Design Productivity

Productivity Tip: Stop Constantly Checking Your e-mail

How many times do you check your e-mail every day?

If you are like most e-mail users, your e-mail program is set up to check for e-mails every 5-10 minutes. That’s a whopping 48-96 possible interruptions per day respectively! That’s like the mail person giving you letters every few minutes throughout the day. Oh! here’s another one.

Application Bar

This is a bad business and organizational practice.

  1. It is a sure way to get distracted from your tasks at hand.
  2. Answering e-mail throughout the day, instead of at a given time, can cause attention and focus deficits often resulting in poorly thought-out or rushed replies.
  3. Answering e-mail throughout the day will often create a “now or never” reply strategy.
  4. Constant interruptions can take their toll on your attitude and self-esteem.

Doing Your Identity Homework

Quark, makers of QuarkXpress just unveiled a new identity which is a really fresh departure from their old dusty 1980’s Quark logo.

Quarks New Identity

Unfortunately, It seems that their new brand is almost identical to that of The Scottish Arts Council.

Design Everyday

Pig Heaven

Peter Pan House

We featured a wonderful Wendy House a few weeks ago, designed by UK Architects Sanei Hopkins for their daughters. They have followed up this success with an equally wonderful project for their sons. (Before we start, we have to explain that Pig Arcs in the UK are arched corrugated galvanized steel shelters for pigs to live in – like mini Quonset huts). To quote their own words:

“As there was no precedent for a ‘Peter Pan House’ we based the design on a Suffolk Pig Arc for ‘Flying Pigs’. This concept captured the imagination of all our children as they were all intrigued to know when the pigs would come? In fact, most of the design decisions could be explained to them simply by referring to the needs of the flying pigs. eg. the structure is suspended between two trees because the pigs need good clearance around them when they are coming in to land. Also, the structure is only six feet off the ground as flying pigs can’t fly very high etc. The boys have permission to use the structure only when the pigs aren’t there.”

Who said minimalism is no fun?

Music Software

CoverFlow: Better Digital Music Navigation

Cover art

Remember the days when you’d long to listen to music by the album? You went over to your shelves and looked at the album artwork to find the music you wanted to listen to. With the invention of MP3s and digital music players, the concept of album covers as navigational aids got lost (along with shelves full of records). Suddenly looking for a song meant you had to know the artist, album, or song name. As a visual thinker, I can easily tell you what any album in my music collection looks like from memory, but have a real problem with knowing what album a given song is on.

Design Everyday Films

Concept: Netflix Drop Off Advertising

When you love Netflix, as much as we do, it can be a real nuisance when you arrive at work having forgotten to post your viewed Netflix DVD envelopes. You curse your eyes for missing the mail box and hope you remember the envelopes on your way home… but then you forget… again… and the cycle continues.

A vicious cycle.

Design Everyday

Mail Planes


I have noticed recently that a new street artist has been around New York stencilling aircraft silhouettes (P-47 Thunderbolts more or less) on mailboxes. This one photographed near the Apple store in Soho.

Culture Design Everyday

Friends of the Arts


One of the great perks of being a designer, particularly of identity and branding programs, is that you become closely involved with some wonderfully interesting people you might otherwise never get to meet. A case in point is with an identity program we are just starting for Brooklyn Friends School. Last week, Ben, Saki, DK Holland and I spent a sweltering but fabulous day visiting the School, and were amazed that the entire building was packed with art projects of a level that was difficult to believe came from lower/middle/upper school students. It was no easy task to choose the three pieces shown here, a puppet, a mosaic, and a mural, from literally hundreds of equally accomplished examples. This work is done by kids just like any others, who, with the proper encouragement and nurturing were capable of achieving extraordinary results. The sad thing is that this is extraordinary where in fact it should be ordinary. All high schools could demonstrate the same achievement and vision if they wished. Art programs, including both the visual and performing arts, cut from one curriculum after another, are an essential element in the development of fully balanced and fulfilled individuals. It is a tragedy that so few other schools in New York or elsewhere aren’t following this remarkable example.

Books Culture Design

Mouse V Gherkin

Iconic architecture

The cultural differences between the UK and the US still astound. On recently visiting London, I noticed that Charles Jencks’ new book, Iconic Architecture, was bedecked not with mouse architecture as in the US (Frank Gehry’s Disney thing in LA), but with a highly amusing and pyrotechnic rendition of Norman Foster’s St. Mary Axe building in London, (known as the erotic gherkin to Brits) about to go into orbit. Are we in America taking ourselves too seriously? As a book designer among other things, I am sad that Rizzoli could not entertain such an entertaining (and Iconic) cover here. (On the subject of two cultures divided by a common language, gherkin in English translates to Pickle, like the thing you put in sandwiches, in American.)

Design Everyday Web

Thinking Outside The Box


After several hours mouse-wrestling on the web with increasing frustration, attempting to book a flight to the UK, hire a car, and order some Epson inks and paper, I was lacking in faith as I began a search for some cardboard packing boxes. Then I ended up on the Uline site. This is not a site to win trendy design awards, which is a pity, because functionally it is one of the best designed, everything-is-where-you-might-expect-to-find-it, exactly-the-information-you-are-looking-for, most intuitive sites I have ever had the pleasure to visit.

Culture Design

Jahee Yu

jahee Painting 4

There are so many talented artists who go largely unrecognized by the public for no reason other than they have not managed to be at the right place at the right time. Jahee Yu is such a talent, and although she is hardly unrecognized (she has had or contributed to many major exhibitions in New York), her work is not as widely known as it deserves to be. Her iconic images explore multicultural faces and figures with an intensity that is both moving and at times haunting. Let us hope she is exhibited again soon. We will keep you informed.

Her Website