Beautifully Briefed, Early April 2022: Eames Institute, Loony Backgrounds, and … Condor!

Three completely unrelated items for you this time, ranging from the serious and interesting through the loony and interesting to something of a whole different stripe.

The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity

Update 2, 25 Apr: Brand New discusses this logo, with the usual catchy title: The Fast and the Curious: Counterspace Drift

Eames Institute’s “curious” logo variations, discussed at Brand New

Update, 8 Apr: It’s Nice That has more: The Eames Institute launches with a curious, “Eamesian” identity, and a logo that observes

Original post: Practically everyone has heard of an Eames Chair:

A particularly awesome example of an Eames Chair (and ottoman).

What you might not realize is that the legacy Charles and Ray Eames left behind enriches our lives to this day. It’s a shame, then, that while their house is a mid-century masterpiece (and museum), much of their lives have remained behind closed doors.

For almost three decades, a barn-like building in Petaluma, California, contained remnants of one of the most iconic design legacies of the twentieth century. […] We created the Eames Institute because we want you to examine the archive of what you know—the collection of your experiences, understanding, memories, and questions—and connect to the provocations that call to you. We want you to tap into that same fount of relentless curiosity, and its power to shift your perception and open you to innovations and discoveries.

Now, however, there’s the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity. Awesome name aside, it introduces us to the more personal side of one of design’s strongest partnerships.

Items from the Charles and Ray Eames Institute.
Drawings from the Charles and Ray Eames Institute.

The website requires some interesting scrolling to get where you need, but the results are more than worth the time — and is one that earns (Eames?) its suggestion of satisfying infinite curiosity. Explore and enjoy. (Hat tip: ArchDaily, The Newly Launched Eames Institute Brings Insight into the Eameses’ Design Methodology.)

Loony Toons Backgrounds

Design You Trust: “Looney Tunes Without Looney Tunes: Existential, Surreal, And Creepy Backgrounds.” The post sends readers to an Instagram account, which I’m not going to link to, but the images themselves are fascinating:

Crossed wires, anyone?
Imagine who might run up to — or even get pushed off of — this cliff.
A nice, innocent factory. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

Next time I treat myself to a Loony break, I’m going to make sure to spend some time looking beyond the action and appreciate the backgrounds. Nice.

Condor Airlines Rebrands

Most of you have probably never heard of Condor Airlines; they’re mainly a European thing, a “leisure” airline associated with Thomas Cook, formerly owned and run by Lufthansa. (Here’s some history.)

It doesn’t particularly matter. What does is the bravado exhibited by management. Before, a typical airline logo — dare I say, typically Germanic:

Condor’s OLD livery.

Then someone said yelled, “HEY. WE DO VACATIONS. LIKE BEACH TOWELS. LET’S DO STRIPES.” The result:

Condor’s NEW livery. Wow.

Armin Vit:

The new livery has zero fucks to give and just plasters every plane with thick vertical stripes that go against pretty much every single assumed tenet of what makes a good livery. It doesn’t look speedy, it doesn’t look nimble, it requires a lot of paint, and by all other standards it is just plain ugly and I love it.

Read more or see images at Condor, see the Brand New post, or even hear from the armchair pilots at Airliners.net. Now: anyone got a beach?

Beautifully Briefed, Late March 2022: Type Museum, Toshiko Mori, and … Buick?

Catching up with a few unrelated stories that I’ve been meaning to post — including one pretty significant failure on my part, one potentially significant failure, and because not everything should be about fail, an extremely interesting and thoughtful interview.

Tiny Type Museum Sold Out

I was cleaning up open Safari tabs on my phone the other day — the detritus that results from checking things on the fly when out and about, often or never closed — and noticed that I’d sort-of bookmarked something for action and … missed it. Crap!

The Tiny Type Museum & Time Capsule, with specimens and those beautiful drawer pulls.

The Tiny Type Museum & Time Capsule is a celebration by journalist and printing historian Glenn Fleishman of type and printing, and an effort at preserving history for future generations to re-discover. Each custom, handmade wood museum case holds several dozen genuine artifacts from the past and present, including a paper mold for casting newspaper ads in metal, individual pieces of wood and metal type, a phototype “font,” and a Linotype “slug” (set with a custom message), along with original commissioned art, a letterpress-printed book, and a few replicas of items found in printing shops.

The Tiny Type Museum. (Bottom drawer.)

The museum includes a letterpress-printed book written for the project, Six Centuries of Type & Printing, in which Fleishman traces the development of type and printing starting before Gutenberg printed his Bible around 1450 up through the present day. This book acts as “docent” for the museum, providing insight into the stages in technological and artistic development that took place, and explaining the importance and nature of the artifacts. It also slides out neatly as part of a sled from the top of the museum case, and provides the visible name.

