Tag Archives: design

Giant Anglepoise Lamps



Anglepoise lamps are great. They’re British, iconic, affordable, and give any desk a timeless, classic look. I particularly like the 1227 and its art deco appeal. Originally launched in 1935, it’s stood the test of time well. Having said, that it’s the 1228 that’s on my wishlist with the switch on the back of the lamp.

Not one to rest on history, Anglepoise has collaborated with a number of modern designers, including Margaret Howell and Paul Smith. I admit that I’m not a great fan of Smith’s work as his primary colours remind me too much of “My First Anglepoise”, but the press release did remind me that Anglepoise do giant versions of their lamps, three times the size of the originals.

Originally commissioned by Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in deference to the beloved Anglepoise lamp that Dahl used in his writing hut, inspiration for the Original 1227 Giant is part Carwardine, part fantasy.”

Sadly, these aren’t three times the price of the standard Type 75 (GB£170) and are instead a whopping GB£3,200 (approx US$4,100). Still, wouldn’t it be fabulous sitting out on a warm summer night?


Vintage Posters Galore!



The advertising posters of the mid-20th Century are incredibly evocative of a different era that ran from wartime necessity to the adventure of travel and foreign places. It’s that particular style of brash colour, typography and sheer style that draws us in.

If you’re like me, then Free Vintage Posters will be right up your street. It’s a big collection of historic posters gathered together from all across the internet into ten categories including Travel, Movies and Sports. They’re all fantastic.

Remember too that these were produced without the benefit of Illustrator or Photoshop – they’re sketched, drawn and coloured by hand before being reproduced and printed. Works of art!

You can download (relatively) hi-res images for your printing pleasure or for use a backgrounds, though usually the poster orientation isn’t a good fit for desktop monitors. Or you can simply browse through them and dream of a different time.


Google’s Round Icons Are Rubbish



Android LogoMy Pixel C upgraded to Nougat 7.1.2 at the weekend and after the obligatory reboot, I was presented with Google’s best efforts to enforce round icons across their own suite of apps. It’s embarrassingly bad. It’s one thing to create circular icons with roundness in mind, but to make round icons by slapping a white disc into the background is lazy, looks rubbish and is confusing to the user. I know Todd likes to keep GNC G-Rated but this really is a PoS. Here’s a selection of icons from my app drawer, which has a white background.

Look at Google’s icons and the way they’ve shoe-horned triangular icons into their new circular standard by putting them on a white disc. It’s sheer laziness and the design has prioritised circular compliance over aesthetic. The white disk looks indistinct against the white background and simply makes the icons appear small. Inbox and Gmail apps have suffered the same fate as well with tiny envelopes inside white circles. What were the designers thinking? At least they made some effort with Sheets and Slides…

And it’s confusing too. Compare an icon with white disc with the previous look of folders. Both are small icons inside a circle so the new icons look like old folders. On the right is what my folders look like on my phone which runs an older version of Android. Compare the folders with the new icons. Pretty similar and it confused me the first time I saw the new Inbox logo. I thought, “What’s Inbox doing in a folder?” It’s badly thought out and bad for users.

Finally, what is it with this push to round icons over all other considerations? What’s wrong with square icons, round icons, irregular icons? I don’t want my phone or tablet to look like a game of Dots with every icon a neat circle and I sincerely hope that the app developers tell Google where to shove it.


Pantone Color of the Year 2017



Greenery 15-0343Returning to a single colour from last year‘s paring of Rose Quartz and Serenity, Pantone’s Color of the Year is Greenery, also known as Pantone 15-0343, a refreshing and revitalising shade, symbolic of new beginnings.

Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew. Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, says, “While Serenity and Rose Quartz expressed the need for harmony in a chaotic world, Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalise, Greenery symbolises the re-connection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose.

The full press release is here and discusses Greenery in the context of everything from tech innovation to food and drink.

If you are a designer, all the colour standards are on Pantone’s site, including some downloads for Adobe products. The codes for Greenery 15-0343 TCX are

  • RGB:136 176 75
  • CMYK: 51 88 0
  • HTML: 88B04B

Look for more green in twenty seventeen!


Before Ive, There Was Rams



Braun LogoAsked to name an industrial designer, most Apple lovers will come up with Sir Jonathan “Jony” Ive, designer of iconic products such as the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Go back a few decades, and it was Braun and Dieter Rams that were synonymous with industrial design. From coffee makers and toothbrushes to calculators and radios, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen or used one of his designs.

Braun CalculatorRarely seen in the public eye, there’s a fantastic opportunity to learn more about this great designer, famous for his “Ten Principles for Good Design“. Film director, Gary Hustwit, is recording a feature-length documentary about Dieter Rams which is currently looking for funding on Kickstarter. The director has previously produced Helvectica, a documentary about typography and Objectified which looks at the relationship between objects and the designers behind them..

The project has already reached its target of US$200,000 with another two weeks to go. There’s some cool rewards (including your own private screening with the director at $5,000) but a $15 digital download is more reasonable.

To underline Dieter Ram‘s significance, there’s a trail that goes from mid-century modern straight through his work to today’s designs from Apple and Ikea. If you want to understand the consumer products you buy now, this is a must-see documentary….though you’ll have to wait until 2017.


