Past, Present & Future


Hanging Around

[Astoria, NY]


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

[Astoria, New York]

We Are What You Buy

Stephen Bayley is a British design critic, cultural critic and author. He is also responsible for the implementation of the much loved London Design Museum.

In the wake of the London 2012 Olympics his criticism on merchandise and its relation to the visual excitement and experience of the 2012 Olympic Games brings a much needed twist to our normal perception of the events. While I don’t normally post editorial content or opinions, and while Bayley’s criticism might be filled with humor and ubiquitous sarcasm, I believe that beyond his colorful personality is an important message to the design world.

When he speaks about the Olympic merchandise being sold in London, he states that the choice of product “Assumes a very low level of intelligence amongst the public.” Regarding the image seen below, he then asks “How is the person who consumes this bit of ‘tat’ going to be changed or enhanced by possession of it? It’s ugly, it’s cynical, it’s stupid.” As he tosses the product onto the ground I can’t help but agree with what he is saying.

He explains many examples of souvenir commodities as ‘patronizing, exploitative and useless.’ The products contain a message slapped haphazardly onto a preexisting form with preexisting connotations. From my perspective, the only reason these products are consumed is because of the text written on them. Merchandise, giveaways, and promotional items are often an afterthought in the design process. They are created after the implementation of a design system, often by a third party. Many items sold that are commemorative or nostalgic in purpose often require no level of thought, and represent nothing close to a personalized experience. They simply act as successfully as would a sign that reads “I was in London and the Olympics were happening.” Why is it that this would be less impressive to bring home than a snow globe essentially communicating the same message.

As a designer I am constantly thinking about how we can enhance our experience in this world, and I believe for many people these experiences are hard to recognize. They often happen in our subconscious and many do not realize how much our visual world affects our human experience. It is important not to dumb down our culture with what is familiar and easy. We should always strive to think and create new experiences for the masses. That is our job as designers and communicators and the minute we give up on that goal, our culture is bound to suffer.

I support many of the design decisions made during this summer Olympics. For 5 years I have heard the negative feedback regarding the Olympic Logo and identity system. While there are always things that could have been done better, I support London and their vibrant design community for challenging the public to think outside the box.
[via YouTube & Vice Magazine]

You can see more of this Vice Magazine trailer below;

Virtual Travel: The Heidelberg Project – Detroit, Michigan

The Heidelberg Project is a unique art environment located in the heart of Detroit’s East Side. The project’s main focus is to take a stand to save forgotten neighborhoods and to heal communities through art. Founder and artistic director Tyree Guyton uses everyday, discarded objects to transform a once closely abandoned area into an area full of color, symbolism, and creativity. The project has been around for about 26 years and  is recognized around the world as a demonstration of the power of creativity to transform lives.

When I stumbled over the project on Google Maps while perusing through Detroit I couldn’t help but smile at the colorful houses and art displays juxtaposed against the normal images of urban decay. If you would like to peruse the project on your own, check out the Heidelberg Project Google Street view!

[via Google Maps]


[Manhattan, NY]

Preserving the Past

Imagery has an extraordinary effect on history. There are few people in this world who work to preserve the imagery, language, and history of the past. For almost 50 years, Nathaniel Montague has collected Black History memorabilia, amounting to thousands of historical documents and pieces of visual communication. Due to financial constraints, his collection has been seized, and is up for sale. The fear is that the individual pieces of the collection will part ways, and be sold piece by piece to the highest bidder. There is fascinating wonder in the idea of seeing all of these pieces together. Sometimes an image conveys more when juxtaposed next to related material. As a fan of collecting, I understand the heartache this man must be going through. I can only hope that an institution can see the value of his collection as a whole.
[via CNN]

See The Video Here 


This ad for the Paralympics really struck a chord with me today. Extremely clever and well done.
[via The Canadian Paralympic Committee]

Shapes & Type of Montauk

[Montauk—Long Island, New York]

No Credit Cards Accepted

A small hand lettered sign at a butcher shop in my neighborhood.
I truly hope hand letting never dies.
[Astoria, New York]

Beware of Dog

Perhaps in the future it will say “Beware of Robot Dog”
[Astoria, NY]