Blogless: Blog of Design Less Better.

Posts tagged Nostalgia.

Four Design Links: November 19, 2009

It's time for Four Design Links, a curated collection of stories we've been reading this week.

1. Facebook Now Accounts For 1 In 4 Internet Pageviews(?)

Database marketing firm Drake Direct claims that Facebook represents 1 in 4 pageviews in the US. By comparison, Google gets 1 in 12 pageviews using the same dataset.

The data sounds questionable, but it made me think. These days, I probably visit Facebook at least as much as Google. I wonder how that traffic breaks down in terms of Facebook applications vs. socializing? How much of those numbers are games, for instance?

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NickNov 19, 2009
 

Classic video game covers reimagined

What if classic video games were given classic book covers? A recent post on Kotaku collects the best examples from this Something Awful thread.

Doom
Doom by MSPain
Punch Out
Punch Out by Mt. Modular
Super Mario Kart
Super Mario Kart by Recycle Bin

The source material for these spoofs —Penguin & Pelican book covers— are classics of modern design and worth checking out on their own.

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NickJun 2, 2009
 

Kilowatt Kat

Kilowatt Kat is the illustration portfolio of Adam Nickel.

The imperfections in Nickel's vintage-print style are as charming as his designs. It's a refreshing aesthetic in our often all too perfect world of computer illustration.

Illustration by Adam Nickel of Kilowatt Kat

Illustration by Adam Nickel of Kilowatt Kat

Illustration by Adam Nickel of Kilowatt Kat

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NickMar 24, 2009
 

Less is More: General Mills’ Cereal Port

Last week, packaging blog TheDieline shared the story of General Mills reissuing retro (classic!) box designs of children's cereal. It's a stark reminder of the state of advertising and a mirror of the things our culture seems to value.

For the moment, I'm not going to deconstruct their visual rhetoric. Just look at the difference between the retro and the contemporary:

A comparison of Trix boxes: retro and contemporary
Compared to the old styling, the rabbit on the right is on crack. What does that say about us?

I haven't done a Less is Better in a while, but when I saw this I had to say something. Look at all the badges and banners on the box, check out that hyperkinetic rabbit and his meteorites of sugar flying at your face. It's practically screaming at you. I hadn't realized how desensitized I'd become-- that there could be any alternative but an aisle full of this corn-based cacophony.

TheDieline speculates that the retro rollout is an attempt to connect to nostalgia, perhaps to get adults to consider buying more cereal (ostensibly because of the tough economy). Instead of belt-tightening, wouldn't it be nice if it represented something else? Not asking people to buy something, but asking them to consider their values.

The Trix rabbit on the old box doesn't need to sell you anything. In fact, he's not even looking at you. He's just enjoying the cereal. The craziest thing about him is that he's got rollerskates on. He goes outside to play.

Silly rabbit.

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NickMar 3, 2009
 

Aesthetics of Trust: The New (Old) Good Housekeeping Seal

DLB takes a look at one of the oldest American promises of product quality: The Good Housekeeping Seal. Does its new branding herald the start of a trend?

Comparison of the old and new Good Housekeeping Seals
The new seal is, in fact, the old-looking one on the bottom.

The Good Housekeeping Seal is 100 years old this year. To mark the occasion, graphic designer Louise Fili was asked to create a new design. Can you tell which one it is? In a surprising gesture, Fili rescinded the unflattering 90's look of the previous mark and instead opted for a tasteful, classical return to form.

When it was introduced on Today, the colorful old logo was mistakenly introduced as the new one. Fili, however, felt vindicated somewhat by the mistake. “I guess that could be considered to be an insult,” she said, “but I wanted it to look like it had always been there.”

The new design arguably looks much better, but we ought to ask ourselves: what does it represent?

One could say that the struggling economy has created (or will soon create) a consumer flight to trust and product quality. Are we witnessing, then, a return to stalwart brands or images that invoke stability and a remind us of simpler, more honest times?

Good Housekeeping Seal, ca. 1908
The original, 1908 design.
Old or not, the seal is clearly an appeal to trust.

If it is trust we are seeking these days (and I think it is), is nostalgia the visual we're looking for here? I guess, on a lizard-brain level, going back to Mayberry might make us feel safer or optimistic, but the past is just as full of unethical behavior as the present day. In fact, the old people seem to be the ones screwing us over the most these days.

I suppose such things appeal more to emotion than logic, but it opens up a fresh question I think is worth pursuing:

What makes something look trustworthy? Paul rightly says that trust is a promise kept. By what signs and symbols is a promise made?

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NickJan 6, 2009
 

Lab Partners

Lab Partners is a San Francisco-based shop, specializing in retro-inspired screen printed designs.

Check out their blog for more vintage screen-print inspirado

Print by Lab Partners
Print by Lab Partners
Print by Lab Partners
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NickNov 21, 2008