“If you’re given an empty canvas and asked to paint your inner thoughts, the brush is likely to slither across it with abandon, giving form to your whims and fancies. Art is freedom and a conduit to express individualism. But, if the canvas turns into a priceless gold dial, the brush morphs into a scientific engraver, and your job is to carve microscopic details on it, being an artist takes on a new meaning. The fear of faltering on a tiny piece of metal, that a team of engineers and artists have already spent years labouring on, is at once unnerving and challenging.
Like a good timekeeper Vacheron Constantin rules out any uncertainty by using the past and the future to its advantage. So, while the age-old know how is passed on to the apprentices, they are also encouraged to invent. The young watchmakers undergo a four year training programme under the aegis of old-timers and pick up rare skills like assembling astronomic and navigational complications and understanding the metrical placement of the watch’s gear-train and escapement.
The 250-year-old tradition might be weighty enough to eclipse any effort at innovation and change, but it doesn’t. Just as watchmakers in the 18th century were referred to as ‘cabinotiers’, or craftsmen, today’s generation too treasures its association with art and innovates order to keep creativity at the fore. What’s more, the brand seats them in a little heaven near Geneva where they look out into grassy stretches, enjoy the cool breeze and hear chimes of cow-bells while they ideate. With pictures of their family and quotes on horology pinned around them, they are hunched over in a relentless passion for their product, and for life in general.
In 1994, the brand observed the 400th death anniversary of Gerardus Mercator, the architect of the world’s first flat geographic maps, by enamelling his creations on the dials. More scientific than creative though, but its success served as a yardstick for future interpretations. Ten years later, the Metiers d’ Art was born to preserve traditional arts like enamelling and engraving.
The first series recreated the historic journeys of Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus. For this, the dial was diagrammed with the geographic locations of their adventures, in their latitudinal exactness. The art at play here is ‘Grand Feu’ which involves placing the visual composition on the dial, dot by dot with a fine tipped brush. The movement too blends with the theme, as the hour glides across 120 degrees like a ship in sea-tide and the minutes inscribed on the lower enamel dial resemble markings of a nautical compass.
The Metiers d’ Art Les Dragons Collection embodies the Chinese sacred symbol through a Guilloche motif which results from an alternating use of two machines, one to engine-turn straight lines and the other to rotate the work- piece on its axis for engraving curves. For the first time, this created non-geometric lines that ran erratically over the colourfully metallic dials, leaving a dramatic visual effect.
The Metiers d’Art La Symbolique des Laques roped in artisans from Kyoto’s oldest lacquer house, Zohikoto, to unleash on its watch-faces, the art of ‘maki-e’. This involves sprinkling gold and silver dust on moist black lacquer to define the delicate motifs of flora and fauna. To complement its delicate patterns, the 1003 calibre movements were done in 14-carat white gold and skeletonised exquisitely in its nucleus. But, the most unusual Metiers is Les Masques that replicates extinct tribal masks from Geneva’s Barbier Mueller Museum. As if afloat, the masks sit on translucent glass as the calibre 2460 movement stands concealed underneath.
To boost such ancient crafts, the brand has set up the Cercle 250 project that generates awareness with corporate sponsors. To cut a long story short, Vacheron has committed itself to preserving what’s good and creating what’s better, and has succeeded each and every time.”
AN : totally inspiring ! The art of anyone who creates and is a craftman / woman at their chosen passion , indeed sets them and their work apart in this era of repetition and exact reproductions. What a strong credo : “ preserve what is good and create what is better ” !
via World’s oldest watchmaker in operation: Vacheron Constantin – Business Today.
Children’s information books communicate their content with an energetic visual language
The task of tracing visual language in book design is a challenge, but one that is useful to take up in order to help us understand how readers make meaning of what they read. Studying the lineage of some forms of layout also sheds light on how design fits into and contributes to culture in a wider sense. Children’s science books – the highly graphic and colourful ones published over the last 30 years or so in the UK – provide some excellent examples of complex visual language, partly because they tend to be more highly illustrated than books meant for adults. But how do diagrams, illustrations and different forms of text interact to produce ‘content’ in these books? Meaning does not reside in the book alone, but is dependent on context: the particular conditions of reading, and the wider social and cultural environment. This is an exploration of book design as a medium of communication.
via Eye Magazine | Feature | Genetics of the ‘open’ text.
“Stock Logos has compiled a list of famous logo designs and the price that was paid to design them.
