GDF – S2 – 2011

Conduct research / Evaluate the nature of design in a specific industry context

Typography from industrial look in interior design…

by Helene

Recycled giant letters from old signs, scrabble letters, hessian bags with typographic designs have come to be part of the interior in homes. Large initials are now popping up in homes, where the choice is guided by colour and aesthetics of the type. This is considered an interior design must and most large interior design companies such as Freedom, Ikea or Anthropologie have embraced this movement sticking it to all things home.  Road signs or bus rolls are inside the  house. Old advertising posters bearing vintage typography are all the trend.

The closing down of iconing shops or businesses has created a need to preserve the culture of letters and words. There replacement with more modern looks has also created a nostalgic and romantic notion where homes and designers use those old memories to vamp up interiors. Letters and numbers are now part of the look which is sleek and uncluttered, yet functional.

Less clutter or going for simplicity…

by Helene

Clutterless packaging or going for simplicity seems to be fuelled by the changes observed in consumers choices as we fall further into introspection from consumers:  Yes, I’m hungry and poor. So, how can I eat like a king but pay like a pauper?  Yes, I want to look good but how can I afford to without destroying the planet?

The in-house design studio set up for Woolworths department store in South Africa has begun rolling it’s first new packs out onto shelf, the initial stage of what will be a mammoth packaging redesign program, eventually encompassing more than 5000 items considered the basic supermarket items with a price tag that will make customers smile. The packaging redesign is meant to ensuring all items communicate the quality which defines Woolworths’ very essence, by embedding good, thoughtful design into the brand through packaging.

Simple, bold typography and the use of elements like photography and graphic shapes, aim to speak to the consumer in an engaging, intelligent way. Colour is also used in category leading ways, to differentiate variants within the lines.

The British supermarket chain Waitrose knows how to seduce its clients yet keeping them tantalized. Their home brand packaging is a no-frill design style, using large typography and fonts that can be read from far and also enhancing the product, yet keeping it a little raw, almost organic – straight from the producer!  The spice rack and other products look  very clear and readable with no pictures to confuse.

Carrefour another popular supermarket  chain in France and Germany created Carrefour Discount, a cheaper option brand available for all staple foods in a packaging much cheaper to create. This was necessary due to the recession which translated in sales declining.

Repackaging is an economical necessity in the current  GFC climate.

During the recession in the USA, it became even more acute, as a significant decline in makeup and fragrance sales in the USA was noted. Brands started looking at their packaging and reverted to retro-inspired looks with a more organic or environmentally friendly appeal which changed the perception of the public on those long time prestigious brands, emphasizing the 100% recyclable aspect on a domestic level.  It was also difficult and costly to print the old packaging and with sales down, changes had to be made.

Often times one can observe away from the necessities of the economy and recession that necessity items with a clutter less look and simple design, seem to attract attention. Spring waters and juices which have to fight for shelf space are a source of inspiration for “pure” designs – conveying a clean, fresh and organic look which inspires confidence in a consumer.

Infographics: real info or power tool?

by Helene

Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual of information, data or knowledge  about a specific subject or combining related subjects. The idea is to represent complex information in a quick and clear manner, with the purpose of being available for comprehension whatever the cultural or educational background.

Leonardo da Vinci may have been an infographer genius!

Also in 1972 the Pioneer Plaque was launched into space with the Pioneer 10 probe. Inscribed into the plaque was an information graphic intended as a kind of interspace “message in a bottle”  designed by Carl Sagan and Frank Drake.  That was to communicate with other forms of life in the universe!

Infographics includes information such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing and education. Here for instance, like in most large cities, the complicated network of the Washington underground is simplified as was the London underground map. People visually know where’s the location of something by recalling to mind the underground map.

With an information graphic, computer scientists, mathematicians, and statisticians develop and communicate concepts using a single symbol to process information to make it a lot easier to “digest”.

As the increase in constant information with TV and radio channels surrounds us, giving us up to date information about every thing that happens in the world, instantly, simplifying this enormous amount of information is crucial.
Infographics are becoming a great way for all kinds of businesses to pass on information on interactive screens and bring in more people to visit.

