The Looooooong Scroll

A recent conversation with a co-worker got me thinking about the growing acceptance of the long scroll. Thankfully, gone are the days where almost everything had to be above the fold, and brands are willing to hint at content that appears below this critical barrier.

According to a recent ClickTale stat, “91% of the page views were long enough to contain a scroll-bar. Of those, 76% were scrolled to some extent.” Since the majority of users understand that information can be accessed with a flick of the scroll wheel (or finger), designers and developers are increasingly integrating techniques like parallax scrolling to enhance the experience, and make it more engaging. Read More …

POSTED BY:
maynard at 10:22 AM
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Design, Development, Technology
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GIF it to me (baby, uh-huh uh-huh)

This new (or should I say old) movement in web design has caught my eye more than once lately. As most of us are trending towards more elaborate, innovative, streamlined designs, some are doing the opposite—and it’s oddly refreshing.

Let’s go back for a second. Back to a time when the Internet was just a baby, when you wish you had those noise-canceling headphones that weren’t invented yet, when you had to connect to the Internet using a phone line, only to produce load times that were unbearably slow by today’s standards. Before the creation of Web 2.0 with its sleek designs and code, there was the birth of code and programming, and a heck of a lot of frustration, limitations and workarounds. Yet, some web designers are now going back to these roots and incorporating low-fi uses of HTML and CSS into their projects.

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POSTED BY:
kkecki at 2:49 PM
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Design, Development, Projects, Technology

Our Sci-fi World – Mobile Augmented Reality

AR hasn’t gotten much attention since Iron Man 2 was in theaters, but the recent launch of mobile apps  – Wikitude and Wallit! – and talk of Google’s Project Glass, is changing all that.

If you are just getting up to speed, augmented reality is when your view of the real physical world (directly or indirectly) is altered by computer-generated sensory input (i.e. sound, graphics, etc).  This is different than virtual reality that actually replaces the real world with a simulated one (think Tron).

Wikitude is pretty cool.  Through your phone you can view your physical surroundings with essentially different lenses such as Wikipedia, Flickr or Yelp. Last night from the comfort of my couch, I was scanning my living room and found a venue about 4 miles away that is showing the film Forks Over Knives next week as part of a Meetup.  Good to know.

Wallit! is a less cool app that allows folks to create virtual graffiti on virtual walls, based on real world locations.  When I am bored of watching the Cubs lose at Wrigley Field I can pull up Wallit! and shoot the breeze with other fans at the game. One drawback is that you can’t just don a wall as yours and tag it; Wallit! has to set it up as an official wall which isn’t very punk at all. Last week I requested 4 wall locations via Twitter for Chicago – I’ll let you know when my first one gets created.

I think there is great potential for AR and smart phone technology to help us navigate the physical world – assist city workers finding a gas line or allow me to window shop (and buy) from the sidewalk.

Have you had a cool augmented reality experience?  Know of other apps I should be checking out? Share it with us on our Facebook page.

POSTED BY:
colsen at 10:52 AM
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Design, Development, Social, Technology
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Plans to Make Plans

“I’d get stuff done if I were more friggin organized…I need to make a to-do list.”  Does this sound like anyone you know?  Have no fear, making to-do list just got a little bit sexier.  This past weekend I came across my new fav app, Clear. Don’t waste your time on all of the other ‘Productivity’ apps out there, even the native Reminders app doesn’t get to the heart of the matter-  for a to-do list to be truly effective you have to be able to edit, prioritize and delete tasks with ease.

The genius of Clear is in the UI – you won’t find static navigational or menu icons here; you add, delete and move tasks using the array of gestures even human babies have come to master- flick, swipe and pinch.  Clear has just the right amount of customization (yes, you too can be a pretty pretty princess) to make it your own and the themed quotes and sound effects support the lighthearted character of this simple app.

So you have made yourself a list – the first step in preparing to get things done.  Second step  is putting priority to the tasks in any way you see fit (by date of completion, level of effort, etc.)  I would also recommend keeping your lists thematic – for example I keep running to-do lists for: home life, shopping/errands, specific projects, and work.

Third step (this is important) is spending calories doing the tasks. To-do lists work for me, but that’s because I make action and get shi*t done. If you still find yourself struggling to get your IKEA bookshelf put together you may benefit more from the TaskRabbit app, but it’s going to cost you.

