Archive for December, 2008

Get a Makeover to Start the New Year

Dynamic Graphics is a well respected trade publication for graphic designers that presents the real world ideasfor creative professionals. Their makeovers contest issue is always sought after. This is an great opportunity to have today’s prominent graphic designers reinvent your brand.

So enter the 12th Annual Dynamic Graphics Makeovers Contest today. Send them your logo, newsletter, website or other design project. Their judges will select the entries with the greatest potential for improvement, and Dynamic Graphics + Create magazine designers will rework it—FREE. Results are published in our June/July 2009 Makeovers Special Issue. Download the entry form and requirements at www.dynamicgraphics.com/makeovers

Good luck. Keep us posted if you make the finals.

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30 December 2008 at 6:07 pm Leave a comment

The Paradox of Choice

 In August Susan discussed Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Choice that Shapes our Decisions touching upon client’s indecisiveness because of too many options. Mark Hurst,a marketer, that I follow recently talked about the same subject with Barry Schwartz, the author of The Paradox of Choice , another  outstanding book on the subject. As can be the case, I am in a different business place today than in August and after rereading Mark’s blog; it all came together for me and I am on board.

Schwartz says, “Everyone agrees that having choice is better than not having choice. It seems evident that if choice is good, then more choice is better. The paradox is that this “obvious” truth isn’t true. It turns out that a point can be reached where, with more choice, people are worse off.”

People can’t ignore options. There’s more effort put into making decisions, and less in enjoying them. What’s nagging is the possibility that, if they had chosen differently, they could have gotten something better. Some social science research says that one consequence of leaving your options open is that people are less satisfied with their decisions; if a decision is non-reversible, you’ll make yourself feel better about the choice you made. If it’s a reversible choice, you don’t do that. He refers to it as accepting choices that are “good enough”.

Transfer that thought to your retail business. If you provide sales options in your retail store, SAH or website, you might think the way to attract people is to provide as many alternatives as possible. But that’s wrong. You’ll attract people, but they won’t buy as much as they would with fewer choices.

 Schwartz goes on to outline how we should do that:

“There’s no general answer except “restrict options” – though in what way depends on what you’re selling. For example, e-commerce sites and store or your SAH client presentation should be designed so that the complexity is hidden, so that people who really care, or know a lot, can find their way to the complexity, and the rest of us who can’t be bothered to find it, won’t have to.

He cites an example of home furnishing stores -stores that sell things that don’t go naturally together – like clothing and furniture. They’re selling a certain aesthetic. How does a small store sell furniture? It puts a couple of things on display, and then offers a million items in the catalog. You’re not overwhelmed when you walk in; instead, you are in an environment where that’s manageable. If you like a couch, and tell the salesperson you’re interested, and ask if it comes in different colors or fabrics, the salesperson can trot out the catalog and then you can see the infinite number of couches you can get. First you’ve been seduced into wanting a couch by what appears to be the simplicity of the decision. That’s the right way to design things in the modern world, where everything is too complex.

He goes on to discuss Amazon.com’s If you like this.. popup. I have to say that I find it annoying. I don’t find myself buying from those popups and if I do start surfing, I end up losing focus and leaving the site without buying what I intended. So maybe he has a point. Schwartz suggests somewhere in the range of six to twelve options is what most people would be comfortable with, most of the time.

The lesson here is to arbitrarily limit the number of options you’ll consider. My husband I just bought a new TV and it took us over 1 year to decide because of all the options, new models and upgrades coming on the market. I was about to throw in the towel. I should have promised myself that I would go to only two stores and then stop my research and make a decision.

That brings me to a retail trend I have been noticing lately- the limited edition, curated site or store. While this concept plays into several consumer behaviors right now it also is based on the paradox of choice. Gaby Basora, the genius behind coveted line Tucker, just launched e-commerce with a twist. Here’s how it works: Each month, there will be a limited-edition (100-150) classic blouse in a unique print that is available only on the site. That print will not be sold again, which means that if you score one, you will be the proud owner of a Tucker collector’s item, so to speak. Consider Gaby’s take. Cut back on the number of samples books you’re bringing into the house or consider a limited edition window fashion website,

For a “more is better” person like I am; I have resolved to start to editing my options in both my personal life and in working with my clients. If they came to me because I am the so –called expert: then here are the choices I recommend and I can back up. If she needs to see every fabric in every sample book, she’s not the client for me.

