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Design archives

Entry no.: 1311

26 Nov 2012, 10:16 AM

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Design Work with a Google alumnus, save your piece of the world

A couple of years ago I was asked which Romanian on-line project has the potential to impact the society long term.

I picked Vivi's (Octavian Costache—with Google at the time) Map of Romanian Politics. I still stand for my choice today—in a society kept misinformed and confused by a lack of independent press, a repository of straight forward, fact-based political data is critical, now maybe more than ever.

In order to gain serious traction, Vivi turned the project into an Open Source one. Now every web developer recognizing the need for objective political information can join in and contribute.

Elections are coming and the volume of data The Map of Romanian Politics accretes grows every day. Consequently, the need to make this data public in a clearly structured, well-designed manner grows as well.

A design warrior able to tackle this job pro bono is needed. See Vivi's call to find out more.

Entry no.: 922

6 Dec 2009, 1:28 AM

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Design Dieter Rams' ten, plus one (II)

As I previously announced, Gaura Neagră (meaning Black Hole) design blog initiated a quest to find a good 11th rule to be added to Dieter Rams' ten principles of good design.

Yesterday I judged the entries in the competition for the Objectified DVD.

The process

I started by separating into a shortlist the programatic principles that I felt I can bring to the work table and use as filters in my thinking process. Here is the shortlist:

1. Good design is invisible.

Although it seems to revolve around Rams’ “Good design is as little design as possible,” it also brings in new meanings. In the contemporary world everything is designed, but — I think — only the most efficiently designed objects and processes are taken for granted without questioning their meaning and mechanism.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Lately — especially since the arrival of the iPhone — I am intrigued by Clarke’s third law “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” and I wonder how much truth it holds and whether it describes how technology (and consequently design) has the potential to transcend its limits.

The postulation is somehow ambiguous: it can mean lack of visibility and impact if taken literally, which is not desirable — think signage or package design.

2. Good design is simple.

This seems immediate and I wonder why Rams didn’t put it on his list. I think that even if “Good design is as little design as possible,” the overall solution might be pretty complex.

3. Good design is adaptive.

Customization and flexibility are hot themes, yet I think that only some areas can afford them. On the other hand, the walled garden approach seems to work really well in some cases — by completely controlling the user experience.

A community of users/designers that works to help the design evolve: open-source.

A certain kind of flexibility can be achieved by putting design process in the hands of a community of users/designers that works to help the design evolve: open-source. The underlying business model is tricky, though.

The divergent devices might be desirable, but they seem enormously difficult to get right, while the convergent devices are less complex and easier to conceive.

4. Good design is not noticeable as design.

This might be a better interpretation of the design invisibility theme and I like it because it somehow enunciates one of the messages behind Jonathan Ive's words from his segment in Objectified:

 Jonathan Ive's segment in Objectified, screenshot, YouTube video.

Jonathan Ive's segment in Objectified. Click here or on the image to watch video.

  • “A lot of what we seem to be doing [...] is getting design out of the way”
  • “It feels almost undesigned” and
  • “You spend so much more time to make it less conspicuous and less obvious”.

“Good typography is unnoticeable typography.”

In graphic design there is a similar saying stating that “Good typography is unnoticeable typography” noting the fact that a superior virtuosity need not be noticeable as such.

As a designer I think it’s flattering to achieve a by default status by having your creations seamlessly interwoven into the very fabric of day-to-day life, like a staircase banister, a computer mouse, a ball or Google’s homepage.

5. Good design improves living.

This one gravitates around “Good design is concerned with the environment.“ Ethics and sustainability are advanced notions in the design ethos, right at the top of the pyramid — definitely very advanced for a our current economy’s status.

6. Good design is obvious.

The simplicity theme once again, yet... I don’t know. It would be oversimplifying, don’t you think? Good design might seem obvious in some instances, but I don’t think it always is.

7. Good design is elusive.

See Clarke’s first — you cannot put your finger on magic.

8. Good design is user friendly.

I think that user-friendliness is contained in Rams’ principles “Good design is unobtrusive” and “Good design helps us to understand a product.” Of course, principles in this category become more and more important as web design (inherently complex, as new technologies often are) becomes embedded into the core of everyday life.

9. Good design is relevant.

Relevance, like a corollary of Rams’ ten principles.

Beautifully stated! Yet, it seems more like a corollary of Rams’ ten principles. If there was a bottom line, I think this would be the best one.

10. Good design is optimistic.

I really enjoyed the theme of optimism in design, yet I don’t think it should be one of the main rules — I cannot start working on a project by focusing on designing something optimistic.

It might work as a secondary selection filter: between a sad, nihilistic solution and an jovial, optimistic one the latter might work better.

And the winner is

“Good design is not noticeable as design.”

Ok, it was tough (and it can only be a subjective choice) but I came to a decision. Because of the synergy with some of the opinions stated in Objectified movie and also because of the questions haunting me — and especially the answers I would like to be able to give to those questions — I elected as the winning principle

"Good design is not noticeable as design."