The list features iconic logos from brands such as Coca Cola, Pepsi, Twitter and Nike.”
AN : logos are indeed ”a picture that speaks a thousand words “. They are not the entirety of a brand but are the key, pithy visual pivot.
via Famous Logos And The Cost Of Designing Them – DesignTAXI.com.
AN : for anyone who uses technology , adapting the uses with the inherent functionality is either via analysis or by diving in and using the technology.
The better the intuitiveness of the technology’s design , the quicker its adoptation and the greater the productivity of the user. The article introduces us to the design, system and user model.
“To use the terminology popularized by Donald Norman in The Design of Everyday Things, the conceptual model in the designer’s mind is called the design model. The user’s mental model is simply referred to as the user’s model. And the presentation and behavior that the product’s user interface exhibits is called the system image.
And so to design a usable and learnable product, then, the designer’s challenge can be viewed as aligning the design model and the system image, and structuring the system image in such a way that it accurately portrays the design model and enables the user to develop her own user’s model that closely approximates the designer’s model. As the completeness and correctness of the user’s model increases, the user’s skill at operating the application will approach that of the application’s designer.”
via Communicating your mental model to the user: Design models and the system image | Architecting Usability.
“The predecessor to “Design with the Other 90%: Cities” opened at the Cooper-Hewitt in 2007. Titled “Design for the Other 90%,” the 2007 show was smaller, featuring 34 projects from around the world, ranging from One Laptop Per Child, an often-debated initiative to create inexpensive computers for kids in resource-challenged regions, to LifeStraw, a straw designed to filter and purify water immediately as a user sips through it.The initial show’s thesis, as well as that of the on-going series, is that designers have traditionally focused on creating products and services to sell to the wealthiest 10% of the world’s population, but architects, engineers, graphic and industrial designers, as well as design-savvy entrepreneurs, are increasingly addressing the needs of the majority of the globe’s residents–namely those who live in poverty.“The first show hit a nerve. It started to spark an international conversation on what role design could play in solving critical global issues,” Smith said, pointing out that the first show traveled to six different venues and the catalog has been reprinted seven times, including Japanese and Korean editions.“We saw there was dearth of information on this type of design,” Smith added. “So we decided to create a series.”While it’s still early to talk about what the Cooper-Hewitt has planned for its next show–Smith said there will be others–the series has a permanent home online as individual exhibitions open and close, with the Design Other 90 Network. The site offers a database that will kick off with 100 projects from both of the shows in the series to date. There’s room for more as worldwide conversations–and debates–on how to best design for, and with, the 90 percent of the world’s citizens are sure to continue.”
via Cooper-Hewitt show presents slums as innovation hotbeds | SmartPlanet.
“Mauro loves the first product he designed for 3M. When he joined the company in 2002, it had plenty of industrial designers but no one like the then 26-year-old prodigio who had made his bones creating goods at Philips and with his own online design outfit. Antonio Pinna Berchet, 3M’s head of corporate marketing in Milan, was eager to make its office wares stand out. The company was relying on functional excellence, but Italian consumers value aesthetics. “We wanted to create more impulse buying with more attractive products,” Berchet says. His long-term goal was “more institutional. My thinking was design would be part of research and development.”
After just a few months at 3M, Mauro showed the brass that he was bilingual in more than one sense: He can talk business as well as design. (Six Sigma has never sounded so sexy as when Mauro riffs about his love for process.) He convinced the projector team in Austin to let him compete for a redesign that was already under way. He tapped his Milan network and brought in Pininfarina, the Italian firm renowned for its work with Ferrari and Maserati. Mauro’s group made the overhead projector striking, with the sleek, inviting lines of a luxury car. “Always our projectors have been very industrial and very standard,” says Berchet. “This was absolutely new.”
“You wanted to touch it,” says Mauro.
What got the attention of pragmatists throughout 3M was the bottom line: Sales doubled. The S10 Multimedia Projector showed what design could do for business.”
via The Nine Passions Of 3M’s Mauro Porcini | Fast Company.
“Launchpad’s key principle is that so-called design thinking can be applied not just to product design but also to competitive strategy, organization design, finance, sales, marketing, and even analyzing why a start-up failed.
Design thinking is a process that shoves potential entrepreneurs off the cliff of analysis and into the bracingly turbulent waters of taking action.”
via Stanford’s Fresh Entrepreneurship Factory – Peter Cohan – The Startup Economy – Forbes.