My Favourite Car Designs

I have always loved classic cars, and owned a few along with way, some of which have only become classics in the years since I drove them new!

The “Goddess” Citroens, so called because of their DS model name (Diesse translates as goddess in French) surprised everyone in 1955 when they hit the road, a design that could have been an illustration for a science fiction cartoon. When they stopped making them 20 years later they still looked futuristic, and to see the rare (in Australia) survivors gliding down the road is to appreciate the design of these hydraulically suspended space capsules.

Some designs are classics instantly. The early Porsche is one, just an upturned bathtub really, but the rear engine and its light weight led it to become iconic in a way very few cars do.

Rear engine layouts were a common feature in cars designed in Europe. Fiat, Renault, Volkswagen, Skoda and Tatra have all been successful at various times with rear engine designs.

In the USA things were different. Chevrolet sold the Corvair in the ‘60s, until Ralph Nader wrote the book,”Unsafe at Any Speed”, which was to galvanise consumer advocates to demand safer vehicles.

The Corvair was a victim; it did have a six cylinder engine hanging out behind the rear axle, which could make it spear off into the scenery.  It was in fact improved, but they are a rare sight today in the US, killed off by bad press.

The least known rear engined American car was the Tucker 48 (pictured). Known as the Tucker Torpedo when its maker took 10 prototypes of the fabulous beast around the US to introduce it to the dealers, it was a hit with the public. He raised $25 million dollars in shares in his company, and had orders for 1 million cars, but he only ever made 51 of them, 47 of which still exist.

The movie starring Jeff Bridges tells the tale. Politics and envy made sure that Tucker could not get steel. He was hounded by shadowy Government agencies, and other car manufacturers made sure that in 1948 the American public were not able to buy a car that could seat 6 and match the performance of many of today’s cars.

Yours in design.
Richard-actyl

1948 Tucker

An emoticon fairy tale

Are you a ///0-0\\\ fan? Or perhaps you used to be a *\0/*?

If you can make sense of that (it was John Lennon and a Cheerleader!), then you will LOVE this emoticon fairy tale. It’s an adorable boy-meets-girl story told in the very simple, geek language known as emoticons. After Googling it, I’ve become amazed just how large the emoticon language can be, with Eastern, Western and Japanese versions. For more style guides to dress up your emails or online chat check out these creative emoticons too!

Enjoy this TED talk – we certainly did at the office here!

Yours in design,

Julia-saurus

Jetstar flies the social media flag!

This morning I read that more than 71% of businesses intend to increase their use of social media – including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and company blogs – in 2010 (according to the 2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report).

So it was timely when I discovered how Jetstar plan to divvy up their marketing budget. It’s pretty big news as it’s reported as the first major brand to make a dramatic shift of marketing spend into social media. Now, take a guess how much of their marketing spend Jetstar have lobbed into the social media basket?

10%?

25%?

Nope, not even close.

40%! While it may be bad news for print advertising, it’s telling news for the reality and future of digital marketing. This enthusiastic nod to social media has been described by Jetstar on Mumbrella as a “significant shift in marketing spend” to the new media phenomenon. In the article Jetstar aknowledged that traditional media had become expensive and fragmented.

I believe Jetstar’s push into using sites like Facebook and Twitter illustrate the company is open to follow trends and they recognise how their audience like to communicate.

And the proof is in the pudding. Mumbrella reported the Aussie budget airline trialed social media, including Twitter and YouTube, over the past 18 months, which confirmed their customers were comfortable reacting online. You may recall the 1000 seats for 2c sale through Twitter last year? It sold out in 2 hours!

If that’s indicative of the cool campaigns and customer-happy offers Jetstar may share when they commence their social media saturation in the next financial year, then I shall be following their tweets with credit card on hand!

Yours in design,

Julia-saurus

Sweet shot!

As designers, it’s important to know history. How a particular style was developed, explored, pushed to its creative limit. To be creative and original today, you need to understand why certain movements came to be and how they influence us through our work today.

For me, it’s a great excuse to indulge in some history! Brisbanites will share my delight that the Powerhouse has some wonderful photographic exhibitions coming up that take a look back to our recent past captured on film. This month, check out Rock and Roll: an exhibition of music photography by Stephen Booth” which is running until the 5th April. With 50 epic photos on display of the music scene since the mid 1990s, it’s bound to bring back some special moments and get your creative juices flowing!

Rock and Roll: an exhibition of music photography by Stephen Booth

If politics or current events are more your thing, a great one is coming up in May – War: Degree South, where you can still expect to see some beautiful colour, compositions and amazing stories happening in the world today.

War: Degree South

See you there!

Yours in design,

Tar-rannosaurus

Plasticine Art

When was the last time you played with Plasticine… when you were five, or perhaps last time you played cranium???

Well, perhaps it’s time to play again… plasticine artworks can be found just everywhere: advertisements, book/magazine as well as CD/DVD covers, movies/TV series, music videos, computer/console games, and even web design elements.

plastacineart2

To find some inspiration go to:
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/03/13/plasticine-art-showcase-shape-your-imagination/

Yours in Design,
Tanya-zinosaurus

Should we support an internet filter?

The government plans on introducing compulsory internet filtering as early as mid this year (2010), in an effort to make the net safer, in particular for children.

Communications minister Senator Conroy was quoted by the Australian newspaper(1) as stating: “ISP filtering reduces the risk of Australians being inadvertently exposed to RC-rated material when they are online.”

