Cor. Been a bit of busy old year all in all. We just wanted to wish all our readers a tip top Christmas and a fantastic New Year. Thanks for all your comments, thoughts, feedback and that; and see you in 2007. x
We talk about printed ephemera on here quite a lot, but we've never really given much thought to what it is about it that really tickles our cerebellums.
This ticket, which Gene picked up on some recent local travels, gave us pause, and made us consider why it is certain things grab our fancy.
In this instance, as designers, we thought it was groovy because we're reading it as a typeface sample more than anything else. And as a typeface sample, it's just about the perfect format. If you'd designed a machine typeface, specifically for ticket machines, then sending it out to people in ticket format would exactly 'right'. Of course, it wasn't designed to showcase the typeface at all; it's a mechanical byproduct, a piece of evidence coughed up by a ticket machine to prove that it's printing correctly.
But, on a more general level, we liked the ticket because it's a fundamental visual icon for us. These tickets have been around for, well, at least fifteen years or so. Right now they're something we use daily, so we don't generally take time to consider them from an aesthetic point of view: their functional status as a travel permit takes precedence. But we can easily anticipate the nostalgia we'll feel once the design or format changes.
Tucked away on the coast of Wales, Howies are one of those brands that just gets it exactly right.
As a brand, they're emminently huggable, which is a pretty good place to be. It comes partly from the stuff they make, then from the stuff they do around that, and then how they communicate it all to their customers.
They've got a great product (a range of functional but stylish clothing that could loosely be called skatewear) with a fairly fantastic environmental policy, and top notch customer service.
But rather than just sell clothes, Howies exudes a loose philosphy; a way of doing things. They have a library you can borrow books from, they run an annual Art Think competition, and have loads of useful and interesting information on their site.
All their writing is done in a human, friendly tone of voice, so that the company feels like the physical embodiment of the character and attitude of David and Clare, the folks who run it.
Well heck, probably best if we just let them speak for themselves:
Back in July 1995, we started making clothing for the sports we loved doing. We also wanted to find another way to do our business so we could ride home at night happy with what we do. We wanted howies to say something, to stand for something, to try to change the things we cared about. Was it so bad to make people think a little? We didn't think so. From a remote part of West Wales, where the air is pure and the rivers run clean, a bunch of us come in each day and try to do just that. It's almost as much fun as the ride home.
It always feels like a good day when their catalogue (shown above) drops through the door (so much so that we can't bring ourselves to chuck the old ones away).
They've just gone into partnership with Timberland, which means big things could be looming on the horizon.
So it felt like a good time to say: Howies, We Made This loves you. xx
Some books are intense, thoughtful experiences that force you to reflect upon the world around you, maybe even questioning the way you live your life.
Others are just damn good fun.
Mark Gatiss, the tall one from The League of Gentlemen, is rather annoyingly talented, and his latest book The Devil in Amber has just been published by Simon & Schuster. It definitely falls into the latter category.
It's the second in the Lucifer Box series, detailing the exploits of a wonderfully morally ambivalent secret agent, like a rather tasty fusion of James Bond and Oscar Wilde. Box is beginning to feel his age (though never looking anything less than dashing), and finds himself up against a fascist mastermind hell-bent on raising the devil.
As Stephen Fry says in the blurb: "Delicious, depraved, inventive, macabre and hilarious... more, I want more!"
Check it out. And while you're at it, check out the first in the series too - The Vesuvius Club.
We've just finished this identity and website for top notch interior design firm VSP Interiors. They create high spec interiors for very smart homes, and wanted an identity that felt smart and luxurious.
You can check out the business card we created for them here, and their website here.