A place where Minnesota's design community can blow its collective mind about creative expression in every medium from websites to landscapes, chocolate to bicycles.

Sanna Annukka: Aurinko

Posted: December 3rd, 2010 | Author: Cindy | Filed under: artifacts, design | Comments Off

Sanna Annukka‘s latest divine creation. Perfectly timed for the winter solstice. Even if it is just minutes at a time, we celebrate the return of aurinko to our skies.


Bloomsberry & Co Chocolate

Posted: November 24th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: chocolate, design | Tags: , | Comments Off

Chocolate
Bloomsberry and Co. chocolate only comes in two varieties; Milk (for beginners) and Dark (which at 55% cocoa content isn’t particularly advanced). This means it will probably not satisfy those who generally consider dark to mean over 70%. Neither are there hints of fruit or citrus or bark if you are seeking subtleties. The chocolate is smooth and tastes a lot like chocolate chips. There’s no bitter after-taste, it’s very easy to eat and reminds me a bit of brownies actually. This can’t really be considered a sophisticated chocolate flavor but is perfect for kids and helping friends make the sea change from the bay of milk to the wide ocean of dark chocolate bliss. The bar itself is also a nice simple design. I found myself breaking it into smaller chunks than indicated.

Design
Bloomsberry clearly recognizes that design is an important part of the experience. In fact there is significantly more variety in the packaging than in the chocolate and consumers are encouraged to collect all the designs. Similar to the chocolate the packaging can better be described as whimsical, fun and spunky than sophisticated. It’s accessibility makes it a good gift for anyone who is not a chocolate snob and is sure to bring a smile. I know because I received this bar as a gift and even though it confirmed what I’ve known all along (that chocolate will not cause weight gain) I had a good chuckle. Actually since laughter burns calories this chocolate is the perfect weight loss strategy. Click on the photo for an enlargement if you want to read the small print.

Online
bloomsberryusa.com

Location
92 Jackson Street
Salem, MA 01970


Davis Co-op’s Got Spunk

Posted: November 21st, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: design, food | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

What fun to travel 2000 miles only to find the work of Minneapolis design firm Spunk Design Machine spicing up my home town Davis Food Co-op. Spunk (with contributions by fellow redblackbrown creative genius Peet Fetsch) reworked the signage, printed material, canvas bags, t-shirts and more. Davis is also one of the few places a co-op would find it reasonable to brand bike trailers and a bicycle six-pack carrier. Gotta love this town. I’m particularly fond of the beverages sign and the logo for P6. The designs are fun and whimsical without being kitschy or cartoonish which is appropriate because people here take their food seriously but aren’t above riding in the pouring rain to get it.


Twin Cities Streets for People Blog Contributor

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 | Author: Cindy | Filed under: bikes, design, landscape architecture, local twin cities, urban planning | Comments Off

BrainstormOverload is happy to announce Cindy’s obsession with streets and non-motorized transportation has landed her square in the middle of another blog. Thanks to Carrie Christensen and Antonio Rosell of Community Design Group for the invitation. Head on over there to Twin Cities Streets for People to check out her first post on the local impact of Congressman Jim Oberstar’s national efforts. Thank you again, Mr. Oberstar, for your service and profound impact in the realm of transportation.


Speaking Screenfluently

Posted: September 27th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: design, Interactive, resources | Tags: , | Comments Off

Not too long ago The FWA was the primary source of influence for interactive design. HTML has made up a tremendous amount of ground on Flash in recent years with HTML 5.0 promising even more innovation. As The FWA has responded by focusing on the elite an abundance of sites curating collections of excellent css based designs have sprung up to sustain the insatiable appetite of the designers in the trenches. We’ve mentioned here previously MNimal, PatternTap and RefreshStyle and are delighted to ad Screenfluent to the list. We’re pleased to be a part of the collection.