The letterpress book is still available: get your copy, or subscribe to the podcast. But even if you don’t, take a moment to appreciate the work that went into this — well done, indeed.

Buick’s New Logo

This one … I dunno. The race to do car logos flat black-and-white has seemed like a race to the lowest common denominator. (See previous coverage of BMW, Volvo, Cadillac, and more.) Below, Buick’s old (left) and new (right) logos, courtesy of Motor1:

The trademark filing for Buick’s new logo.

Thankfully, there’s been a leak — Instagram, natch, so no link here — demonstrating that it’ll still be in color:

From Instagram (alas): The new Buick logo in living color.

Still, not sure. Will have to see the official announcement and package that goes with it; Motor Trend suggests that it might be part of an EV-only future. Stay tuned for Brand New’s take, I guess….

Toshiko Mori

The former chair of Harvard’s graduate architecture program has given a great and wide-ranging interview to New Reader:

I think innovation doesn’t come in one huge leap. It’s a series of small steps. Accumulations of small discoveries, followed by incremental implementation. And then it all adds up. Innovation is not a single idea—it’s incredibly incremental and additive. Even these small discoveries can change the way we think about things very quickly. So I think every step of the way—problematizing “what are the issues?” and “what are the solutions?” filtering issues of sustainability, supply chain, accessibility, will eliminate many solutions which are not possible. And then you end up with small nuggets of potential. In a way it’s very systematic, innovation, and so is experimentation. It’s the elimination of what’s not possible and focusing on goals.

Toshiko Mori. Image courtesy of New Reader.

You know, history is not about the past, really. History is about the story of an individual interpreting history. Historians cannot be unbiased narrators. Every history is a story, and then yes, there are facts—which are important, but the way you connect facts and then make diverse narratives is super interesting. 

As you can see, Fox News provides false narratives, and a lot of times they skew the facts, and that’s a problem. It can be used dangerously, but it can also be used productively. I think that’s what makes history rich. It’s not about the past, it’s about projecting into the future. So when I teach students, I ask them to make their own story based upon their research. But it’s a story—so that’s kind of their own reality. And based upon that reality, they can develop diverse narratives and then communicate the story to others. It’s not as if you have different opinions, but you have different stories to share. It’s not about controversial opinions, but about the way we each look at life very, very differently—and that enriches everybody.

The whole thing is definitely worth a read: Archinect News called it a “nuanced interview,” and if anything, that’s an undersell. Please go, reflect, and appreciate.

Side note: New Reader‘s notes throughout the interview deserve special mention (see the red Greek letters and separate, well, sidenotes). Nice.

Architecture in Music

New Zealand-based photographer Charles Brooks, who happens to have spent years as a professional cellist, brings us some astonishing inside-the-instrument shots, including this one:

1780 Lockey Hill Cello. © Charles Brooks

The Colossal post, where I ran across this, is definitely worth a read. But let me just add one thing: He’s using an L-mount (yes!) Laowa probe lens, an insightful choice driven by curiosity. Well done, sir.

His levitation shots are killer, too. And there’s behind-the-scenes (literally) stuff on his blog. Oh, and his logo is fantastic.

Score! (Sorry — had to say it.) Go visit.

Cadillac and Mercedes Logos: New — or Not (Updated)

Cadillac and MB logos

NOTE: See my previous car logo redesign coverage regarding BMW, Mini, etc., and more recently, Volvo.

Update, 7 December, 2021: Brand New has, as usual, done a superlative job of discussing the new Cadillac logo. See their post here, remembering that they’re subscription now — possibly the best $20/year available.

Original post follows:

Cadillac has updated their logo, their first redesign since 2014. First, though, some history:

Cadillac logo history

The mid-century look, with the “crowned” logo, might be my favorite:

Photo by Jill Refer
Photo by Jill Reger

As seen in the last line above, the 2014 logo is a simplification of the 2000 logo, sans the “old-person” wreath, and I thought quite successful:

Fast-foreword (ahem) to 2021, and the monochromatic, flat-logo thing is in full swing. The latest “old-person” target is the Cadillac script, replaced with another trendy item, a custom “Cadillac Gothic” font.

Cadillac Dealer, 2021

Not only that, but there’s the new trend among luxury automobiles — mere cars aren’t good enough — of illuminated logos;

Cadillac illuminated logo

It’s Nice That has more on Mother Design’s new take on Cadillac.

Mercedes, on the other hand, has just celebrated the 100th anniversary of the three-pointed star. Then:

MB logo, historical

Now:

MB logo, now

When it’s done right….