I hope that applying this principle, will make me (and others) more humble, committed to simplicity and more willing to conceive my design not to be disruptive but rather seamlessly integrated into the fabric of objects, sensations and experiences everyday life is made of.

Entry no.: 913

28 Nov 2009, 12:58 AM

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Design Dieter Rams' ten, plus one (I)

That "one" in the headline comes from you. Design a new design principle — pretty awesome idea, isn't it!

'Gaura Neagră ( _Black Hole_ in Romanian) design blog initiated a quest to find a good 11th rule to be added to Dieter Rams' ten principles of good design', screen capture, Cristian -Kit- Paul, Bucharest, 2009.

Gaura Neagră ( Black Hole in Romanian) design blog initiated a quest to find a good 11th rule to be added to Dieter Rams' ten principles of good design — here they are:

Good design is innovative
Good design makes a product useful
Good design is aesthetic
Good design helps us to understand a product
Good design is unobtrusive
Good design is honest
Good design is long-lasting
Good design is consequent to the last detail
Good design is concerned with the environment
Good design is as little design as possible

Iulian invited me to be the judge — I thank him kindly for this — and select the winning entry.

So jump over, hit the comments and contribute what you think would be the best continuation to the above 10 design commandments until December 4 at 23:59 and you stand a chance of winning a copy of Gary Hustwit’s hot movie Objectified.

Come on, flex your gray matter design muscle.

Update: We have a winner!

Entry no.: 877

30 Oct 2009, 4:19 PM

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Comments: 6

Design Spec work, free pitch, design contest

I noticed these days a significant effort in the promotion of a Romanian-based international design contest for a package design project in which the client asks for spec work.

As a rent-paying, salary-paying and tax-paying designer I'm strongly against this practice—it should go without saying after I wrote The 'free pitch' practice and On design contests.

"Spec Hurts Everyone" by Von Glitschka of Glitschka Studios for NO!SPEC

"Spec Hurts Everyone" poster by Von Glitschka of Glitschka Studios for NO!SPEC. Click here or on the image to enlarge.

Against? Why?

Because not participating in (and denouncing) projects involving spec work, free pitches and design contests is the best practice, in compliance with the ethics of this profession as they are set forth by design bodies such as AIGA, BDI and The Design Council, as well as the majority of independent design consultancies.

Says who?

"Like visiting several restaurants, trying the food in each one and then refusing to pay the bill." Erik Spiekermann

Here's a short list of various resources and articles on the topic, from dedicated sources as NO!SPEC and SpecWatch to professional associations as AIGA, from a design legend like Erik Spiekermann to authors like Debbie Millman and Jeff Fisher to business press like Boston Business Journal:


Right answer: "I do not endorse the practice of free pitch, sorry."

When confronted with spec work requests, free pitches or design contests, the right answer is "I do not endorse the practice of free pitch, sorry."

Either that or a strong NO.

More: The reading list on the issue is vast, here are a few more pieces:

You can also follow @nospec and @specwatch on Twitter.

Entry no.: 876

28 May 2006, 6:08 PM

Comments: 0

Design On design contests

And why the term “design whore” is too elegant

Following the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games identity scandal, Canadians banned spec work. And they banned it good:

As a result of the situation and others that preceded it, the GDC (Society of Graphic Designers of Canada) changed its Code of Ethics at its annual meeting on May 6-7, 2005, so as to leave no doubt as to its stand on design contests. The GDC no longer allows any member participation in open design contests for commercial purposes on speculation, either as an entrant or a judge.

GDC is—as far as I know—the first graphic designers' national organization to not only instill the idea that free pitches are wrong, but to actively enforce it across its body of members.

From now on, GDC members cannot undertake any speculative project for which compensation will only be received if a design is accepted or used. Members may take part in limited design competitions where each participant is provided equal and adequate compensation. The Society has separate guidelines for pro bono work for charitable purposes.

The Graphic Artists Guild and the GDC both recommend that if a competition is held, the hosts should first put out a request for portfolios, then after reviewing the work, select a group of finalists who are best suited for the job. The finalists may be asked for rough sketches for the project at hand if they are paid adequately and equally for their work. Finally, when a single designer or firm is finally selected, that winner should be paid fees that are commensurate to current market value. The designer will retain rights to the work.

In order to change the tone for a second here to something more tongue-in-cheek, I'll quote Andy Rutledge from his Redesign Competitions: looking for a commitment or just a roll in the hay? post on DesignView:

I’m hosting a competition. I need a partner with whom to have a serious relationship but I don’t want to invest any time or effort in finding the right woman; I shouldn’t have to. I’m a great man and any woman should be proud to be with me, so I’m holding auditions. I’d like for all interested women to visit me and show me your “wares.” I’m definitely looking for someone with a hot bod, and not afraid to show it off. Extra points for staying the night and letting me sample your attentions and enthusiasm.

One lucky winner gets a $400 wedding ring and the prestige of having me for a partner (‘cause I look good). The rest of you just get screwed. Awright, who’s with me?

