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GDUSA

Graphic Design USA Magazine

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September 2013

A few months ago, I was approached by Project Runway to participate in an episode that included the HP and Intel Pattern Challenge. I listened intently as the producers explained the challenge even though I knew exactly what they were going to say since I am a huge fan of the show. At this point in the competition there were only seven fashion designers left. Each remaining designer would be paired with a “Next Generation Achiever” to help inspire a pattern that was then made into a textile and incorporated into their runway look. And they wanted ME to be that inspirational person!!

After I finished doing the happy dance followed by consecutive shrieks of joy I regained consciousness and started to panic. How in the world was I going to be an inspiration?

I started to think about the role of a graphic designer and how powerful design can be when used effectively. As creative director at GDUSA magazine I am fully immersed in the world of design and I continually find that the best designed projects are those that come from a labor of love. For me, this labor of love is Barbalu.

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Each fashion designer had the chance to spend an hour with their innovator to draw inspiration for their pattern. I had the pleasure of meeting Alexandria von Bromssen at the future home of Barbalu. As I explained to Alexandria, Barbalu is a soon-to-open Italian restaurant near the South Street Seaport. In October of 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated my beloved hometown of New York City and the restaurant in which we stood was filled with more than 6 feet of storm water. Everything was gone. But now — nearly a year to date — the brave owners are rebuilding in the same location. The business needed to start from scratch and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to help them redesign their entire identity.

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The Bloomberg Administration has transformed NYC in many ways that make it a better place to live.

As someone who lives and works in Manhattan, my life has been enriched because the city is a more bike-friendly place, allowing me to cycle to work once or twice a week — usually on weekends when the traffic is a bit lighter. And the installation of plazas at key points has allowed me to stretch out and sip coffee and take in the street scene and worship the sun. My personal favorite spot is right at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street in Manhattan, near the Flatiron building with an outdoor cafe called Flatiron Green, where I can park my bike and gather my thoughts before going into the office for a long day. In short, I am calmer, fitter, tanner, more caffeinated, and generally happier living and working in the city because of these improvements. Thanks Mayor Mike, we’ll miss you!

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Interestingly, the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Museum of Design has gotten the message. The institution is honoring NYC Transportation Commission Janette Sadik-Khan (shown below) as Design Patron of the National Design Awards. Its an honorary award that has been held by some heavy hitters over the years. Comments Caroline Baumann, Director of the Museum, “Using design and urban planning as the central driver over her six year tenure, Janette has transformed how New Yorkers move around the city, from the innovative Citi Bike program to the creation of pedestrian plazas. I am delighted to recognize the Commissioner for her design stewardship and leadership, which will benefit the city for decades to come.”

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 The National Design Awards were established in 2000 to promote design as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world. The awards are accompanied each year by a variety of public education programs, including special events, panel discussions and workshops during National Design Week, this year to be held October 12 – 20.

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“Creativity Takes Courage” -Henri Matisse

 

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Every time I watch Orange Is The New Black — the exceedingly popular tv comedy-drama based on the prison memoir — I try to match up the women’s faces in the opening credits with the characters in the show. Apparently, I’ve been wasting my time, since none of the women appearing in the opening credits actually appear on the show.

The story behind this unusual approach: show producer Jenji Kohan and design firm, Thomas Cobb Group, wanted to communicate that the show would tell many stories of women behind bars, not just the story of the memoirist Piper Kerman and her tv version Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling).

To achieve this, the Venice CA design group photographed real women in jail in closeups that manage to hide their identities but create a sense of intimacy.  Executive Producer Gary Bryman explains that they asked each woman to “visualize in their mind three emotive thoughts: think of a peaceful place, think of a person who makes you laugh, and thing of something you want to forget … Thomas found this really interesting sweet spot of cropped compositions that would not necessarily reveal who the person was, but at the same time provide a portal into their soul through their eyes.”

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An interesting twist to this design approach is the inclusion of the “real” Piper in the opening credits. The author of this riveting tale is the blue-eyed woman who blinks about a minute into the opening and can be seen below.

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