Beautifully Briefed: September, 2021

BB - Sept 21

Let’s get the shock news out of the way first:

Hoefler and Monotype

It’s been thirty-two years, four months, and fourteen days since I hung out a shingle to announce that The Hoefler Type Foundry was open for business. What started as a sole proprietorship grew into the Hoefler&Co of today, a diversified design and technology practice with an international reach, still dedicated to the invention of original, thoughtful, and hard-working typefaces.

Meanwhile, “nothing will change,” Jonathan Hoefler (previously) says, except that he’ll be stepping down. That’s kind of a big change, IMHO — but after using typography to “help elect a president,” where do you go from there? Read more here.

In happier news, the much-delayed new Bond movie, No Time to Die, is finally in theaters next week.

The 007 logo

Ever wonder who was responsible for the above (slightly brilliant) graphic? Read Stephen Heller’s The Daily Heller: The Most Prolific Designer You’ve Never Known. Informative and great. Bang!

Corp State of America: GA

Keith Fleck has gotten a good deal of press for his Corporate States of America, but in case you haven’t seen it, it’s absolutely worth a look. Maine’s L.L. Bean, Florida’s Publix, and, of course, Georgia’s Coca-Cola are all winners. 51 bonus points!

Lastly for this month, some book design:

On Myself

Daily Nous asks their readers to nominate the best philosophy book covers — Judging Philosophy Books By Their Covers — and there are some winners, some absolute losers, and a few funny moments, too:

Black Sabbath, except not

“This always reminded me of a rejected Black Sabbath album cover or something,” says the poster. Nice. (And only 185 cents!)

On Volvo’s New Logo

Volvo Concept Rechage (2021) title image

The “Iron Mark” has been given a makeover, and the result is … interesting. First, as a reminder, here’s the logo as it appeared previously — no, the one previous to that:

2009 Volvo Iron Mark (on S80)
My mother’s 2010 Volvo S80

The blue has been associated with Volvo’s logo for a long while now, and it’s slowly been disappearing from the lineup (in favor of black in the same location). However, they’ve decided — they being both Volvo Cars and Volvo Group, two distinct entities (the latter including Volvo Trucks, the Volvo construction folks, Volvo Penta [marine], etc.) — to change to this new, more austere logo and word mark simultaneously. Aaaaaand:

2021 Volvo Iron Mark

Words fail me. Thankfully, there’s been plenty of coverage. See Brand New (subscription), CarScoops, and The Drive. What’s interesting — and largely gone under the radar — is that the logo debuted on a concept car back in June.

Volvo Concept Recharge (2021)

It’s part of a trend, too:

2021 car logo redos

See the previous coverage on Foreword. Can’t go, however, without a hat tip to Kristen Shaw at The Drive, who dug out this 1937 version — which, I’d argue, beats ’em all. Kudos.

Volvo logo (1937)

Beautifully Briefed: Icons and Typography, Mid-June, 2021

Three items for you here, starting off with the 2021 Logo Trend Report, from the Logo Lounge. From the Asterisk to Electric Tape, Quads, Chains, and more:

2021 Logo Trend Report

Bill Gardner discusses all fifteen different trends, with logos to back ’em up (naturally).

Next, “A Cabinet of Curiosities” from Hoefler & Co.

Printers once used the colorful term ‘nut fractions’ to denote vertically stacked numerators and denominators that fit into an en-space. (Compare the em-width ‘mutton fraction.’)

This is beautiful:

Dutch Curio, H&Co

A Dutch curio, representing the letters z-i-j.

Read all of the rest.

Lastly, these are amazing . . . and simple, the better form of “simply amazing.” Yeah:

111 Shadow

See the rest at This is Colossal.

Happy June!

Peace, Ken Garland

RIP Ken Garland

All of us recognize this symbol:

Peace!

Now, let’s take a moment to celebrate the creator: Ken Garland. Not your typical graphic designer, he reached out, embraced the 1960’s and ’70s, and never looked back.

I couldn’t remember where I’d heard his name until I realized he was in toy and game design, and likely mentioned in one of the toy books I’ve worked on over the years. But there’s so much more. Read more of his life story at Dezeen (“Graphic designer Ken Garland dies aged 92“) and It’s Nice That (“Adrian Shaughnessy on Ken Garland, a ‘disruptive and questioning spirit‘”).

(More) Beautifully Briefed, Books and Design, May 2021

BB_May-2021_More

On David Hockney’s Piccadilly Circus logo:

piccadilly-circus

It’s been a minute since I’ve been in London — 2011, to be exact — and I’d love to go back. The food, the parks, the museums, the Thames, the short train rides to more interesting places (Hello, Cambridge?), and even the Tube. (We’ll leave the anti-Americanism aside for right now — we’re post-Trump and post-Covid, so traveling is at least an option!) Yet even the cultural masterpiece that is London is showing some cracks; from the New Statesman:

Hockney’s Piccadilly Circus has also drawn criticism for its simplistic approach. Over on the cesspit of arts criticism that is Twitter, anonymous accounts that decry all art made post-1920 as an abomination have ridiculed Hockney’s scrawl as indicative of the death of art. Other critics have rightly argued that the work feels like a red flag to a bull: fuelling culture-war debates about the legitimacy of public art, rather than encouraging the public to get onside.

