thoughts on art, interactivity, technology, design, culture & life

Archive for the Design Category

I recently watched the movie trailer for a film called Precious using Front Row on my mac. I was intrigued by the poster design for's evocative of Saul Bass. In fact the only reason I watched the trailer was because of the poster, surely with a poster this sophisticated the movie must have some meat to it...and I believe it does. See the trailer below.

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References to Bass

For fun after watching the trailer I looked up some of Saul Bass' work1 on the Internet to refresh my memory. The poster seems to be the result of some clever graphic addition: Anatomy of a Murder Poster + Saint Joan Poster + The Man With The Golden Arm Poster = Precious Movie Poster. By alluding to this simple formula I might lead one to believe that much like the film posters it references this poster would appear dated and reminiscent of the 1950's and 1960's.  This is simply not the case.


While the poster tips it's proverbial hat to what some might call the era of Saul Bass, its re-appropriation of Bass' iconic style is meaningful and contemporary...something any design fanatic should be proud to hang in their home. Unlike Bass' whimsical type treatments the poster employs a lighter version of Helvetica/Helvetica Neue stripping the poster of whimsy and imbuing it with purpose and directness. The title of the film is rendered in an eroded sans serif typeface, which at first glance seems slightly off kilter, again an approprite nod to Bass' playful style in a very serious and contemporary way.


The poster is striking and eye catching; I believe because of the Bass influenced iconography at the center of the traditionally laid-out piece. The mass of the female figure reminds me of the Venus of Willedorf, rotund and bold - certainly an immense presence with strength and potential (fertile or otherwise). The mass of the figure is broken however, much like a plate or pane of glass would break (fractures from the inside/center out). In this case the origin of the fracture is between the figures legs, appearing as a hand reaching up from the ground in negative space radiating rays of light that break this Venus into pieces. It is a powerful piece of imagery that I theorize would move any spectator to at least think, if not relate to this precious female figurine.


While I am not sure who designed this,2 the poster is truly captivating and emotive with seemingly little effort. For me this is a design that will be considered "well done" 50 years from now, much like the work of Saul Bass. And while I don't think this posters style will prompt derivations in the way that Bass' style has and continues to, I do believe that the beautiful execution of the iconography will stand as an example of what a well though out graphic can do. It is a simply executed, unmuddled poster; which unlike so many other movie posters today, does its' job without compromising its' integrity.

  1. For more info on Saul Bass check out this, this and this []
  2. If you know who designed this poster please leave a comment below or contact me directly. []

I recently came across a new iPhone game called Parra Plays. The design of the application was really intriguing because of its simple design and flat shapes. It seems that most iPhone application designers prefer to add more dimension to their designs. Naturally I had to download this application to see what the rest of it looked like. I was surprised to find that the application was released by Incase, a company that makes cases for Apple products.

What the application does

The application contains three mini games inside:

Poppers It’s like a touch screen version of “Whac-A-Mole.” Touch the clouds before they pop! Sounds easy enough, right? Keep playing…

Parrot Loosely based on “Simon Says,” but with a twist. You think you can break 100? Yeah right!

Pairs Very similar to the classic “Memory” card game. Uncover the matching cards. The faster you do it, the better your score!

What's great about this application

I should preface this by saying I'm not a gamer, but for me these mini-games were casual, engaging and charming. The design was simple and well executed. It's clear some thought went into the sound design (and the sound adds a lot of value to the game). What was most impressive to me was that without any direction or indication of what to do I was able to pick up the game and immediately figure out how to play.1 I love the simplicity of this application.

Great example of a branded application

This application is part of a larger project called Curated by Arkitip that collaborates with artists/designers to create embellished cases for Incase.2  In addition to being able to purchase some awesome cases, the website allows its visitors to download wallpapers, videos, icons and other content. The Parra Plays application is a great example of how downloadable content from a brand can be extended to the iPhone.

By placing Parra's design on the iPhone in game form, Incase breathes life into graphics which are still and inactive. It is also able to extend its reach to users who didn't know Incase's curated by Arkitip project existed (like myself). Unlike a lot of other branded applications, this applications primary objective appears to be fun. It's a refreshing example of how branded iPhone applications can be fun, engaging, and a great ambassator for it's brand.

  1. I think this probably is due to the simplicity of the game. If you only have a bunch of shapes in front of you and some of them are changing colors, there's only so many game play options available []
  2. "Curated by Arkitip is a project designed for Incase, aimed at delivering artistically embellished Apple® products to users who have an appreciation for the creative arts and technology. All artists are carefully chosen by Arkitip for dedication to their respective art forms and unique points of view." -via Incase curated by Arkitip []

I'm an iPhone developer so I spend a good percentage of my time each day touching, playing with, and creating cool stuff for that shiny little device. While the amount of time I spend using an iPhone each day is probably greater than the average iPhone user, I don't think I'm alone when I say "my phone is a very personal piece of technology". I think that a device which spends an increasing amount of time by our sides should be something that reflects the person who is using it.

Smashing Magazine recently posted an article with links to a great collection of iPhone Wallpapers...that is after all the first thing we see when we press the home button to wake the phone up from sleep. :-) Of the collection one website stood out: Poolga. Poolga does what a lot of wallpaper sites fail to do, provide quality wallpapers that are well designed and inspiring. Of course all wallpapers are 320x480 so if you own a T-Mobile G1 or plan on purchasing a Palm Pre (which actually looks pretty cool) don't worry you can pimp your device too. ;-)

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