July 20, 2017

Daedalus

Labyrinth

In Greek mythology, Daedalus [ded-l-uhs] (lit. ‘cunningly wrought’) was a skillful craftsman and artist in Greek mythology associated with the island of Crete, especially the labyrinth he built there to contain the Minotaur (part man, part bull). He is the father of Icarus (who flew too close the sun on wings his father designed), the uncle of Perdix (the mythological inventor of the saw), and possibly also the father of Iapyx (an Apollonian healer who aided Troy in the Trojan War).

Daedalus’ parentage was supplied as a later addition to the mythos, with numerous figures reported as his mother and father. Athenians rewrote Cretan Daedalus to make him Athenian-born, the grandson of the ancient king Erechtheus, claiming that Daedalus fled to Crete after killing his nephew Talos. Continue reading

July 13, 2017

Herman Miller

Action Office

Herman Miller, Inc., based in Zeeland, Michigan, is a major American manufacturer of office furniture, equipment and home furnishings. It is notable as one of the first companies to produce modern furniture and, under the guidance of Design Director George Nelson, is likely the most prolific and influential producer of furniture of the modernist style. Among classic Herman Miller products are the Equa chair, Aeron chair, Noguchi table, Marshmallow sofa, and the Eames Lounge Chair.

Herman Miller is credited with the invention of the office cubicle (originally known as the ‘Action Office II’) in 1968 under then-director of research Robert Propst. Herman Miller holds a unique position among furniture manufacturers for having cultivated the talents of a large number of modernist designers, producing a significant number of pieces that are now considered icons of industrial design. Continue reading

Tags:
June 26, 2017

Charles and Ray Eames

Eames Aluminum Group

Charles (1907–1978) and Ray Eames (1912–1988) were husband and wife American designers who made significant historical contributions to the development of modern architecture and furniture. Among their most well-known designs is the ‘Eames Lounge Chair.’ They also worked in the fields of industrial and graphic design, fine art, and film.

Charles was an American designer, architect and filmmaker. He and his second wife Ray Kaiser are responsible for groundbreaking contributions in the field of architecture, furniture design, industrial design, manufacturing and the photographic arts. Continue reading

June 21, 2017

Bourbon Whiskey

Pappy Van Winkle

Bourbon [boor-buhn] whiskey is a type of American whiskey, a barrel-aged distilled spirit made primarily from corn. The name is ultimately derived from the French Bourbon dynasty, although it is unclear precisely what inspired the whiskey’s name (contenders include Bourbon County in Kentucky and Bourbon Street in New Orleans).

Bourbon has been distilled since the 18th century. The use of the term ‘bourbon’ for the whiskey has been traced to the 1820s, and the term began to be used consistently in Kentucky in the 1870s. While bourbon may be made anywhere in the United States, it is strongly associated with the American South, and with Kentucky in particular. Continue reading

June 20, 2017

His Master’s Voice

nipper

His Master’s Voice (HMV) is a famous trademark in the music and recording industry and was for many years the unofficial name of a large British record label. The name was coined in the 1890s as the title of a painting by English artist Francis Barraud of a dog named ‘Nipper,’ listening to a wind-up gramophone. In the original painting, the dog was listening to a cylinder phonograph. In the 1970s, a bronze statue of the dog and gramophone was awarded by the record company (EMI) to artists and or music producers and or composers as a Music Award and often only after selling more than 100,000 LP’s.

The original painting was acquired from the original artist in 1899 by the newly formed Gramophone Company and adopted by the Victor Talking Machine Company in the United States. According to contemporary Gramophone Company publicity material, the dog, a terrier, had originally belonged to Francis Barraud’s brother, Mark. When Mark Barraud died, Francis inherited Nipper, with a cylinder phonograph and recordings of Mark’s voice. Francis noted the peculiar interest that the dog took in the recorded voice of his late master emanating from the horn, and conceived the idea of committing the scene to canvas. Continue reading

June 7, 2017

Woke

Awaken, My Love

BLM

Woke is a slang word from African American vernacular which refers to a perceived awareness of issues concerning social and racial justice. The related phrase ‘stay woke’ refers to a continuing awareness of these issues. Its widespread use since 2014 is a result of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, a decentralized campaign against violence and systemic racism toward black people.