  • * *
    This is the basic translation of every redesign competition invitation for any company who has ever held one. Is it apparent now just how disrespectful such competitions are toward those they solicit? Given this clear context, how many of you are still willing to defend this sort of behavior? Aw c’mon, I know you’re out there. I read your apologist responses and defenses of these competitions all the time.

But after his colorful opening comes a bitter closure:

Yes, it’s very definitely a joke on all involved. The problem is that the joke is also on the design profession as a whole. Every time one of these competitions is held, it tears a little more at the fabric of our profession. Every designer who participates in one of these competitions steals a bit more credibility from the true professionals in this industry.

The term “design whore” is not even applicable to the image that is thus created. Whores are professional and whores get paid. What do you call someone who doesn’t even have the self respect to expect or demand payment?

A designer? Say it ain't so.

Sad. Awful true.

In Romania the situation is very different from Canada. There is no national graphic designers' organization. The design industry is still in its infancy. Many graphic designers I meet—including the greenest juniors—are incredibly fond or downright hypnotized by shiny overstatements and words like 'consultancy,' 'strategy' and 'branding,' obliviously neglecting their true main profession: graphic designer. There are no rules and ethics is perceived as a luxury fitted only for the few.

In this conditions, design steps right into advertising industry's footsteps, repeating the same mistakes and heading for the same deplorable dead-end they're swamped in: free pitch as the de facto norm.

I wrote about spec work here on in the past, but this is an important issue that needs to be revisited every once in a while. And so this post's purpose is not to freeze spec work practice as from tomorrow. This is not possible.

This post's purpose is let designers know that providing spec work and participating in free pitches is wrong and it undermines not only how design is seen, but—slowly—what design is as a profession.


Entry no.: 875

23 May 2006, 7:38 PM

Comments: 0

Design The 'free pitch' practice

Open letter to the Romanian design community.

At the first draft this was a very abrasive article against designers who comply with 'free pitch' client tactics. Then I thought that what we really need is a bit of education, not aggression—I'm sure some of those designers don't know much about industry ethics regarding this practice. And neither do many clients, but this is not their problem—it's ours.

What is free pitch? Free pitch is a situation in which a client is asking for free speculative work from one or more design companies or freelance designers, before any contract is signed, in order to decide which company or freelance designers is going to 'win' the account or project. Free pitch is a 'competition' where designers are required to submit free speculative work in order to 'win' the project.

It's a free market, why would this 'free pitch' be wrong?

Erik Spiekermann answers in Form [see Pitched out]:

Clients love to invite designers to a pitch when they think they need help with an unsolved communication problem, and the fee usually doesn't even cover the cost of the color prints. That would be like visiting several restaurants in a row, trying the food in each one, and then refusing to pay the bill because none of the dishes were really to your liking.

Taking part in a pitch where concepts are sold for a fraction of what they are worth - in other words: given away - makes you a loser three times over. First you lose any respect for our business, because if it can be given away, it can't be worth much. Then you lose money by not being paid for your most valuable asset: ideas and their visual manifestation. And finally, you lose any chance to show the client that it takes a dialog to solve design problems.

AIGA Boston's chapter president, Amy Strauch, reinforces the same opinion [article "To spec or not to spec" is no longer available on AIGA's web site]:

In my eyes, there is nothing right about this. I don't ask my lawyer, broker, doctor to do work for me for free while I scope out who might be better at it. To me, that shows disrespect and is a waste of time for all parties involved.

And a third quote, from Lana Rigsby—AIGA Houston [from the same "To spec or not to spec"]:

Unpaid competitions are more likely to end in frustration than in good design. The "winners" are just as likely to wind up frustrated, since they're now somewhat locked into an approach devised before they had a chance to do any real homework... in addition to being grumpy about having been put through the hoops along with total strangers. For no money. The spec work approach demeans us all, and perpetuates the myth that design is all about how something looks.

We see that opinion leaders in the design community—Mr. Spiekermann is a design legend, Icograda is one of the strongest voices in the design world and AIGA needs no introduction—these leaders define free pitch as a bad practice and the act of taking part in free pitches as a bad conduit that erodes and devalues design as a profession.

Some time ago I heard of an ad agency creative head passing the details of a logo contest to his team, thus encouraging them to participate in the spec competition. At the same time, the ad people are pretty furious about the horror stories of clients inviting 20 agencies in a pitch.

What goes around, comes around. When you encourage the concept of free pitch, don't be surprised when you'll get your share of it.

Any solutions then?

In the advertising industry the free pitch practice rules and it will take them a long time to clean their act. In the design/identity/branding industry it's not too late. There are two solutions: one would be the 'No, thanks' answer—'No, we do not endorse the practice of free pitch, sorry.' The second is the paid pitch. Even if the pitch fee is only $1000 (but we'd better talk about something like 25% of the project costs), that client would've think twice before flexing its pitch-organizing muscles and invite anyone in the marketing section of Yellow Pages.

