and straight lined wing attached to the “B”. This logo isn’t gonna win any design awards, but it accomplished the goal, taking a long company name and making it more distinguishable.

buell-logoBuell (American)

The American company recently shut it’s doors this year. Know for building powerful machines and pushing the limits, their new logo, perhaps partly due to a push from marketing to increase sales, aligns itself with its parent company, Harley Davidson in the badge approach. The horse and wings conjure images of strength, freedom, power and speed, all things Buell embodied. The chiseled steel color and the forward leaning type help push some momentum into the logo. A great redesign that sadly we won’t see much of out on the road.

cagiva-logoCagiva (Australian)

The Australian company choose a unique image and it’s connotations for their logo. The elephant means a great many things to different nations and to different people. Still, there is the strength, wisdom and sheer power that connect it with motorcycles. The elephant is point backwards in  traditional Western Gutenberg design, but perhaps works better down under where things are always a bit opposite (or upside down).

husqvarna-logoHusqvarna (Italian)

This Italian company specializes in off-road and enduro style bikes. The inflated “H” looks like a head with a crown or a pumped up tire with spiky knubs sticking out on top. I can’t say I’m fond of this logo or company name even. The name, when pronouced phonetically in English (Husck-var-naah) sounds like its missing something, much like the logo.

indian-logoIndian Motorcycles (American)

The Indian Motorcycle Company stays loyal to their name with their logo. Chiefly, they are inspired by a rich American history of freedom, resourcefulness and the unique spirit embodied in the Native American’s culturally and individually. The circle treatment behind the chief’s head cements the logo a bit more, and the lovely type for “Indian” makes for a distinguished and refined feeling.

motoguzzi-logoMoto Guzzi (Italian)

Moto Guzzi is a collector’s dream company. Fans from around the world have visited the factory and touted the company’s success in the face of constant adversities. The logo has a history all the same. The golden eagle is a tribute to Giovanni Ravelli who died in a plane crash shortly after the war ended. The sans serif font is crisp and compliments the detailed work of the eagle. The wings of the eagle are outstretched offering both protection and the feeling of soaring. The 3-d emblem has certainly become more popular in the past decade and gives the logo a wholesome feel as well as offering the patriarchal Italian red to the design.

mv-agusta-logoMV Agusta (Italian)

Why I like the logo, I’m not completely sure. It’s a bit complicated and jagged for my usual taste. But it does something for me. The cog design is the most mechanical of all the motorcycle logos I’ve seen. I don’t really like the “MV” type face, but I do think it is nice how the lower portion of the “M” and the final piece of the “V” offset offering some balance. I don’t know what the blue heart beat blip that lays behind the “MV” is doing. The “Agusta” text is nicely curved, fitting tight to the cog but not overpowering the central piece. Again, not sure why I like this, maybe because it breaks too many rules.

mz-logoMZ (German)

MZ is a German acronym for “motorcycle factory” and a much shorter way to say “MZ Motorrad- und Zweiradwerk GmbH“. The MZ is a bit bland. The steel conical spike is a bit flat. And the green gradient badge is a bit awkwardly shaped. This logo is doing too little with way too much. Next.

norton-logoNorton (British)

Excellent logo. Everyone knows a Norton when they see one. They are “man magnets” as my friend calls them, pulling every rider off his bike to go talk up the Norton owner. The logo is clearly a Norton and no other. It has no competition in the scripted, free-spirited design. The final swoosh is clever and the perfect touch, pulling the font choice together. I also love the natural placement of the wheel-like “o”s that give this logo a bike feel. Can’t beat this one.

victory-logoVictory (American)

V is for victory and that’s good enough for me. But this bike isn’t about winning the MotoGP. The black emblem is nice, as is the shaped and perfectly sized “victory” and “motorcycles” type. The V and the wings and the awkward Robinson projection map in the background confuse this logo. And the Polaris “All Rights Reserved” stamp at the bottom make this logo a design collapse. Too many mechanics in the workshop. Ugh.

vincent-logoVincent (British)

Perhaps it is because I just want to own a Vincent, the Black Lighting to be exact, but I like this logo. The waving banner works much like the badge and emblem style logos, giving the type a nice background. The “HRD” stands for British pilot that first built these machines, one Howard Raymond Davies. I always like the appeal to the founders of the company and think this is a nice touch, but could be a bit smaller as I think it  overshadows the company’s name. For the next version, I also think you drop the “the” to clean up the logo and add more weight again to the Vincent name.