POSTED BY:
colsen at 3:28 PM
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Design, People, Technology
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A Girl, a Boy and an Alpaca

Have you ever found yourself day dreaming about up and leaving your job to raise alpacas on the top of a mountain in upstate New York? That’s exactly what husband and wife team Cameron and Katherine Sands did last spring. They then approached TRO to help them name and develop an identity system for their new farm.

TRO recognized the opportunity to create something really special in an industry that’s pretty bleak design-wise. Following initial meetings and research we presented brand boards, each communicating a high level concept, look and feel.

Katherine and Cam selected the board that explored a more illustrative direction and focused on telling their story—a young couple running their farm and raising alpacas in their own unique way. They’re self-admittedly a bit goofy, and liked the idea of embracing humanity, quirkiness and perhaps a bit of the unexpected in their new identity.

Our first logo presentation was met with a great deal of excitement. There was a clear front runner when we got off the phone. However, after much contemplation and discussion, Katherine and Cam requested we use a new name and explore the theme from the second brand board instead. They were concerned that the DIY approach they had initially selected might portray them as inexperienced rather than hands-on entrepreneurs.

So from there it was back to the drawing board. TRO’s second board was über sophisticated and elegant, promising an elite, white-glove brand experience to its clients. In approaching the next round of logos, we wanted to maintain some of the whimsy they liked from our first exploration while still capturing the refinement of the second board.

After one more round of design, we finally reached a solution. Here are some of our favorites. Can you guess which one they picked?

Check back to find out which name and mark Katherine and Cam selected, and see how TRO builds out their identity system.

POSTED BY:
astrauss at 5:42 PM
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Design, People, Projects, Uncategorized

Still Kickin’

Photo from Flickr user Beholder

Okay, time to be a little nostalgic here, and maybe even a little geeky. Let’s remember how this field called Graphic Design got started—with print. Nowadays, it’s a whole lot of websites, apps, interfaces and anything digital, but one of the most quintessential examples of Graphic Design is the poster. I’m sure many of the current designers in the world had a strong base of print design in their education, as did I, but at times we forget the humble yet mighty poster. I’ve been to two events revolved around posters in Chicago in the past few weeks that got me thinking of the poster’s current role in society. Read More …

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kkecki at 10:25 AM
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Design
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My Kind of Town

I come from a place they call ‘The Mistake on the Lake’, though some less affectionately call it Cleveland. In my six-plus years as a Chicagoan, I’ve noticed people are never surprised to learn where I’m from. I believe this is part due to the mass pilgrimage of urban-hungry folk from all over the midwest to Chicago. I also believe that everyone who lives here thinks it’s the greatest city ever, so it only seems obvious that I’d leave my depressing life watching barges of steel and coal pass by my window in pursuit of better things.

Recently, RO was chosen to redesign the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau website. The enthusiasm the CCTB team has for this city, and the excitement they have for the potential of their new website is infectious. Chicago is my home now, and I’d sell it to anyone in a heartbeat. But now the challenge is even greater—sell Chicago to the world. In a team meeting someone mentioned many people outside of the U.S. have the impression that Chicago is like ‘a Cleveland’ (gasp—sacrilege!) While I’m not ashamed to say where I come from, I am very proud to say where I live. And why not? Chicago is an amazing city, boasting an unmatched food scene, iconic architecture, culture, sports, shopping, comedy, an incredible beach…the list goes on. There is a palpable energy, happiness and vibrance here. Even in the winter. When it’s cold. And grey. And freezing. We still choose to live here because we love it. And that’s the message we need to communicate. We’re in the business of creating and selling experiences. And I can’t think of anything better to sell than experiencing Chicago.

POSTED BY:
astrauss at 1:39 PM
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Design, People

Lack of Athleticism Leads Girl to Self-Discovery

I’m highly uncoordinated,  and I find running around in front of people extremely embarrassing. I was hit in the mouth with a softball in 6th grade (sad), and was cut from the 8th grade girls basketball team for my inability to do a lay-up (it’s hard). Recognizing my lack of athletic prowess early on, I switched my focus to school organizations to grow my high school resume. But after a brief stint in Spanish club, my extracurricular involvement dwindled down to nothing. Time passed and intervention occurred by way of a parental mandate, and I had no choice but to find new opportunities to differentiate myself from other college applicants.

