While driving my two girls to school today, I was listening to their conversation…
My older daughter, age 6, has a runny nose so she had a box of tissues with her. Out of the blue my younger daughter, age 4, asks her: “What would you do if you were a tissue?” Without any hesitation, the older one responded: “I would lay down and do nothing!”.
This put a smile on my face that I will always have when I think of this drive to school. I am sure I will have many more special drives like this.
One Bubble is doing a bit of traveling and on his trip to Germany decided to resurrect THE blog
This amazing park is located in a small German town, Speyer am Rain… all elements in it are so well designed and so well developed. I guess this is no surprise since Germans are know for their precision and quality of workmanship. But what I do find amazing is the whole concept… Playground for kids, great fitness machines for adults mixed in with a very cool relaxing area – all in one place – all in an absolutely gorgeous open area. Any designer can appreciate and respect the amount of work used to create a concept like this and then transform it into reality… all I can say is: I wish we had something like this in Charlotte…
I guess Germans do use their draconian taxes on something nice for the people…. Or if this is done by the developer then we really need to raise the question why we do not expect areas like this in our new neighborhoods.
I hope you will enjoy the photos I included with this post…. And get in touch with your local government or local developers!… We need to have stuff like this in Charlotte.
For your consideration we present the first post in what we hope will be a new series on our ideas: informing you, our loyal reading audience what, why and how we think about the design and fabrication challenges we face on a regular basis. While the concept is admittedly unoriginal, we hope to make that up to you with some yeasty content and impelling execution. (I just won tidy some for using the words “yeasty” and “impelling” in the same sentence. Boo yah!)
On with the show…
Most businesses put a lot of thought into how their branding looks on things they give to their clients. Business cards, sales brochures even golf shirts are subjected to extensive debate in long meetings with too many people and bad coffee. As well they should. A lot of money goes into the creation of a brand and how that brand is expressed is important. However, a business card is only one place branding needs to make a strong impression. Strike that: a business card is only one place branding needs to make the right impression.
Visit some of those businesses with laser engraved business cards and you’ll find that they put a lot more thought into how their branding looked on their cards than they did on how it is expressed in their lobby. Sure they may have spent some money, but how thoughtful were they with regards to how what they bought affects their brand? Maybe they even hired an interior decorator. The trouble is most interior decorators try to make spaces comfortable or pleasing, not to reinforce the brand.
The branding of your lobby depends on more than just the how the logo is made and hung on the wall. While logo design, fabrication and installation is important, it really is just a mnemonic device to help visitors remember where they are. It puts a name to an impression which will become a memory and that memory is what counts.
If a company’s brand promotes their competency within a given field, visitors need to feel that competency. If dependability, then dependability. If cost-effectiveness, then cost-effectiveness. The list goes on. If the internal brand impression made is not consistent with the external, clients and prospective clients will not only pick up on it, they will react to it, often in a negative way. In a regular economic climate consistency is important, in today’s, it’s critical.
For most businesses the number of existing clients and potential clients visiting their facility is down. Fewer visitors means fewer impressions and that makes each one all the more valuable. If a business is going to spend precious resources branding themselves to get people in the door they simply cannot afford to ignore an opportunity to capitalize on the impression they make when the prospects arrive.
Understanding the difference between branding a space and using a space to reinforce a brand is key. This is true not only for lobbies and sales centers it also applies to things like trade shows, conferences, and job fairs, basically anywhere a business is occupying a physical space with the intent to create a lasting impression.
We are one of the sponsors for tonight’s Charlotte Business Professionals monthly networking meeting at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille. The meeting runs from 6:00PM to 8:00PM and features Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager for Charlotte-Mecklenburg as speaker.
Pre-registration is not required. Tickets are $20.00 at the door.
Please join us for an opportunity to network with some great people from in and around Charlotte and the chance to ask Mr. Jones any burning questions you have about the County.
Click here for more information.
Every so often I confess to Bojan that I dream of selling widgets. Imagine if we only had three products: an A, a B, and a C. We could focus on being the world’s best A, B, and C provider, in the world. Further more, imagine that we only sold those widgets to Zoos. Then we could further focus on being the world’s best provider of A, B, and C’s to zoos, in the world. Doesn’t that sound easy?
Easy but incredibly boring. Instead we get to sell all sorts of things to clients in just about any industry. Makes the job exciting but is it ever hard to focus. As an example lets look at dimensional signage, specifically logos.
One of the things we do best is dimensional logo work. We produce logos in lots of different materials, finish the materials in different ways and then install them on all kinds of surfaces. We make logos out of things like router cut Sintra (a pvc material), laser cut acrylic and waterjet cut aluminum. We then finish those logos with paint, or laminate or polish. Finally we mount the logos directly to the wall, pin-mount them to the wall, or mount them to some sort of panel which can be metal or acrylic or wood. As you can imagine the possible combinations are infinite (approximate not actual).
That sounds a bit complicated so let’s just say we can take your logo and put it on the wall and make it look just about however you want it to look.
