The Art of Scherenschnitte

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Now there’s a mouthfull! I had never heard of this weird and wonderful word until the other day when I stumbled across the works of Cindy Ferguson.

Scherenschnitte (which I can’t even pronounce) is a super fancy word for the art of cutting paper. I thought I was pretty good at making stencils and screen-prints, until I saw some of Cindy’s amazing work. The detail and accuracy that she exhibits in executing her work should be criminal! And her main accomplice – a scalpel.

As complicated as it looks, Scherenschnitte is something that almost everyone, even the creatively challenged, can partake in. All you need is a blade (or scissors) and some paper. If you are blessed with a creative mind, you can draw your own intricate picture and cut it out. And for all you left-brained people, Cindy has generously posted templates on her blog for some of her designs, which you can down-load and print off.

I can’t wait to get stuck in to some of her unique designs, and come up with some more of my own.

Yours in design,

Jenny

The Seed Story

I love TV. Having spent most of my uni nights working late, it is a luxury I haven’t been able to indulge in for some years. In some ways, I have resorted back to the impressionable viewer who absentmindedly hums jingles while cooking dinner. When my flat mate asked me for the 10th time to stop quoting RACQ (wouldn’t be without them, would you?), I realised just how clever some advertisements can be.

And then I saw the pinnacle of subliminal advertising. I was both quivering with excitement at my discovery and amazed at the slyness of this particular company. During an ad break for So You Think You Can Dance (cue theme song), a ‘doctor’ addresses the viewers regarding his concerns for children’s arteries. Butter is a huge carrier of unnecessary trans fats and aren’t we concerned about this too? (cue: parents guilt) Solution? The young man recommends an alternative, like a margarine, that is high in natural seeds.

And then comes the great part.

Three ads later (and count them, it never changes) we see young children playing in a meadow with their happy (not guilt ridden) mum, because she feeds them an alternative to butter that is ‘healthier’ – one high in natural seeds. Happy children, happy mum: MeadowLea.

And if you aren’t paying attention, you might be thinking that someone, somewhere told you that butter was bad for you. And you find yourself reaching along the supermarket shelf to try an alternative. Ah MeadlowLea, I’ve heard that’s good for me…

Yours in design,

Tar-rannosaurus

(watch the MeadowLea ad here: http://www.meadowlea.com/)

Queensland Fertility Group – The Caregiver

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RED-i Design recently designed a new creative campaign for Queensland Fertility Group. RED-i took an innovative angle by basing the new campaign around positioning Queensland Fertility Group as ‘the Caregiver’. The model of ‘the Caregiver’ was a perfect fit as the characteristics correspond closely with the QFG brand values. The Caregiver is compassionate and motivated by a desire to help others. The Caregiver is pure, natural, gentle and never aggressive or harsh – these characteristics were personified by the use of calm purple colours and soft photography. The core desire of the Caregiver is to support, protect and care for others, just as the core desire of the QFG program is to support, protect and care for their clients each step of the way. The Caregiver is trustworthy and the message of the campaign, “This year over 1500 of our patients will be smiling too”, instills confidence in the brand as a symbol of security and continuity.

Yours in design,

Anya-demus

Recyclable is not recycled, and other things to look for when choosing Paper

Today we are conscious of our carbon footprint. And marketers are more aware than ever to take a greener approach to their collateral. In our industry, we are familiar with inserting logos on our client’s marketing collateral that supports environmental messages.

But it’s essential that before using a logo on marketing collateral or other projects the client must be aware of exactly what the environmental message means.

For example, recyclable does not mean recycled.

You can find this out from your reputable print rep. But it’s good to know the right questions. If you want carbon neutral paper, ask your print services company for a copy of their Life Cycle Analysis.

A print company that holds PEFC and/or FSC Certification means:

PEFC – Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.

PEFC is a non-profit making, non-governmental organisation. It provides a framework for auditing forestry operations and promoting sustainable forest management by actively reducing the effects on the environment. It is the largest certification scheme, covering 205 million hectares of the world’s forest areas. It involves PEFC Chain Of Custody certificate holders (there are 3000 worldwide).  Companies may hold both PEFC and FSC.

