Monthly Archives: August 2012

Cablevision, so your eyes can see! 

By Admin I: Let’s try to start this post with a positive insight: Cablevision decided to give away the “naked female with TV logos” visual that was the core of its previous campaign, and for once, thought of a decent approach, a hint of concept, a bit of low sat yellow-ish color grading, and pooof we have a TVC!

It’s somehow a smooth working concept, Cablevision offering good quality satellite services, and potential audience simply wanting a better vision; no, not really. Do TV people really care about preserving their sight, or fun (the overdone element here) is what constitutes the essence of the couch potato audience?

It’s not necessarily labeled as a bad advertising approach, it’s just missing the link between the concept and the audience, the ‘how to’ reach the mass and simply sell the service. Overdone, over processed and very weakly scripted, umm could be, unless I’ve been playing ‘sleeping beauty’, while this country changed to a place where emigrants arrive at the door of their parents, and directly jump to spending ‘quality time’ in front of a TV!

Whoever suggested using the glasses idea for a fun purpose might have been righteous, but the issue here, is again, taking people for granted, using the hardest tool ever: comedy for what came out to be meaninglessly redundant.


We can brand! 02

By Admin I : We’re back again with two new branding jobs to prove that we do have interesting design approaches that might be very very different in the core, but each reflecting one aspect of the city’s dynamic flow.

Cafe Hamra by Wondereight:

Well, as you already know, I’m not a fan of pop, punk, grunge and all what follows, but Cafe Hamra was able to emerge from a retrospective perspective on Hamra and project it onto the ‘now’ of the city. A grungy identity based on stencils, photography and an urban feel with an industrial edge.

Slab serif typefaces going trendy again, were brilliantly used to reinforce the concept while the whole work looks well balanced between a heavy visual treatment and a minimal type approach mainly found in the collaterals.

…A map of famous old cafés and theaters was designed and hand-painted on the ceiling. Stencils, retro signs, patterns, old photos and drawings were created to decorate the walls of the restaurant.

Different means were used to convey the contrast between old and new in the branding phase. A retro pattern was created for the plates, using the letters of the word Hamra. Old, black and white photos were mixed with colorful stencils to give out a nostalgic, yet urban feel.

The cafe Hamra identity proves my theory (when a diva steals theories) that ‘more is more’ especially that we can have numerous colors, stencils, photos in black and white and in high saturation and still prove successful in depicting the true essence of the city’s nostalgia.

Rococo by Paperview:

You already know those guys are wicked! After featuring the MAD Beirut identity in the last branding post, Rococo was the ‘it’ branding job to find itself present here adding a contrasting edge.

Based on, umm, the Rococo movement (duh) – also referred to as “Late Baroque”, is an 18th-century artistic movement and style -The identity screams wit and bluntness, and yes you know as well how much we love a designer with enough balls (figurative! gawd, your dirty little minds!).

The best way to describe rococo, is probably “Pimped up vintage”.
Great rococo painters from Jean-Honoré Fragonard, to Jean-Antoine Watteau were used as the base of all designs, modern day / high-tech items were photo edited and placed into scenarios.

Decadent yet not pretentious, witty yet not vulgar, were our main goals.When we saw the interior design, we knew rococo would be the perfect name.

A blend of humor, classicism and cynicism was the focal point of this approach; the logotype also reflects the place’s spirit in a subtle way, leaving room for a visual explosion coming in the place-mats and the set of ads bringing back the Rococo era to the modern lifestyle, with the help of copywriting and a well done photo-montage.
Two identities having nothing in common but the goal of adding a modern twist to a historical era, each with an eye, with an experimental approach to design without looking by any means identical.

We can brand!


nadine mneimneh en minuscule

By Admin I: It’s such a weird field in Lebanon: fashion design… While some totally rely on marketing and emerge from a commercial background, others still struggle to fully depend on their design principles trying to reach a defined audience and sustain their own brands in what is hardly balanced between design and entrepreneurship.

‘nadine mneimneh’ is our latest fashion crush, with a defined line that somehow finds a very unique spot in the local scene: clean cut silhouettes, meticulously hand sewn garments and a minimal choice of menswear fabrics cut to form basic urban looking shapes and forms.

And yes, the outrageously curious us, went and actually visited nadine’s atelier (We’re touchy people) and were astonished by the fact that nadine is one of the very few designers actually producing their whole collection by hand from pattern making to sewing to all other details; a one woman show that proved successful from the very first beginning back when nadine was a ‘Starch’ designer’; she is certainly no ‘Starch’ dependent though; thankful for what the experience has offered to her career, but totally flying away from the previous ‘Starchers’ and what characterizes their couture, nadine keeps digging in her multicultural background to keep producing reasonably priced ready to wear collections, that only lack good marketing to reach a wider audience.

With her timeless silhouettes that somehow bring to mind the loose geometry of Yohji Yamamoto’s creations as well as his dark color schemes, nadine can totally make a difference in the land of glitters, feathers and you know, umm Galliano wannabes!

Illustration by Admin I

Questioning “Graphic” Design 03

Today, if there is something that needs to be designed, it is the designer himself. Daniël van der Velden

By Admin I: After a first post announcing that ‘Graphic Design is DEAD’ and a second one concluding that ‘It never existed in the first place’, here we go again and this time questioning the main definitions of Graphic Design, the ones your teachers try to challenge you with or when they flex their intellectual muscles trying to brainwash you through a set of well polished sentences, you know, the ones dealing with designers being problem solvers, social developers emerging from a need, bla bla bla wrapping it up with something similar to rocket science.

