09 Apr Design Holidays
Having only got back from a west coast tour of America I thought I just had to share some of the design highlights.
First things first, I started my trip with a good book. I wanted something that could give me a bit of perspective on local social issues while I was driving from San Francisco to Seattle. I ended up with Naomi Klein’s great book No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. If you’re a designer, you may recognise Klein form her amazing book No Logo and if you haven’t read that then you need to put that high on your priority list. It’s effectively a highly logical cultural manifesto criticising rampant capitalism. It will shock you on the power of brand and and it’s use and misuse.
But back to No Is Not Enough, this is a book about speaking and designing against rising populism in a constructive way. As a designer you are taught to analyse and annotate all forms of communication – this book helps you see through the commodification of politics and identify the giant marketing and design strategy behind it.
For a aural summary of the book you can always check out Naomi’s podcast interview on Intelligence Squared.
So back to design.
What I really loved and noticed over there was the carefully curated and designed stylings of nature and outdoor wear. Where we have brands like Kathmandu, their brands felt historical and authentic. Check out wayward collective for a great curated set of brands and how they do it – Imagine what Deus Ex Machina has done for motorcycling but for fishing and hiking.
On the flip side this led me to question the longevity of the Organic, Local, Original, Real marketing language, specially seen in Portland. Maybe I’m being cynical but it jumped-the-shark for me when I saw a billboard that read: Organic, Local, Employee Owned. The Employee Owned was something new – but if it works then why not!
I also loved all the design variations in all the beer brands in Portland plus the communal workspaces and cafés. One of my favourites was the Minna Gallery in San Francisco: Gallery and café by day; Gallery and bar by night (or depending when you decide beer o’clock is).