FSC – Forest Stewardship Council

A World Wildlife Fund supported, international, non-profit organisation. FSC works to promote responsible forestry, conserve biological diversity and protect old growth forests. There are currently some 93 million hectares of the world’s forests certified as FSC. FSC also includes a ‘Chain of Custody’ system that tracks paper from forest all the way to finished material. The ‘Chain of Custody’ requirement is what makes FSC particularly effective as you are able to trace your product back to the plantation and sometimes the immediate area in the plantation where the trees came from. It is crucially important if you are using the FSC logo that the ‘Chain of Custody’ has been carried all the way through the process from the forest, to the mill, the distributors, and the printers. The biggest misconception with FSC is that the printers don’t need the certification. This is not true every business who directly handles the paper requires an FSC Certification for the final product to be able to wear the FSC logo.
There are 3 types of FSC labeling:

  • FSC 100%
  • FSC Mixed Source – For products grouped from well-managed forests, controlled sources and recycled wood or fibre.
  • FSC Recycled – Supporting responsible use of forest resources.

We are all familiar with the recycled paper logo. When you see it, it means:

Recycled paper is manufactured with recovered fibre. Recycled fibres have been extracted from existing paper products, to be used in the manufacture of further paper products. Recycled paper can be 100% recycled or mixed with virgin fibre to improve consistency. Fibres can normally be recycled 5-6 times before they breakdown. In Australia, recycled papers should contain a minimum of 20-30% post consumer waste.

And finally, when you see this series of numbers and letters, it actually means:

ISO 14001 EMS For a paper mill to have achieved the ISO 14001 tick of approval it must have established performance objectives and environmental management systems to prevent pollution, ensure compliance with regulations and achieve continual improvement. It specifies requirements for establishing an environmental policy, determining environmental aspects and impacts of products/activities/services. It can apply to any organisation producing any product or service anywhere in the world.

Yours in design,

Julia-saurus

How to roll a coke can!

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In its most basic use, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), is the method of separating the presentational mark-up of a website from its content. While the innovation of CSS has allowed web developers to create some astounding work, seemingly simple tasks like having rounded corners is still not supported by the most widely used browser (Internet Explorer). Developers often resort to slicing static images or writing code to work around this issue. While dysfunctional browser support for CSS often leads workers on the web to despair, a very talented dude by the name of Roman Cortes has come up with this amazing example of a rolling coke that is compatible back to internet explorer version 7. It is really nice to see an amazing technique that is even supported by a Microsoft browser (of course ie6, still used by many governmental departments today, cant handle the awesomeness).

To roll the can go to: http://www.romancortes.com/blog/pure-css-coke-can/
If you have internet explorer 6 and can not view the can, maybe you could scrounge around the neighbours trash and find a can in there to roll around instead.

Yours in design,

Ben-ycneme

Going underground

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A friend of mine recently sent me some astounding pics of an almost undetectable house in the Swiss village of Vals (thanks Claudia!). Below is a paraphrased description of the house from inhabitat.com who profiled this stunning abode:

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Designed by the architects of SeArch and Christian Müller, this underground house exemplifies the notion that thoughtfully constructed buildings can live in harmony with their surrounding environs.

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Set below ground, the concrete structure has a wide oval opening that you arrive at via a set of stones steps embedded in the steep incline. At the top of the stairs the central patio is surrounded by a wide spanning façade formed of large window openings, which provide luminous reflections of the Alpine vista on the opposite side of the narrow valley.

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Bathed in an abundance of natural light, the house is far more glamorous than your typical underground bunker. It includes all of your typical amenities such as a full kitchen, dining area, guest room, and entertainment area, while features like the underground pathways give the residence a touch of military flair. By building the house underground, the architects were able to almost completely eliminate the need for heating or cooling in the winter and summer months.

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In Vals the vast majority of modern architecture proposals are thought to be destructive to the local ambience and are generally not favored. By designing their project to lie beneath the lay of the land, the architects created a beautiful residence that does not encroach upon the adjacent baths or the pristine alpine views.