In the end, straighten your spine and have a good look at what Drew Davies has to say in Be A Design Group's article This week's 4-letter word: SPEC:

I know to some that it would seem that the design world has heard all it needs to about the practice of engaging in speculative work. But if the past week has taught me anything, it's that we don't talk nearly enough about it. The reality is that engaging in spec work continues to erode the value of what all of us do as designers, and if any of us want our profession to have even a modicum of respect in the world, we'll answer the call for spec work with an emphatic No.

Most importantly, it's frustrating because, at its core, this is an issue we all have to fight together. All of us in the design profession are on the same team. If the entire business community understood the value of good design, and saw the effect we can actually have on their bottom line, there wouldn't be nearly enough design firms to handle all of the business. But when any creative firm reiterates to a business client that it's okay to give away what we do on a gamble of a big payoff, it's a huge setback. So I'm raising the horn again and sounding the rallying cry: if we all band together and tell the business community that, like any other professional service, we provide something of great value that is worth paying for, only then can we win the war. Fellow designers, please join me in saying no to spec work.

Just say no.


Entry no.: 596

27 Oct 2008, 8:00 PM

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Design Romanian diacritic marks

How did we end up looking half-illiterate?

Lack of standards, wrong standards and then slow adoption of good standards—no wonder the Romanian diacritics turned into an endangered species. Magazine headlines, television supers and advertisements cheerfully disseminate incorrect letters.

The situation is so bad that even on national banknotes the spelling is bastardized (if you know who designed this, please encourage the person(s) to quit design):

Bad typography: A-caron incorrectly used instead of A-breve on Romanian banknotes

Shameless incompetence: A-caron incorrectly used instead of A-breve on Romanian banknotes, as pointed by Bogdan Dumitrache.

What happened? How did we end up looking like idiots?

Continue reading "Romanian diacritic marks" »

Entry no.: 413

20 Jan 2008, 9:45 PM

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Comments: 2

Design What the scrub

Remember: when in doubt, use this

Helvetica — the body scrub type, Cristian -Kit- Paul, Bangkok, 2007.

Helvetica "Goat's Milk + Salt" body scrub and other Helvetica products.

Found this in a Manga shop in Bangkok. I'm totally clueless, too.

On the other hand—you know those two holy sayings about it:

Nobody has ever been fired for choosing Helvetica.


When in doubt, use Helvetica.

So, all things considered, goat's milk looks like a safe bet.

Entry no.: 389

15 Dec 2007, 9:39 PM

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Comments: 68

Design Woody Allen and the Windsor font

Is this fetish or brand identity?

White Windsor typeface on black

White type on black opening titles rolling on old jazz or classical music became a part of Woody Allen brand.

In a time when movie titles become more and more of a clueless "me too!" affair1, Woody Allen’s unique (and relentless) typographic style is entirely praiseworthy. His white type on black opening titles rolling on old jazz or classical music became a part of Woody Allen brand, just like his neurotic dialogues and "his black-rimmed glasses"2 are.

The white type being EF Windsor Elongated (later edit: or a heavier weight of EF Windsor Light Condensed, as some of the readers suggested) by Elsner+Flake foundry.

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Continue reading "Woody Allen and the Windsor font" »

Entry no.: 299

16 Oct 2007, 10:28 AM

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Design Communist design

Red decay, Cristian -Kit- Paul, 2004


I see incoming hits coming from Google searches for "communist design" keywords. They drive me mad and determined me to write this post.

However, what these searches find is A communist design law in the making page about SDPR's "design law" is only fair, if not also a bit amusing.

But that's not about communist design per se, but about a professional conduct that reminds of communism: people with mindsets imported right from "the old times" and an appetite for control by monopoly and lack of choice that can only make sense in a centralized economic model.


Communist economy was utterly inept at building a nice spoon.

IKEA opened their first Bucharest store a few months ago. One of the first items my friends bought from IKEA was—among other items—a tea spoon. A very simple yet beautifully designed little metal spoon, featuring a clear line and a matte sandblasted texture, almost soft to touch.

I look at it for a long time, trying to understand. How hard is to design a spoon, and—I remembered—why during communism exactly those small day-to-day domestic life objects were the most horrendous?

Because everyday life objects don't have any political propaganda potential. They don't serve the regime.

Communist economy could manufacture spaceships and send people on orbit, but was utterly inept—and will always be, in any if its iterations—at building a nice spoon.


Communist design is a contradiction in terms: there is no such thing as communist design.

In fact, communist design is a contradiction in terms: there is no such thing as communist design. The rudimentary exceptions you'll find can only confirm this statement, because communism and design are incompatible and mutually exclusive. Here's why.

