May 1st, 2013
As of today, we’re changing the name of our company from Argument from Design to Ardes.
Why are we doing this?
There are many reasons for the change. Let’s go through them:
- The URL for the company’s website has been ardes.com for virtually its entire history;
- Ardes has always been our shorthand name for the company;
- You’d be surprised how few people know how to spell “argument”;
- The connection between the philosophical concept of the “argument from design” & religious fanatics has only grown stronger over the years, and I didn’t want to be associated with that.
That last point deserves a little more explanation. My rather wilful interpretation of the argument from design was that it needn’t be a religious argument, but rather merely evidence of a conscious decision process: that something clearly & beautifully presented was evidence of a conscious hand & not the product of chance. When it comes to using this idea to prove the existence of some super-powerful deity, however, I think it falls apart upon the evidence, because the amount of waste (i.e., “junk” DNA) & randomness in nature (so many evolutionary dead-ends) suggests an undirected evolutionary process, not a sky-borne benefactor.
Anyway, I’m getting over my head, and the point is that that isn’t what we’re about. We’re all about making beautiful & easily-usable things.
Soon the blog will reflect not only the Ardes.com redesign, but its name change as well.
April 18th, 2013
Is this blog dead? No, it’s not, but other things have taken priority. For one thing, we bought a house & moved in December—with all the disruption that entails. There has been lots of painting, lots of builders, lots of time spent, and a few injuries to boot.
In the meantime, I’ve been in the lengthy process of redesigning the ardes website (the blog will come shortly after). It’s well past time for this redesign. I’ve made a list of criticisms of the old site.
- The logo is far too busy. I like the idea behind using a bonsai tree as the company’s emblem—it looks natural but it’s very much the product of human intervention, which reinforces the meaning of the company’s name.
- The site looks seriously dated. What a surprise! It’s really common that a designer’s site will be the most out-of-date site out of his/her entire portfolio. I’m no exception here.
- It’s a fixed-width design. I’ve been a strong advocate of responsive design for some time now, and I’ve certainly pursued this goal for several clients. Why not for my own site?
- It’s far too text-heavy. By definition, this reduces the graphic impact, but I think it’s because at the time of its design, I was influenced by what I saw: I read a lot of blogs. It all makes sense, but the text is overkill for the audience.
- I’ve come away thinking that the case studies organisation was no longer working. For one thing, the three sections weren’t well-balanced, because we don’t do that much work for the enterprise sector. In addition, some of the sites were created a long time ago—and they look it. Finally, some of the site no longer exist! In these days of perpetual recession, even websites will disappear.
This gave me a series of goals:
- Create a simplified logo, and perhaps get away from the idea of nature. The problem of using natural imagery with the company’’s name is that there are plenty of people out there who use the actual argument from design to “prove” the existence of God. Since I’m in no way religious, I want to move away from any accidental associations. This also frees me up to think of very new logos. I’ve got one I’m pretty pleased with now (you’ll see it soon.)
- Modernise the site’s look (a no-brainer of a point here).
- Pursue a responsive design, so it’ll look good on everything from gigantic screens to an iPhone.
- Significantly reduce the amount of text & let the images tell stories on their own.
- Remove the case studies’ subdivisions & prune.
So I think I’m close to putting out the new version of the website—there’s just the final bit of testing in various versions of Internet Explorer to do.
How long has this been going on? I’m embarrassed to say. I started thinking about a redesign about two years ago! But I started in earnest in October. I wish it had been shorter, but frankly I was uninspired for a long time. Add to this the fact that some things I really wanted to maintain for a responsive site—multi-column support, for example—had to be removed because of seriously weird layout problems.
What were those problems? Using elastic imagery & multi-column support on a responsive design would make lines of text jump around seemingly at random. Furthermore, the images would sometimes not honour the multicolumn support. It’s made me conclude that full responsive design is still a way off, which I’d define as a fully elastic site with very few layout breakpoints. Instead, you have to create some breakpoints based upon likely viewport sizes & design to them.
