2 steps forward , three steps back

The beauty of the web is in its participatory nature, unfortunately this can also be its most significant weakness.

Users of the internet have become empowered by participating in the online environment. The open, collaborative activity of the web has enabled those historically without the means to become publishers of content (i.e. through blogging sites), sell goods (through online storefronts), and reach wide audiences (email + viral marketing) without the considerable capital and resources that may have been required in previous generations.

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In 2006, Time Magazine expressed this newfound empowerment by declaring the person of the year as “You”. Time magazine wrote: “It’s a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It’s about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people’s network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.”

While users have well and truly gained from the web and the online environment’s participatory nature, some basic technological advancements are hindered by conflicting and poor contributions from major players on the web.

Have you ever noticed that fonts on the web appear to lack diversity? This is because native support for fonts is restricted due to legal issues with the major font owners. Although there is some very clever solutions involving client side scripting and flash technology available – and some projects addressing this issue in the pipeline – it still remains that in 2009 we still can not legally use a font that is not already on the users computer without resorting to hacks.

Have you noticed that emails look terrible compared to websites? Thanks to the brilliant minds at Microsoft, in Outlook 2007 we cannot even place text above an image as background-images are not supported. As Outlook enjoys such an undeserving dominant market-share, this effects all email marketing, effectively putting emails back 10 years.

When key stakeholders bring crumbs to the table, such as browser and email client providers, we all go hungry because the web relies on their contributions.

Yours in design,
Ben-ycneme

Home

I have just returned from a holiday in Perth. What a great place! The flight over the Nullabor and Lake Eyre is just breathtaking. Our landscape is like no other place on this earth. A fact that was further confirmed when I visited the Art Gallery of Western Australia and was pleasantly surprised not only by their permanent collection but by an exhibition showing at the moment of arial photographs by Richard Woldendorp. These are just a few pieces shown and what a beautiful place we are fortunate enough to call home.

Yours in design,
Ren-odocus

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Isn’t it strange how stress affects us in business?

Recently I have been working to get some balance between renovating and the day to day running of our design studio. Both important tasks for me to focus on but getting the balance is not quite as easy as it sounds.

I have known for years how stress effects me, and indeed many others, you suddenly find yourself, not eating or sleeping and it is amazing how quickly I seem to fall back into my old habits!

Today I stopped long enough to think about my actions and the consequences of those actions and I have realised the only thing that has really changed from my time of feeling in control to now, has been my exercise regime. Isn’t it funny when we get busy our best intentions of personal exercise seem to go out the window!

I can really admit to the fact that as I stopped exercising the more anxious and stressed I started to feel. Finally after 8 years of running RED-i Design, I have come to the conclusion that regular exercise is vital to your mental and emotional well-being especially when in a high stress position.

I did some research into my theory to see if it was true and sure enough I found that ‘the therapeutic benefits of regular physical activity is without rival’. We all know that exercise is important for the body and below are some reasons why it’s vital for our stress levels and emotional state of mind:

Exercise works as a detoxification for stress related compounds, it is a positive outlet for anger and hostility, it provides enhanced feelings of self esteem and self efficacy, it provides opportunities for social support and it improves sleep and rest.

Someone once said that if exercise was a pill, it would be the most powerful medication known to humans.

I know I will be keeping exercise on the top of my priorities from now on! First stop – boxing on thursday mornings. A good friend has told me that pain is just weakness leaving the body and it has taken me until today to realise that is so true!  Keep up the exercise, you need it more than you think if you are in a potentially stressful work environment.

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The information above was found on Exercise as a Stress Management Modality (http://www.imt.net/~randolfi/ExerciseStress.html)

Yours in Design,

Belinda

Anthony Capon wins Project Runway

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I just want to congratulate fellow Irish dancer Anthony Capon for winning Project Runway season 2!  Anthony’s stunning collection was a stand out – we knew you would win from episode 1 Anthony!

You can see images of his final collection and journey throughout the show on the Project Runway site.

Love your work and hope to buy a piece from your collection soon. Will be down in Melbourne for the Irish dancing Nationals next week, so Anthony if you’re free drop in and say hello.

Congrats!

Cool Queensland artist!

I want to introduce to you contemporary and abstract painter, Fiona Kennedy Altoft. Her artworks are awesome – they’re super colourful and unique.

I do have a total of four of her paintings solely in my bedroom. Could you say I’m an art tragic? Possibly.

This creative genius doesn’t only do paintings, but also makes painted ceramic jewellery. Art and fashion all covered – no wonder I love this woman.

Fiona shows at galleries all throughout south east Queensland, in Western Australia, as well as in Sydney and Melbourne. Her next big showing is at The Weekend Australian Art 2009 show at the Royal Hall of Industries at Moore Park in Sydney – from the 22nd to the 25th of October – in the Frances Keevil Gallery. That’s next month. Can’t wait.

Check her, her artwork, and her jewellery out at http://www.visualartist.info/visualartist/artist/default.asp?artistId=1746.

Yours in design,

Jorja-saurus

Know your brand alphabet?