  • Communism despises people1 while design is an effort to help and dignify people2;
  • Communism is a centralized economy which means that market competition is heavily discouraged until complete obliteration, while design is an instrument for outperforming competing players in a market economy;
  • In a centralized economy it's not the market that decides what's good—someone else decides what's good for you and what you should like: centralized taste. Design stands for differentiation and plurality, design teaches and encourages a democracy of taste;
  • Communism is about eradicating the freedom of choice by lack of options and by coercion, design is about encouraging choice by seduction;
  • Graphic design in communism is closely linked with propaganda. So closely that anything that's not propaganda it is regarded as hostile to the regime and subject to censure.2
  • Without plurality there is no need for identity, consequently identity design is either pointless or diverted to propaganda, also.

Now really, please—if you find this—quit searching for "communist design"—it's not only a deceptive oxymoron, it's plain bullshit. There could exist an appropriate term, however: communist antidesign.

1 Romania's president officially denounced the Communist regime as "illegitimate and criminal" in 2006. Before that, in July 1993, the Czech Republic passed an act condemning its Soviet-era government, and Bulgaria's Parliament passed a resolution condemning the former regime there in 2001. In 2006 also, Ukraine's Parliament passed a bill labeling the Stalin-orchestrated famine of the 1930s that killed an estimated 10 million people an act of genocide. [See article in International Herald Tribune.]

2 Informations architecture helps people understand messages better, ergonomics helps people use products with less effort, usability helps people accomplish their goals, and so forth.

3 Graphic artists and book illustrators explained me the numerous revisions that were forced upon them by the censors for mere poetry books illustrations. In one instance a Communist Party censor asked that all earrings and bracelets from a series of book illustrations to be airbrushed out because they were "decadent" and "bourgeois".

Entry no.: 265

30 Sep 2007, 1:25 AM

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Design I ♥ LL

I love LogoLounge

Europharm logo featured on LogoLounge home-page, 2007

I (and Brandient) feel LL's love for quite a while now and—as the minimalist title says—I love LL back, too. Let me explain:

  • 2005 – Bill invites me to be part of LogoLounge 3 international jury;
  • 2006 – LogoLounge 3 book features Brandient works;
  • 2006 – LogoLounge 3 book features me (the merciless juror, ha!);
  • 2006 – Bill likes my Radiocom and Domo identites and my Smartree packaging and writes beautiful words about them in Identity Magazine at Best of the Best 2006 in Moscow;
  • 2006 – In his 2006 Trends Report, published in the April issue of Graphic Design USA magazine, Bill features Brandient work: Radiocom and Europharm;
  • 2006 – Cathy kindly offers me the opportunity of an interview on LL web site as featured designer;
  • 2007 – LL's home-page displays Europharm1 logo (see the picture above) taking me by surprise. Later edit: it seems that Radiocom was featured as well.

What can I say? Thank you, Bill Gardner. Thank you, Cathy Fishel.

1 Designed by Bogdan Dumitrache, award winner in international competitions.

Entry no.: 143

7 Jun 2007, 2:35 AM

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Comments: 11

Design Graphic design jokes

If you work with graphic designers or are one yourself you'll probably be interested in the only joke about graphic design that I know of. [Via Posterwire] Pay attention:

Q: How many graphic designers does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Does it have to be a light bulb?

Our profession doesn't seem to be very fertile for making jokes about, don't you think? I have no clue why is that or whether it's a good thing or not. Are we a solemn species of unsmiling fellows?

Continue reading "Graphic design jokes" »

Entry no.: 80

26 Jan 2007, 1:17 PM

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Comments: 4

Design Identity - Best of the Best 2007

Awarding excellence in corporate identity


After last year's LogoLounge jury, this year I have the honor to participate in Identity's Best of the Best international jury along with design legends I've been looking up to for many years. Here are the jurors:

The international jury assembled for Identity

  • Ruth Klotzel — Vice-president of ICOGRADA, founder of Estudio Infinito (Brazil);
  • Minato Ishikawa — Founder of Minato Ishikawa Associates Inc. (Japan);
  • Ivan Chermayeff — Co-founder of Chermayeff & Geismar (USA);
  • Emma Booty — Creative director of London office (Landor Associates, UK);
  • Ken Cato — Co-founder and chairman of Cato Purnell Partners (Australia);
  • Prof. Erik Spiekermann — Founder of MetaDesign and Fontshop, member of German Design Council, president of the ISTD, International Society of Typographic Designers (Germany);
  • Cristian "Kit" Paul — Co-founder and creative director of Brandient (Romania);
  • David Carson — Founder and principle of David Carson Design (USA);
  • Alexander Faldin — Founder and art director of fallindesign (Russia);
  • Tony Spaeth — Independent brand consultant, founder of (USA).


From Identity's press release:

The international award scheme, now in its second year, is designed to recognise excellence in logos, trademarks and corporate identity.

In 2006, 970 submissions from 26 countries resulted in 10 prizes. View the results.

This year two new categories have been added and the award scheme has been endorsed by Icograda. Entries will compete within 12 categories (6 categories for logos and trademarks, and 6 categories for corporate identity and packaging).


I invite all Romanian designers to submit their work to Best of the Best 2007. We all have things to prove and misconceptions to turn around. We all need to get rid of the provincial status quo that plagues our industry and open up to the world.

