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28 March 2007

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Richard

Can't explain it but I kind of like it. Andy Altmann was in Belfast a couple of weeks ago and showed us some pics like the Sausage Queen one. He'd taken it in Morecombe I think, or was it Blackpool? He explained how the place was just full of type like this.

By the way David, I've tried to ask you something off-blog but my email bounced back. All it was was this technical query:

When I engage in blog chat with commenters on Ace Jet, I do it by just leaving comments, so have to go through the same verification process (which can be tiresome). Is that what you do or do you know of a better way?

davidthedesigner

Richard, sorry you couldn't get through to me by email. Since the weekend I've been under siege from junk mail and I've been fiddling about with the account settings to try and block them (basically, my domain's been hijacked). But I haven't yet found the right balance between stopping the junk and letting through the legit stuff.

Which also explains why we have to go through the same tiresome verification process when commenting, of course. So no, there's no easy way around this (it's the price we pay for the worldwide distribution of Viagra and fake watches I'm afraid).

Marcus

Hi David,

Great blog.

To understand these web pages you could look at their visual meanings or connotations.

All of the designs feel deliberately ‘open’, in that they are not trying to ‘close down’ visual meanings to communicate anything specific. That said, there are some generative meanings even if they’re still open to individual interpretation. So, for example, some of the take-outs from Brown’s meaning universe could potentially include:

authenticity (raw, natural wear and tear)
anarchy, rebellion, urban, risk-taking (bullet hole)
complexity, creativity, attention to fine details (irregular cracks, marks, scratches, holes etc.)
solid, reliable (concrete)

In the end the ‘reader’ makes of it what they will, which could add up to intrigue and mystery, pretentiousness, or just plain confusion! ;)

davidthedesigner

That's a bit deep, Marcus - so I'm surprised you didn't go the whole way and comment in German.

But I wonder what Sacrum would think?

Marcus

Think you might have me confused with Marcus Brown ... I don't speak a word of German!

Yes a little deep, but I'm afraid the 'answer' isn't a straightforward one! ;)

davidthedesigner

My apologies Marcus. Shows me that I shouldn't jump to conclusions (my excuse being that it's early in the morning - for me, at least).

So, let me start again and say welcome to this blog.

I do, though, wonder whether the designers of the sites that I've referenced attach any deep meaning to their big pictures. I'm more inclined to the view that it's a solution that's currently fashionable amongst designers. Not least because it's a solution that immediately says (at least to me) "this is the site of a design studio". And it's questionable whether any of them would recommend such a solution to a client, or that the client would buy it.

Marcus

No worries - thank you for the warm welcome.

Completely agree that it's very unlikely that any of these designers consciously attached deep meanings to their work - that's because designers, like your good self, often possess this skill intuitively.

I expect all designers can relate to the moment when they change the graphic, font, colour scheme etc. and it somehow makes the design 'look better' - but few think about why. As I see it, it's not because the design is suddenly ‘better’ in any true/literal sense, it's because the visual signifiers (and their corresponding meanings) are now chiming better with the designer’s vision.

In other words, designers are instinctively switched on to the way that design frames content and helps shape the overall brand/product meaning. So in the Brown’s example, whilst the concrete wall probably just ‘felt right’ to the designer on a conscious level, on a deeper level, it’s more accurately because the kind of potential visual meanings (see previous comment) had created the desired effect that he/she was after.

The design-style itself is currently fashionable because it stands in opposition to the dominant graphic design norms, some of which stress the importance of functionality, layout, visual clarity for example. More specifically, they are injecting strategies from art to be more abstract and controversial.

In the 'Why Not' graphic for example, it subverts royalty through juxtaposition with a low-grade meat (sausage). The yin-yang symbol then adds an eastern philosophical dimension - just to confuse matters further for good measure! It doesn’t mean anything specific, since there’s no code (socially agreed rule) that points to an exact interpretation; it’s just meshing opposing meanings together to be ambiguous and radical, rather like art and fashion often do.

So, errrr yes, some more deep thoughts to think about! Sorry for rambling on a bit ...

Finally, just wanted to mention that I am planning to post on more design-centered topics in future – for those that appreciate a slightly deeper perspective. (Plus there’ll be non-deep stuff too, honest! ;)

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