Observations. Ideas. Passing thoughts. Likes and gripes. The following blog is something of a random visual and written notebook brought to you by totalcontent. We’ll be covering a wide range of topics, from words and writing, to typography and technology, graphics and popular culture, music and lyrics… and much more besides. Hope it tickles your fancy and feel free to have your say.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Film title sequences have become a mini art form in their own right, with the incomparable Saul Bass showing the way in the 1960s and more recent exponents like Kyle Cooper breaking new boundaries with his work on Se7en. Budget constraints have meant that TV has been left lagging behind, especially in the UK, where you immediately think of the perennially wet, sloping roofs across Manchester’s Coronation Street or the stock footage of a lumbering tortoise that heralds the opening of ‘One Foot in the Grave’. But True Blood, HBO’s excellent swamp-goth vampire series, has significantly raised the bar. The sublime opening credits, by Seattle’s Digital Kitchen, create an evocative visual tableau that perfectly sets the scene for what’s to follow. Fast cuts of slo-mo snakes and bloody roadkill are skilfully juxtaposed with Pentecostal rapture, sleazy sexual encounters and ancient car wreckage. Decay, blood, religion, voodoo, and the brooding intensity the Deep South, seep through in 65 masterfully edited shots. Jace Everett’s sweetly sinister country song ‘Bad Things’ provides a fitting soundtrack. Catch it if you can – the series starts on C4 on 7 October.
Although I wasn’t exactly sure what rooibos tea was when I bought this, the packaging (designed by the good people at Pearlfisher) made it irresistible. And actually, as it turns out, I really quite like the stuff. Apart from the background being a perfect shade of orange, the anthropomorphic, hand-drawn type has an arresting, child-like quality, which cleverly suggests the tea’s natural, organic provenance. The doodle-like illustrations not only convey energy and fun, but show you that you’re about as far away from a slick, processed drink as you could be. The copy wasn’t bad either, personable without trying too hard:
“Here at Kromland Farm, we’ve been cultivating rooibos since 1902. But that's nothing – South Africa’s indigenous Khoisan people have been enjoying its rich flavour and potent heath benefits for millennia”.
Unfortunately, it seems I won’t be. Sainsbury’s seem to have stopped stocking Kromland Farm.
With a couple of hours to kill in Helsinki, I wandered into the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, an intriguingly shaped glass-and-zinc building designed by the US architect Steven Holl. The exhibits were a mix of Finnish and international modern art, which were beautifully set off by the gentle, organic shapes of the rooms. Of course, you can always judge an art gallery by its gift shop, and Kiasma’s was packed with curious gems. Though I was sorely tempted to trade my Euros for various arty, esoteric books, I held back to retain my hand-luggage only status on the flight back. I did, however, pick up this card designed by a pair of English illustrators – Bob and Roberta Smith. Of course I agree entirely with the sentiment, but I’m also busy trawling through Chris Salewicz’s mighty biography of Joe Strummer, so I just had to have it.
In case you’re interested, Bob and Roberta's cards are available – along with efforts by David Shrigley, Magda Archer and Vic Reeves – at www.politecards.com.
Last week I visited Helsinki for the first time. It was at the behest of my client Nokia, who wanted me there for an afternoon’s workshop. It can be hard to get an impression of a place in such a short space of time, especially when you are working for most of it, but Helsinki seemed at once strange and familiar, with its unusual mix of Scandinavian and quasi-Soviet architecture, and often striking juxtaposition of old and new.
What won me over to the city and its people (apart from feeling incredibly safe as I trod unfamiliar streets, even at the dead of night) was its endearing quirkiness. For example, after said workshop, Kokoro & Moi, the buzzy design company who’d hosted the workshop, invited us to a totally mad ‘cake party’, organised as part of Helsinki Design Week. Fashion, architectural and graphic designers had been challenged to create a conceptual piece (of cake). These were exhibited to a discerning crowd of designery types at a chi-chi furniture store. Among the various entrants were a cake as a giant coin, a loose self-portrait, and a chocolate offering shaped as a poo. Kokoro & Moi’s effort was a ‘build-it-yourself’ cake – plain sponge slices on which you could plaster jam, cream or hundreds and thousands with the provided plastic spades. A flouring of self-expression, you could say.