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See more: inhabitat.com

Yours in design,
Janet-eratops

Alexander McQueen leaves a legacy in daring fashion design

This morning the news broke that the world has lost an inspiring creator, British fashion designer Alexander McQueen – the creative genius who wasn’t afraid of the shock factor or letting his imagination run wild.

His immense creativity and boldness can be applauded. Saluted even. To design you need vision and creativity. McQueen had that in bucket loads, he also had a distinct braveness in his creations. This allowed the world to embrace his unique, daring designs or at least question them over some good banter by the water cooler.

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Who could not stop and stare at his reptile heels dubbed the “armadillos” that paraded down last year’s spring/summer catwalk? I recall curling my feet up and squinting at the sight! But, let’s face it, art has replaced practicality here … and I’m sure most girls would agree that they too would be curious enough to given these 12-inch almost alien-like heels a whirl (indoors and alone of course).

It comes as little surprise that always-the-fashion-curious Lady Gaga was one of the first celebs to slip her feet into McQueen’s otherworldly 12-inch heels in her video Bad Romance.

McQueen had a cult following that fellow designers admire and envy. The four-time British Fashion Designer of the Year winner has now left a legacy of weird and wonderful fashion as well as a swag of other fashion and fragrances that epitomise beauty. May we take inspiration from this fashion great and add imagination and creative purpose in all that we create.

Yours in design,

Julia-saurus

Now I understand!

I love nothing better than talking with people, as every time I do, I learn a new perspective or something new – which is so exciting. Recently I was in a client meeting at a coffee shop and the conversation moved to The Three Gunas. I had never heard of them, but they sounded really interesting! I love when you can learn more about yourself and understand why some days you feel really motivated and on fire (Rajas), and other days you have to drag yourself from bed and find it hard to be motivated (Tamas), to days where you feel calm and in control (Sattva). I know I have days like this … in fact, I have days where I experience all three in the one!

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So after the meeting I looking into ‘The Three Gunas’ in more detail and here is what I have learned:

Linked to the ancient theories of Yoga, the Gunas are three energies that form the basis of the material universe. The word Guna means strand or rope that binds, so The Three Gunas are the three strands that embody us in the physical world. It sounds a little freaky but stay with me!

On a spiritual level the Gunas provide opportunities for spiritual inquiry and personal development. On a practical level the Gunas reflect states of mind that manifest as moods and behaviours. By being aware of these Three Gunas we can start to master why we are behaving/ feeling a certain way.  It is exactly that which I was most interested in. Imagine if you are feeling demotivated, it would be helpful to know how to ‘energise’ yourself to get things done.

Here is a little about each Guna:
Rajas = Activity. It is a positive energy that has qualities such as enthusiasm, excitement, ambition, alertness, accomplishment, passion and the ability to get things done.  Too much Rajas heightens emotion and develops hyperactivity, anger, anxiety, aggression, agitation, struggle or fear.

Tamas = Inertia. As positive energy Tamas presents qualities such as ease, loyalty, patience, stability and being grounded. In excess too much Tamas leads to laziness, apathy, helplessness or loneliness.

Sattva = Luminosity. As positive energy Sattva presents qualities such as goodness, clarity, illumination, appropriateness, being in the present and pure consciousness. In excess a big pitfall of Sattva is the delusion of the ego, which generates smugness and complacency.

Everyday these three strands of Gunas intertwine and affect each other with the aim of staying in ‘balance’. If we realise we have become out of balance it’s because we have either excess rajas or tamas. If we are feeling hyper busy, not knowing where to begin with our work load, we need to stop and look for the source of our anxiety, irritation or chattering mind. I have found by becoming aware of myself I can start to address the issues and head more towards Sattva.

On the flip side if I find myself at a Tamasic low with no motivation and no will to keep pushing forward, I need to stop and notice this about myself, and then to overcome it I simply force myself to get up and do something … anything!

The key I have found is to just stop and take a minute to really observe what is going on around me and realise which of the Gunas I am under the influence of. The challenge will alway be to move yourself back through to Sattva.