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14 December 2008 at 7:29 pm Leave a comment

IMM Cologne 2009 Trend Preview

In September I was fortunate enough to see the unveiling of IMM Cologne’s 2009 trends at a special presentation in Barcelona. Four of the five trend board members were present and provided a very interesting take on the entire trend development process.

The 2009 trend board consists of Eero Koivisto, a Stockholm-based architect with Claesson Koivisto Rune, and a veteran of the process, having participated in three previous trend panels. The other returnee was American designer Stephen Burks, founder of Readymade Projects. Both Stephen and Eero were much more comfortable speaking about “trends” than either first-time panelists Arik Levy and Giulio Ridolfo. The final member of the 2009 trend team was British design journalist Markus Fairs, who was unable to make the live preview but was on record as being “suspicious of the notion of trends.”

This wariness concerning “trend” was also expressed by Ridolfo and most particularly by Levy. “My worst nightmare is that some designer somewhere takes what we’ve organized here and uses it literally,” said Levy, “developing a product based on exactly these materials and these colors because that’s what is ‘on trend’.

Levy went on to say that the actual process and development was very intense, collaborative, and at times, contentious. Burks agreed but noted, “It’s interesting, having finished up our part of the process months ago, to see the result in print and recognize how certain ideas have become more evident and noticeable just in that time.”

As the longest serving trend board member Koivisto emphasized that approach of the board was very “pluralistic. What we attempt to do is show no one perspective or point of view, but many points of view. The goal of these trends is not to dictate, but to provide a context.” And he continued: ‘I can say, having been involved now for four years, that these trends have proven to be accurate…that looks, materials and concepts we discussed in previous years have become factors in the design market.”

From the discussion among the board members and when responding to audience questions at the presentation, the core of these trends seems to be the simultaneous urge to experiment contrasted with the desire to preserve the best of the past.

So, here are quick summaries of the 2009 themes:

Extra Much
The design expression of extreme ideas as opposed to minimalism, not just in terms of embellishments and detailing, but on how technology influences both the design process and the possible end results.

Extra Much IMM 2009

Extra Much IMM 2009

The color palette for Extra Much is built around a vibrant peacock blue/green. A sunny yellow and orange add punch, while softer tones of cream, apricot and pale cocoa add depth and richness while a deep and a slightly paler purple bring a note of complexity.

New materials from other industries are adapted for home product use, while familiar materials like aluminum and Plexiglas are re-examined in the light of innovative new processing techniques.

Near and Far
A contemporary approach to design that values both the industrial and the artisanal, while always trying to stay clear of any “colonial attitude”, an attempt to balance both micro- and macro-production.

Near and Far IMM Cologne 2009

Near and Far IMM Cologne 2009

The color palette for Near and Far is very muted: A collection of warm and cool greys, with just the barest hint of pink, green and blue to lighten things up.

Seagrass, bamboo, felt and other natural materials are key, while synthetics are woven or shaped into natural-seeming structures–honeycombs, knits and more

Teepee Culture
The name for this trend created quite a bit of confusion for the mostly non-U.S. audience in Barcelona, with the board fielding several questions about Indian tribes, native American spirituality, etc. The title could have just as easily been Tent Culture, but that just doesn’t sound as nice! The core idea here is about paring down to the themes, values and experiences that matter; removing the clutter of over-design to focus on life.

Teepee Culture IMM Cologne 2009

Teepee Culture IMM Cologne 2009

For a natural/neutral theme, the color palette for Teepee Culture is rich and robust, based around a warm red. Khaki, army green, a true purple and a soft greyed blue round out the palette.

The main material for Teepee Culture is paper—shredded, recycled and in any other way processed, it represents the responsible re-use of resources.

Re-Run Time
This theme takes a bit of Teepee Culture, some aspects of Neat and Far and even something from Extra Much, but then combines it all for a different outlook. Re-Run Time is a rather Zen approach to design—contemplative, wanting to fully understand both the individual component and its role in the wider world.

Re-Run Time IMM Cologne 2009

Re-Run Time IMM Cologne 2009

The main color is a classic, neutral beige supplemented by a two deep burgundies—one a bit warm and one a bit cool—along with a blackened green and very dark navy. A shell-pink, winter white and silvery-grey add a touch of lightness.

The materials for Re-Run Time are rich in memory and inherent detail such as leather, suede and horsehair, silks & woolens, waxed woods and variegated stones.

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5 December 2008 at 2:14 pm Leave a comment


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