In 2006 Brandient demonstrated the potential of Romanian design by winning the most awards and nominations in this international contest — now it's your turn.

Entry no.: 12

13 Nov 2006, 1:28 AM

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Comments: 0

Design 1000 signatures

Against SDPR's “design law”

Anti-"design law" petition gathers 1000 signatures

It seems that our petition against SDPR's law reached 1000 signatures mark. If you did not sign it yet, please do.

Entry no.: 11

13 Nov 2006, 1:27 AM

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Comments: 0

Design International echoes (III)

Metropolis Magazine USA about “the design law”

Titled Design and the State – A law in Romania requiring designers to be registered could push its best practitioners underground, a leading design and arhitecture magazine from The United States of America — Metropolis Magazine — publishes David Womack's article about SDPR's initiative for regularization of the design practice.

Here's an excerpt:

And you call yourself a designer? A law likely to come before the Romanian parliament in the next year would restrict use of the term—be it graphic, interactive, or product—to members of the country’s official design association, the Society of Professional Designers in RomaniaSDPR. “Unfortunately the term design is used by anyone and anyhow just because it sounds exotic and it is the ‘in’ trend,” complains Alexandru Ghildus, a founder of the SDPR and professor of art and design at the National Art University, in Bucharest. To be eligible for “designer” status, one would need a degree from a recognized institution and to have completed a one- to two-year internship under the guidance of an SDPR member. Ghildus hopes that the law will prevent “counterfeit” design, which he says is flooding the Romanian market.

The proposed law has set off a furious debate within the Romanian design community and beyond. Almost a thousand people have signed an online petition opposing its passage, among them famous outsiders such as Stefan Sagmeister and James Victore. Local designers including Cristian “Kit” Paul and Ovidiu Hrin, who do not have diplomas but nevertheless have managed to build successful practices since the collapse of the Ceausescu dictatorship, in 1989, are leading the opposition. For them the law is disturbingly reminiscent of Romania’s Communist past, when regulation often served as a thin disguise for corruption. “These guys are not altruistically concerned about the well-being of the design industry,” Paul says. “They’re relentlessly pursuing their own self-serving agenda.”

Have a look also on the whole protest coverage list.

Entry no.: 9

18 Oct 2006, 1:26 AM

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Design LogoLounge interview

About this, that and the other

It looks like LogoLounge is everywhere these days.

LogoLounge founder Bill Gardner and editor Cathy Fishel kindly offered me the opportunity of an interview as featured designer. it's about inspiration and masters, gratification in design vs. advertising, trends and the future — in not too many words and a few pictures.

LogoLounge seems to be ubiquitous these days, from US to Russian design magazines, competitions and seminars, while LL books are on the shelves of every decent bookshop and in many, many designer's bookcases. I may be biased by the fact that I was part of the latest LogoLounge book jury (LogoLounge 3), but it seems to me that Bill is on the right track to build a solid global brand targeted towards graphic / identity designers. For us.

Entry no.: 40

10 Sep 2006, 8:48 PM

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Comments: 2

Design Follow the money

Uncovering the genocide

While in a previous post I was pointing toward an anonymous drive-by hit-and-run, my friend Bogdan takes a step further and authoritatively exhumes the prominent victims of a high-profile genocide—nicely embalmed corpses we're happy to carry around each and every one of us, everyday, as a zombified bunch of ignorant undertakers.

As Bogdan Dumitrache puts it:

Lack of diacritics? Well, today I changed my mind regarding the topic. After I've seen them used wrong on the Romanian banknotes—look at the caron instead of breve in "BANCA NATIONAL ..."—and in many other public places, I think I prefer them not tő bê ŭşed åt ãll.

The A-caron doesn't even exists in any language. I guess they worked a bit to make it wrong, haha!

Now for the forensics enthusiasts, here it is, the body (looking alive to the untrained eye):

Typography crime on Romanian banknote

Enlarged, the inconspicuous plague that caused the death becomes hideously obvious (not for the fain of heart), the infamous A-caron:

Typography crime on Romanian banknote - A-caron detail

What a massacre—right on the money!

For the foreign readers: the correct spelling is BANCA NAȚIONALĂ A ROMÂNIEI (The National Bank of Romania), where the "Ă" (A-breve) in NAȚIONALĂ was sloppily replaced with an "Ǎ" (A-caron), a letter that doesn't exist in Romanian language. It may seem like a small thing, but it's not. Misusing the language on official items is a bad thing and quite a shame. A banknote is an important national symbol and ignorantly designing it reflects a general lack of respect for the country, a bit like wiping your ass with the flag.

So much for the "money talks" proverb—it talks gibberish sometimes, it seems. And in the meanwhile "money is the root of all evil" proves right once again. Thank you, Bogdan, for your sharp eye.