Enter Menorah Park nursing home. I spent a good three years of my life calling bingo numbers and serving chicken schnitzel and cottage cheese to people who claimed to hate me for serving it to them. Man, volunteering sure felt good.

I must not have been entirely scarred by my early volunteer experiences, because when I was introduced to AIGA as a student in 2003, I jumped right in. I held various roles with the organization—student representative, programming planner and volunteer coordinator, event attendee—yet couldn’t help but feel like a bit of an outsider. It’s intimidating as a young designer to break into the cliques of more established professionals who have known and worked with each other well before you even knew what design was. Still, I continued my engagement and preached the power of volunteering.

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POSTED BY:
astrauss at 4:45 PM
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Community, Design, People

The Beautiful Struggle

I have always admired visual artists. Maybe because I grew up drawing, painting and doodling in general, I have a special appreciation for art and the people who have the guts to build a career pursuing their passion. I have had the fortune of knowing some of these unique individuals, and whenever possible jump at the chance to collaborate. One such person is Carlos ‘Dzine’ Rolon — a guy I met almost fifteen years ago when helping my then roommate (another Chicago painter named Jeff Zimmermann), with a neighborhood mural he was working on. He introduced himself as Dzine. I said my name was Architecture. D is an infectious character with an authentic D.I.Y. career that began as a graffiti writer on the southwest side of Chicago. By the time I met him, he was starting to show his highly energetic and graphic abstractions in galleries and group shows, making a name for himself as a member of an up and coming group of  artists that were transitioning from the street to the gallery. Over the years I have designed a variety of materials promoting his various shows, collections and such — and as a friend, fan and critic I have had a front row seat to watch his career as it unfolds.

Recently, a German publisher named Gestalten approached Dzine, offering to produce an art book monograph chronicling some of his more recent work, in which he reinterprets a theme close to his heart – low rider culture. Gestalten is among an elite group of international publishers specializing in cutting-edge visual culture, so this was a great fit and an amazing opportunity. I have spent the last six months or so working closely with the artist and publisher to create what I hope will be a printed piece that befits this truly original body of work. The highlight for me is the cover, which will be printed on foil, with linear elements stamped into the board to emulate the reflective surfaces and textural qualities of the pieces featured inside. In the spirit of collaboration Dzine will be fabricating a limited number of custom metal slip covers that will house autographed editions for collectors. Check it out on the Gestalten site and order one of your very own!

The responsibilities and rewards of being partner and creative director at Royal Order are many, but side projects like this can re-invigorate one’s own passion and creativity. Who knows, maybe this summer I’ll finally do something with that blank canvas in the basement.

POSTED BY:
hogan at 2:09 PM
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Design

A Silent Cheer

Getting to know clients and their products is one of the things I love most about being a designer. The journey of discovery and growth you share with a client over the course of a project sticks with you — that web site / logomark / book / poster is our baby too! The brand and products are forever ingrained within our consciousness. Every time I see a client logo or product in the real world I give them a special silent cheer. Sometimes I have to amit that it’s aloud, and the person with me just doesn’t understand. But I can spot the products a mile away.

This week while browsing some of my regular blog,s I got very excited to discover the Laura Kirar Barrel Lounge Chair by McGuire Furniture featured in the sneak peak: feature at design*sponge. Back in 2007 TRO was hired to redesign mcguirefurniture.com, and to kick off the project we were given a private tour of the San Francisco factory. That’s when I fell in love with the brand. Each piece of furniture is its own work of art, handmade by trained artisans with a quality that cannot be touched by machines. It’s refreshing to work with a company that holds true to a sense of personal touch that has lasted through decades. While McGuire still features some of the orginal designs by founders John and Elinor McGuire, the collection has grown to include designers such as Barbara Barry, Thomas Pheasant and my personal favorite – Laura Kirar. Her collection elegantly maintains the McGuire’s foundation of “exploring the relationship between outside and inside; elegance and raw nature”. The Barrel Lounge Chair Caught my eye with it’s repetitive circles which has made it one of my favorites from her collection. I just want to curl up and read a book in it.

I know it’s hard to imagine developing a bond with a line of products, but when you have the opportunity such as we do to live and breathe a brand for years at a time, you sometimes can’t help but root for them. And Now McGuire has been upgraded to a loud cheer!

To see more, check out the McGuire site or chair gallery.

POSTED BY:
foster at 1:57 PM
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Design
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