‘Oxford Dictionaries’ records early politically conscious usage in 1962 in the article ‘If You’re Woke You Dig It’ by William Melvin Kelley in ‘The New York Times’ and in the 1971 play ‘Garvey Lives!’ by Barry Beckham (‘I been sleeping all my life. And now that Mr. Garvey done woke me up, I’m gon stay woke. And I’m gon help him wake up other black folk.’) Continue reading

May 31, 2017

Pop-up Retail

kith

Pop-up retail, also known as pop-up stores or shops or flash retailing, is a trend of opening short-term sales spaces that started in Los Angeles and are now found all over the United States, Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Temporary retail establishments date at least to the Vienna December market in 1298 and the European Christmas markets that followed. Seasonal farmer’s markets, holiday fireworks stands, Halloween costume shops, and consumer expos are other examples of temporary retailing. Continue reading

May 30, 2017

Alcohol Belt

vodka war

The alcohol belts of Europe are regions in Europe which are considered to be divided by association with either beer, wine, or hard liquor.

The alcohol belts refer to the traditional beverages of countries rather than what is most commonly drunk by the populace today, as in terms of drinking habits beer has become the most popular alcoholic drink in the whole world – including various parts of the wine and vodka belts. Continue reading

May 24, 2017

Product Naming

rose by any other name

Product naming is the discipline of deciding what a product will be called, and is very similar in concept and approach to the process of deciding on a name for a company or organization. Product naming is considered a critical part of the branding process, which includes all of the marketing activities that affect the brand image, such as positioning (the place that a brand occupies in the mind of the customer) and the design of logos, packaging, and the product itself.

The process involved in product naming can take months or years to complete. Some key steps include specifying the objectives of the branding, developing the product name itself, evaluating names through target market testing and focus groups, choosing a final product name, and finally identifying it as a trademark for protection. Continue reading

May 22, 2017

Phenakistiscope

Joseph Plateau

The phenakistiscope [fen-uh-kiss-tuh-skohp] was the first widespread animation device that created a fluent illusion of motion. The phenakistiscope is regarded as one of the first forms of moving media entertainment that paved the way for the future motion picture and film industry. It is sometimes compared to GIF animation since both show a short continuous loop.

A phenakisticope usually comes in the form of a spinning cardboard disc attached vertically to a handle. Arrayed radially around the disc’s center are a series of pictures showing sequential phases of the animation. Small rectangular apertures are spaced evenly around the rim of the disc. The user would spin the disc and look through the moving slits at the images reflected in a mirror. The scanning of the slits across the reflected images keeps them from simply blurring together, so that the user can see a rapid succession of images that appear to be a single moving picture. Continue reading

May 5, 2017

McCollough Effect

Celeste McCollough

The McCollough effect is a phenomenon of human visual perception discovered by American psychologist Celeste McCollough in 1965 in which colorless gratings appear colored contingent on the orientation of the gratings. It is an aftereffect requiring a period of induction to produce it. For example, if someone alternately looks at a red horizontal grating and a green vertical grating for a few minutes, a black-and-white horizontal grating will then look greenish and a black-and-white vertical grating will then look pinkish.

The effect is remarkable because it is very long-lasting. McCollough originally reported that aftereffects may last for an hour or more, but they can persist much longer. A 1975 study found that 15 minutes of induction can lead to an effect lasting three and a half months. Continue reading

April 24, 2017

Gary Anderson

Recycling symbol

Container Corporation of America

Gary Anderson (b. 1947) is an influential graphic designer and architect. He is most well known as the designer of the ‘recycling symbol,’ one of the most readily recognizable logos in the world. His contribution to modern graphic design has been compared to those of early pioneering modernists such as Herbert Bayer. His design for a symbol to embody the concept of recycling has been compared to iconic trademarks such as those for Coca-Cola and Nike.

It has been called one of America’s ‘most important design icons’ and has helped to encourage global recycling. In some countries, such as the UK, the symbol carries such implicit meaning that it requires government permission to be used. Although the symbol is the most widely known of his accomplishments, Anderson has also made important contributions in the areas of urban planning and urban development. Continue reading