Few days ago, I came across one of the most interesting essays I’ve ever read, analyzing and somehow answering those questions: ‘Research & Destroy, Graphic Design as Investigation‘ by Daniel van der Velden, a researcher/designer and thank god not labeling himself as a ‘design thinker’.

It’s kind of bad I extracted almost all the article, but it’s a must to share this point of view with you guys simply because some design practices are totally crossing boundaries and flattening a rich field that stopped growing due to the lack of research and development, especially in design education where even vocab stops in the 90s, when ‘visual communication’ was the word, erroneously substituted later on by ‘problem solving’ to reach a stage of total chaos stimulating the questions below:

Does your desire for Dior shoes, Comme des Garçons clothes, an Apple iPod and a Nespresso machine come from need? Is design necessary?

”We no longer have any desire for design that is driven by need, says van der Velden Something less prestigious than a ‘designed’ object can do the same thing for less money. The Porsche Cayenne brings you home, but any car will do the same thing, certainly less expensively and probably just as quickly. But who remembers the first book, the first table, the first house, the first airplane?

Invention and a design represent different stages of a technological development, but unfortunately, these concepts are being confused with one another.

Many designers still use the term ‘problem-solving’ as a non-defined description of their task. But what is in fact the problem? Is it scientific? Is it social? Is it aesthetic? Is the problem the list of prerequisites? Or is the problem the fact that there is no problem?

Design is added value. En masse, designers throw themselves into desires instead of needs. There is nothing wrong with admitting as much. Konstantin Grcic, Rodolfo Dordoni and Philippe Starck are found in Wallpaper boutiques, not in Aldi supermarkets.

Is a designer someone who thinks up ideas, designs, produces and sells, or someone who holds a mouse and drags objects across a computer screen?

Anyone can call himself a designer. It is something else. The title of ‘designer’ is not specifically defined, but negatively defined. The title of designer exists by way of what it excludes.

Designers have an enormous vocabulary at their disposal, all to describe what they are not, what they do not do and what they cannot do.

Graphic design is still not developing a vocabulary, and hence has not begun developing an itinerary to deepen a profession that has indeed now been around for a while.

Do not let designers just become walking encyclopaedias, adorned with such titles as ‘master’, ‘doctor’ or ‘professor’, their qualifications dependent on a framed certificate hanging on the wall. Let there be a design practice in which the hypothesis – the proposal – has higher esteem than need and justification.

The designer must use his freedom, for once, not to design something else, but to redesign himself.”

Okay Take a deep breath and don’t panic, it’s not just dead, it’s too dead to resurrect!

Being a designer in a field where everything, and I really mean everything starting from its core definition, is still vaguely perceived, makes you wonder about the goal of your career.

Here, a Graphic designer is someone who pukes logos, visuals, prints, advertisements, copywriting, annual reports and so much more, but DESIGN remains excluded.

We do not design! We just create aesthetically pleasant visuals and the rest is just pretentious buzz around the couple of cliché books we’ve read just to prove that we don’t go to Virgin just to buy ‘Vogue’, or ‘why men marry bitches’. It is because we’re not growing, not really caring to grow beyond the Lebanese elite lifestyle or the hipster false claim, that we became design receptors, communicating nothing but crap!

BLF’s expat package vs Live the language

By Admin I: No, we’re not too intimidated to call the campaign inspired* but we’re just not going to go into a debate where advertising allows copying art direction, assuming there’s nothing left to be made, followed by a bunch of non sense arguments just to prove how ‘original’ the campaign looks.

BLF’s expat package looks fresh, well shot/edited and super clean for a bank’s ad; it’s visually very engaging even if the copywriting alone can set a long night of cheese and wine, with the over-done fun element.. It’s just fine, looks nice, works well, and hmmm reminds you of the super famous online virals “Live the language” showcasing an interesting merge of type and visuals.

It’s the same color scheme, camera movement, a weaker but similar type treatment and a very very similar instrumental track playing along the commercial.

sometimes you wonder if blaming stock imagery, or the influence of the art director’s sub-conscience is enough to excuse a visual theft.

Dearest art directors: I wish you can stop social media and google images for a bit and seriously think of experimenting in new media, taking risks and enjoying the adrenaline rush instead of getting a widely spread campaign and start doing replicas. You can still go party after, don’t worry!

Cheers to originality!

*hair spray* *hairflip*

Bil Alb Ya Watan – Real Heroes 2012

By Admin I: So here we are facing another tribute campaign to add to this day’s ‘patriohypocritism‘ excitement and pay honor to the Lebanese Army; ‘Bil Alb Ya Watan’ having its second release after a 2007 version which came after witnessing hard times and threatens. The 2012 campaign came out very well done, and yes we have nothing personal against Leo Burnett Beirut, as many of you suggested we don’t review their work anymore simply because it made us look biased; having to review this Lebanese army campaign is a solid proof that good work should be credited and spread to reach the mass, and we by no means want to create useless drama. Ignoring good work is a no-no for us! (Why the hell am I justifying?!)

Authentic, real and very very emotional (believe me, it takes hard work for me to get sensitive), well shot and delivering the message in a very subtle, intimate way losing the cliché strength and patriotism usually attributed to such approaches. Arabic copywriting came to play its usual complementary role, as successful as many of Leo’s Arabic written campaigns.

It is indeed when we work on our children’s idols that we build a healthy collective memory, which is the essence of a trustworthy relationship between people and authority.

Bil Alb Ya Watan 2012 shows a divergence from the 2007 principles, hinting on the conceptual aspect of it: getting more mature, more realistic and leaning towards a culturally enhanced approach more than a preachy tone.

We can always pay honor to the army, but it is indeed a need to mean it.

Great Job!

the 2007 version: link