Last call for the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition!


Are you jonesing for a dose of optimism and possibility? In the mood to contemplate the cosmos? Want to experience a musical message for extraterrestrials the way it was meant to be played? The Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition, a project I launched with Timothy Daly and Lawrence Azerrad, is a lavish vinyl box set containing the contents of the phonograph record launched into space in 1977 and now 13 billion miles from Earth.

Our Kickstarter ends at 8pm PDT tonight (Thursday). Once we fulfill the rewards from this campaign, we'll never produce this deluxe 40th Anniversary Edition again.

We are so thankful enthusiasm and excitement about our project and the incredible Voyager interstellar mission. The curiosity and support is infectious. We're deeply grateful that a project that has been on our minds for so long has resonated with so many people around the world. Ad astra!

For more on the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition, please visit our Kickstarter page here.

And here's an excerpt from an interview with me about the project, from The Vinyl Factory:

Ultimately it was a utopian vision for Earth as much as an actual attempt to communicate with extra terrestrials… Wasn’t it?

Yeah I think the idea is that if there is a civilisation that is intelligent enough to actually intercept it, they’ll be able to follow the instructions on how to play it. And I think that’s true. In some ways though, it doesn’t even really matter if it’s ever played or not by an extra-terrestrial civilisation.

Read the rest

Interactive clothing via dynamic projection mapping


Technically, cloth is a "deforming non-rigid surface," so projecting a stable image onto clothes is a big technological challenge. To solve it, Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory combined two new techniques that allow stable projection of an image onto clothes even as they move. Read the rest

Popular design guides are responsible for plague of grey type


A series of recent, influential design books and articles have convinced the web's designers to go for grey-on-white type, despite the fact that many people can't read low-contrast type (and it's even worse on mobile devices, which are often read in very bright sun, on screens that have been dimmed to save battery) Read the rest

Blade Runner drawn in Microsoft Paint


David MacGowan is recreating Blade Runner shot-by-shot as Microsoft Paint illustrations. He tells Motherboard:

I like the idea of having a blog but basically feel as if I have very little to say about things, at least things that are original or interesting. I gravitated to Tumblr with some idea of just posting pictures, but still felt I needed to be posting something I'd actually made myself... [Y]ears ago I used to draw really crappy basic MS Paint pics for a favourite pop group's fan site, and they always seemed to raise a smile. The idea of doing something else with MS Paint, a kind of celebration of my not being deterred by lack of artistic talent, never really went away....

I don't really think about giving up. The idea of actually completing something I start out to do (for once in my life) is very appealing,And it's fun, it's not a chore.

MSP Blade Runner

Read the rest

Delft plates with images of nuclear power stations


The Atomteller plates update the Dutch tradition of plates that feature windmills with more up-to-date power-generation -- nukes: "Monuments of error - hope of yesterday - folklore of tomorrow." €39 each, 20cm in diameter. (via Crazy Abalone) Read the rest

Anarchic Adjustment: pioneering street culture brand revived at L.A. art show


Anarchic Adjustment was a pioneering streetwear brand and artist collective that emerged from the London punk-skate-BMX-Xerox art scene in the mid-1980s and spread like a virus when founder Nick Philip moved to San Francisco and immersed himself in the early cyberculture. Immediately, Anarchic Adjustment became the clothier-of-choice for the likes of DJ Mixmaster Morris, Joi Ito (now director of MIT Media Lab), Timothy Leary, and countless rave kids and guerrilla art punks. Those were the daze.

Now though, Philip, who in the last decade became best known for his Imaginary Foundation line, has announced an Anarchic Adjustment revival in the form of a sculpture show opening October 20 at Los Angeles's Seventh Letter Gallery. The highly-anticipated exhibition of new work is titled "The Future is not what is used to be."

"It's an uncompromising satire of mass distraction, narcissism and the hidden machine lurking in plain sight," Philip says.

He says that the sculpture above, titled "Little Brother" and inspired by Cory Doctorow's novel, is an observation of "the feedback loop of surveillance, transparency, and a culture entirely preoccupied with its selfie." Below, two of my other favorite works from the show -- "Shackled Connectivity" and "I did it for the lulz."

Read the rest

WTF Visualizations names and shames terrible data viz


Data visualization has its own Cake Wrecks or PhotoShop Disasters type site to mock bad examples of the craft. WTF Visualizations ( has answered the call. Perhaps a good name and shame campaign will finally bring clueless designers to heel. Submit your finds! Read the rest

How pros make gradient calligraphy on iPads


Calligraphers continue to explore the possibilities of portable tablets for enhancing their craft, and few are doing more than Ian Barnard. Here's his latest tutorial, turning handwritten script into a neon-like gradient.

Bonus video: just look at this hand-lettered banana:

How to do gradient & shadowed lettering in Procreate on the iPad Pro (YouTube / Ian Barnard) Read the rest

Hillary and Trump skull-stickers


They're $10 for 12 at Urban Medium, whose awesome designs I've been tracking since 2004. Read the rest

Why video game eyes are creepy


When it comes to the uncanny valley of video game characters, the eyes have it. Even as digital characters become increasingly (hyper)realistic, the eyes lag behind. At FastCo Design, Mark Wilson looks at the technological and perceptual challenges of designing eyes with personality:

The initial problem with rendering eyes is simply that of light and structure. While the eye looks simple to, um, the naked eye, when you actually examine its structures, you realize it’s actually a mostly clear object. All of these clear layers manipulate light differently, and in reaction to one another, through a spherical structure (but notably, not a perfect sphere!). On top is the cornea. It’s not just a transparent lens. It’s a transparent lens that bulges out from the eyeball. It might reflect light like a mirror, or refract light, warping it like a water droplet on a windshield. Indeed, every structure you see within someone’s eye—like the colorful iris—has been distorted by their cornea.

