All posts by norahrrr

Liquid Clock

This clock seems really interesting.

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Andy Warhol Museum

I finally made it to The Andy Warhol Museum.

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Critical Thinking


Yup a throwback TED Talk. This one’s about how Margaret Wertheim and her sister crocheted the coral reef. In doing so, she was able to investigate hyperbolic geometry and the theories surrounding it.

Critical thinking is thinking that questions assumptions. It is a way of deciding whether a claim is always true, sometimes true, partly true, or false. -via Wikipedia 

It was through playing, or hands-on experimentation, that she was able to defy previous beliefs on this topic. It’s a favorite on Ted.com if you’re interested.

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Geek Post: Safari, you are a moody girlfriend.

“Safari, you are a moody girlfriend”

by 1dterbeest

Safari, what a crazy love affair we have.
I love how pretty it is and I love the speed
in loading. I love so many things about you.

What I don’t love is all the crazy erratic
arbitrary behaviors you exhibit. The weird
problems that you exhibit for no reason
only for short periods are weird.

Safari, you are a moody girlfriend.

A friend passed this along to me. Kind of hilarious.

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Generic Branding


I’ve never understood why generic brands try so hard to mimic the original brand. I suppose it’s because some people are in a rush, looking for the cheaper alternative. [ I am slightly embarrassed to say that the corny names kind of crack me up. For example, Dr. Thunder.. Listermint. I can’t help it. ]

However, imagine my confusion when I found out that Listermint is actually owned by the same company that owns Listerine, Johnson & Johnson. Considering the fact that generic brands make up $88 billion in sales [this article is pretty on point], I’ll admit this is actually quite logical.

Personally, I think it would be even more logical if generic brands developed their own brand, instead of mimicking the original. For example, Target’s brand Up & Up [see my appreciation for their improved package design here]. I wonder if Target’s brand sales revenue increased when they rebranded, and if so.. how significant was the increase?

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Kirkland Museum of Art

My go to art museum in Colorado is usually the Denver Art Museum. However recently, I decided to switch it up and visit the Kirkland Museum of Art. It was a fresh breath of air because instead of being more formal, the exhibits make you feel like you’re in someone’s home. It consists of his artwork as well as interesting objects and furniture he collected. My favorite part was his studio:

Vance Kirkland was 5’2 and had short arms, so in order to reach all areas of the painting, he hung from straps while working.

(Please excuse this low–res photography.)

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Courtyard by Marriott

courtyard by marriott
While working as a guest services representative at a Courtyard by Marriott isn’t my forte, I was able to clean up this design while I was waiting.

(Limitation: had to be redesigned using Microsoft Excel)

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Reference Art Gallery

Reference Art Gallery RVA from Norah O’Brien on Vimeo.

This exhibit at Reference Art Gallery is one of the more interesting things that I’ve seen in awhile. Basically, a camera records your movements and sends it to the computer. The computer then sends the machine directions on how to make a corresponding pattern. The machine makes the pattern by spraying acid on the sheet of metal, based on your movements. Reference Art Gallery is awesome, check them out.

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Treehouse Restaurant


I’m a little late on this because of portfolio review, but I heard about BBDO’s tree house campaign when their CEO, Andrew Robertson spoke at a Brandcenter forum last month. For their campaign COLENSO BBDO created a treehouse restaurant for their client, Yellow Pages. They built the treehouse using only sources found in that phone book. It turned out the restaurant made a profit there. Thought it was interesting.

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Typography

Readability & Legibility

Legibility: is how clearly you see each separate letterform.

  • The perception of a letter is based on the form and counterform relationships.
  • counterforms, or the negative space, are equally as important.

Readability: is how easily your eye moves across the page.

Interline & Interletter Spacing

Interline spacing is the spacing between two lines, you adjust this with leading. Interletter spacing is the spacing between two letters, you adjust this with kerning.

  • If you have larger type in color increase the interline spacing.
  • Sans serif fonts need more interline spacing, serif fonts don’t.
  • Generally, lines with less interline spacing are read more slowly than those with more interline spacing.

A few definitions —
Tracking: adjusting the interletter spacing between an entire word or line.

Set Solid: when text with a 12 point size has 12 point interline spacing.

Reverse Leading: when text with a 12 point size has a smaller point interline spacing, for this example anything less than 12 (generally means the text will overlap).

Better Legibility

Margins are important for legibility. If your margins are too small, the readers’ eye will get tired. There should be 10-12 words or 60-70 characters per line.

In terms of typefaces, Helvetica and Univers are more legible than Futura because there’s more variation in their letterform.

  • Text that is set entirely in capital letters is less legible because it creates a straight horizontal alignment and the letters seem to have a similar shape and size.
  • Text with a variety of letter shapes, ascenders and descenders give the reader more variation and therefore, better perception.

There’s debate over whether serif or sans serif typefaces are more legible (many people say serif fonts have more character definition). However, both are equally legible as long as you add interline spacing to the sans serif typefaces.

