I was just catching up on the local news, and came across this article on the local rag's website. It details what you might think of as being rural joy riding: someone takes a 4x4 and trailer into a butterfly reserve and sets about destroying several skylark nests and loads of cowslip flowers. It's what happens hereabouts - ocassionally.
But here's the thing. The local rag depends upon advertising in order to tell me all about this. But what does Google AdSense throw up? An invitation to discover the joys of the Toyota Family 4x4 Range.
This is my BT landline phone. You probably can't see what it says on the display, which is part of the reason for showing it to you. Let me tell you what it says: "1 NEW CALLS".
Now, dear BT. How your customers love to hate you. But you've no idea, have you? Absolutely none at all.
So let me explain. Is there any point in me knowing how many calls I might have had in a day? Not for me, there isn't. But if you want to give me information that YOU might think is useful, then do me a favour and make it legible. And while you're about it, bloody well tell me in ENGLISH.
I would have phoned* you to explain this. But then you're a telecoms company and you won't allow your customers talk to anything but machines, will you?
End of the week, friday and we all live for the weekend. Unless of course you might be a designer and you don't necessarily live for the weekend, as you never stop thinking with the exception of sleep I suppose. (I can tell you for sure I do not dream about design, deadlines perhaps but that's a whole different kettle of fish all together) So yes Friday were all looking forward to relaxing, so I thought after yesterdays rant, I'd post something a little less weighty. I'm not a huge typography fan but recently I have come to appreciate and yes, adopt a geek type of sensibility. Below are a couple of examples I've spotted recently of bad kerning quite a fundamental corner stone of design. Isn't interesting that these examples come from opposite ends of the retail spectrum? I guess no one is safe from the designers who don't learn to kern!
It's amusing to see such a simple element subjected to a lack of knowledge, and would love to know how wide spread this principle extends. If you have any bad kerning photographs please by all means do share. A simple observation that would however go unnoticed to the general public, but us designers, we don't switch off really do we?
In any case I hope you might have enjoyed one or two posts, and advocate criticism, comments and ridicule... constructively of course...
I have a certain fascination with 'brown box' packaging. That is the cardboard boxes that are used to transport goods around the world, but which are usually discarded before those goods are put on sale in a retail store. Unless, of course, you're buying something which might be 'flat-packed' (from IKEA, for instance), where what you receive or take away with you comes straight off the warehouse shelf. I'm fascinated because these boxes have to be highly functional, as do the graphics that are applied to them. Perhaps I'll write more about this one day. But in the meantime I can't help wondering about a couple of boxes that I've had stored for a long time. They contain glass lampshades that I've never got round to putting up. The boxes have text in several languages advising me which way up to store them, and this graphic which reminds me that the contents are made of glass and are breakable:
Does its job well, doesn't it? Except, though, that if I did drop a wine glass on the floor the one part that is never going to break is the stem.
My story about my espresso cups illustrates, I hope, the mantra that 'good design is as little design as possible'. But it's a very difficult trick for designers to pull off: to design in such a way that what you create is accepted as just being itself, rather than something that declares itself as having been 'designed'. Not least is the fact that we have to earn a living, and it's often the client who might expect to see 'bangs for their bucks' that determines how 'designed' something might appear to be. And the client's own customers - for very often what they might want for their money is a little bit of 'bling'. Or, as the estate agent I met at a party declared to me, "so your job is to make things look sexy".
Now, talking of estate agents, I've been keeping an eye on the local property scene for the last two or three years (in the idle anticipation that I might one day decide to move house). And no doubt people (and estate agents) need to spend some time on preparing a property so that it will photograph well and entice potential punters over the threshold. Or made to look 'sexy', as my fellow party goer would have it. But there are two forms of 'sexiness' that I see on Rightmove almost every day that really do make my heart sink.
Downlighters. In the bathroom, fine - I don't really have an issue with that. In the kitchen - I might possibly be persuaded. In the lounge - NO, NO, NO (particularly if the house is Edwardian, as many in my area are).
Decking. Look, I live in southern England. If I'm really, really lucky, the times that it might be possible to relax with a glass or two of Chardonnay on a wooden platform in the open air occur between the months of May and September. The other eight months it's invariably pissing down with rain and I'd be arse over tip as soon as I stepped out of the back door. There's only one place for decking - and that's Australia.
And the sad part of this particular rant? It's that some people look at these things and think that they're 'well designed'.
Normal - ie cheerful - service will resume tomorrow. Maybe.