Touch Screen Ap for Automated Logic

Posted: July 22nd, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: architecture, design, Interactive, output | Tags: , , | Comments Off

When you work for a big agency you sort of have to take the projects that come your way but it has been really exciting to be steering BrainstormOverload in directions of personal interest. Recently we’ve been working on projects in the cycling, athletic, landscape architecture/urban planning and environmental arenas.
This recently completed project for Automated Logic Corporation falls into the last category. It runs as a kiosk rather than online and it’s the first design work we’ve done for delivery on high definition screens (1080p) which was interesting – also the first touch screen design which was even more interesting. This application called Eco-Screen (built in Flex by Creed Interactive) will be displayed nationally in the energy efficient and LEED certified buildings in which ALC installs super efficient environmental controls.
We were striving for a sophisticated skin that would look and function in a cool way while on display in these high-tech lobbies. Inspired by the iPhone GUI everything is very tactile and dynamic. Modules respond to user input and the graphs are all generated from live data about each building’s energy usage. Layers of each graph can also be turned on and off by the user. This project got even more interesting when the first installation turned out to be a grade school in Texas requiring a skin that is much more icon driven (screens 4 and 5). The entire project was an exciting challenge and ALC was terrific to work with so we wanted to share the results.


St. Paul Bicycle Coalition Logo

Posted: July 13th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: artifacts, bikes, design, local twin cities, output | Tags: , , | Comments Off

Cindy and I have been volunteering with the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition (SPBC) to help make Saint Paul a more cycle friendly city. We’re both delighted to be able to contribute something beyond our voices at meetings. You’ve already seen Cindy’s terrific visualizations for the Saint Paul Greenway which we hope some day will connect to the Minneapolis Greenway. It is our hope that our logo design will help rally cyclists to the cause. More information is available on the Facebook page with even more coming on the soon to be launched website.
The logo is a 17 tooth cog representing the 17 District Councils in Saint Paul and is portrayed in hot colors with asymmetrical details to convey the coalitions energy. I chose the cog because it is a distinct part of every bicycle from fixie to recumbent. Certainly the wheel is also a universal component and very emblematic of cycling but it is the cog that translates the rider’s energy into forward motion. In this way it is the perfect symbol for the SPBC as we turn the energy of passionate advocates into forward progress. We hope you’ll join us or join your own local cycling advocacy group. Each person can really make a difference.
I created several alternate configurations to help ensure consistent application by the variety of volunteers needing to satisfy an equal variety of marketing opportunities. Single color and solid versions are also in the works for things like silkscreen applications. Special thanks to Andy Singer and Matt Cole for their insights and advice.


Sanna Annukka

Posted: July 7th, 2010 | Author: Cindy | Filed under: design, illustration | Tags: | Comments Off

design_sanna annuka_01

I stumbled upon Sanna Annukka’s wooden birds this past winter and I’m still groovin’ on her gorgeous style. I’ve been trying to figure out what it is about her work that compels me to go to her website nearly every week to see if there is something new to find. She has mentioned Nordic folklore, and spending summers in Finland as inspiration for her work, and I think the gravitational pull has to do with seeing a story in every one of her prints. In this one below, my mind’s eye sees little girls running and dancing and exploring a vast land full of fjords and forests.

design_sanna annukka_02Certainly that’s what I did as a young girl in Hawaii.

And her fennofolk below…the detail is delicious. The middle one, I like pretending her name is Annika and she’s what I’d look like in two dimensional form.

design_sanna annuka_03

Check out her website or commercial portfolio for more. Perhaps you already have a few of of her designs she did for Marimekko or the band Keane. Some day her work will grace our studio walls but for now, I’ll just continue to visit her website for weekly fjord dreaming.

design_sanna annukka_04


Riding Off Into the Sunrise

Posted: June 25th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: bikes, design, Interactive, output | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off

interactive-saris

It’s hard to believe after almost 20 years of designing and over 35 years of cycling that nary the two have met. Needless to say, when the agency Lindsay, Stone and Briggs (LSB) based in Madison, WI contacted me to design the new website for Saris I was elated. Saris makes racks for consumers as well as parking and storage solutions for institutional clients. LSB and Saris have been wonderful to work with. The new (and if I do say so myself) improved saris.com has just launched and while few designs survive development unscathed I’m still as excited as when we began and eager for the next cycling+design combination.

Actually, I guess I’ve started the next one by volunteering to help the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition with a logo and website as we work to make Saint Paul as cycle friendly as Minneapolis (We’re way behind Minneapolis but I guess that’s why they aren’t called the Identical Twin Cities.) More on SPBC soon.


