design

Happy Winter Solstice 2010


Our fourth annual Winter Solstice card is done just in time for the blizzard that hit the Midwest. We’re celebrating the longest night of the year because it means the days will once again start getting longer (we confess it’s the Summer Solstice we love best).

In this year’s design the arcs of color represent the amount of light and dark in hours and minutes as converted to degrees around a circle. Though the circles are nested, their thickness is adjusted so the surface area of each arc is also an accurate measure of hours of light and dark. Sunrise and sunset are indicated in their relative positions around the circles with midnight at top and noon at bottom. The moon will be full on the Winter Solstice ensuring that even the longest night will not be all together dark. All times are relative to Minneapolis which is at 44 degrees latitude and Central Time.

We had 75 printed, which obviously isn’t enough to send one to every single one of our millions of readers worldwide. So, we hope you’ll download the pdf version anytime this month and think of us on December 21st while you’re enjoying a warm fire, warm food and warm company.

Check out our portfolio to see cards from other years in the series.

Your Good Fortune

The RedBlackBrown Collective 2011 screen printed calendar is on sale now. This is our third annual, hand-made, limited edition calendar so we can reasonably call it a tradition. Once again we’ve proven a heady mixture of six designers and 12 fortune cookies is a powder keg of creative possibility. The calendar is featured on notcot.org, materialicio.us and benign objects so we’re hopeful this year’s edition of 100 will sell out as quickly as last year’s. Visit the RedBlackBrown shop to order and for additional photos including the designs by Bill Burns, Jessica Hall Burns, Peet Fetsch, Zara Gonzalez Hoang and Colleen Meyer.  This year I designed the covers and the months of February and July shown below.

Bloomsberry & Co Chocolate

Chocolate
Bloomsberry and Co. chocolate only comes in two varieties; Milk (for beginners) and Dark (which at 55% cocoa content isn’t particularly advanced). This means it will probably not satisfy those who generally consider dark to mean over 70%. Neither are there hints of fruit or citrus or bark if you are seeking subtleties. The chocolate is smooth and tastes a lot like chocolate chips. There’s no bitter after-taste, it’s very easy to eat and reminds me a bit of brownies actually. This can’t really be considered a sophisticated chocolate flavor but is perfect for kids and helping friends make the sea change from the bay of milk to the wide ocean of dark chocolate bliss. The bar itself is also a nice simple design. I found myself breaking it into smaller chunks than indicated.

Design
Bloomsberry clearly recognizes that design is an important part of the experience. In fact there is significantly more variety in the packaging than in the chocolate and consumers are encouraged to collect all the designs. Similar to the chocolate the packaging can better be described as whimsical, fun and spunky than sophisticated. It’s accessibility makes it a good gift for anyone who is not a chocolate snob and is sure to bring a smile. I know because I received this bar as a gift and even though it confirmed what I’ve known all along (that chocolate will not cause weight gain) I had a good chuckle. Actually since laughter burns calories this chocolate is the perfect weight loss strategy. Click on the photo for an enlargement if you want to read the small print.

Online
bloomsberryusa.com

Location
92 Jackson Street
Salem, MA 01970

Davis Co-op’s Got Spunk

What fun to travel 2000 miles only to find the work of Minneapolis design firm Spunk Design Machine spicing up my home town Davis Food Co-op. Spunk (with contributions by fellow redblackbrown creative genius Peet Fetsch) reworked the signage, printed material, canvas bags, t-shirts and more. Davis is also one of the few places a co-op would find it reasonable to brand bike trailers and a bicycle six-pack carrier. Gotta love this town. I’m particularly fond of the beverages sign and the logo for P6. The designs are fun and whimsical without being kitschy or cartoonish which is appropriate because people here take their food seriously but aren’t above riding in the pouring rain to get it.

Twin Cities Streets for People Blog Contributor

BrainstormOverload is happy to announce Cindy’s obsession with streets and non-motorized transportation has landed her square in the middle of another blog. Thanks to Carrie Christensen and Antonio Rosell of Community Design Group for the invitation. Head on over there to Twin Cities Streets for People to check out her first post on the local impact of Congressman Jim Oberstar’s national efforts. Thank you again, Mr. Oberstar, for your service and profound impact in the realm of transportation.

Sanna Annukka

design_sanna annuka_01

I stumbled upon Sanna Annukka’s wooden birds this past winter and I’m still groovin’ on her gorgeous style. I’ve been trying to figure out what it is about her work that compels me to go to her website nearly every week to see if there is something new to find. She has mentioned Nordic folklore, and spending summers in Finland as inspiration for her work, and I think the gravitational pull has to do with seeing a story in every one of her prints. In this one below, my mind’s eye sees little girls running and dancing and exploring a vast land full of fjords and forests.

design_sanna annukka_02Certainly that’s what I did as a young girl in Hawaii.

And her fennofolk below…the detail is delicious. The middle one, I like pretending her name is Annika and she’s what I’d look like in two dimensional form.

design_sanna annuka_03

Check out her website or commercial portfolio for more. Perhaps you already have a few of of her designs she did for Marimekko or the band Keane. Some day her work will grace our studio walls but for now, I’ll just continue to visit her website for weekly fjord dreaming.

design_sanna annukka_04

High Line Raises the Bar

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The Minneapolis Park Foundation, College of Design, and Walker Art Center have teamed up to bring us a phenomenal lecture series, “The Next Generation of Parks”. Wednesday night’s conversation on New York’s High Line was the second of three summer events. If you didn’t get in the doors, or couldn’t make it, you missed something great, but you can find the full lecture here. Todd and I have been to many a lecture on the subject of design, landscape architecture, architecture, and planning. A few on bicycling, too. This, though, was far more than just your average power point presentation or ubiquitous “here is what I’ve done in the field” lecture. From the introduction by Cecily Hines and Andrew Blauvelt to the last word by Lisa Tziona Switkin and Robert Hammond, it was damn inspirational. Why? We’ll give you our top three reasons.