The advent of smartphones makes information spread immediately over mobile networks. Personalizing interests allows for information such as sports, market shares, interest rates, payments due, GPS location of friends or favorite shops in the vicinity of your current location on the screen of your mobile phone, whether you are in Timbuktu, Mali, Sydney Australia or Santiago Chile.

Information has become power. With this bombarding of information, data visualization has the power to change the world by changing our habits, our laws, our business strategies and what we understand about the world around us.  How we understand   data forms the foundation of how we make choices, form opinions, and at least one study claims that up to 80% of the human brain is wired just to interpret and remember visual data.

It can make you enjoy something you really didn’t like but its visual representation suddenly makes it accessible. I really cannot stand the Tour de France, but this picture makes it almost interesting…


To sum it up, data visualization makes things easier to understand.  It puts data into context and allows the viewer to see large data sets summarized in a much smaller space.  However, it can also summarize to a point where information can be misinterpreted by the viewer taking away its context and details to be included. The more you simplify the easier it becomes to understand, but also, the less you need to explain.  Another powerful tool for misinformation.

MTV – Pepsi – Qantas, how slight changes in the logo can make and indicate such differences…

by Helene

MTV changed and rebranded itself at the beginning of 2010. From being a pioneer in the television world where music videos were played non-stop, with minimum news (other then celebrity gossip), it has worked on its rebranding which happened after 29 years. The new MTV logo clearly shows how the M for music is now in the background and smaller, and the TV concept is in the front: a cropped version of the original logo.

According to an MTV Press Release in 2010: “The logo is part of MTV’s re-invention to connect with todays millennial generation and bring them in as part of the channel.”

The content of the programs now seem to be moving towards reality shows and instant celebrity that comes from those. This change seems to have been hugely successful, as ratings have gone up 40%. Which means more viewers and more opportunities to increase purchases and revenues for advertisers.

This rebranding not only affected the logo design but coincided with a repositioning in the world’s networks as a serious channel which media buyers should consider advertising as indicated an insert of their new logo in Advertising Age, a trade mag dedicated to advertising professionals.

The small change in the logo of MTV along a big change in the direction of the network worked successfully.

However, another similar “slight” change in the logo of a well established product and company doesn’t seem to have had the same positive effect: Pepsi spent millions of dollars changing its logo into the side smile which looks different  on each product… but has not received the hoped support from consumers and critics! The change may have been too drastic… change of fonts, change of direction (up down Pepsi word) and side slant on the white “smile”…



Discussions are split over this… I don’t understand why the many looks? It’s too confusing.

Another slight change in the logo of Qantas and the redesigning of their flying kangaroo done by the same company who redesigned the Woolworths peeling apple logo…

The kangaroo seems to be flying better with a more aerodynamic tail and head, and the more pronounced italics on the typography in the Qantas word gives a movement which definitely gives a modern look to the whole logo. A slight change with a great effect!

Designing Kids Magazines – Helene

by Helene

A French editing company, Bayard Presse, has created innovative publications of high quality for young readers ranging from 0 to 25 years. This very prolific company has over the past 40 years hired editorial teams that work closely with world-renowned authors, illustrators, journalists and photographers. it.

Similarly, well known publications such as TIME magazine, National Geographic or popular and respected organisations such as Disney, RSPCA, CSIRO have developed their kids magazine which provides a new challenge in designing magazines.

As these children’s magazines are reaching a widespread and multicultural community of young readers around the world, editorial teams work constantly to up-date current publications and invent new ones, in order to meet the needs of new generations growing up in today’s fast-changing world. Every issue contains stories, current events adapted to the target audience, a science idea, craft or art feature in a very attractive and colourful layout.

Designing these magazines involves using Bold LARGE and fun prints, and of course tons of colors. Fonts and types are constantly changing. A special “gift”  is often attached or a fold-up 3D activity is included. Some include audio tapes and CD where stories are read or foreign language listening exercises are included. Access to an online magazine  and many interactive games is provided through a special log-in, and parents and teachers are invited to use those.

65 magazines are today published  by Bayard Presse in over 15 countries and in 13 different languages.  Many exciting new works of fiction and non-fiction continue to enrich Bayard’s editorial catalogue of more than 1,000 titles. Some of the most popular creations and characters are now also featured in important multimedia productions.