Category Archives: Design

DESIGN FOR DANGER

How do you sufficiently inform people of danger? Usually warning signs use visually strong graphical elements and bold lettering in all caps and bright colors — reds, oranges and yellows. But sometime the opposite can attract the same attention: Clean, sober and ultra -plain signage can get the idea across that the message is both important and serious, and can provide official credibility. Last week we went surfing at San Onofre Beach, an historically and culturally significant surf spot about an hour and a half south of Los Angeles. A shark had been spotted earlier in the morning and  California state beach authorities planted warning lines (pictured here) along the beach. The signage certainly looks official and the design is a simple black-and-white graphical treatment with a universally understandable icon of a shark swimming below the waterline.  It at a distance, a casual view of the sign doesn’t convey danger in an obvious way. If the sign hadn’t been planted precisely in front of where we had parked and camped out for the beach day, we wouldn’t have seen it at all.

DESIGN WTF: THE RETRO-FUTURE WANTS ITS JUNK BACK!

Hey, the retro-future is calling. We’re guessing from sometime between 1973 and ‘79. It wants its junk back including this car that’s kind of a cross between a Lamborghini and a golf cart. But seriously, this obscure, tangerine-colored, three-wheel vehicle is called the Bond Bug, a “microcar” produced in the early 1970s by Reliant, a U.K. company that had purchased the firm Bond Cars, Ltd. Only about 2,300 Bond Bugs were ever built. We found this one parked next to an art gallery in Solana Beach, near San Diego, California.

MOVIES: CLIPS RELEASED FROM UPCOMING DOCUMENTARY ON DESIGN GOD DIETER RAMS

Documentary filmmaker and producer Gary Hustwit has a new film about German designer Dieter Rams coming out in 2018, and we can’t wait to see it. The director of the doc films “Helvetica,” “Objectified and “Urbanized” has released some teaser video clip online for this new documentary, which is titled “Rams.” Brian Eno has reportedly created the original soundtrack music for the film. Rams’s always has something interesting to say, but one quote that struck us is when he said: “If I had to do it over again, I would not want to be a designer … There are too many unnecessary products in this world.”

SIGN OF THE TIMES: LAIDBACK SURFER HAND GESTURE GETS A SPICY UPDATE

“Shaka” or “Shaka, brah!” Maybe you’ve heard this expression. Maybe you’ve uttered those words in earnest salutation or ironically. Maybe you’re a core surfer living on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, and these words are your go-to, standard form of salutation. You use it all time without even really thinking about it. (For example, when you stride into Ono’s in Haleiwa for a pork sandwich, you offer a shaka to staff at the counter.)

In any case, the word “shaka” and its utterance are but only part of the communications protocol here. Those words are said with an accompanying hand gesture that might be more familiar to many readers than the words. 

The shaka hand gesture, sometimes referred to as the “hang loose” sign, is similar to the “devil horns” gesture associated with heavy metal music. But with the shaka, the pinky finger and thumb are extended outward from the palm while the index, middle and ring fingers are bent down into the palm.

With fingers configured as such, the hand is then raised or extended and often given a little back and forth wiggle or shake, a motion functioning like a wave of the hand, to emphasize and visibly highlight the message to its intended audience.

The gesture is one of positivity. It’s loved by most surfers but also loathed by some surfers, hence the use of the “ironic shaka.” The shaka is undeniably a part of surf culture and has its modern usage and cultural origins in the birthplace of  surfing: Hawaii.

But culture and its symbols evolve. The shaka in the pic above is part of a two-page graphical spread in the zine Can’t Steal Our Vibe that show the gesture altered as a mash-up with the standard “f*ck you!” middle finger gesture.

In this new versions, the extended pinky of the shaka is pulled in, and the middle finger is extended. On first try, it’s not an easy gesture to make with natural fluidity, compared to the shaka.

But no matter. It’s what the gesture means that’s important here. And what does it mean? That’s the beauty of it: For now it’s subject to interpretation. And if the creators have a denotation for it, its esoteric.

