Go to the Design Friendship home page | skip to main menu | skip to content

‘Design’ archive

RIP Ralph McQuarrie

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

I can’t tell you the exact date and time when I first saw Star Wars or for that matter how many times I’ve watched each of the films since, but it’s a lot and probably bordering on the unhealthy!

What I can tell you is that Star Wars and it’s sequels, has probably been the single most influential thing on my path to becoming a designer. Now I’m not suggesting for one moment that my Parents, both natural and graphical (you know who you are) friends, art, music, college & university etc, didn’t have some large role to play. But for as long as I can remember Star Wars has always been there.

Of course as a young wide eyed little 70’s wannabe Jedi it was the excitement of the movie that captured my heart first. But as time goes by that can fade, as it has done for many of my friends, now just that film we used to be crazy about when we were kids. I’m happy to say they’ve never faded in my eyes and if anything those films, plus a few others I’m keen to mention, keep getting brighter. But why?

Put simply amazingly detailed aesthetics, and the genius that is Ralph McQuarrie, who sadly passed away this weekend. “Who” I hear you ask? Well you can be forgiven for asking that question as he’s the unsung hero behind some the greatest designs ever to be captured on film. Ralph McQuarrie role call reads like the ultimate Sci-fi/Fantasy top 10 with the likes of Star Wars, ET, Close Encounters, Batteries Not Included, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Battle Star Galactica, all of which I love.

Above is Ralph’s concept drawing for the now iconic Storm Trooper Helmet and below is probably his most recognisable creation Darth Vader.

It’s so easy to overlook just how much Ralph MacQuarrie has contributed to design and I for one can’t imagine a world without his work in it. I think his life’s work is best summed up on his website…

“His influence on design will be felt forever. There’s no doubt in our hearts that centuries from now amazing spaceships will soar, future cities will rise and someone, somewhere will say… ‘that looks like something Ralph McQuarrie painted’.”

Counter-Print

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Seeing as its the season of good will i’m sharing an excellent site I found the other day. If you haven’t already heard of Counter-Print then head on over and check it out. They specialise in finding out of print and hard to find design books, magazines and posters. An excellent resource for any designer, be careful though this site is addictive!

A bottle of Coke please, how much?

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

I came across this great little clip via the BBC today about the origins of an everyday design classic, the Coca-Cola Original Glass Bottle. Many moons ago, in another agency life, both myself and Nat had the opportunity to work with this everyday icon and so it was really interesting to find out that one of only two prototypes, that lead to Coca-Cola OGB design, is up for auction in Beverly Hills. And what’s the estimated price for said bottle, a cool $200,000.

What I love about the Coca-Cola OGB is that it’s design is as simplistic as it gets, with so much iconic impact and just as rememberable, if not more so, than the brands logo. If that little lot wasn’t enough I’m absolutely convinced drinking an ice cold Coke out of the OGB makes it taste even better!

So as all that flashed through my head I thought I know I’ll write a post and here we are…

Below shows the concept drawing and prototype for the Coca-Cola curvy bottle created way back in 1915 by bottle designer Earl R. Dean. Amazingly this is one of only two in existence, the other is owned by Coca-Cola.

In 1915, Harold Hirsch, a lawyer for Coca-Cola, came up with a plan to launch a national competition in which bottle manufactures across the U.S would be asked to design a distinctive bottle. The brief was simple, created a bottle so distinctive that people could recognise it with a single glance or by the way it felt in hand.

Bottle manufacturer Root Glass Company, Indianna eventually won the competition with a design inspired by a cocoa pod, that the aforementioned Earl R. Dean had found in an encyclopaedia. The winning Prototype never made it into production as the middle diameter was deemed too wide compared to the base and this would make the bottles unstable when on the conveyor belts. But the seeds of the idea were sown and even after decades of tweaks, nips and tucks the original concept is still ingrained in todays bottle.

Above is the design patent registered for the original prototype design and below is for the revised and eventual bottle design. You may notice that on the patent Earl R. Dean’s name does not appear but instead the credit goes to the plants superintendent, Alexander Samuelson. Unfortunately Dean’s lack of credit was a result of company procedure, the cheek of it!

Right I’m going to pop to the shop and get myself a proper glass bottle of Coke, enjoy!

The Toaster Project

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

“Left to his own devices he couldn’t build a toaster. He could just about make a sandwich and that was it.”
Mostly Harmless, Douglas Adams, 1992

Ever built a toaster from scratch? Me neither, but how hard can it be? RCA graduate Thomas Thwaites as part of his final MA project attempted just that. Everything used to make the toaster had to be sourced from the raw materials. With the final cost coming in at £1187.54 this is a really humbling project that drives home how much industry goes in to something that we can buy for £3.99 from Argos.

The visual journey

The final toaster

Film on Paper

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Film on Paper is an archive of original film posters lovingly put together and featuring the collection of one Eddie Shannon. The shear effort alone should be commended but dig a little deeper and you’ll discover a beautiful and incredibly detailed catalogue. Eddie’s website is also a joy to mooch around and if you find yourself with a spare few hours then do yourself a favour and check it out.

