Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

Sticky (aka Post-It) Note Experiment

This missed my radar last year – just stumbled onto Eepybird’s video (of diet Coke and Mentos fame) where sticky notes are reincarnated from the boring office supply into a series of moving, bouncing, falling slinkies in this ad for Officemax. Fun!


Demystifying the Design Process

In my daily work, I’m heavily involved in design research and design strategy, and creating the framework/angle in which the design team can approach a project. One of the things that I have always yearned to do is to create a series of ‘standard steps’ to take – a design strategy/framework set, if you will – the basic ‘design process’ that can lead to sound strategies that leads to creatively-directed and successful work both internally and for our clients.

This of course, is a good thing. With a more structured process, there is the effect of leverage – the same results can be replicated and amplified through more designers. Even for myself – this could be a good library of ‘known-solutions’ to fall back on – projects can get on faster and easier, without having to spend too much time re-thinking each project as they come.


But I always seem to come to a stumbling block. I can try to summarize all of the frameworks/methods that I know of, or have applied in past projects, but inevitably they boil down to a few issues.

The strategies/approaches can become simplified – but to what extent? If I boil it down so that it can be applied across different projects, it can end up somewhat like IDEO’s Method Card (which I do have in my cabinet), which is good enough as a ‘spark plug’ to remind one in the existence of a particular approach, but hardly sufficient to take it and run (it’s not a ‘play book’).

If I do not simplify – and choose to instead include all the little extra steps, the creative angles, the specific techniques, then it’d seem to revert back to a very specific and narrow method, suitable perhaps for that one particular project of that one client, but difficult to transfer across projects (it cannot be generalized).

And today, I stumbled upon this quote by Michael Beirut – an old Design Observer essay from 2006, to be sure – but I thought “Wow, that captured my dilemma!”:

When I do a design project, I begin by listening carefully to you as you talk about your problem and read whatever background material I can find that relates to the issues you face. If you’re lucky, I have also accidentally acquired some firsthand experience with your situation. Somewhere along the way an idea for the design pops into my head from out of the blue. I can’t really explain that part; it’s like magic. Sometimes it even happens before you have a chance to tell me that much about your problem! Now, if it’s a good idea, I try to figure out some strategic justification for the solution so I can explain it to you without relying on good taste you may or may not have. Along the way, I may add some other ideas, either because you made me agree to do so at the outset, or because I’m not sure of the first idea. At any rate, in the earlier phases hopefully I will have gained your trust so that by this point you’re inclined to take my advice. I don’t have any clue how you’d go about proving that my advice is any good except that other people — at least the ones I’ve told you about — have taken my advice in the past and prospered. In other words, could you just sort of, you know…trust me?

Beirut’s main struggle seem to be “how to convince clients of the worthiness of his (team’s) ideas while the process appears fuzzy, unexplainable and/or non-logically-sequential”. In my case, the struggle is the attempt to sequential-ize and formalize a process that is in itself a blend of intuition, experience, fuzziness and voodoo magic.

The temptation to create a play-book (just like how football coaches do) is still strong – and I’d probably still want to (try to) do that. But perhaps I can take a page off Beirut’s experience and acknowledge that hey, not everything is a straightforward and repeatable process – particularly not in the fuzzy front end of design.

Scrabble Advertisments

Here’s a series of TV advertisements for scrabble – featuring (fantastically) quirky creative & art direction. The concept is quite cool too:

Different words accidentally encounter during a Scrabble game, giving by chance birth to a world as unexpected as enchanting. Picture a board of Scrabble at the end of a game: words that have nothing to do with each other are crossing and overlapping, to the point that they sometimes tell a crazy story ! Our creative idea is to turn this fabulous potential into images. Everything will be executed by different illustrators, in order to come out with the best diversity in the possibilities offered by SCRABBLE.

by Ogilvy and Mather Paris.

[via advertolog]

“I have a Dream” Tuned

I could perhaps label this video as  a weird and yet delightful blend of music, rap and Auto-tune – Martin Luther King’s iconic speech expressed and remixed into something totally different, and yet amidst all that bastardization the inspiration and evocation lingers.

Wonderfully weird web.

studio juju @Milan Fair

Singapore-based designer-duo Timo Wong and Priscilla Lui formed “studio juju” based on the philosophy of a hands-on approach to designing and crafting. For the Milan Fair this year, they’d be launching some of their collections:

None of the tables are the same in height, dimension or shape. The arrangement becomes fluid and, hopefully, will inspire an indefinite interaction when people sit themselves along the curves and place their cups on different heights and shapes.

One Shelves
A set of small boxes that can be nested together to take up the least amount of space and expanded without tools to form a big shelf. stack and arrange the boxes to fit different rooms.


Why are Browser Icons Round and Blue?

Voltage Creative asked an interesting question:

Every single (even moderately successful) [note: except Opera] web browser’s logo has been round… Why?


Some plausible explanations:

  • IE was a blue rounded icon and everybody just followed suit
  • The globe is the best representation of the Internet (and it’s round and blue)

I tend to concur with the blue-globe metaphor explanation – if you look at most of those icons, there are explicit globes in it and you can’t quite have a square globe, can you? Which leads me to think – is there any better metaphor apart from the globe for the Internet?

Google Similar Images

The folks at Mountain View are at it again – this time with Google Similar Images. Exactly as what it sounds like, it lets you find more images that are similar to the one you have.

Try it yourself!

Urbano Bin



In the recent years there have been some attempts at bins that specifically addresses the usage of plastic bags. The ‘Urbano’ is another similar attempt – with the design thoughtfully being doubled up as a plastic-bag storage:

Another twist to make this design even more compelling: extra bags can be stored under the one in use, pushed down by the handles and tucked beneath them. Replacing the bags, then, is even easier than in a traditionally designed trash can – you just pull up the new bag after your remove the old one and hook its handles around the catches provided.

My little question is just – when the bin has some rubbish in it (but not full enough to throw it away yet), you can’t really store it (it’s too much of a mess to lift the rubbish-bag up, tuck the bag in, and put the rubbish bag in again). But overall, neat design!

[via dornob, but who can I credit the design to?]

How Internet came about

The “History of the Internet” is a short (8minutes) documentary explaining the birth/evolution of the Internet, starting from the time-sharing on mainframes in 1957, to file sharing, to Arpanet and then to Internet.


Youtube Symphony

Mash-up; collaborative web; globalization…these are just some of the typical terms you hear nowadays regarding the development of web technology – and this orchestra is yet another example, where the London Symphony Orchestra plays the Internet Symphony No. 1 “Eroica” – for YouTube, conducted by Tan Dun:

Personally for this specific application, while it’s interesting to see this (can we still say novel?) form of expression enabled by the web, the lingering question remains as “why?”. What exactly is it about this collaboration that makes it special, something that you can’t achieve with the typical orchestra?

Has the music become something different or special due to the ability to compose from multiple cuts of home-recorded videos? Not really. For me this became simply a ‘because-I-can’ demonstration – it has not truly leveraged the power of the collaborative masses. Not yet anyway.