Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Designing Death

When I first started listening to Metallica I didn't know a thing about branding but I do remember thinking logo was cool on the Kill 'em All album cover. And on the Ride The Lightning cover the logo was even cooler because it was airbrushed, and had lighting bolts flying out of it. Fast forward about 25 years and Metallica has just released their new album Death Magnetic. It's their first studio recording in 5 years and is the first to enlist the expertise of the branding agency Turner Duckworth.

Just as any company's brand identity can begin to erode over the years though lack of standards, not evolving with technology or employees not understanding the value it possess, so can a metal bands identity begin to drift into strange territory. Over the years the Metallica logo began to take on a life of it's own and loose its punch on albums such as Load and St. Anger. Turner Duckworth retooled the logo in the spirit of it's classic form as well as designing the packaging for the new disc.

The logo redesign is a success but the Death Magnetic type seems overworked in my opinion. I understand the D and the C being modified to look like a magnet however they extent too far and look more a U that has been turn on its side. Furthermore having the album title in perspective doesn't enhance the meaning it and isn't harmonizing with the Metallica logo type in any special way so why bother? (For the record Turner Duckworth has shelves full of Cannes and I don't.)

Anyway, the new identity really extends itself seamlessly into the merchandising. The redesigned M works "rocks" as a hallmark and conceptually works with the coffin icon on several levels. I've only seen a few samples of the new disc and other materials but a very strong visual language has emerged with this new release.

For more visit http://www.turnerduckworth.com

For someone at Tucker Duckworth to rip apart my work visit

For someone at Tucker Duckworth to contact me about cleaning their Cannes feel free to email me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

China 101

China's new 101 story Shanghai World Financial Center recently opened for business. The design is so simple and elegant it effortlessly links the earth to the sky. The tension between these simple geometric shapes is a great reminder that sometimes simplicity leads to the most dramatic solutions.

KPF (www.kpf.com) also designed the 333 Wacker Drive building in Chicago.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Am I Evil?

Even a tired category such as document management can be brought back to life with a great creative idea.

This series of outdoor ads by Gordon Flesch features several mythological tech-gremlins that we've all had to battle at one point or another in the office. Copy machines tends to have a evil side but it took some great art direction for all of us to see it clearly.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Art That Moves You.

For the last couple of years I've been reading more and more about mass customization but haven't seen it applied to anything greater than ordering something complicated at Starbucks or an Union Flag on top of a Mini Cooper. However, Nike has recently gone beyond the typical mass customization model and allows the customer to apply their own experience to the final design. For the record Nike's customers have been able to customize their own shoe since 1999 but now they can take it to the next level by leveraging existing technology. Customers use their camera phone to take a photo of anything they want. That image is then uploaded to NIKEiD. From there NIKEiD reads the photo and extracts the two most prominent colors, applies them to a Nike Dunk shoe, and sends the user back an image of a customized shoe super-imposed over the original photo. The design can be saved a mobile wallpaper, emailed or linked to the NikeiD site for purchase.

What a great way to keep a piece of rubber, mesh and thread socially relevant.
See more at:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Aurora Art Walk

After a long week it was a pleasant surprise to see Downtown Aurora's streets full of life on a Friday night. Despite the rain Aurora's Art Walk was in full swing. This was first opportunity I've had to view the galleries and other creative venues since I've moved downtown. I was really impressed with the John Stanicek pieces at the Blues Alley Art Gallery and I'm regretting not taking any photos to post.

The other pleasant surprise was the Back Third Audio recording studio. I've walked by this building almost everyday on my way to the train and I wasn't even sure if was open for business. I'm glad to report that Aurora does infact have a music scene and Back Third is in the middle of it. When I arrived Rebel Rouser was in the middle of a set that sounded great. The Back Third space was really cozy and it was great to see a fully functioning creative studio in the heart of Downtown Aurora.

For more info visit these sites:


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Prime Time Display

Finally, someone found a great use for all of that unused AstroTurf laying around. I'm also glad to see someone useing authentic materials to support the message.

Da-duh-dant! Da-duh-dant!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Are You Walking in the Rain?

When I arrived at the name Updside-Down-Umbrella for this blog I thought it was a unique enough to standout on the web. I was wrong. It seems as if it's getting harder and harder to come up with an original title for just about anything these days. All you have to do is Google a name or an idea and chances are someone else has thought of it or is using it already. In the case of Upside Down Umbrella there's a UK band who go by the same name. The good news is they have some very cool electronic tracks thick of ambient rhythms and textures. It's great music to blog to.

You can listen to their tracks here:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Stump Tower

After several years of bad residential buildings being thrown up across the Chicago skyline I was looking forward to something of significance being built. With the summer coming to a close Trump Tower is almost completed and I have to say the taller it has become the more disappointed I am with it as a piece of architecture and how it relates as a sculptural neighbor.

From a distance some of the materials have an pleasing aesthetic quality but the closer to the building you become the design starts to break down. The materials don't hold up and the overall design really lacks the elegance of the IBM building next door. Some of the sight lines are dramatic especially from Lake Shore Drive at the river but what we've ended up with is a sky blue Sears Tower with rounded edges and a squatier bottom. Maybe if it was in another location in the city it wouldn't be critiqued so critically and that space could of been reserved for something to compete with the buildings going up in Dubai or Asia.

Hopefully over time as other building go up around it Trump Tower will grow on me but until then I find it very uninspiring.