So what is (RC)-rated material? Prime minister Kevin Rudd (2) explained it as: “Acts of child abuse. Acts of sexual abuse against children, including material which also provide ‘how to’ kits in terms of conducting terrorist acts.”

All of that does sound pretty terrible, and this is probably why their appears to be strong general public support for an internet filter. A survey by ABC’s Hungry Beast found 80 per cent of people favor the filter.

So if the filter has such benevolent intentions, why is it that organisations such as Save the Children,
the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre and leading companies within the industry such as Google expressing concern over it?

There are multiple issues with the filter, including the actual usefulness of it in the first place. It only targets websites with static addresses, which is exactly where this sort of material doesn’t reside. Pedophiles do not create facebook accounts to share their images online.

Simon Wright (4), founder of Australian tech forum Whirlpool, breaks it down: “It doesn’t work with high traffic websites. It doesn’t apply to websites that require a password. It doesn’t apply to any website that turns on secure HTTP. It doesn’t apply to bit torrent. It doesn’t apply to instant messaging”.

So what is the harm done you may ask? Well its going to drive up the cost of internet usage and it is going to slow down internet speeds. According to the ABC (5), “a recent ACMA report on ISP filtering products showed that all of the products tested degraded Internet performance, with two of them reducing speed by more than 75 per cent”.

Despite all of this, some of us still maybe happy with sacrificing a little speed and money for another (perceived) layer of safety.But RC-material isn’t just for pedophiles and terrorists.

RC-material, according to a post by Google on its official Australian blog (6), can include “socially and politically controversial material — for example, educational content on safer drug use — as well as the grey realms of material instructing in any crime, including politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia. This type of content may be unpleasant and unpalatable but we believe that government should not have the right to block information which can inform debate of controversial issues.”

Google (7) goes onto express its opinion on the filter in much stronger terms: “At Google we are concerned by the Government’s plans to introduce a mandatory filtering regime for Internet Service Providers (ISP) in Australia, the first of its kind amongst western democracies.”

While the politicians may have all the best intentions, a filter is an expensive exercise that will cost us all. Nothing can and will ever replace good parenting within the family unit and good police work for the community as a whole.

References
1. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/isp-filtering-plan-to-go-ahead/story-e6frgakx-1225810665832
2. http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/communications/soa/Rudd-We-won-t-apologise-for-filter/0,130061791,339301378,00.htm
3. http://hungrybeast.abc.net.au/stories/internet-filter-survey-results
4. http://whirlpool.net.au/news/?id=1855
5. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/10/24/2399876.htm
6. http://google-au.blogspot.com/2009/12/our-views-on-mandatory-isp-filtering.html

Brand damage

If you decide to sponsor an event, wouldn’t it be a smart idea to research, ask and understand exactly what you are signing your business name up for?

Obviously Kraft didn’t feel it was very important to ask what was going on at an ‘Australian’ themed circus in Texas, as to be linked with Australia might be enough of a tick in a box. Unfortunately it could have been their worst mistake yet.

As if Kraft hadn’t had enough bad publicity after the announcement of their product ‘iSnack 2.0′ which wasn’t to be a popular name.

Now they’ve definitely done some great brand damage sponsoring an event that actually dresses Australia’s national icon the kangaroo in boxing gloves and shorts, and proceeds to punch the restrained animal in front of a live American audience.

I would find it hard to believe that fellow humans find this behaviour normal and aren’t as horrified as I was to hear of this news.

Yes our Australian ancestors boxed kangaroos during the war but it’s now 2010, animal cruelty is frowned upon! I would like to think the human race has evolved since then.

I feel this American bought company, Kraft, has truely lost touch of the Australian market.

Who knows their next move for damage control…?

Yours in Design,
Amber-saurus

Denton vs. Rove

denton-vs-rove1

I’m not sure if anyone’s noticed lately but to me it seems like all the shows worth watching are coming from Andrew Denton’s production company Zapruder’s Other Films and the shows that make you want to scratch your eyes out are all coming from Rove McManus’s Roving Enterprises.

Now for those of us who are way too cheap or busy for Foxtel, commercial TV is pretty limited, so when we see fantastic, thought-provoking shows like The Gruen Transfer , Hungry Beast, and Denton’s pay TV 30 Seconds (which I admit I have not seen but from what I’ve read it looks hilarious), we’re pretty stoked. What annoys me is these fantastic shows are often squeezed into piddly 30 minute time slots and played at some obscure time of night.

Then we have such “brilliance” as the7PM Project, Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader (or “Fifth Grader” as the cool kids call it, P.S. when did Australia say fifth grader anyway…it sounds pretty Americanised to me!) and possibly the worst talk show ever created, Rove Live, sucking up prime time.

Seriously. These shows have a negative impact on my brain. I was actually smarter before I saw them. Talking ‘Bout My Generation can be added to the list of brain-destroying TV – even if Rove has nothing do with this one, its crapness should be noted.

Rove has become so egotistical and the panels on his show are much the same. They’re so wrapped up in their own “fascinating” lives that they’re too busy to notice that there’s an audience out there who’s ridiculously bored with their chit chat. Even when Rove has interesting guests on his program he speeds them through a quickie interview so he can get to the crappy games and weekly segments. Kill me now.

Thank you Andrew Denton for finally creating some intelligent TV and keep ‘em coming. I must admit, being in the advertising industry does mean I have a slight bias towards shows that touch on this topic, but even if I wasn’t I’m sure I’d love your shows regardless.

Rove: please go away. You can come back when you’ve grown yourself a brain. And while you’re at it, say hi to your mum for me.

Yours in design,
Janet-eratops