Recently we finished a project for Surgical Specialists of Charlotte which consisted of producing and installing lobby logos and custom ADA signage in three of their recently rennovated locations. The project was brought to us by a talented local interior designer named Chris DeSantis with Studio1616. We’ve worked with Chris on numerous projects in the past and he came through again with a really cool project. If you are in need of an architect or interior designer we recommend you contact Chris.
For this project Chris specified one of the finer dimensional signage materials: waterjet cut aluminum (WCA). WCA letters are the Caddy of dimensional letters in terms of fit, finish and price. One of the primary advantages of WCA letters is the finish, especially the edges. When you cut letters out of aluminum and then polish them, the surface as well as the sides look the same. It’s expensive, but the final product is sharper looking than just using a metal laminate on sintra and painting the edges. The finish pictured here is the anodized clear finish which is one of our favorites.
Install was really trick because of the rough stone finish, lots of holes to drill in all sorts of cracks and crevices. Getting everything level and plumb takes some skills. Remember that the next time you are shopping for a logo. Pretty concept pictures are one thing, the finished product on the wall is another. We rock at installs.
To compliment the lobby logo we also did some additional dimensional letter work above the check in and check out areas as well as some custom ada signage for the offices and exam rooms. Once nice touch on the ada signage was going with two stand offs instead of four. That really lightened up the visual weight of the signs and as an added bonus, reduced the cost. We might try that again.
One could argue (as my friend VonSchtiffler is so fond of saying) that Gladiator is one of the greatest movies of all time. Starring Russell Crow, with the late Richard Harris, directed by Ridley Scott, featuring men with nets and tridents trying to kill men with swords, exotic locations, wild animals, a chariot scene, a vexed bi-polar antagonist and a forbidden love interest. I mean, really, what more could you ask for? Gandhi? Chil’ please.
One of my favorite lines from the film, besides “Hello, my name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, you killed my family, prepare to die” is when Cicero (Maximus’ valet) says: ”Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to do.” It’s a great line and I often use it on my children when explaining why my idea of time management may differ from theirs. It also turns out to be a useful way to categorize incoming client requests. Let me explain.
Most of the time, our clients call because they need our help with something they have to do. Sometimes, they call because of something they want to do. Once in a great while they call with something they both have and want to do. That’s when we get excited because usually that means something cool.
Case in point is a project we recently did for Blink Eye Care. It’s worthy of attention for the finished product alone but I bring it up because it all started with somebody seeing something they thought was cool. The something was something they both wanted and had to do and the somebody was Dr. Charlene Henderson.
Dr. Henderson was in the process of starting an eye care practice here in Charlotte with her long time friend and fellow optometrist Dr. Tracy MacIntyre. While surfing the web, she somehow came across what we have come to call the “dude.” The dude is a three dimensional sculpture designed by Skills Division for a retail application in Belgrade, Serbia. She thought it would be a perfect icon for the new practice. We loved the dude, and since Bojan (the Held in Hand Held) is a Serb, we knew we would get on with the design firm like a goat with a glass of red wine. (That’s actually a Serbian idiomatic expression that loses a little something in the translation.)
We did a big dude for the entry way, it’s acrylic in an aluminum frame and has sections inside and outside the practice, so it looks like its coming through the window. We also did a bunch of little dudes for a cityscape in a window in the rear of the space, some more little dudes scattered throughout, and a dimensional logo for behind the reception desk. The pieces are unique, fun, and really help to the brand the practice, setting it apart from your run of the mill Eyeglasses To Go.
If you are in need of new glasses, contacts or anything else eyeball related, we highly recommend you check them out. If you need a design group , with mad skills, check these guys out. If you want some help with your wants to do’s, your have to do’s, or both, check us out.
Are you not entertained?
(In the interest of full disclosure, the thing about the goats was not a true Serbian idiomatic expression. I was writing this when it was late and couldn’t get a hold of Bojanius for a real one.)
I have a problem.
The problem itself is not new, nor is it news to anyone who knows me. What is new is my quest to determine what it is that compels me to buy books.
Here’s how the quest began:
The other day I was reading an article about Habitat for Humanity and a coffee shop/used book store they have in Charlotte. Really cool idea, sell used books and use the proceeds to benefit Habitat for Humanity. You can learn more here.
I am a big fan of books and a big fan of people owning their own home so I thought I would check it out. Immediately I was stuck with the thought that the last thing I need is more books. Last time I counted I was up over 750 and my best guess is that I haven’t read 20% of them. Maybe 10% in case my smokin’ hot wife (SHW) reads this post. So I thought of the next best thing I could do: donate some books.
That’s when I discovered I have a problem.
As I looked at the stacks, trying to find five or ten I could donate, I became anxious. Not specific anxious like you get when your phone rings and the caller id shows the name of a person you don’t want to talk to or when your car slips on icy patch of road. Rather it was this weird general anxiety I imagine people get when they think the sky is falling. An internal dialog ensued which I will not recount word for word because it’s embarrassing. Suffice it to say as I listened to myself respond to myself I sounded a lot like the people on the A&E show Hoarders.
