Sochi 2014 Reveals its Pictograms

Is it too soon? Let’s not let go of the olympic hype – Sochi 2014 winter olympics are just around the corner and new pictograms have already been revealed. The pressure for each country to create their own unique style every time must be overwhelming, considering how many great pictograms have been created in the past – but I love this approach – fun, playful, colourful and child-like as though it was an event for the kiddies – it’s all about playing and doing silly things in the snow – so it fits!

Debra Sussman’s Super Graphics

New Australian Bank Notes

New Australian Bank note designs have appeared lately, designed by Australian design studio Emery. Seems the designs are change for security sake rather than improving on the current design, which is seen as one of the best note designs in the world – in relation to design, colour and print and material technology. It appears most of the change is in the design with the addition of some new security features. A bank spokesman said that the redesign was taking place to ensure Australia maintained its “relatively low levels of counterfeiting”. It’s costing $9.3 Million and is now 2 years overdue.

The designers were briefed with new portraits of the notes’ subjects and asked to capture Australian characteristics with “youthful” and “energetic design qualities. The new notes retain most of the existing design elements including colour, size and their current portraits

Paula Scher

An inspiring talk by USA designer Paula Scher, giving us insight into her experience with design through 4 inspiring projects – the New York High Rail project; revamping MoMA’s identity into a clear and easy to use system; reinvigorating a Pittsburgh neighbourhood by making the negative landmark into an engaging trademark; and a graphic mural for a local school. The theme of her talk is ‘Do What You’ve Never Done Before’. Well worth the time to watch.

And another more recent video from her AGI talk

After 25 years Microsoft has decided to update its logo to connect more strongly with it’s product. Quite a significant move for a company, especially one with so much influence. The design is clean and simple and unlikely to upset the critics and the dedicated, though 4 coloured squares unsympathetically juxtaposed to the logotype leaves little to be inspired by.

Microsoft new logo

And the rationale from Microsoft’s blog:

The Microsoft brand is about much more than logos or product names. We are lucky to play a role in the lives of more than a billion people every day. The ways people experience our products are our most important “brand impressions.” That’s why the new Microsoft logo takes its inspiration from our product design principles while drawing upon the heritage of our brand values, fonts and colors.

The logo has two components: the logotype and the symbol. For the logotype, we are using the Segoe font which is the same font we use in our products as well as our marketing communications. The symbol is important in a world of digital motion. The symbol’s squares of color are intended to express the company’s diverse portfolio of products.

As often happens these days, an undynamic logo can be brought to life with the magic of motion graphics, all of a sudden the logo makes sense:

Future technology meets GUI

An interesting view of technology and interface design and the way we might interact with technology in the not too distant future – Microsoft’s vision of it that is.

Stop smoking!

How do you put people off buying cigarettes? have them look at a helpless unappealing colour – why choose a poor innocent PMS colour to make people feel squeamish when they go to light up or make that purchasing decision?. Seriously!

From December 1 2012 all cigarette packing in Australia will take on this generic plain packaging with large graphic health warnings and the manufacturers’ brand names written in a small generic font.

A report by GfK Bluemoon confirms that through a process of seven studies, involving more than 1000 regular smokers, aged 16 to 64, research participants indicated that ‘‘drab dark brown’’ packages had the lowest overall appeal and looked like they would contain the lowest quality cigarettes, which would cause the most harm.
Other colours considered were lime green, white, beige, dark grey and mustard. But none came close to Pantone 448C in terms of its ability to ‘‘minimise appeal’’ and ‘‘maximise perceived harm’’.


This question must come to mind – why did Pantone choose to add this colour to their range? Pantone Matching System swatches do not cover every colour in the light spectrum, the colours are selected for their aesthetic appeal, a colour that can be combined with others to create contrast.


The now forsaken PMS 448 used to make us feel sick about smoking can play a part in making other colours more prominent and appealing. On its own it looks drab but combined with other colours can work well – whether it makes a smoking addict think twice before buying a packet is questionable, but to discredit the appeal of a colour like this is just sickening! ;-)


I would suggest that no other colour be allowed to be combined with PMS 448, drop the imagery and place the brand name in 70% PMS 488 so it’s barely legible. How about packs of 4, or half sticks? that way the smoker has to carry around 5 packs to make up one, filling their bags with annoying boxes. Why not a fluoro colour to glow and make it very obvious and a bit embarrassing to pull the pack out in public! I know – there will be committee-driven arguments galore on every suggestion. I’m all for disguising the pack and removing its appeal but I think there are better ways than choosing a colour – what about the box itself? I look forward to seeing the results of this initiative.

Steve Frykholm

I’ve just come back from hearing Steve Frykholm’s talk at RMIT. His midwest accent was endearing and his manner charming and his work and life as a designer for over 40 years with Herman Miller inspiring. He spoke of the process of creating the poster for Herman Miller’s workers picnic each year, from considering which food to abstract and create into large format screen printed posters. Despite being recognised as the creator of this 20 year, 20 poster series he is also the creative director and vice president of Herman Miller.

Find out more on Steve Frykholm at


I have a weakness for animation and even weaker for stop-motion – it’s the hands-on craft, the attention to detail, the amazing vision and patience – I’m in awe of the shear commitment to an idea and the dedication it takes to bring it to life – and what reward for the animators as they see their vision and immense effort come to life.

I don’t often feature stop-motion animation on this blog but this one had to be mentioned. I have been following the team at Laika crafting the latest block-buster stop-motion animation ‘ParaNorman’ for a long time now. Though the audience is targeted at children I think I will be jostling for best seats when it comes to cinemas, which I presume will be later this month.

Laika have given us a lot of insight into the making of this movie and I suspect these scenes will impressive me more than the final film, where my mind will probably quickly forget the painstaking efforts each move of each character takes.

See more scenes here



Wim Crouwel

Wim Crouwell is a Dutch graphic designer who was at the height of his career in the 60s creating striking and bold posters and typefaces while working in the studio he co-founded, Total Design, which is still in operation but now named Total Identity.

Coming off a retrospective exhibition in 2011 in the UK’s Design Museum, Wim Crouwel’s work is now available as a catalogue on iTunes and well worth a look download the app from the iTunes App store.

See a large collection of his posters at