This week assignment is to use colors in our own personal daily life to make an image composition. It's not my complete intention, but I my clothes and private surroundings are usually just black, white and grey. I decided I should take this another way, and found that the juices and smoothies I make at home every morning, and the afternoon Puer tea that I drink are so color rich, in smooth gradients too. So I took portraits of them with my iPhone, documenting their existence within different daylights or night lights.
This week I decided to integrate my visual language class with ICM, playing with color and mapping them into gradients.
Searching for the right font for our own name/persona.
Designing words with typography.
Cruising down the street, hunting for poorly designed signs was this week's exploration. In New York, a city that is made of galaxies of signs and neon lights, it wasn't difficult to find prey.
I remember when I first arrived in New York, trying to navigate myself around the city with the subway, I got confused and was lost so many times. Till this day, I'm still not quite sure when it comes to the vagueness of some information used in the subway signs.
For this exhibit 001, the time frame of "Wkdys & eves", "eves. (evenings)" and "late nights" seems so obscure, that many times I had no idea whether I should walk to the opposite track or stay put. What does "weekdays & eves" mean precisely? It will take one to figure a bit to understand. Is it weekdays and weekend's evenings? Or Weekdays and every eWhat is the exact time frame of evenings? 19:00 - 20:00? or 18:00 - 21:00? The same question for "Late nights". As a tourist central, this definitely needs more clarification, especially when there's no cell phone signal underground, people can get very confused, and left hopeless on the track waiting for a train that might never come.
To redesign this particular sign, I did some research on the MTA website and found out the exact time frames for evenings and late nights. I did not try to create a speculative design sign using LED boards to let people know the information. I kept the main theme of MTA's signs, so that it doesn't require massive replacement of the entire city's subway signs, but to clarify important details for people to navigate themselves.
I was positive that I will be able to find poorly designed signs in Chinatown. It doesn't take a professional design critic to spot uncomfortness in the red and yellow Chinatown. I could say 9 out of 10 store signs could be better designed. Here's some of my thoughts in bullet points:
1 Originality/Uniqueness - a store sign should be different from other stores. It is one of the most effective presentation of the brand's identity. In Chinatown, every store signs looks like they are closely related or actual siblings from one mother.
2 Typography usage - talk about typography design, it's rare to see a sign using font styles that are harmonious together.
3 Placement + The awareness of others around - in Chinatown, shops are crowed together, horizontally and vertically, and every store is also fighting for air space to shout out their store sign. This situation creates a orchestra that is extremely noisy and overwhelming to look at. Almost no one can really read any signs. Should there be an overall management of neighbouring signs? To what extent?
This was a sign stuck on the window of a real estate office in my neighborhood. It says " Please leave me a massage and *details ". In my humble opinion, here are some improvements that could be done:
1 Spell check before putting out the sign. For humans have still yet to figure out a way to teleport a massage experience.
2 How to expect a message when one doesn't leave a message method - a phone number/e-mail.
3 To give a more professional presentation, why not print out this instead of handwriting.
4 Details is a bit too vague, be a bit more specific.
5 The tone could be more polite.
Exhibit 004 - A good instruction sign
I came across the floor map in Uniqlo on Broadway. It not only tells the usual information of a floor guide. It also included an index of all the collections at the moment, and instructed locations of them in the store, in a simple, clean manner.
Decided to take on a slightly different challenge for this assignment. As in the coming years, I would like to develop more on moving images that are visually impactful (hopefully). That made me wonder whether great film directors follow similar visual design principles when they're directing a scene or not. So I started a small investigation on this inquiry.
I've always loved Antonioni's films that I've seen, the mood of them lingers with me days after I've seen it. I often don't know how to describe the beauty of his works to people, as the stories and dialogue could be so subtle, but I always remember particular scenes in every movie. So I decided to study Michelangelo Antonioni's 1964 film Red Desert, as Red Desert was Antonioni's first color film, it “is renowned for stunningly colored industrial landscapes which express the unease, alienation, and vivid perceptions of the main character”.
I've taken 5 screenshots of the film, analyzing them each individually and also collectively as a collective design.
THE USE OF COLOR
Below is the summary of the main colors of five important scenes in Red Desert. Looking at the fives scenes as one collective, it is quite obvious they share the same palette, dancing under a consistent mood - soft, dreamy yet cold.
THE COMPOSITION + HIERARCHY
Overlaying grids on the scenes, the results came out that each of the scene followed a grid system to form a visual harmony.
In Antonioni's films, scenes are composed of minimal set elements, so you see a lot of "negative space" around the characters, which gives the audience focused information.
A focus on the protagonist - Giuliana is placed at obvious positions, so the audience can always know what she is doing, feeling at that moment. When she was lost in her loneliness and isolation, you see her walking into the distant back with her back towards the camera.
Although film does not particularly fit into the graphic design category, surprisingly yet not surprisingly, after analyzing the composition of scenes in Red Desert with the grid system, every scene is as almost beautifully and precisely composed as a poster, with a carefully choreographed positioning of actors and objects. At the same time, the colors of these scenes share an ubiquitous mood that is soft, dreamy yet cold.
Below is an adoption of the Red Desert in Miu Miu 2013 Spring Summer campaign. Photographer Inez & Vindooh took design elements from the scenes that happened in the red room and created a world for Miu Miu.