"The transitions of each of these things, from one to the next, needs to be handled properly," says (Brian Karis, senior graphics programmer at Epic Games). "How light interacts with all those things has to be handled."

The white of the eye is particularly tricky. Known as the sclera, it’s actually the layer that wraps around most of your eye like an orange skin. Light "scatters" from the sclera through the clear gel that comprises most your eye—which is the same phenomenon that gives a glass of milk its particular glow.

Read the rest

Terrific history of Benguiat, the 'Stranger Things' font


Typeroom looks back at ITC Benguiat, the font that so embodied its time that it's now canonical for late 1970s to early 1980s. Turns out its designer and namesake Ed Benguiat was motivated by a potential big payoff:

Inspired by Times New Roman and Bodoni, “he wanted to create a design that was pretty and readable in order to garner as much commission and licensing fees as possible. Back then, it was much harder to access different fonts so there was a larger incentive to have a typeface take off”.

How Ed Benguiat’s vintage font became the most hyped of the year (h/t Calpernia Addams) Read the rest

Photochrome: keyword-generated impressionistic color palettes

Photochrome is a nifty algorithm that generates a color palette based on a keyword you enter. It compiles all images in their database tagged with your keyword and averages the results into RGB and hex values. Read the rest

Bird songs visualized as gorgeous mandalas


Design student Sugko at Sejong University used a CymaScope to visualize bird songs, with beautiful results. Read the rest

How to design your life


While "design thinking" has become an overused catchphrase among consultants, it is also a real thing, a formal methodology for solving difficult problems. Bill Burnett, the executive director of Stanford's Design Program where they take design thinking very seriously, and his colleague David Evans, who co-founded Electronic Arts and teaches a very popular Stanford course called "Designing Your Life," have written a new book based on the class titled "Designing Your Life: How To Build A Well-Lived, Joyful Life". Above is the trailer for the book. From the New York Times:

They say the practices taught in the class and the book can help you (in designing-your-life-speak) “reframe” dysfunctional beliefs that surround life and career decisions and help you “wayfind” in a chaotic world through the adoption of such design tenets as bias-for-action, prototyping and team-building....

The book includes things that are not in the class, like what Mr. Burnett and Mr. Evans call “anchor problems” — overcommitted life choices that keep people stuck and unhappy. A common mistake that people make, they said, is to assume that there’s only one right solution or optimal version of your life, and that if you choose wrong, you’ve blown it.

That’s completely absurd, Mr. Evans said: “There are lots of you. There are lots of right answers.”

"Designing Your Life: How To Build A Well-Lived, Joyful Life" (Amazon)

Read the rest

Solo Radio uses AI to match songs to your facial expression


At this week's London Design Festival, design firm Uniform displayed Solo Radio. Stand in front of the device and it scans your face for input into software that assesses your emotions. Then it plays a song via Spotify algorithms with the appropriate mood. Read the rest

Industrial Strength Design profiles the most famous designer you've never hears of: Brooks Stevens


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Industrial Strength Design: How Brooks Stevens Shaped Your World by Glenn Adamson The MIT Press 2003, 300 pages, 9.5 x 11 x 0.8 inches From $10 Buy a copy on Amazon

This excellent book profiles the most famous industrial designer you’ve never heard of: Brooks Stevens. Sure, you know of designer Jonathan Ive and his Apple products, and maybe Raymond Loewy, who slimmed the Coke bottle and decked out Kennedy’s Air Force One, but flipping through this book you’ll instantly recognize Brooks Stevens’ equally famous mid-century creations: that 3M “Mondrian” packaging, The Excalibur custom car, the Miller beer “soft cross” logo, the “boomerang” patterned Formica, and yes, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile!

Stevens grew up in Milwaukee, and his unpretentious Midwestern work ethic and pro-business attitude was clear in all his work and writing. Unlike other designers who indulged in fantastic and lofty, theoretical designs, Stevens applied his styling skills and practical design sensibilities to suit local manufacturers of lawn mowers, outboard motors, cookware, and vehicles, resulting in increased sales and efficient manufacturing (if not design awards).

One of his most famous creations is the phrase “planned obsolescence,” which was widely attacked at the time by Vance Packard in his book The Waste Makers as an example of the manipulation of consumers and crass commercialism. Stevens proudly defended his approach of constant improvements and questioned so-called “good design” as actually elitist, unpractical and most damning of all in his mind, ultimately unprofitable. The debate goes on and you’ll have to come to your own conclusion: are manufacturers’ frequent new product variations kaizen-like progress, or just needless churning of the consumer. Read the rest

A funky room inspired by dazzle camouflage


Shigeki Matsuyama created Narcissism: Dazzle room, a trippy and disorienting painted pattern based on camouflage patterns used in World War I. Read the rest

More posts