1. Not just envisioning potential, CREATING potential.

Robert Hammond appreciated the abandoned elevated industrial era ruin of a railroad in his West Village neighborhood enough to take action when it was slated for demolition in 1999. How many of us wonder about the things we see on a daily basis, but when they come crumbling down for surface parking we tell ourselves ‘there’s not much you could have done about it anyway, so don’t fret you didn’t speak up’? Like those cool abandoned grain mills in our Minneapolis skyline. Sure we envisioned a cool future for them, but when they were felled, ground up, and a slab of asphalt was put in their place. Not again.

Linear park in an abandoned elevated rail corridor? Of course. It is a no-brainer now. But, such was not the case before Hammond and his Friends of the High Line co-founder Joshua David, did something about it. Hammond and David used their entrepreneurial spirit to create a movement that resulted in an overwhelmingly successful public space, likely by every index imaginable.

2.  Project process and tactical brilliance.

A lot of the process was no different than what developers, planners, or landscape architects do for every project (develop concepts, present to the public, attend seven bazzillion meetings, gain support, refine concepts…implement). But, a lot of the process WAS different. Hammond et al. recognized the power in branding and visualization early on in the project, and as they enter phase two and three, we would predict their savvy in the realm of communication and its power is going to prove to be a game changer.

Before beginning the project, they had a year-long photography project commissioned in effort to show people the life of the rail corridor thus making the space visually (and we would argue emotionally) accessible to those who usually just experience the steel undercarriage of this elevated line. For more project awareness, Paula Scher at Pentagram created a so-simple-its-brilliant logo. And, they held a design competition with phenomenal renderings by the winning landscape architectural and architectural team James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. (Full design team listed here.)

The game changer? Well, the area where High Line Section Three would be is also currently slated to potentially house twelve million square feet of development. Of course, the current plan does not include what could be the coolest end of the High Line.

landscape-highline-02

Friends of the Highline are pushing for a temporary (and relatively inexpensive) walkway installation in this section. The renderings illustrating this temporary installation are gorgeous and compelling (and not available yet). If they are successful in receiving the okay on a temporary walkway they will create insurmountable public support. The public will LOVE IT and when Mr (Mrs?) Developer comes in to place what amounts to TWO DOWNTOWN SEATTLES (Hammond’s smart analogy), the outcry of “not to my Highline!” will be loud. Very loud.

Brilliant.

3.  1+2 = 3 for us. Listening to Robert and Lisa describe what we imagine is the abridged version of the project process and game changing tactics resulted in a new vision of possibility for us.

We could list the numerous calls to action we felt last night as a creative duo, but let’s just leave it with the most inspiring. Believe in your vision, hone your technical AND tactical skills, and surround yourself with crazy brilliant talent who will make you better at your own work. Push the envelope in design AND process. The High Line raised the expectations of our own work and the possibilities for public space in the Twin Cities. We hope it does the same for you.

landscape-highline-03
Above images by James Corner Field Operations, but retrieved from the High Line website.

landscape-highline-041 & 3 by flickr user don juan tenorio. 2 by flickr user lucas_roberts426, but retrieved from the High Line website.

Jefferson Avenue Bike Boulevard


At BrainstormOverload we care not just about bikes, design, and design communities but we care about designing communities, too. We’ve decided it is time to put our interests and skills to good use in our own community. Wednesday night was a small but important victory for citizens in the Saint Paul area, and we were glad to be just a small part of the effort. Saint Paul gained city council approval (6-1) on the very first bike boulevard in Saint Paul. The roughly 4.25 miles of Jefferson Avenue will, in the next year or so, become an important part of the non-motorized transportation infrastructure of the Twin Cities.

In future posts I’ll write more about the policy that paved the way for this project, the people behind the effort, and what I see as the boulevard design positives and negatives, but for now I just want to revel in the warm fuzzies of a community coming together to consider public good as paramount to private good. Eight came out in opposition, largely talking about “my streeet”. On the flip side twenty-eight people agreed to speak in support of the boulevard as a small step in the right direction for our community, our street, our health, and our children. Four of which were a family from the east side of Saint Paul (far away from this boulevard). All four members, the daughter, son, mother, and father spoke about how important this step is for families who rely on safe non-motorized options in the Cities. They bike for nearly every trip from their house, and they felt strongly enough about affecting change that they took three and a half hours out of their evening to support this. I know there are many who have been involved in bike advocacy for years in our region; I commend every one of them and am inspired by their efforts to personally do more for our city and community. More to come on the boulevard implementation, but for now….a warm fuzzy public good feeling.


family with eight wheels

The Gathering Tree

design-carlson-wedding-01

Spring is the perfect time to be working on the design of the printed materials for another wedding. My brother-in-law Geoff and his lovely fiancee Tina were inspired in part by Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree and in part by the forested landscape of the upper peninsula of Michigan where the wedding will take place. One of the ideas behind the design is to play with the perception of a single (albeit abstracted) tree form and a grouping of trees that represent the way family and friends grow together and merge as a result of the union of the couple. The save the date card is being printed now but through the miracle of the interwebs you actually get to see if before the guests.

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