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DESIGN

Milan Design Week is traditionally full of interesting and fascinating collaboration’s and experiments. My own experience of this was back in 2002. While still at Central Saint Martins, I got to experience ‘Grand Hotel Salone’, a hotel concept pairing famous architects’ with cities to re-imagine the future of the hotel experience. It was pretty full on; a lavish affair all round.

In 2013, as with everywhere else, digital creativity and innovation is at the heart of some of the experiments that help fuel the fair. Heineken, while not noted as a designer of furniture, launched a rather fascinating interactive concept for the future of the humble bottle.

In collaboration with Tribal DDB, they have launched ‘Ignite’. While not world’s first interactive bottle, (See Work Club x Strongbow’s RFID controlled bottle) Heineken’s version uses micro sensors and wireless networking technology to sense motion and lights up in response to sound and vision accordingly, or cued to respond to specific songs, or visual stimuli.

There’s a few things that pique my interest around this project. Firstly, I love the insights behind Ignite. How it takes possibly the most mundane experience of being in a bar or club, the (holding of) a bottle of beer and imbues it with energy and life that is in perfect sync with the club. It has the potential to turn the dormant bottle strewn in the corners of clubs into equally compelling spaces to interact with the music. It’s smart from Heineken’s perspective as if it works, the value of having the brand in your club rises exponentially.

I love how it stays true to one of the most relevant ideas knocking around the marketing-sphere at the moment. I’ve been particularly taken with a line that Russell Davies of the GDS (That’s Government Digital Service to you non-Brits) used when describing how the collective team arrived at some of their decisions for gov.uk (the recent UK ‘Design Of The Year’)

“The product is the service is the marketing”

The holistic relationship between these elements has not been summed up better IMHO. It’s so blazingly obvious, yet frustratingly and frequently elusive. It’s a line that opens up ample opportunities for new thinking around creating valuable experiences for Brands. It puts the infinite bandwidth of digital creativity right at it’s center. While I’m sure the mobile and innovation units at Tribal DDB (there’s a great blogpost on their process here) did not necessarily have this line in mind when they were concepting the idea, it’s sentiment lies at the heart of what makes this a great project. Yes, it’s an experiment, and an expensive one at that. But  you would like to think that even if just a sliver of of Heineken’s marketing budget was directed away from fatous endeavours like this (sorry W+K AMS) to developing and rolling out this idea en masse then many more people would be compelled to ‘Open Your World’ than currently do.

It’s worth thinking about.

(P.S. Let’s not talk about the awful Brostep soundtrack in the video above…)

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This app from the visual artist Rainer Kohlberger looks very interesting. It turns your photos into abstract arrangements using a variety of patterns and shapes. There are 9 different combinations available, as well as cute bit of UI when you shake the iPad, it generates a random selection of patterns and shapes. The UX overall is really nicely done too. Bold and clean. For 69p, it’s probably worth the cash. Download here.

(Via The Creators Project)

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I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the quality and size of Google’s Web Fonts Collection. Designer Chad Mazzola has helpfully put together some of the best examples in a cute web page that shows off the diversity of these fonts. Worth a click if you’re thinking of upgrading your fonts anytime soon.

Via Wolff Olins Blog.

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A neat project from New York Based Graphic Designer Mike Joyce. Combining a love of Swiss Graphic Design and Punk, he’s created a poster series of famous concerts from the time period, remixed in the Swiss style. I love how incongruous some of the design is to the tone of the music. I’m sure many purists of the music would vent that the energy and fury of the original has been removed in an experiment like this. But in it’s place you can see how Modernist principles were twisted themselves with the evolution of design in the early eighties. (Examples of which are on display in the excellent Post Modernism exhibition at the V&A, more on that this month). But it got me thinking what other styles you could start mashing up. Blue Note meets Psychedelia? Or Factory Records meets Country? The genre splicing fun is endless (I might give one a go and see what the result is). A lovely simple idea, beautifully executed.

See the full collection here. 

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Here’s a fantastic presentation delivered at the most recent dConstruct conference on ‘design in times of disruption’. It brilliantly sums up the changes in business,  culture and politics that have been wrought by our old friend, the Internet. (My favourite slide in here simply says; ‘the internet will not listen to reason’). For anybody who is trying to understand what is happening in broads terms to society and the role of marketing and design in this evolution, they should read this straight away.

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