Now that it’s finally coming together, though, I’m genuinely excited.
November 7th, 2012
Obama has won a second term pretty decisively. I cannot tell you how happy I am.
Soon there will be time for bipartisanship. But that time is not now.
October 12th, 2012
I’m a political junkie, particularly for US politics, since that’s where I was born.
I’ve refrained from writing about the election this time around because, well, I was too busy reading about it, and chuckling over the hapless Mitt Romney, with all of his gaffes. His basic contempt for nearly half of the American public can’t be called a “gaffe”, however. It was too serious:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it… And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
This isn’t a mere “gaffe”: he believes these people are feckless, essentially to be considered throwaways. I would encourage anyone who’s voting in this election to not forget those words.
So Mittens chooses Paul Ryan as his running mate, one of the House Republicans’ leaders for budget negotiations. Mysteriously to me, he had become known as a guy who knew his numbers. He was a Serious Politician.
So the Serious Politician sat down with Time for a photo-shoot about his awesome workout.
So Mittens has a plutocrat problem (his wife entered a horse in the Olympics for dressage, fer chrissakes!); Ryan doesn’t look so serious a guy any more; the Republican convention was a disaster, with someone who thinks he’s a tough guy because he played them in movies talking to an empty chair he called “Obama”.
Why the fuck is this election even close? Obama got rid of Bin Laden, the stock market is back to 2007 levels, and those plutocrats are doing very well, thankyouverymuch (not that you’d hear them admit it). Well, there’s Obama’s miserable first debate, which wiped out six months’ worth of gains against a hapless opponent. And, while he got a lot of his legislative agenda through Congress, he’s been stopped short since the Republicans took the House in 2010. Mark my words, though: Obama will be remembered as one of the most effective presidents the US has ever seen, based upon those two years alone. The country’s not fully recovered from the Great Recession yet. But who honestly thought it would have, four years on?
I just don’t get it: Romney is proposing nothing less than a re-hashed Bush-Cheney presidency. Mmm. That worked out so well before. But, since it was only four years ago, you’d think people would remember that.
October 12th, 2012
Oy, this place has gotten really quiet. I apologise for that. The real world has encroached upon posting silly pictures & half-baked thoughts about design. My son’s started a new school, with all the upheaval that entails; I’ve been finishing up several bits of work (both web & print), which have unavoidably dragged on a bit; we tried to buy a house, it fell through when the vendor became skittish about minor things such as, oh, infestation, rot & flooding; and we found another house & are in the process of purchasing it. A nice note about this: the house we’re actually going to purchase is really lovely, as opposed to the one we almost purchased, which was going to be an exercise in spending too much money too quickly.
June 15th, 2012
Yo, dawg, I heard you like crocs…
May 10th, 2012
How, how, how did I not notice this earlier?
May 4th, 2012
You’d have to be living under a rock somewhere (or have a life outside of the Internet) if you haven’t heard about the “micro-blogging” platform Tumblr.
I think people call it a “micro-blogging” because posts on most people’s tumblelogs are pretty small: a picture or two, and a handful of words. But it doesn’t have to be: I could easily replace this blog with Tumblr & there would be little difference. It’s fully capable of handling short essays.
Apart from its ease of use, what sets Tumblr apart, really, is the community. There’s a fascinating, obsessive energy containing some wonderfully weird things, like “Selleck, Waterfall, Sandwich”, a tumblelog that shows picture combinations of those three things; that, and that only. They can make you see something in a radically different light, like the previously-praised Big Caption or “Space Trek”:
One of my favourites was “Three Frames”, which took (you guessed it) three frames of various movies, turned them into looped, animated GIFs and presented them to the viewer. Doubtless due to some misguided DMCA takedown, it was briefly offline, but is back! Again, it made you see something in a different way: how much, or little, a movie scene changes in three frames. The same author created Aloha Friday, from someone’s snapshot collection. An interesting chronicle of youth, it feels (to me) like some parallel world of my own early university years in Florida & as such evokes a curious pang of nostalgia, all the more peculiar because these pictures are not from my life.