I recommend you dive deeper into the Gunas to really understand how you can work with them to stay in balance, as it really can make your life that much easier. Here are few links I have found:

www.yogabasics.com/learn/the-3-gunas-of-nature.html
www.myyogaonline.com/healthy_living_65_Yoga_Diet:The_Three_Gunas.html

Yours in Design,

Bell-asauras

Google’s the Buzz word!

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Surely it’s not just me that has noticed that Google has been in, around, on top of and responsible for everything at the moment. Almost every news story, blog post, email that I read mentions Google. Some of the innovations that Google have bombarded us with recently include the Google phone, Google Wave, the updated Google search interface, Google live search results and now Google Buzz.

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Google Buzz has been compared to Facebook as a social networking facility. How smart is Google, you don’t even need to sign up if you are already one of the 100 or so million people that have a Google gmail account. You just ‘follow’ people already in your gmail address book. How easy is that?

The same as Facebook, Google Buzz lets you upload photos, comment on yours and other’s items, include feeds from Flickr, Twitter etc. So my question is, “Will people leave Facebook to use Google Buzz?” I don’t really know to tell the truth, but for my money if I can do everything that I can do in Facebook inside a tool that I already use and don’t need to login to another site then Google Buzz wins. Apart from Google Buzz and Google Gmail, I already have my iGoogle page, Google maps, Google Analytics, Google Adwords, Google Groups, Google Docs, Google webmaster tools and I’m sure there’s Google something else!

I have to draw the line somewhere though, and that is with hardware. Apple is my choice of weapon in this department. For me it’s a very clear line, software developers like Google need to develop software and hardware developers like Apple need to develop hardware. And they are brilliant at it. There is the exception however, but only in Apple’s favour, with iWork and a couple other Apple software products. But the alternative of security flawed and hard to use software produced by Bill Gates’ company is just not an option! I just have to throw in another Google here!

Hopefully I have said the word Google enough to create some of my own Buzz! Check it out though: http://www.google.com/buzz

p.s. Google comes from the word ‘googol’ which is a one followed by 100 zeros such as:

100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
00000000000000000000000000000000000000

p.p.s. If you take a number, any number, double it, then add 10, halve it, minus the number you originally started with you will be left with the number 5 – EVERY TIME!

Yours in design

Paul-oceratops

3 Brands Reaping Success by using Social Media for Businesses

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Social media, we all know it. Most of us probably use it on a personal level – Facebook, Twitter, Bebo… It’s an online, interactive, community-building wonder world that’s not a craze; it’s here to stay.

Despite the genius of social media sites dissolving the distance of communicating with friends anywhere in the world, what I find totally fascinating is what social media can do for businesses.

With some know-how, forward-thinking digital marketing plans and an active (read: daily or every couple of days) dedication to social media forums, businesses and brands of all sizes can grow their brand, engage with their target audience in online discussions, promote events, and reap the benefits of viral marketing.

Let’s look at the leaders first. The big guns are switched on and obviously have the dedicated resources to achieve such results. I applaud the brilliant Facebook Fan Pages of big brands like Pringles and Red Bull. They are definitely leading the way in successful digital marketing initiatives and all have fan bases in the millions.

While their social media strategies differ – like Pringles focusing on clever use of video and Red Bull by streaming their athlete’s tweets through Facebook – their results are the same. Their Fan Pages showcase loads of interaction, the roll out of creative branding exercises, and perhaps most importantly, an active, online community thirsty to engage in discussions and forums.

Perhaps one of Facebook’s most popular Fan Pages belongs to Coca-Cola. As I type, they have clocked up a staggering 4,626,432-fan base, and unlike most other big guns, two Coke fans started the page. Coke’s marketing department then blessed the duo, added their assistance and now their page is run by user-generated content. Clever.

Aside from these recognisable, universal brands reaping the rewards from social media, companies of all scales can benefit from social media marketing. And it seems quite a significant number are already catching on. It’s now becoming a case of, ‘well, why shouldn’t we be involved’?

Yours in design,

Julia-saurus