  • The optimum sizes of text type or body copy are 9-12 point.
  • The optimum sizes for headlines and display type are 18-24 point.

Long copy should never be flushed right or justified.

  • For certain reasons, justification can be used, but in terms of legibility flushed left or right is always best.


Magazines, books and newspapers usually indent for the beginning of each paragraph. In terms of typography, it is best not to do this. You can achieve the same effect by adding additional interline space between the paragraphs.

Type & Color

Black type on a white background and black type on a light gray background is highly legible.
In order to acheive appropriate contrast between type and a background, 3 color properties need to be considered:

  1. hue (specific name of a color)
  2. value (lightness or darkness of a color)
  3. saturation (intensity of a color)
  • How these properties are balanced determines how legible it will be
  • Highly saturated colors like blue and orange give the most hue contrast, but when used for the type and background the colors have a “dizzy effect” and compete in brightness, to fix this lighten either the type or the background.
  • Analogous colors, or colors that are close to each other on the color wheel, typically have enough contrast without looking dizzy.
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Package Design: Le Whif

My Le Whif finally came! It was backordered for awhile, but I was really interested in the package design for this product.

For some reason their tag line “as sweet as chocolate as light as air” and the copy in the instructions amuse me. For example:

  • Do you whiff through the nose?
  • How can there be no calories if there is chocolate in your mouth?
  • How do we practically consume chocolate in Le Whif?

Le Whif was invented by a Harvard professor. You “whiff” by placing it between your lips and breathing gently. One puff is equivalent to less than 1 calorie. They can be bought in singles or as a package. You should be able to get 8 puffs per whiff. I just tried the chocolate flavor and it tastes pretty good.

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Embrace! Chamber by Charles Sandison

I visited the Denver Art Museum a few months ago and saw the Embrace! exhibit. I thought the installation Chamber by Charles Sandison was interesting because of the way simple words’ meanings can change through repetition. (Check out the video below.) You can also listen to Sandison talk about the installation here.

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Brandcenter Forum: Stephen Fischer

The speaker for this week’s Brandcenter Forum was Stephen Fischer, who spoke about archetypes.  I learned several useful things from him:

  • Emotions are what motivate you to buy things
  • Emotions come from experience (as a function of time)
  • Stories are what generate experience and therefore influence behavior
  • Archetypes are relationships.

The archetypes of brands:

  1. Sage: sense of wisdom (New Balance)
  2. Hero: speaks to your emotional need to performing at your best to accomplish something important (Nike, BMW)
  3. Jester: emotional release, enjoying yourself (Ben & Jerry’s)
  4. Creator: the need to create something yourself (Apple, Crayola)
  5. Outlaw/Maverick: emotional need to cut loose & break rules (Harley Davidson)
  6. Caregiver: taking care of someone else (Johnson & Johnson, Volvo)
  7. Everyman: everyone’s on the same level (Southwest, Walmart)
  8. Ruler/protective/leader: don’t have an example, sorry!
  9. Magician: transferring the ordinary into extraordinary (Mastercard)
  10. Lover: gourmet, pleasure (Target, Victoria’s Secret)
  11. Innocent: refreshing (Kashi, Fiji, Volkswagon)
  12. Explorer: moving beyond the conventional to explore and grow
  • If the archetype varies and is unfocused, it’s not as successful (similar to Jim Carrey having a serious role or Denzel Washington having the leading role in a comedy)
  • For a brand archetype to “feel right” it has to match something we already think it is. For example, if Apple (creator) suddenly became the jester it wouldn’t feel right and the brand wouldn’t appeal to you
  • What a brand is not is just as important as what it is

For more information check out Josheph Campbell: The Power of Myth.

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Madison + Main: Daryl Johnson


Awesome idea by Madison + Main! They made Daryl Johnson an overnight celebrity by randomly choosing him to be spokesperson for eSmartTax.  His live twitter feed is featured on a digital billboard on I-195. You can also check out the interactive youtube video about the campaign & the campaign’s website.
Tweet @TheDarylJohnson and tell him how you’re going to spend your tax refund!  You’ll be entered in a daily drawing to win a $100 Visa gift card.

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MIT: High Low Tech & Living Proof

Living Proof
The MIT Media lab has a research group called High Low Tech which works on blending high and low tech items (usually craft and technology). So interesting! Have I mentioned that MIT also discovered with my absolute favorite hair product (my hair is incredibly hard to tame) called Living Proof?  It also happens to be an excellent branding example. Their package design is sweet. & When they first started shipping out their product they included a package with nicely designed informational cards that provided tips and asked for feedback (or another problem you want their scientists to solve.)  Later on, they shipped me a free full-sized bottle of shampoo and conditioner for filling out a Living Proof survey.

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Aerial Advertising

click to zoom

Skywriting in Pacific Beach, Ca.  It was so nice to see a change from the typical banner advertising.  It was kind of cool to see how watch them make the words with 5 planes.  Unfortuantely, it was facing away from the beach so I didn’t see it (along with anyone else that was laying out at the beach) until I was walking back to our car.

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