Archive for December, 2009

We’re Headin’ Out Fer the Holidays

Monday, December 28th, 2009

TheSearchersLARGE

We’re moseying out this week to round-up some dogies and rustle up some holiday grub. Come visit us fer a spell next week.

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Marget Larsen

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009
Marget Larsen, cardboard Thonet chair

Marget Larsen, cardboard Thonet chair

I have a romanticized idea of design in the 1960s and 70s. I imagine the designers of that time sitting at their drafting tables, ordering type, calling an airbrush illustrator, sketching wildly on their large pads, and jumping into their Corvettes to hang at a local Victorian bar with the other designers. Early in my career, I went to Robert Miles Runyon’s office in Marina Del Rey for an internship interview. I recall a woody interior with macramé and hanging ferns. It was very “Regal Beagle” from Three’s Company.

I never met Marget Larsen, she died prematurely in 1984, but I imagine her in this way: “Here’s a sketch,” I imagine her saying to young designer in a white shirt and black tie, “I’m thinking Caslon.” then sitting back and drawing curly-cues. The work is sublime and looks so effortless. Of course, it was probably much more difficult.

Larsen worked in San Francisco. She worked on ads for whisky, bread packaging, and fashion stores. Her touch was delicate and bold at the same time. There is a slight touch of Victoriana and assemblage in the work. Her sense of typography for ads designed while she was at Weiner & Gossage elevated their genius copy and gave them national standing. These ads move away from the traditional composition of product image, headline, secondary copy and logo in the bottom right corner. They are designed with the presumption that the audience is literate and can read. My favorite Larsen design is the cardboard Thonet chair. It’s one of those ideas that I see and say, “Why didn’t I think of that? Can I copy it and nobody will know?” Since I’m publishing it here, I guess not.

Marget Larsen, Dean Swift Snuff

Marget Larsen, Dean Swift Snuff

Marget Larsen, Paul Masson ad

Marget Larsen, Paul Masson ad

Marget Larsen, Irish Coffee ad

Marget Larsen, Irish Coffee ad

Marget Larsen, Whiskey ad

Marget Larsen, Whiskey ad

Marget Larsen, Parisian Sourdough Bread

Marget Larsen, Parisian Sourdough Bread

Two, Two Symbols in One!

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

AdamsMorioka (hey it's my blog), UCLA Extension Summer

AdamsMorioka (hey it's my blog), UCLA Extension Summer

I’m sitting at Bob Hope Airport (Burbank), waiting for a flight. My post today is subsequently limited to what I have on my computer. Fortunately, I have a lecture that I give to my students about idea making. OK, yes, it could be dull. However, you can’t complain there was no educational value in the Burning Settlers Cabin.

Here is the problem: we experience the world in scenes. We watch scenes on television, we see them in life from eye level, and we see them in our mind when we listen to the radio or read a book. I realized this when I noticed a trend with my students. All of their solutions tended to be a depiction of a scene. If the assignment were a poster for “spring in Paris”, they would return with solutions of people sitting at tables with the Eiffel Tower behind them. But this is boring. This is what most movie posters are.

Lou Danziger taught me about the “fused metaphor”. This formula can be used when designing that combines symbol A with symbol B to produce a new result. This is my process: I make a list of every symbol, for example, Summer in Los Angeles: summer; sun, beach, beach umbrella, swimming pool; Los Angeles; freeway, oranges,  palm tree, etc. and then combine the symbols. What happens if you combine a freeway with the sun, or an orange and the beach? The solution is a combination of symbols that have more resonance than a scene of people sitting on Venice Beach.

Louis Danziger, American Paintings
Louis Danziger, American Paintings
Louis Danziger, The New York School
Louis Danziger, The New York School
Ivan Chermeyeff, War and Peace
Ivan Chermeyeff, War and Peace

Ivan Chermeyeff, Pepsi-Cola World
Ivan Chermeyeff, Pepsi-Cola World
Ivan Chermeyeff, Pepsi-Cola World
Ivan Chermeyeff, Pepsi-Cola World
George Nelson, The Misfits
George Nelson, The Misfits

George Lois, AIGA Paperbacks
George Lois, AIGA Paperbacks
Lou Dorfsman, CBS The Morning Show
Lou Dorfsman, CBS The Morning Show

Paul Rand, Origins of Modern Sculpture

Paul Rand, Origins of Modern Sculpture

Paul Rand, UCLA Extension Winter

Paul Rand, UCLA Extension Winter

Paul Rand, Modern Art in Your Life

Paul Rand, Modern Art in Your Life

The Ballad of the Sad Cows

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Douglaston_Steakhouse

When we design an identity system, we go through a long and thorough process. The final outcome fits the client’s business and is the foundation of a larger system. But when I see this logo for Douglaston Steakhouse designed by Restaurant Associates in the 1960s, I want to drop all of the thinking and visual exploration and only design logos with sad animals. Strangely, this logo seems more fitting for PETA, than a steakhouse. It’s honest, though, and I appreciate that. If you eat steaks, well, there’s no getting around the fact that a cow had to die. I think the cows in this are experiencing the classic stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, and acceptance.

Color Me Technicolor

Friday, December 18th, 2009

I’ve been encouraged to do some “how to” posts. This is difficult because I’m sure my methods are whacked and I wouldn’t want to run anyone down the same path. Nevertheless, I’m often asked about our color palette. Usually the question is, “where do you come up with these colors?” I know the subtext is, “Where in the hell do you come up with these colors?”

The typical color palette at AdamsMorioka is bright. This is partially because the floor ceiling windows that line one entire wall of the studio blinds me. I also know that people like bright colors. They make people feel upbeat and energized. Bright colors open the door for the viewer to feel comfortable. I’m a fan of doing work that is seductive, not repulsive. And I probably have bad taste.

A commonality in most of the palettes is their connection to Technicolor. If I could only achieve that intense and saturated color in Bye Bye Birdie I would die happy. Bye Bye Birdie is a cartoon, painted with a fauvist sensibility. The tones are pure and intense, and liberally sprinkled on each frame. One secret I’ve used to try and replicate this intensity in 4-color printing is to use touch plates of fluorescent magenta and yellow under the CMYK. Try it. You’ll like it.

Ann-Margret, Bye Bye Birdie, 1963
Ann-Margret, Bye Bye Birdie, 1963
Ann-Margret, Bye Bye Birdie, 1963
Ann-Margret, Bye Bye Birdie, 1963
Mary LaRoche, Paul Lynde, Bye Bye Birdie, 1963
Mary LaRoche, Paul Lynde, Bye Bye Birdie, 1963
Maureen Stapleton, Bye Bye Birdie, 1963
Maureen Stapleton, Bye Bye Birdie, 1963
Janet Leigh, Bye Bye Birdie, 1963
Janet Leigh, Bye Bye Birdie, 1963
Janet Leigh, Ann-Margaret, Bye Bye Birdie, 1963
Janet Leigh, Ann-Margaret, Bye Bye Birdie, 1963
Ann-Margaret, Bye Bye Birdie, 1963
Ann-Margaret, Bye Bye Birdie, 1963
Bye Bye Birdie, 1963
Bye Bye Birdie, 1963