Steve Kulp

Archive for the ‘design’ Category

injury to insult – london 2012

In advertising, design, graphic design, london 2012, olympics, sports, uncategorized on June 6, 2007 at 8:44 am

What was just another bad logo is now a public health problem. It seems the promotional video for the London 2012 Olympics mark (above) is capable of causing seizures. This logo has turned out to be an absolute PR disaster, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better. I even heard milquetoast Matt Lauer take a cheap-shot at it on th Today Show.

What worries me is the damage this debacle does for design in general. One of the fundamental problems that faces designers today is their (in)ability to explain their work to laypeople. The running joke is tha “even our parents think we sit in the corner and draw pictures all day.” It’s hard to build value in the eyes of the public around something that seems as simple as a logo.

I’ve already seen the public questioning the nearly $800,000 in fees that Wolff Olins commanded for the logo design and development. There’s actually some jerk on YouTube who has posted a video of themselves redrawing the logo in real time as a way of questioning its cost. What they fail to explain is the weeks and months of constant exploration and iterations that culminated with this logo. As a (reformed) designer, I understand the value of the work that goes into a project like this. To be honest, $800K seems like the “friends and family rate”. If a large, high profile privately-held corporation commissioned the same level of work, it would cost considerabbly more. So, let me be clear: I hat this logo on a gut level, but I understand it rationallly.

For a good overview of the reactions of the graphic design community to the logo check out this post over at SpeakUp. (Warning!!! They do attempt to defend the logo as a piece of design.) Be sure to take a gander at the riot that is going on in the comments section.


company name etymologies

In advertising, corporate naming, design, etymology, names, uncategorized on April 8, 2007 at 2:12 pm

Came across this great Wikipedia entry that lists the origins of different corporate names. I prefer the names seem to have naturally evolved, rather than being created from scratch. My favorites…

Blaupunkt — Blaupunkt (“Blue dot”) was founded in 1923 under the name “Ideal”. Its core business was the manufacturing of headphones. If the headphones came through quality tests, the company would give the headphones a blue dot. The headphones quickly became known as the blue dots or blaue Punkte. The quality symbol would become a trademark and the trademark would become the company name in 1938.


Red Hat — while at college, company founder Marc Ewing was given the Cornell lacrosse team cap (with red and white stripes) by his grandfather. People would turn to him to solve their problems and he was referred to as that guy in the red hat. He lost the cap, later the manual of the beta version of Red Hat Linux had an appeal to readers (anyone finding it) to return his Red Hat.

Thanks to Jason Kottke for bringing this to my attention.

RP-HTX7 Retro Piano Painted Headphones

In awesome, design, technology on December 7, 2006 at 10:44 am

Somethimes new technology can find a home in an old form to make a product that is truly unique. Here’s a quick a few quick reviews of the new RP-HTX7 Retro Piano Painted Headphones from Panasonic. Should I order a pair now, or see if my girlfriend reads my blog and buys me a pair for Xmas?

a GOOD magazine

In awesome, design, news on October 23, 2006 at 8:52 am

There’s been some media coverage surrounding the launch of GOOD Magazine, but not nearly enough, as far as I’m concerned. I picked up the premiere issue the other day, and am thoroughly impressed.

In the pages of its first issue, GOOD takes on some big issues, the biggest being our collective love/hate affair with America. Great minds like James Surowiecki and Neal Pollack join in the debate, offering their unique perspective on what it means to be an American in this day and age. On a lighter note, GOOD also tells you how to buy a US senator, tracks the fame and fortune of Paris Hilton and introduces you to 8 individuals who are trying to change the world.

While other magazines take on similar subject manner, the beauty of GOOD is that is does so without being too abrasive or self-righteous. It may be a bit snarky at times, and even I can’t deny that it leans to the left a little. Such minor “faults” can’t diminish the importance of attempting to make its readers stop and think about what really matters.

Putting their money where their mouth is, GOOD has also pledged all of the proceeds from charter subscriptions to charity. Better yet, you get to choose the charity to which your $20 goes.


In awesome, design, news on October 12, 2006 at 9:41 pm

Images of Olympus’ prototype for a wood-bodied digital camera have been circulating for a while now. It’s such a great idea, taking something hard and cold and making it smooth and warm.

Olympus did something similar back in the nineties. Traditional 35mm cameras were all being designed as tech objects, even though it was obvious that digital cameras were the way of the future. Olympus bucked the trend by releasing the 35mm LT Series. The LT stands for “leather tech”. I own one. I never use it, but I do take it out and look at it once in a while. It’s a thing of beauty.

All of this remings me of a great post by account planner extraordinaire Russell Davies’ about how products are “designed to be new” and don’t age well. It used to be that things gained character and patina as the got old. Now, they just get old.