If you have not seen the show, it is about, well, hoarders, and the people who love and live with hoarders and the people who are trying to help them get better. It’s tragic and depressing and at times hysterically funny in an admittedly schadenfreudey kind of way. Watch one episode and one of the things that you’ll notice is that generally hoarders have reasons for holding on to every little thing and no matter how bizarre those reasons seem to everybody else, they are perfectly reasonable to the hoarder. What really freaked me out was that the reasons I was giving myself for why I could not part with a copy of The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine (that I have not read and probably will never read) sounded a lot like the responses of a hoarder trying to justify why he needed to keep twenty-seven Ziploc bags of rubber bands instead of just twenty-four.
So what it is with the books? I read so much, so fast that little really sinks in. Reading cuts into sleep I need in order to keep up with the kids. The clutter is comforting to me but drives my SHW crazy. Dusting is a nightmare. The “furious ardor of my zeal” for solid wood, mismatched, antique book cases is embarrassing. Not to mention the drain on family finances.
I mean don’t get me wrong, I never pay full price but when Borders sends me an exclusive reward offer for 33% off any one item, my palms start to sweat. I have one sitting in my inbox now that expires tomorrow and I know I am going to use it. I am fully aware that they know that 95% of the time they send me a coupon I end up using it, so they just keep sending them and I keep buying.
If anybody as any thoughts with regards to this compulsion of mine, I would love to hear them. I will continue the embarrassing internal dialog and if I discover anything blog worthy, I will endeavor to post.
In an effort to further peel back the curtain and grant a glimpse of my personal life, part of my new years resolution to post more content on this blog, I offer the following:
Last night I sent an email to a friend of mine whining about how each day seems to bring fresh new evidence of how little I really know.
The two examples I gave were the crocodile from Peter Pan and the pen knife. You all probably know this already but the crocodile who swallowed the clock and chases Hook from one end of Neverland to the other, represents time or mortality and its relentless pursuit of man, hunting him down with a tick tick tick until he is finally chomped. The pen knife on the other hand, is called a pen knife because it was originally used to sharpen quills, the original pens.
I’ve seen Peter Pan as well as Hook numerous time and never made the connection. I’ve owned and used pen knives for years and never wondered why it was called a pen knife. How I can be thirty eight years old and this ignorant is beyond me.
So I fired off an email from my phone to a friend, lamenting my retched state. Did he offer a Socratic pronouncement about how the road to wisdom begins with a humble acknowledge of one’s own ignorance? No. Instead he sent this:
Not a lot of hope for you, I’m afraid. You’re telling me that – when considering the story of an ageless, forever-boy, who lives in “Neverland,” the idea that a ticking clock in the bowels of a reptilian monster represents mortality – this idea never occurred to you?
And as far as the etymology of “pen knife” goes, a passing familiarity with Old French should suffice to inform the average observer that the word penne – meaning the feather of a bird, or quill – had simply been contracted in English to ‘pen’ to describe the writing instrument of the past. Sheesh!
I suppose its helpful to know, prior to digitally self immolating via email, which friends throw water and which throw gas.
That being said, I will conclude by offering a movie recommendation for Finding Neverland. A little late to the party, I know, but it really is a wonderful movie and if you have not seen it, rent it. Prepare to cry like a baby, not a croc.
Which reminds me, RIP Steve, life was better with you around.
Managing client’s artwork files is consistently one of our biggest challenges. The proliferation of different types of files contribute to said challenges. When it comes to understanding file types, we cheekily divide most people into three categories. Those who understand the difference between vector and raster files, those who don’t and those we call The Digitized. They think that anything that has been digitized can be blown up and printed at any size they want. (“Don’t worry, it’s DIGITIZED!”) Throw ad agencies into the mix and things get even more interesting. Multiple parties, from multiple camps, all participating in the process, all insisting they know what can be done and all sure their expectations are reasonable. Phew!
Recently one of our clients came in requesting a 20′ display backdrop from a single image. Expecting the worst we were pleasantly surprised when the original file actually seemed scalable to the size we needed. The display is a fabric backwall, and fabric tends to be a little more forgiving when it comes to resolution, so we were feeling pretty good. “One more thing,” the client added (here it comes, wait for it, wait for it…) “we want you to remove the text on the banner and replace it with different text. “No problem, I’m pretty sure we have a magic eraser around here somewhere…
Buff seasoned babes aside (Shades is my personal favorite), we set to work and the results were, dare I say… Impressive. Following are the images before, during and after the alteration.
Here is the original image with the original text:
The client requested we remove the the text from the banner and insert new text. A bit of a challenge considering the wrinkles and the shading (on the banner, sheesh). It’s one thing to do a little photoshop work on a small image that is going to only be viewed on a screen. Making it look good at 10′ X 20′ is another.
This is what it looked like once we removed the text:
And finally, the finished product with the new text:
Here are some close ups of the before, during and after stages:
We have yet to receive the show shots of the finished display in all its glory. When we do we will follow up with a post to show what the finished product looked like. It turned out really cool and the client was pleased.
If you have a project requiring digital manipulation of artwork and large format printing, please consider giving us a call.