There’s been a lot of design-related chat this weekmaybe lockdown is encouraging creativity after all. We’ve been mulling over some hard-hitting magazine covers, and having a giggle about bad logos. Most importantly, we’ve noticed how much design and engineering stuff is available online for kids. We’re quite jealous, really. Here’s to a future of fresh STEM enthusiasts!

A cover is worth a thousand words

We love a well designed cover page, and this week there have been some particularly poignant ones. National Geographic has released a special issue highlighting global fragility. The cover moves between two headlines outlining the consequences of our choiceswe can either save the world, or lose the planet. The message is clear: we’re at a crossroads.

The two halves of the cover are separated into greens and blues for optimism, and reds and oranges for pessimism. And that’s where the impact isyou don’t even need to read the words to know what it’s getting at. It’s a pretty clever design.

The Economist has also been creative this week. The front page is an illustration of a leopard covered in virus particlesgiving the old phrase “a leopard never changes its spots” a new lease on life. It’s interesting to get a snapshot of the thought processthe editors and designers wanted to show how coronavirus is affecting business. But they quickly realised how interconnected the world is. The leopard shows it’s not just the economy that’s strugglingeverything needs to adapt in order to survive.

Both covers work well because they use the current crisis to draw attention to what’s already at stake. That sounds a bit opportunistic, but it’s not reallyit’s a necessary wake-up call.

What makes a bad logo?

That’s the question asked by How Low Can Your Logo?a competition inviting creatives to submit their worst logo for an imagined brief. Sound weird? Take a look at some of the whacky entries and see what you think. It’s supposed to get you talking about what constitutes good or bad design. 

Some of the entries made us laugh, others made us wince. Secretly, I think that everybody actually liked one or two. 

Classic logos are often eye-catching and nostalgic. So it’s not a surprise that some designs are enjoying a revival. NASA has brought back the typographic “worm” logo which hasn’t been used on vehicles for almost 30 years. Having lost out to the more commonly recognised “meatball” design, appreciation for its sleek and simple style has been renewed. You’ll be able to see it (on the internet, probably not in real life) on the side of the Falcon 9 rocket that’s scheduled for launch in May. 

Cadbury has also been busy freshening up its look. The text and “glass and a half” logo are iconicand if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? Don’t worry, it’s still recognisable. The Cadbury wordmark has been made lighter and more cursiveand it looks really special next to the redesigned Dairy Milk logotype, which has been made heavier. The distinctive features and fonts make for a great contrast, and the packets now feature a chocolate chunk that looks super real (and delicious).

Stay at home and STEM

It’s been great to see the turnout of educational resources for kids during lockdown. There’s Joe Wicks’ energetic PE lessons (in his unnervingly clean living room), as well as tons of apps for coding, maths…you name it. But what’s got us most excited is the initiative by the James Dyson Foundation. They’ve created 44 STEM challenges using household itemsyou can make things like a lava lamp, or a bridge made of spaghetti.

It’s going to be super popular, and we’re already rummaging around for bits of recycling so we can join in. What’s even better is that Dyson designer, Ben Edmonds, has gone a step further by launching a stream of videos. He says it’s not just about teaching design and engineeringit’s about getting kids to think for themselves. We totally agree (and I kind of wish I’d listened more in science). Nice one, Ben!

Design news we ran out of time for

There’s always too much to talk about in a single roundup. Here are the bits that slipped through the net, but are definitely worth checking out.

  1. Make a Whopper at home
    Between the team it’s been too many days to count since we’ve had a whopper. Until we saw this awesome article, that is. If you’re missing them as much as we are, check out this visual by Burger King France on how to make your own. (FastCompany)
  2. Home: The ultimate staycation
    Fancy staying at home for a change? Just kidding. We know it’s hard, but designer Jennifer Baer has come up with these vintage travel posters to make sofa-surfing seem a bit more appealing. (Ad Week) 
  3. The genius Guinness ad
    There are two things that we’re suckers for at Gloogreat design and a good old-fashioned pint. Luke O’Reilly has combined the two to tell us to stay at home. Ok so it’s not actually an ad, but it could be. (Creative Bloq) 

Posted by John on 20 April 2020