Above and below are a few of my favourites but to be honest there are far too many to choose from.

One particular poster I had forgotten about, but was so happy to see is the teaser poster for the original Ghostbusters movie, I can’t begin to tell you how many times I drew that logo as a kid, such an iconic 80’s classic.

And if that little lot wasn’t enough then you need to check out the Film on Paper blog. Here you’ll find a great little interview with illustrator Tyler Stout, famed for his illustrative poster interpretations of iconic films. Eddie and Tyler discuss his interpretation of the classic film Akira which is amazeballz which ever way you look at it. Enjoy

Heart at first sight

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

What more can be said about Milton Glaser’s ‘I Heart NY’ identity that already hasn’t been said? Well for starters it’s one of DF’s favourite identities ever, for obvious reasons, and if that’s not a good enough reason to write a little post about it then we don’t know what is?

We’ve always thought logo design is at it’s very best when the clients brief is executed in it’s most simplistic and true form with a little twist. Think about it, all the classic marks that grace the logo hall of fame have this very unique quality for example Fedex, the Woolmark, British Rail and Nike’s Swoosh to name but a few. Glaser’s ‘I heart NY’ is definitely up there in our opinion, but what is interesting to find out is that this iconic logo almost never was.

Above is the original sketch Glaser did on an envelope in the back of the NY taxi after having second thoughts and somewhat of a eureka moment and below is the old school cut and paste layout sheet, both of which are now on permanent display at MOMA New York.

As with most iconic logo and creator back stories Milton Glaser didn’t get a cent for his creation back in 1977 which now generates over $30 million a year for the State of New York! Glazer has been quoted as saying “he did it for free, as a gift to New York” in a time when the city needed all the help it could get.

Back in 1977 New York was bankrupt, had rolling black outs and was in the grip of the highest crime levels the city had ever seen. The State needed tourism to help generate income for the city but New York had so much bad press at the time the tourists were staying away. New York State’s department for economic development commissioned the Madison Avenue advertising agency, Wells Rich Greene, to create a campaign that would help combat this. At the time New York’s big selling point was Broadway, and the agency came up with the slogan (“I Love New York”), in the shape of a jingle by the composer Steve Karmen and a television commercial featuring the stars of broadway. But they still needed a logo — and that’s where Glaser came in.

As you’ll see from the above clip a lot has changed but the one thing that’s stood the test of time is Glaser’s simple, iconic logo which we heart a lot.

Hipster Ipsum

Friday, October 7th, 2011

If you’re bored of using the standard Lorem Ipsum in your pitches then this little link might be just what your looking for. Hipster Ipsum above comes in two flavours and might just make laying out nonsense type that little bit more bearable!

However we’re thinking Tourettes Ipsum could be interesting addition, enjoy!

What an amazing Job.

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Today is a very sad day for graphic designers all around the world as Steve ‘The Man’ Jobs has sadly gone to the big studio in the sky. So much will be said and written about his vision, determination, leadership and achievements over the coming days by the great and the good and deservedly so.

Now I realise everyone is going to bang on about iPods, iPhones, iTunes, OS X, Pixar etc etc, and rightly so as Jobs has achieved in one lifetime what most could only do in say a 1000, but I’d like to say thanks for my very first Apple Mac LCII.

It sported a 12″ colour monitor, a staggering 4MB of ram and ran hotter than the sun at times, but that little beige wonder helped me through my college and uni years and played its part in getting me where I am today. Yes it was the computing equivalent of R2D2 from Star Wars, it didn’t always do as it was told and was by no means a looker by todays standards, but it kept on going through all those late night work sessions when the deadline was looming.

So thank you Mr Jobs, I think you’ve earned your rest.

A graphic, fractal, ravey treat

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

I’ve been meaning to post the above video, No Brain by Ettienne de Crecy, for a while now but never got around to it due to work loads, so apologies if your thinking “this is well old news innit”. Really beautiful video if you have a thing for lines, grids and shapes like I do, with a great ending that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Visuals like this do tend to transport me back to the ravey, ravey, miss behavey days. Directed by the very talented Fleur & Manu via Division with post production from Mathematic, great name.

I’m a bit of a sucker for the ravey goodness produced by Mr Eitenne de Crecy and I was lucky enough to see his ‘Am I Wrong’ live show at Matter a few years back, which if you haven’t seen you can check a snippet of below. Enjoy

Giant 3D Typography

Monday, September 12th, 2011

A while back we came across the simply beautiful work of Jimmy Fiction Esq and for some strange reason, probably a crazy deadline, we completely forgot to post about him. So to make amends we thought we should blog about Jimmy’s very big colourful three dimension letters that would look amazeballz in DF HQ if we had the space!

As Jimmy points out on the website his creations are perfect for the garden and home, as well as festivals, brand spaces, events and the like. All letters are hand manufactured in welded steel, and resin or powder coated for many years of resilient alphabetical service.

They are free-standing and sturdy enough for all-weather outdoor use and as a framework for planting, or can be supplied with custom fixtures and fittings, for example wall mounting, if needed. Jimmy also offers a full bespoke design and manufacturing service for any variations you or your clients may require.