Bittium Designs Wearables at WTS



Bittium LogoLet’s say that you are a major manufacturer of sportswear and you need an activity tracker to keep up with the market. You’ve no experience in electronics or wearables, so what do you do? If you’re Adidas, you turn to Bittium and get the professionals on the job. Martti, Senior Specialist at Bittium, takes Andrew through the company’s offering.

Finnish firm Bittium are a technology design house, specialising in connectivity solutions, from 4G base stations to mobile phones, IoT and wearables. Bittium will take an idea for a product and develop it to a finished product, including physical design, hardware and software.

Here’s the tracker that Bittium did for Adidas, the MiCoach Smart Run.  It’s a few years old now (2013) but it’s interesting to hear the development story.

Bittium Adidias


Pantone Color of the Year 2016



Pantone Color 2016Pantone has announced its Color of the Year for 2016 and for the first time ever, the chosen color is a blend of two, Rose Quartz and Serenity. “Why two?” you might reasonably ask….

Pantone says, “As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfil our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent. Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.

PANTONE-Color-of-the-Year-2016-v5-1080x1920By choosing the combination of girl pink and boy blue, Pantone is making a socio-political statement too.
In many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design. This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer’s increased comfort with using color as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to color usage.” 

For the graphic artists and web designers, Rose Quartz is Pantone 13-1520, #F7CAC9, and Serenity is Pantone 15-3919, #92A8D1. The full colour standards are available from Pantone.

For fashion aficionados, Pantone has prepared a series of desktop wallpapers so you can really show off your cool color credentials.

As ever, we can expect to see these Rose Quartz and Serenity incorporated into fashion and design over the coming year, though given the similarity to baby colors, it will be tricky to spot the real trends. Last year’s color, Marsala, is now officially out of favour.


PicLab HD: Spice Up Your iPhone Photos



hd-iconLike many photographers, I’ve spent countless hours experimenting with a seemingly endless stream of photo apps for iPhone. While Photoshop is great for hardcore RAW editing on a desktop, sometimes you need a quick and simple solution for editing photos on the go. The latest addition to my mobile photo arsenal is a beautiful little tool called PicLab HD.

PicLab HD is a powerful design studio that enhances your photos with a plethora of effects and overlays. Just import a photo from your photo library and browse through the extensive catalog of filters, moods, stickers, and overlays. You can also perform basic adjustments such as contrast, brightness, saturation, and blur.

The cool thing that sets PicLab HD apart from other photo editors is its wide variety of text and artwork overlays, all created by professional designers. You can customize the size and color of the overlays to create the perfect addition to any picture. The $1.99 app includes several collections of these stickers, and you can purchase additional packages for $0.99 each, or purchase the entire catalog of artwork for $2.99.THIS TO THISThe free version of PicLab doesn’t include as many features as PicLab HD, but it’s a good place to start experimenting with what the PicLab ecosystem has to offer. You can upgrade from within the free app to access the features of the HD version, or download PicLab HD directly for $1.99 in the App Store. If you’re a serious photographer/designer/artist/enthusiast, I recommend making the plunge and buying PicLab HD– it’s most definitely worth it!


Anglepoise Type 75 Mini Desk Lamp



There are many products and brands that claim to be iconic but there aren’t that many with the design credentials to back up the claim. The British lighting design company Anglepoise easily falls into the iconic category with the smooth multi-angle balance mechanism from the 1930s embodied in the 1227. I’ve always wanted an Anglepoise lamp and when a Type 75 mini desk lamp appeared in Amazon’s Black Friday deals, I clicked on “Buy”. Here’s the unboxing.

Anglepoise Type 75 Box

Anglepoise Type 75 Top Box

Contrary to what the label says, there was a bulb in the box – it’s in the bubble wrap at the top right.

Type 75 Open Box

Type 75 Unassembled

Assembly is easy – pop the spigot into the base and secure with a grub screw, then hook the springs over the bars.

Type 75 Assembled

I guess these are the money shots – the balance mechanism.

Type 75 Mechanism

Anglepoise mechanism with base

Overall, I’m delighted and loving it on my desk at work. So much so, I’ve put a 1228 with a mid green shade on my wishlist but Santa will need to be especially generous this year.


December Wallpaper Calendars



Smashing Magazine LogoContinuing the Christmas theme, Smashing Magazine have a bunch of unique festive wallpapers for your desktop and other backgrounds needs. Part of their regular monthly programme, the December wallpapers function as calendars too, with dates embedded in the wallpaper, which is pretty handy anyway – no need to start up an app to check the date.

All the heavy lifting has been done too with a range of resolutions for different monitors and desktop sizes – I use them as backgrounds on my tablet and smartphone. The only difficulty is choosing the best. I’ve included a few below but check out over 20 others at Smashing Magazine.

dec-14-xmas-time-cal-1024x768
dec-14-a-sleigh-with-gifts-is-coming-to-town-cal-1024x768
dec-14-snow-globe-cal-1024x768
dec-14-gifts-lover-cal-1024x1024