I’ve seen them dismissively called “single-serving sites”, but I’m not aware of any rule stating that any given website has to be all things to all people. What I am aware of, however, is that browsing tumblelogs has taken up an increasing amount of my viewing. That’s rewarding.
April 27th, 2012
April 15th, 2012
I certainly hope those famously prickly French secret services have a sense of humour & don’t kill me. I joke! He’s not silly-looking or bug-eyed at all, your President!
No really, I mean it. I think they’re the same person:
March 23rd, 2012
I’ve thought this for years, but am only reminded of it when I hear that “Simply Being Loved” song:
I think I prefer “My Lovely Horse”…
March 9th, 2012
For a series of promotions for the Berlin Philharmonic, art director Björn Ewers created a fantastic series of images playing upon the phrase “Näher an der Klassik” (Closer to the Classics). Each picture is from the inside of a musical instrument (violins, flutes, etc.):
This idea works on so many levels. These images specifically promote chamber music concerts, which are inherently more intimate (“close”) affairs than pieces from the symphonic repertoire, so this concept just spirals back to itself, constantly reinforcing the message.
I’m not sure if this is macro photography or CGI—frankly I can’t see how you could get a high-quality camera into these instruments without destroying them—but no matter. This is a great idea executed perfectly, altering the views inside these rather small instruments into monumental architecture. I would eagerly place these posters on a wall in my home. I can’t think of higher praise than that.
March 6th, 2012
I was listening to the Sisters of Mercy whilst exercising (far better for the purpose than Death Cab For Cutie) when the following unholy comparison struck me:
That’s pretty unnerving. It’s going to take a while to get that out of my mind.
February 20th, 2012
It’s amazing how many of these you see when you sharpen your eyes for them. Usually, they’re too boring to publish—but then you may think that my judgment on what to publish is already liberal enough.
February 17th, 2012
I’ve been quiet here because I’ve been rather busy with rather a lot of graphic design. Longtime readers will know that I love book cover & poster design—really, I can’t get enough of it.
Above are two book titles forthcoming from OUP, Lying, Misleading and What is Said & The Pragmatic Maxim. I’m honoured to have designed the covers. The photo for Lying is from iStockphoto, with some significant alteration.
The cover for Lying was surprisingly difficult. I turned towards Pinocchio rather early on in the process, but found that other covers used the same idea. I switched for a while to very abstract covers: a number of phrases that were deceptive or outright lies, including notorious examples from Clinton & Bush, first as a mosaic of words (too busy) and then as a cloud consisting of these sentences, since the distinctions between lying & leading turn out to become somewhat nebulous upon closer examination. The “cloud” idea was appealing and made the design semi-abstract. However, the word clouds I drew ended up looking like masses of hair, which was kind of disturbing. My wife suggested the cloud could be red, but then it looked like a patch of blood smeared on a white floor. Not exactly what I was looking for! So I returned to Pinocchio, with the notion of altering the image: bending the nose to signify not simply outright lying, but the foggier notion of deception.
At the same time, I’ve been designing posters, often using the same, or similar themes, since the posters are rather intimately related to the books:
Recently, a number of the posters I designed for the University of Sheffield, and even some book covers, were collected & are on display in the foyer of Jessop West. It’s probably the closest I’ll get to an exhibition of my work!
Update: I pulled the trigger on the Peirce cover far too soon. It was initially rejected because of the font (Giza) & because of the diagram, the placement of which actually runs contrary to Peirce’s work on how we develop our ideas. Since we were pulling away from the poster (the original inspiration for the design), this gave me further opportunity to change the look.
I’m pushing for the version on the left, but the client is leaning towards the safer version on the right. Undesign!