Over the last two years our studio has been involved in a design opportunity with one of Adelaide’s highly regarded Catholic schools, Rostrevor College. Interestingly our extensive history of work with schools began with the development of the Rostrevor College Annual back in 1988. From this one small project we have gone on to work with over 30 different Colleges in South Australia and continue these relationships in our business today. On this occasion, the task involved the most extensive review we had ever undertaken, with license to consider all aspects of the College’s framework.
They're small, often irritating and we battle to stay on top of their constant demands. No, I'm not talking about children, I'm talking about email. Email rarely delights and often weighs us down. That is before we even consider unsolicited mail or
e-marketing. What will make us scroll down? Plain text won't work, even with an offer of millions of Nigerian dollars. Colour and image is a start, a succinct, pertinent message is a help and a well considered design is almost the clincher. But the real key to a quality e-newsletter is having it built professionally and packaged and sent through a purpose built email campaign program.
Every two years, the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA) hosts the design industry's night of nights, where the best work from studios around Australia and New Zealand is entered and judged, and untimately recognised. Having put some time aside to be there, we were excited to be acknowledged with an award in the Digital Media category for our work on CM Group's website. We were also really proud to have our newest designer, Ben Stevens, awarded for his entries in the Student Category including a Best in Category for 3D Packaging.
In June 2012 we had the great opportunity of participating as part of a multidisciplinary design team on a project about imagining a future scenario for Adelaide’s West End. We became one of the seven design teams selected to take part in 'Speculations 2012', a project initiated by the Integrated Design Commission (IDC) and 5000+ to ‘imagine alternative, but realistic, future scenarios for inner Adelaide, that will give direction to all those who have a stake in, or jurisdiction over, the future of our city.’
If you think of Harley Davidson, no doubt the first images that leap to mind are of bikes, blokes, beers and bust-ups. It’s hard to believe that this iconic brand was on the brink of disaster some 20 years ago, when it had, not unlike some of its nastier followers over the years, seemingly lost its way. So it was a delight to hear the man responsible for bringing the brand back to its former glory, Dana Arnett, begin the 2012 agideas conference with the revealing statement, “form follows emotion”. Only someone like Dana, who was obsessive about the brand growing up as a teenager, could bring the level of commitment needed to reinvigorate the brand and give ownership back to the millions of people who cared for it just as much as himself.
For those familiar with the Batman franchise, Gotham is the dark and ominous metropolis in which Batman fights crime against evil villians and characters. In the less animated, but by no means less graphic world of typography, Gotham is a font family with exceptionally whole, balanced characters across a vast array of weights and styles.
I recently read the Steve Jobs biography and although I enjoyed it, I couldn't help feeling that it was as much an Apple Manifesto as a balanced view of the Apple supremos life. The author, Walter Isaacson, seems throughout, to be neatly packaging the life of Jobs and his various business ventures into a neat progression where even missteps somehow become key to the ultimate success of the modern day Apple behemoth.
For me, what seemed to be an overt need to find meaning in his questionable personality traits and sometimes poor business decisions, contributed to making some of the authors conclusions seem plodding and contrived.
Jobs would probably fail the 'blokes I'd have a beer with' test, but I was struck by his vision and the ability to advance his cause through sheer force of will. Those he worked with, found him both inspirational and frightening. To Jobs a product or idea was either "shit or absolutely amazing", and he could change his mind as to which of the two it was, as early as the next day. With his design and product development team he would even use the mantra of designer nightmares, "I don't know what I want but I'll know it when I see it". Yet, despite a process, at times, more exhausting than exhaustive, great products were visualised and produced.
The book offers many interesting insights, and none more so than Jobs' attitude to market research. "I don't do market research and focus groups - the public don't know what they want, was his attitude. Walter Isaacson also writes that “On the day he unveiled the Macintosh, a reporter from Popular Science asked Jobs what type of market research he had done. Jobs responded by scoffing, “Did Alexander Graham Bell do any market research before he invented the telephone?”
Jobs was a great lover of the concept of being at the intersection of technology and the humanities and saw the Macintosh and ultimately the Apple corporation as standing at those crossroads. Whether Apple has now become the unwanted traffic monitor of that intersection, is another question. I believe Steve Jobs' greatest achievement was his ability to develop great products by coercing technology to enhance the human experience rather than dictate it.
It is difficult to read the book and feel much warmth for a man who was so careless with personal relationships, but no matter how dogmatic, driven and abrasive, Steve Jobs was clearly a genius. He contributed much to making the use of technology a better experience for us all.