I like it more every time I see it. Read more at It’s Nice That.

On the NYC subway map:

Speaking of It’s Nice That, an interesting new book from Gary Hustwit . . . on the debate over the New York City subway map. On the one side, the iconic Massimo Vignelli version, introduced in 1972, representing the less-is-more approach. On the other, the replacement version from John Tauranac, introduced in 1979, representing the more-accurate-is-more approach. (An updated version of the latter is still in use today.)

But back in 1978, the two got up on stage at Cooper Union’s Great Hall — home to debates of, among others, Abraham Lincoln — and pitched their case:

They Look Happy! (Subway debate 1978)

Newly discovered photographs and audio lead to this new, smartly-designed, book. Read more at It’s Nice That; Dezeen has an interview with the author. Pre-order the book and get a limited-edition letterpress print at Oh You Pretty Things.

Subway Map Debate Book

On books and book design:

Nice new cookbook chock full o’ seventies-era design, “Violaine et Jérémy returns with a cookbook for Molly Baz, featuring three of the studio’s much-loved typefaces,” at — wait for it — It’s Nice That:

Nicoise Sandwich

Sandwich Nicoice. Mmmmmmm.

Lastly, just because, Kottke collects pencil photography to examine the typography. Nice.

Kottke on Pencil Photography

The New Website and Foreword Blog

Back in the ’90s and Aughts, my ex-wife and I ran a popular book design blog called Foreword. For a variety of reasons, from divorce to moving to Georgia and then deciding to do photography full-time, I got away from it. I even let the company name, ospreydesign, get away from me.

I’ve been seriously regretting losing Foreword for a while now — and its return one of the driving reasons for the new web site. Part of that has to do with a return to book design, and wanting to comment on the same, but also because I don’t do social media and have wanted a space to talk about — and get feedback on — items to do with book design, photography, and so much more. There’s no place better than your own web site. Thus, Foreword is back, this time as part of my personal site: gileshoover.com.

Memory Lane

Here’s what ospreydesign looked like way back when:

ospreydesign as of February, 2001

The site evolved, but only to a point — those were the days of having to pay attention to screen width. Remember: 15-17-inch screens were the new hotness; 13-inch was more normal. (Hence the small layout.) There was something comforting about it, though, and this look preserved for years. Here’s another screenshot:

ospreydesign’s home page, as of January, 2007

Foreword, a relatively new item called a weblog, or blog, was both a vehicle of discussion and publicity. And it worked — this little blog grew and gained followers, basically riding the early “wave” of blogs.
Here it is from 2005:

Foreword in March, 2005

The “look” changed shortly after, while the popularity continued to grow. Here’s another, from fourteen months later:

Foreword‘s new, wider-columned look, from June, ’06

At this point, Foreword was at its utmost; thousands of readers, #1 in a Google search for “book design,” pretty much everything — and I, quite frankly, blew it.

The Photography Era

Changing my priority to photography full-time was both awesome and a completely mixed bag. I absolutely loved the instant results of digital photography, and enjoyed the possibilities of editing them; filters, textures, black and white, and more. The creativity was more immediate, as well, in that I was my own “editor,” for lack of a better term, not answering to as many people as designing books can be.

Making money was more difficult than with book design, but somehow more exciting; in many ways, it’s a performance art — I had to get it right at the time (there are no redos — events move on!), then make it better in the edit. But, I quickly found that weddings and events were not my strong suit. Like many making a profession out of a passion, I too often clashed with the “vision” thing; what I wanted to do — architecture, landscapes, “things” more than people — wasn’t what you made money on.

Maine Schooners, 2009

Worse, I was ahead of an extremely powerful wave: photography as something ubiquitous. With the rise of everything from a flood of new folks doing photography full-time to practically everyone “being” a photographer with just their cell phone, there was absolutely no way I could make the success out of it that I could have had I just stayed with book design first and photography second. Sure, I still did book design — I was early in the photography book genre — but photography as a career waned after a few years.

Lesson learned.

New Memories

So, Foreword has returned, and book design is again what I do first, with photography back to being a passion instead of a full-time job. I’m better for it, frankly; so, hopefully, will my readers, as we can again share my love book design — along with why I’ve returned to it full-time.

Having a blog again also gives me a chance to talk about design, book production, photography and how they’ve changed in the intervening years, and recommit myself to regular posting; something I’ve missed and hope others have, too.

Welcome back.