I came across a concept recently called “Alphabet Soup”. I had a great time trying to identify a company simply by the first logotype letter in its name. I have adapted it with some of today’s best-known companies. See how many you can name!

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If you’re stumped, take a peek at the answers.

Yours in Design,
Tanya-zinosaurus

Answers: 1. Adobe   2. Bunnings   3. Canon   4. DVD   5. ebay   6. Freedom   7. Google
8. Hewlett-Packard   9. IBM   10. Jetstar   11. Kmart   12. Liberal   13. Microsoft   14. Nandos
15. Obama 08   16. Paypal   17. Qantas   18. R.M. Williams   19. Skype   20. Twitter   21. Unicef
22. Visa   23. Wattyl   24. XBox   25. Yahoo   26. ZAP!  

QR codes now work in Australia

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I’m sure they’ve been out for a little while now, but I’ve just recently downloaded an app for my iPhone that reads QR codes. These are the square barcodes I wrote about after coming back from Japan in April and seeing them absolutely everywhere. In Australia I’ve only seen a few phone companies using them in their magazine advertisements and on bus shelters – so they haven’t yet hit the mainstream. But I don’t think it will be long until we start seeing them in advertising all over as well as in email signatures and on stationery for a range of different industries.

QR codes embed web content and once scanned link you directly to it. No more painful typing of ‘http://www’ before every web address or fishing around search engines for the site you want. The barcodes need to be quite large otherwise your camera may have trouble reading it and they need to have a little clear space around them.

You can download the QR app by searching ‘QR app’ or ‘NeoReader’ on your iPhone. Either app works well.

Or you can make your own: qrapp.com or createqrcode.appspot.com

There are apps out there for other phones as well. Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Panasonic and LG are all on the case. You can find a full list of QR code software and compatible phones here:
mobile-barcodes.com/qr-code-software/

You can even test to see if your code reading software is working by using the code above…why not let me know where it takes you?

Yours in design,
Janet-eratops

Brisbane Designed & Made

It’s great to see more and more new markets popping up around Brisbane.

After waking up far too early for a Sunday, this morning I drove out to experience the monthly ‘Boutique Markets’ at Portside Wharf > www.boutiquemarkets.com.au

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I was quite surprised at the visual delight. All of the women running the stalls were happy to chat and explain their wares. To have a stall at the Boutique Markets you must be selling products you have made yourself. It was hard to resist the temptation of buying myself some treats but it was a good feeling to know I was supporting Brisbane designed and made products.

The owner of the ‘Thea & Sami’ clothing range informed me of a screen printing class she conducts in which you get to make your own creations and find out her secrets to her designer garments made of organic fabric and environmentally friendly inks.

Mr Julius (named after a pet cat) is a range of swim wear in which the fashion designer creates her own prints and patterns in Brisbane. Some of her bikinis featured in magazines. Another bikini to add to my collection…

I’m more than happy to wake up early on a Sunday for unique designs by local artists!

Another new art & design market coming to Brisbane is ‘The Finders Keepers’ on the weekend of the 31st Oct-1 Nov 09 at the Old Museum in Herston > www.thefinderskeepers.com

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Wouldn’t you rather experience the colourful and friendly buzz of the atmospheric markets than the busy shopping centres with mass produced products?

Yours in Design,
Amber-saurus

tapestry design

Months ago there was a documentary about the Utzon Room at the Opera House, featuring a stunning Jorn Utzon designed tapestry, made by the Victorian Tapestry Workshop.

Luckily this stuck in my head, so on a recent jaunt to sample the delights of Pompeii and Dali, a spare morning was utilised to visit the workshop, housed in a 19th century building in historic South Melbourne, for a talk and a guided tour.

The workshop produces it’s own yarn, dyed on the premises, in 366 different colours. A short history lesson is thrown in on some of the ancient and famous tapestries still on display around the world after centuries.
We were taken to a viewing platform inside the huge white workroom, complete with original Victorian cast iron columns, where you can watch the modern equivalent of those masterpieces slowly taking shape

Amongst the unbelievable works-in-progress inside the workroom, and those hanging in the adjoining gallery, were some of a series being produced for Oz Embassies around the world, each designed by an indigenous artist, all quite different.

“ Tapestry invites the senses as well as the mind to delight”

Patrick McCaughey ( Former Director NGV )

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If you can’t get to Melbourne, go to www.victapestry.com.au. Below are 2 of my favorite designs from the website.

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Flower tapestry
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red-fan tapestry

Penguin Classics

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I have long been a fan of the Penguin Classics range. The beautiful orange and black that look so neat and professional on your bookcase. Not to mention that they are must reads from all periods in time. Well, recently while browsing in a bookstore I saw that the Penguin Classic collection has been given an authentic facelift. These books transport you back to the time when the titles were written, when books were treasured. The colours are gorgeous and romantic and the screenprinting on the fabric is something that is just not seen today in book cover design. Does this mean I now need to update my book collection? Seems you can judge a book by its cover… classic.

If you’re interested in book cover design check out the book cover archive. This site showcases classic, everyday and obscure titles and best of all pushes the bounds of everyday book cover design.

Enjoy!

Yours in Design,
Ren-odocus

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