Category: design

Ranting about professions, tools and respect.

This post by Glenn Fleishman about Yahoo’s new logo is absolutely brilliant, and it’s a great lesson about what graphic design is [via DF].

But I don’t really think that the problem is the “engineering mindset” or the “designer mindset”, I think that one of the main issues we face today is lack respect for other professionals’ expertise.

A part of the problem is probably the wide availability of tools, Fleishman writes:

Too many people think graphic design is not a specialty, but something anyone can do, because the tools to make decent-looking Web pages, newsletters, books, and the like are readily available.

This of course applies not only to graphic design but to pretty much every aspect of human life that is producing some kind of software tool: you are not a designer just because you have Illustrator, you are not a musician just because you have Garage Band, and you are not an engineer just because you have a scripting utility installed on your computer (and you are not a manager because you have Powerpoint ;-).

But the real trouble is that, unlike Marissa Mayer, a lot of people don’t even have these tools on their computers, they just assume that having them is all you need to be a professional designer/engineer/musician/etc. Actually I would argue that if they did have those tools installed, they might have learned that there is very little you can do with them, unless you have training, talent and experience.

My job is all about being in a strange middle place where I’m not a designer, an engineer or a manager, and I’m incredibly lucky for the opportunity of working with brilliant designers, engineers and managers, and to try to expose each group to the complexities of the other professions, learning new lessons every day.

We must not only learn to respect other professions, I think that today we all have the means to try to understand a little bit about other professions. This not only will give us the ability to work better with others, but it will also help us distinguish real professionals from guys who just have a bunch of apps installed on their computers.

Maps

These maps from Stamen are seriously cool. (via Daring Fireball)

For example, this is Gorizia:

I have played with OpenStreetMap lately, and it has significantly improved since I had last checked it a few years ago. The fact that any map can be exported as a pdf file, and that you can fix details on the map is making it much more useful than Google Maps for some of my projects.

Graphic design and the web

There seem to be several conversations about graphic design and the web (and apps) these days. The argument is usually “good ol’ simple html” vs. “sleek yet bloated pages”.

I come from the design camp.

When I started working in the late ’80s it was the early days of desk top publishing. Apple had just introduced the Macintosh and most of all the first Laser Writer. Suddenly everybody with a Mac could use 14 font families. And many were using all 14 of them. On the same page.

But then real designers started using this amazing technology, and for a few years we all had fun.

Then the web came about, and we were forced give everything up.

The advantages of the web were so huge that we just had to live with very limited design capabilities. Only a handful of fonts. Layouts impossible to experience in the same way across different browsers and operating systems. Crazily nested tables to try to get a bit of information where we wanted on a page. It was ugly, but it was beautiful.

15 years later we are experiencing again the possibility of doing beautiful design, this time on the web.

I think that we are again in an “all fonts on the same page” period. It’s exhilarating, and it will take a little while before real design will start happening again.

And it will be beautiful.