29 Dec 2011

Using a Building’s Name as Bait for Buyers

A landmark prewar facade or the latest in high-end amenities may be at the top of a buyer’s must-have list, but a stirring or lyrical name can be a powerful selling tool, too. A clunker, on the other hand, can be at best a puzzle, at worst a punch line.

“It’s Branding 101,” said Allen P. Adamson, a managing director of Landor, a corporate identity consultant. “A name tells a story, and a good name can tell a very strong story.”

23 Dec 2011
20 Oct 2011

Taking care of business

I have described this process before as graffiti-ing the pages. The type structure and spacing are the bricks and mortar from which we build the walls of magazine, and on top of that, we spray graffiti. Whether pictures, display typography, big numbers, charts, captioning, or illustration, they’re syncopated moments – many sitting completely free of the grid – that disrupt the organisation, breaking those grid conventions and giving energy and tone to the pages. These elements are the magazine talking to you. It’s a form of narration, with insightful or flippant, informative or sideways-glancing commentary, set in a separate voice to the author’s.

17 Sep 2011

In 1972, Massimo Vignelli designed a diagrammatic map for the New York City subway. It was a radical departure. He replaced the serpentine maze of geographically accurate train routes with simple, bold bands of color that turned at 45- and 90-degree angles. Each route was color-coded, its stops indicated by black dots. Its abstract representation of the routes was elegant but flawed. To make the map function effectively, a few geographic liberties were taken, something that didn’t sit well with New Yorkers.

For instance, the new map showed Central Park as a square; Vignelli reasoned that for people riding underground, the park’s rectangular proportions were irrelevant. Along Central Park West there are fewer stops than in Midtown, so logic dictated that less map space was required. Vignelli was absolutely right, but New Yorkers did not care about such nuances. They wanted their rectangle back, and other geographical details too. Dissatisfaction was palpable, and in 1979 the map was replaced.

Still, the Vignelli map refused to vanish. It was included in the design collection of the Museum of Modern Art, featured in exhibitions and analyzed in history books. In 2008, Vignelli was even asked to create a limited-edition version, which sold out almost immediately. Then last year, Jay Walder, the head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (who is leaving his post at the end of the year), asked Vignelli to revise his 1972 map for the M.T.A.’s The Weekender Web site, which informs the public of weekend service changes caused by maintenance projects. How sweet the irony!

5 Sep 2011
2 Sep 2011
19 Aug 2011
27 Jul 2011

You look at the CN logotype and what happens to you? If you’re my age and halfway susceptible, you think of an era when there actually seemed to be a Canada. Was there a Canada before and after? Not condensed into something this simple there wasn’t.

22 Jul 2011
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