Transparency in Design

November 18th, 2009

While driving Speer Boulevard in downtown Denver this past week, I noticed a trending architectural design feature that has been growing steadily in the past decades, and not just in Denver but around the world. Glass.

Glass Half-Building?

More and more buildings are being constructed with glass as a primary exterior. In Denver, the Glass House, the Spire, the Colorado Convention Center to even the new Science Building on the Auraria Campus all rely heavily on glass. The dramatic increase in the number of high rises and large-scale city projects that are using glass a in their design begs the question, what does this transformation means to the world of design and to us as people living in this designed world?

Auraria Science Building from Speer Blvd. in Denver

Auraria Science Building from Speer Blvd. in Denver

Here is a list of potential benefits for choosing and exterior composed of glass:

  1. Lets in natural light, which may decrease energy use for lighting.
  2. Allows the space to feel larger, more open.
  3. May be cheaper to produce, but it may be more expensive to insulate.
  4. Allows the buildings exterior and interior to be constantly changing from the lighting.
  5. Connects those inside with what is happening outside.
  6. Permits the outsider a more intimate view of what is happening inside.
  7. Satisfies our innate voyeurism of curiosity.
  8. Pushes for transparency in infrastructure and activity

The Web is No Different

Apple aqua button

Apple aqua button

In 2001, Apple publicly introduced their latest operation system, OS X and with it their unveiled one of the most captivating and copied interface elements, the glass button, known more properly as the Aqua effect. (See 10m results in Google Image Search and countless web tutorials on the effect.)

This might have been the first mass “visual” indication of the web’s movement towards transparency, but it has been a long time in coming.

Dating back perhaps to the early days of the internet, when the original design wasn’t ecommerce and pay-per-click campaigns but the sharing of knowledge and information. Why duplicate some intense and tireless research when a study just like yours was being completed on a fellow university’s campus? The transparency of information mushroom-clouded into one of the largest easter egg hunts in human history. To this day, we are still attempting to digitize, encode, log, process and analyze every piece of available data, past, present and future.

The internet offered us the opportunity to publicly display and connect what was happening internally to an external audience, necessary (email, medical records)  or not (personal credit identity, most of twitter). This transparency has changed how we see and thus interact with the world.

Transparent Future

The future may never be transparent from the present view, but this current trend is only going to grow. There is a rise in OnDemand services. There is a push for try-before-you-buy (see GM’s lastest 60 day return policy). There is a demand for faster data access and improved data architecture. There is a desire for one’s online life to stream easily and securely between devices, applications and databases.

Business and life going forward will more effectively consider and offer thoughtful relationships that transcend data and functionality but extend greater personal connectivity that enhances our internet world experience.

So, in tribute to legendary anchorman, Ron Burgandy, “You Stay Glassy, Denver.”

Html Overlay Flash – The Fastest Solution

November 10th, 2009

Here is a quick and easy way to fix Flash overriding the HTML z-index.

This comes in handy when using javascript in menus and modal windows.

1. Include the WMode parameter with value “Opaque” or “Transparent” to the flash object tag

  1. <param name=”quality” value=”high” />
  2. <param name=”WMode” value=”Opaque” />
  3. <param name=”src” value=”slideshow.swf” />

2. Add WMode=”Opaque” to the flash embed tag

  1. type=”application/x-shockwave-flash”
  2. width=”400″ height=”200″
  3. src=”slideshow.swf”
  4. quality=”high”
  5. wmode=”Opaque”
  6. name=”slideshow”

Additional Resources
Adobe – Flash content displays on top of all DHTML layers

Confederate Motorcycles

November 7th, 2009

Motorcycles are machines. They offer transportation and supply functionality to their commander. But they are also independent creations. Marvels of their engineers and owners. They are the output of hours of consideration, crafting and creation, of welding, oiling and inking.

So when I first saw a picture of a Confederate motorcycle, I was stuck by the railyard ruthlessness and industrial inspired construction of these machines. They appear conceived not from a director’s chair in Hollywood, but from a revolutionary living in a left-for-dead town as he struggles to put pieces and polish on scrap metal and left to his warehouse and his genius creates an unapologetic beast that breathes fire and design and looks like no one else. And I want one.