High Line Raises the Bar

Posted: June 18th, 2010 | Author: Cindy | Filed under: architecture, competitions, design, landscape architecture, opinion, urban planning | 3 Comments »

landscape-highline-01

The Minneapolis Park Foundation, College of Design, and Walker Art Center have teamed up to bring us a phenomenal lecture series, “The Next Generation of Parks”. Wednesday night’s conversation on New York’s High Line was the second of three summer events. If you didn’t get in the doors, or couldn’t make it, you missed something great, but you can find the full lecture here. Todd and I have been to many a lecture on the subject of design, landscape architecture, architecture, and planning. A few on bicycling, too. This, though, was far more than just your average power point presentation or ubiquitous “here is what I’ve done in the field” lecture. From the introduction by Cecily Hines and Andrew Blauvelt to the last word by Lisa Tziona Switkin and Robert Hammond, it was damn inspirational. Why? We’ll give you our top three reasons.

1. Not just envisioning potential, CREATING potential.

Robert Hammond appreciated the abandoned elevated industrial era ruin of a railroad in his West Village neighborhood enough to take action when it was slated for demolition in 1999. How many of us wonder about the things we see on a daily basis, but when they come crumbling down for surface parking we tell ourselves ‘there’s not much you could have done about it anyway, so don’t fret you didn’t speak up’? Like those cool abandoned grain mills in our Minneapolis skyline. Sure we envisioned a cool future for them, but when they were felled, ground up, and a slab of asphalt was put in their place. Not again.

Linear park in an abandoned elevated rail corridor? Of course. It is a no-brainer now. But, such was not the case before Hammond and his Friends of the High Line co-founder Joshua David, did something about it. Hammond and David used their entrepreneurial spirit to create a movement that resulted in an overwhelmingly successful public space, likely by every index imaginable.

2.  Project process and tactical brilliance.

A lot of the process was no different than what developers, planners, or landscape architects do for every project (develop concepts, present to the public, attend seven bazzillion meetings, gain support, refine concepts…implement). But, a lot of the process WAS different. Hammond et al. recognized the power in branding and visualization early on in the project, and as they enter phase two and three, we would predict their savvy in the realm of communication and its power is going to prove to be a game changer.

Before beginning the project, they had a year-long photography project commissioned in effort to show people the life of the rail corridor thus making the space visually (and we would argue emotionally) accessible to those who usually just experience the steel undercarriage of this elevated line. For more project awareness, Paula Scher at Pentagram created a so-simple-its-brilliant logo. And, they held a design competition with phenomenal renderings by the winning landscape architectural and architectural team James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. (Full design team listed here.)

The game changer? Well, the area where High Line Section Three would be is also currently slated to potentially house twelve million square feet of development. Of course, the current plan does not include what could be the coolest end of the High Line.

landscape-highline-02

Friends of the Highline are pushing for a temporary (and relatively inexpensive) walkway installation in this section. The renderings illustrating this temporary installation are gorgeous and compelling (and not available yet). If they are successful in receiving the okay on a temporary walkway they will create insurmountable public support. The public will LOVE IT and when Mr (Mrs?) Developer comes in to place what amounts to TWO DOWNTOWN SEATTLES (Hammond’s smart analogy), the outcry of “not to my Highline!” will be loud. Very loud.

Brilliant.

3.  1+2 = 3 for us. Listening to Robert and Lisa describe what we imagine is the abridged version of the project process and game changing tactics resulted in a new vision of possibility for us.

We could list the numerous calls to action we felt last night as a creative duo, but let’s just leave it with the most inspiring. Believe in your vision, hone your technical AND tactical skills, and surround yourself with crazy brilliant talent who will make you better at your own work. Push the envelope in design AND process. The High Line raised the expectations of our own work and the possibilities for public space in the Twin Cities. We hope it does the same for you.

landscape-highline-03
Above images by James Corner Field Operations, but retrieved from the High Line website.

landscape-highline-041 & 3 by flickr user don juan tenorio. 2 by flickr user lucas_roberts426, but retrieved from the High Line website.