Now for real, joke aside: let's make a wall of shame, a place somewhere all this bad design can be exposed, e.g. as an on-line gallery of horrors. There are plenty of them, in those free glossy magazines, on posters and I've even seen some horrendous A-tilde (Ã) supers on TV (ProTV seems to excel in this regard, it seems). It would be a public service announcement that many (especially young) designers could benefit from. I'm seriously thinking about hosting or at least mirroring it.

Update: More on this subject in Romanian diacritic marks article.

Entry no.: 3

5 Sep 2006, 1:21 AM

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Design Typography crime

Cold blooded, in broad daylight


Sometimes it's hard to figure whether to laugh, get mad or cry when such freakish clowns are encountered. But when they're right on main street it can only mean one thing: this damn city needs more designers.

Food for thought, SDPR guys. Food for thought.

Entry no.: 41

15 Jul 2006, 5:11 PM

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Design International echoes (II)

James Victore, David Womack aginst SDPR's design law

After Milton Glaser and Stefan Sagmeister, we hear now from James Victore, via the same Ovidiu Hrin:

I thought these kinds of politicians died with Stalin. Please let me know what I can do to help. Cheers, James.

Ah, and James has a special reason raise an eyebrow to the discrimination imposed by SDPR’s law: he's a self-taught designer.

David Womack signed the petition also. David was director of new media at AIGA from 2000-2004 and served as executive editor of GAIN: AIGA Journal of Business and Design, and managing editor of Voice: AIGA Journal of Design. His involvement with AIGA, the leading professional association for design in America, qualified him as a very acknowledged referee concerning issues regarding the role a professional association must have in the field of design.

Entry no.: 42

8 Jul 2006, 6:17 PM

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Design International echoes (I)

After Milton Glaser, Stefan Sagmeister against SDPR's law

Another piece of good news: Stefan Sagmeister found out about the situation in Romania via Ovidiu Hrin and firmly reacted from Singapore (where is he is at the moment) by signing the petition with the following message:

Every country in this world that is serious about its own well being would reject a law like this.

Previously we had a message of support from Milton Glaser.

These international echoes are stepping stones towards further and wider international protests within the international design community as we're working to inform the greatest designers of our time about what's going on in Romania.

Entry no.: 43

7 Jul 2006, 5:28 PM

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Design Beautiful things happen

A message from Milton Glaser against SDPR's law

Somebody signed the petition against that crazy 'design law' of SDPR's as Milton Glaser, adding the comment "Design shouldn't be obtusely constrained and create precedents for big brother aSSociations..." Good wordsmith, I do acknowledge that, but was it for real?

Somehow ashamed of this trivial matter and without much hope for a reply, I checked via email with Mr. Milton Glaser's office to see whether this is a legit signature or a mere fraud using internet's anonymity, telling him along the lines the whole story about the situation we find ourselves in, about the fight we're fighting.

A week later (tonight), when all hope for a reply almost vanished — bing! — email's icon leaped in the dock:

Dear Cristian,

I did not submit the quote attributed to me on your petition. You may replace it with the following:

All bureaucracies are conspiracies against the public.

Milton Glaser

I deleted the forged entry already and tomorrow and I'll figure out if (even though I have his approval, is it morally acceptable? I guess it is) and in what form to append to the list the real one with the real quote. So — if you asked yourself — the answer is yes, many signatures on the list are verified to see if they're legit or fake. But this is not the point now, tonight. The point is, I guess, that living legends of design are... well, different. Wise, warm and benevolent. Meeting them, even virtually, is beautiful.

I'm happy: Milton Glaser's nod of approval means that we're really doing the right thing.

Entry no.: 44

5 Jul 2006, 6:47 PM

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Design Protest coverage

Reactions against SDPR's design law

Newspapers and magazines

The protest against SDPR's design law builds up and gathers steam. Newspaper and magazine coverage is only at the beginning and there is more to come:

· O organizatie profesionala cu numai 27 de membri incearca sa-si impuna propriile reguli by Maria Gatea, Adevarul de Cluj, June 23 [newspaper clipping, in Romanian]
· Ghildus pune tepe designerilor by Cosmin Popan, Cotidianul, July 3 [in Romanian]
· Farade/lege pentru creativitate by Mimi Noel, BusinessWeek Romania, Nr. 10/July 11 [magazine clipping, in Romanian]
· Ideile vand, daca circula liber! by Adrian Gongea, Arhitectura, Nr. 44/May 2006 [magazine clipping, in Romanian]
· Contra legiferarii designului by Iulian Toma,, June 13 [in Romanian]
· NU Societatii Designerilor Profesionisti by Dan Popescu, 24FUN, Nr. 169/July 21-27 [in Romanian]
· Alba-neagra cu legea designerilor by Loreta Budin, Saptamana Financiara, Nr. 70/July 24 [in Romanian]
· Se pare ca si somnul creativitatii naste monstri by Aneta Bogdan, Campaign Romania, July 2006 [magazine clipping, in Romanian]
· Contra proiectului legislativ 'toxic' privind designul by Iulian Toma,, July 28 [in Romanian]