The current year’s production include the Wraith, the Fighter and the Hellcat. My personal favorite is the Wraith, although I’ll have to wait a few years before I can cash my entire 401k to cover the $92,000 list price. What strikes me about Confederate, besides their mission statement to “deemphasize volume” which feels sorta throwback American in its effort to sell fewer, higher priced items than the consumerism jungle created by Sam Walton is their ability to actually maintain a business.

Confedearte - Wraith

Confederate - Wraith

I’m all for expensive toys. And I’ve already admitted that I’d love to ride one of these untamed wildebeests. But what this tells me is that while functionality is important, I’m sure the 1967cc engine fires on the first go, that the chain powers the rear wheel and that the bike certainly lunges forward, design, from concept to visual, thought to appeal carry a very real sense of value. So while not everyone may be in agreement over the Wraith’s design, there is a truth to how design affects our decisions, attitudes and perceived worth. Car manufacturers continue to roll out almost identical designs with Siamese-like trim and engine options, but motorcycles have found a way to transcend this monotony with unique approaches to the same problems.

Nesbitt, of Confederate comments,

But I’ve come to realize what I was yearning for was to study vehicle design, which they didn’t have in the curriculum and I didn’t know to ask. But I’m so fortunate I didn’t find out it existed because if I’d run through the mill like everyone else I’d wind up doing stuff like everyone else’s, too. My design approach is much more art-form-based, more inspirational.”

– JT Nesbitt

Confederate - Hellcat

Confederate - Hellcat

Artful and inspirational for sure, and even thoughtful. Matt Chambers, the founder of Confederate Motorcycles, even writes great articles on the company’s blog.

Confederate Motorcycles is a fresh reminder of the new America, the idea that copying only creates more of the same, that craftsmenship is a dedication to building a better planet and that innovation as a concept is for everyone even if the final product is only in the hands of a few.

What Great Design Feels Like

November 2nd, 2009

This past week I was lucky enough to spend several days at a five-star hotel in Aspen, Colorado courtesy of two new friends, Bruce and Lauri. The accommodations lacked nothing, from the jacuzzi tub to the viking appliances, the rain shower to the turn-down service with chocolates on your pillow each night, this hotel was one of the nicest I’ve stayed. Surrounded in these luxuries, I was able to experience great design in the everyday, from a smart refrigerator to quality shower faucets. This got me to thinking about what are some common themes of great design.

1. Great Design Feels Heavy

There is an aspect of quality associated with weight. The heavier an object feels, the more aesthetic perceived weight it obtains. The hotel’s sturdy coffee table, solid stainless steel shower knobs and the heavy frying pans all displayed this sense of worth just in the way each weighed.

2. Great Design Works the First Time

The normal shower typically has three knobs. One for hot, one for cold and one to turn the shower faucet on and off. However, at this hotel, there were only two. One to turn the shower on, the other to turn to set the temperature. This knob had small number markings to indicate how hot or cold the water would be, allowing a perfect temp shower every time. The beauty, you can’t make a mistake, the knobs work as the user would expect them to from the first time onward. No (naked) user error.

3. Great Design Works with Others

The Viking range that the h0tel room cooked up was an excellent example of designing of the users. While most ranges have knobs that indicate their level of heat from high to low with tick marks in between, this range’s selections matched with common recipe requirements like med-hi, medium, and simmer. Having the burning indicate exactly what the recipe requested made me a more confidant cook which translated into my appreciation for the range.

4. Great Design Pays Attention to the Common Tasks

I have always wondered why refrigerators had the freezer on top. Doesn’t the average user spend the majority of collective cooler time with the fridge portion, not the freezer? Insert your own picture of yourself bent over at the waist staring deep into the coffers of the bottom shelves in search of the pickle jar. A fridge with the freezer as a drawer on the bottom makes much more sense to 95% of the users. Heck, even my grandpa’s fridge, made back in the 60’s was designed this way. Why did we stray from the perfectly elegant solution? My only guess is some lobbying between the frozen foods companies.

The only thing better than a bottom-drawer freezer fridge, would be one that still offered an ice maker in the door.

Wine box table top

October 30th, 2009

Hanging at Victoria’s wine and coffee bar in downtown Aspen. I love
the table tops, it works like a hard(wood) working menu.

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Option Overkill?

October 30th, 2009

This is one feature-rich microwave.

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