Behind our redesign for the Barnes Foundation

When we were approached by the Barnes to redesign their website we couldn’t have been more excited to work with them. Not only were we huge fans of the museum, but the more we engaged with Thom Collins (Executive Director and President) and Shelley Bernstein (Deputy Director of Digital Initiatives and Chief Experience Officer), the more we were inspired by their vision to reinvigorate the experience of the Barnes—and their recognition of the role design and technology can play. If you’ve been following along, you’ll have read about the Barnes’ forthcoming wearable and how they are rethinking museum collections online. It wasn’t just these refreshing initiatives that impressed us, but the user-centered, data-driven approach that supported them. Our ethos was aligned and we just had to work with them.

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The long press

The long press

Previewing my favorite apps with the long press

If you haven’t played around with Wildcard yet, you should definitely check it out. The news and entertainment app for iOS and Android provides additional context to curated top stories by collecting articles from multiple sources and splicing them with summaries of key milestones as the story develops. Beautifully designed and high-performing, one of the most pleasing aspects of the app are its subtle use of tactility and animation. The other day the app prompted me to press and hold a card for additional options — sure enough, that gesture introduces a modal view where users can quickly share and save the article for later without the investment of loading the card itself.

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Powered Flight, Eye Magazine

Powered Flight, Eye Magazine

Cover, Pegasus no. 20, 1981, ‘Creativity’.

We’ve written before about our soft spot for print, and in particular, brands that succeed at creating original content. There’s a fantastic article on this topic in Eye no. 88 that looks behind the scenes at the designers, content creators and making of Pegasus, a premium magazine that was funded by Mobil from 1970 to 1985.

“I don’t think any company was producing anything like this,” says [editor Gregory] Vitiello, “so tangential to the business and intended to be so thought-provoking.”

Read Powered Flight.


John Maeda: Design and VC

“Who invests in you matters more than how much they invest in you. As Paul Rand often said, the quality of the client will determine the quality of the design. If you get money from the wrong people you will be negatively constrained, so choose well.”

John Maeda’s move from President of the Rhode Island School of Design to the venture capital firm KPCB last year is as clear a sign as any of the increasing value placed on design in business. This topic, which has been covered extensively over the last few years (I offered my own take this past summer), is presented in a refreshingly personal monthly newsletter by Maeda that arrived in my inbox today, including the above quote.

The newsletter, a companion to Maeda’s twitter stream @designandvc, shares his thought-provoking and valuable observations that tend to stay with me long after I’ve read them. I would also suggest reading Maeda’s article for the Wall Street Journal, “Three Principles for Using Design Successfully as well as the Design and VC blog post where he’s collected an archive of articles on the subject, going back to 2004. I look forward to more from Maeda as he continues to champion the role of design and designers from his new post in Silicon Valley.


Designing Vancouver

I recently spent a week in Vancouver, where the seeds of my AREA 17 adventure were planted. It was there I met Arnaud Mercier in Y2k while working for Blast Radius and I still remember the buzz that was created when his Elixir Studio Subway portfolio got sent around, along with the news that he would soon be joining our ranks. I was only a couple of weeks into my first real position as a designer, and over the next couple of years I had the opportunity to learn from him and a host of other incredibly talented art directors whom I continue to hold in high regard. I guess that’s why Vancouver has always felt particularly rich in design for me, despite the fact that the Canadian city does not have as many cultural offerings as New York or Paris (a fact subtly lamented by Arnaud at the time). So it was with an odd sense of pride that I discovered a thriving design culture, especially in Gastown, the city’s oldest neighborhood.

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Five Ways Good Design Can Help Your Business

Five Ways Good Design Can Help Your Business

The Cognitivie Puzzles Ogilvy campaign for IBM Software. Illustration by HORT and Carl De Torres.

This article was originally published on Adage.com as the third in a three-part series authored by AREA 17’s leadership team.

Good design is good business. Now more than ever this well-worn phrase, coined by long-time IBM Chairman-CEO Thomas Watson Jr., is worth repeating. In an increasingly competitive business landscape, design is the new battleground and the success of your business depends on it.

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