We love  that the “F-You-Shaka” hybrid brings together the insouciance, anger and insult of the middle finger with the friendly, laidback “everyone’s a bro” vibe of the trad surfer shaka. These are opposing sentiments and may confuse.

The mashup, we think, is more ironic and captures even more accurately the contemporary core of surf culture: Its rebel semiotics and its knowing cues and tribal codes.

Can’t Steal Our Vibe, BTW, is a zine published occasionally by Lone Wolfs (sic), a surf brand and shop and music studio in Venice, Los Angeles, that uses the new “F-You-Shaka” as a kind of logo on stickers. The title of the zine is taken from a graffiti-like, spray-painted message written on a panel that covered a door that had been shattered in an attempted burglary at Lone Wolfs in 2016. The shop has also spray painted the phrase as a tagline on the side of the store.

RADICAL: COCA-COLA CHANGES ITS TYPEFACE, BILLIONS AFFECTED

This shit for real, y’all. Coca-Cola, the global mega-brand and carbonated soft drink, is getting a slightly new look. It’s changing the typeface used in all its branding and design to a new, bespoke font. It’s big news, so sit down and take moment, if you need one, savvy reader. 

It’s the first time in Coke’s 130-year history that the brand has created its own font. The new typeface is called TCCC Unity (see examples of it above and below). Continue reading

LOST & FOUND: TOY FIGURES OF ANGRY EDM DJs

During our annual Mew Year’s House-cleaning ritual we uncovered these two toy mini-figures of DJs. We love (and are slightly disconcerted by) how angry one of them looks. The headphones and eyeglasses are a nice touch. The look reminds us of early 2000s and the late “electronic” era. We bought these years ago at Toy Tokyo, a specialty toy and model shops in the East Village of New York.

GRAPHIC DESIGN X MATCHES — LIT AF!!!

Our annual New Year’s ritual of doing some house cleaning and organizing, throwing things out and making room for all the stuff we got as Xmas gifts, yielded this small trove of matchbooks and matchboxes. We must have picked up these from various restaurants and shops because the designs struck us in some way at the moment we saw them. Each design is distinct and an exercise in branding. These matches are from the New York City outpost of the restaurant Mission Chinese; James Beach, a restaurant in Venice Beach; Esquelito, a jewelry store in Echo Park, Los Angeles and the Spanish word for “skeleton”; the Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo, New York; and Love Adorned, another jewelry shop with branches in NYC and LA.

DESIGN LUST: SURFBOARD SHOP THINLY DISGUISES ITSELF AS ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN FIRM

It’s no secret that we here at Global Graphica are fond practitioners of surfing, the so-called Hawaiian “sport of kings.” After contemporary art and good espresso, surfing is our other true obsession.

So on our recent road trips up and down the SoCal coast in search of waves, we stopped in the seaside city of San Clemente, the self-proclaimed “Spanish village by the sea” and a hotbed of surfing and surf culture in south Orange County. There we popped into the Album surfboards shop for the first time to see for ourselves the brand’s famously beautiful and well-designed boards. 

We didn’t expect that the shop itself would be as beautiful as those boards. In fact, as we approached the entrance to the minimalist storefront, we were in the hottest of a hot secs stopped in our tracks. 

We stood, slacked-jawed and wondered, “Are we in the wrong place? This must be the office of an architecture firm, surely? Or perhaps a day spa designed for the publishers of Wallpaper magazine?”

It was none of those things, savvy reader! It was a surf shop. It was the Album surfboards shop.

We had found surfing’s Holy Grail: An aesthetically-pleasing retail experience ensconced in sophisticated, minimalist architectural design. Our hearts fluttered.

Most surf shops, ya see, they … well, they suck, aesthetically speaking. Most surfboard shapers and brands suck, aesthetically speaking. (As people, they’re awesome; They don’t suck.) But most of them have no taste.

And this bothers us, savvy reader. It tears at our souls. Album, however, has restored our faith.