· Design and the State – A law in Romania requiring designers to be registered could push its best practitioners underground, by David Womack, Metropolis Magazine USA, Nov 8. [in English]

Blogs, corporate websites

The blogosphere rose up against SDPR's law with a remarkably solid response — here are the articles and the timeline:

·, A communist design law in the making, June 23 [in English]
· Grafic, Actele la control! Jun 24 [in Romanian]
· Speak Up, Quipsologies Vol. 65, June 26 [in English]
· Feeder, Lege privind organizarea si exercitarea profesiei de designer, June 26 [in Romanian]
·, Societatea Designerilor Profesionisti din Romania, June 26 [in Romanian]
· Identity Blog, Legea Designozaurilor June 27 [in Romanian]
· Novo, Petitie privind SDPR, June 27 [in Romanian]
·, Vote, June 27 [in Romanian]
· The Story Blog, Regulate This, June 28 [in English]
·, Sign the on-line petition against the Design Law, June 28 [in English]
· The Burden Of Proof, Don't Regulate Design! — site offline, see the post in Google's cache, June 28 [in English]
· Kindablog, Liga amatorilor de design saluta grupul profesionistilor frustrati, Jun 29 [in Romanian]
· Blogul blogurilor din Iasi, Jun 29 [in Romanian]
· PubLog, Sign the on-line petition against the Design Law, June 29 [in English]
· Ideile vand, daca circula liber, Jun 30 [dedicated blog, in Romanian]
· Aglomerari Spontane, Ghildus presedinte!, June 30 [in Romanian]
· Creatie si infractiune, July 2 [dedicated blog, in Romanian]
·, Over 500 signatures, July 2 [in English]
· Fast Book, Is this a law against talent?, July 4 [in English]
·, Protest coverage, July 5 [in English]
· Brandly Yours, Designers' Guild, July 6 [in English]
· Kiddo, De ce sa facem simplu…, July 6 [in Romanian]
·, Beautiful things happen, July 7 [in English]
· Manafu: Atentat la designeri!, July 7 [in Romanian]
· Elucubraţii, Acţiuni civice, July 7 [in Romanian]
· Chris, Legea designului,... nu mai am cuvinte, July 7 [in Romanian]
·, Din ciclul - 'ce legea mea', July 7 [in Romanian]
· Jobsessive, "To be or not to be… designer?!", July 7 [in Romanian]
· Andrei Maxim, Talent, creion, hartie si drept de semnatura, July 8 [in Romanian]
· Blacknight's Cyberhome, Romania... tara tuturor posibilitatilor, July 8 [in Romanian]
·, International echoes, July 8 [in English]
· ProtestCoverage, July 9 [dedicated blog, in English]
· Designro, Designer de designer, July 10 [in Romanian]
·, International echoes, July 15 [in English]
· Transmissions, Design a new design industry, July 15 [in English]
· A nazi design law?!, July 27 [dedicated blog, in English]
· Elenalog, Petitia de luni, August 7 [in Romanian]
·, Coming very soon: the nationalization of design, August 8 [in English]
· Drept & Internet, Despre Legea designerilor, October 30 [in Romanian]
· UnBeige, When 'Designer' Becomes a Four Letter Word, November 8 [in English]
· Publicitate de Iasi, SDPR e?, December 18 [in Romanian]
· Mihaela Berneaga, Despre profesionisti, December 23 [in Romanian]

Corporate websites and corporate blogs that railed against SDPR's law:

· Synopsismedia, Sign petition against 'Design Law' July 2 [in English]
· TreeWorks corporate blog, Pretty please with sugar on top, can I design, Comrade?, July 5 [in Romanian]
· TreeWorks corporate blog, Cine mai trebuie sa semneze ca sa intelegeti?, July 20 [in Romanian] and Whose signature is necessary so that one can understand?, July 21 [in English]


The topic actually broke out on the forums:

· Discutii despre proiectul de lege privind organizarea şi exercitarea profesiei de designer!, Proiect de lege, privind organizarea şi exercitarea profesiei de designer, June 13 [in Romanian]
· VisualArt, Dormi linistit SDPR lucreaza pt tine, June 15 [in Romanian]
· Design Kulture, Intalnire la BR RC!, June 21 [in Romanian]
· Softpedia, Proiect de lege, privind organizarea şi exercitarea profesiei de designer, June 28 [in Romanian]
· Liberalism, Monopolizarea si politizarea designului, June 28 [in Romanian]
· Webdesignbox, La Arme, June 29 [in Romanian]
· Comunitatea motociclistilor din Romania, Legea Designului;, July 5 [in Romanian]
·, Romanian design needs a helping hand, July 8 [in English]
· BAU, Comunismul continua, July 9 [in Romanian]

I'll keep this log updated. If you have knowledge of coverage on the topic please let me know. I'll also append to the list the subsequent articles (hopefully) in newspapers and magazines.

I'll end this post by urging you to write on the subject, spread the word and sign the petition if you haven't signed it yet, and show your support for Romanian design community (regardless of your profession).