Neuroscience Shorts 1: Introducing Haptics

Did you know that more than half the brain is devoted to processing sensory experience, and much of that sensory receptivity focuses on touch? The brain, a 3-lb wet computer, is constantly processing incoming data from the senses. And like all good computers, the brain consumes more than one fourth of the body’s energy resources. Although you have touch receptors all over your body they are not distributed equally. Your hands are some of the most metabolically expensive real estate on your body.

So why have our hands taken so much of our brain’s real estate? Scientists, philosophers and other students of the human experience say that the hand is an extension of the mind. Or more succinctly, as Immanuel Kant posited, “the hand is the visible part of the brain.” For communicators hands are also devices through which others receive our transmissions and they color messages in ways we’d do well to understand. Our hands are skilled communication tools.

This video, the first of six I want to share with you, introduces haptics and the neuroscience of touch. The video features Dr. David Eagleman, host of the PBS seriesThe Brain, who will walk us through the complex science of haptics and help us understand how touch can color our interpretation of information. Here is Neuroscience Vid. 1, The Neuroscience of Touch, an introduction to haptics.

Want a copy of Haptic Brain, Haptic Brand: A Communicator’s Guide to the Neuroscience of Touch? Get one here.

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By Daniel Dejan
Sappi etc. Creative Manager
As Sappi etc.’s Print & Creative Manager, Daniel Dejan provides consulting, training and education for the print, paper and creative communities. Daniel is aCertified G7 Expert with a proficiency in Color and Color Management.

Daniel will help us understand this critical yet overlook communication device at the re:think design conference. Held on June 9 at the Midway in San Francisco in conjunction with AIGA’s SF Design Week.

The Future History of Graphic Design

When pondering the beginnings of what we now call graphic design we seem to focus strongly on its impact over the past century. Yet, this type of communication dates back to the dawn of mankind. In truth, graphic design is really about visual mass communication. When taken at its most basic principles, the impressions that are achieved through cave paintings, monumental sculptures, and even commissioned murals over the ages can be seen as graphic design. This art is a combination of capturing zeitgeist and utilizing that aesthetic to reach the masses. The message may be a personal crusade of the designer, or may be the end result of what a client wants portrayed.

Some of the main things that have changed over the course of time are the clarity of messages, the way that words and images are combined, and clearly, the media by which this is presented to the public. And, in fact, the boundaries between graphic design and functional design are getting fuzzier.

In the first century AD, China began mass producing paper and within another thousand years the first forms of movable printing type were gaining use. This would represent the initial outlet for graphic design, as media that could be mass produced and distributed for public consumption.

The advent of the Gutenberg press in the 1400s marked another pivotal point, not just because of the ease with which media could now be produced, but also with the stylization of print and development of different fonts. Graphic design began to metamorphose from what was being seen to how it was being seen, and the entrance of lithography several centuries later allowed for word and form to be more expertly combined and distributed.

Clarity Through Simplicity

At the dawn of the twentieth century, graphic design truly began to distinguish itself from other art forms by becoming a message of aesthetics itself. Art Nouveau was already exploring the boundaries of combining lines and space to evoke visceral and visual impact. This was followed closely by the Bauhaus movement, and the functionality of form found an outlet with simplicity becoming the outline for potency.

As we fast forward to modern times, we can begin to see the emergent trends of graphic design. Ultimately, it is the utilization of the most far-reaching media and the incorporation of symbolic messaging that is socially in tune and intuitively functional. More than anything, we should probably ask, what does history teach us?

Forward Thinking

Both innovation and vision play strongly into all aspects of graphic design. As technology makes media more accessible, artists are finding ways to reach a wider audience and make a more lasting impact by combining what is familiar and what is new. So, how do you enact this alchemy? Are we combining and growing? Are we “re-thinking” how to play with audience familiarity? We will all have an opportunity to “re:think” our roles of making design history at the re:think design conference, presented in conjunction with SF Design Week on June 9 at the Midway in San Francisco. Join us as we hear from legends and visionaries who are writing and rewriting the story of design.

Statement – The history of graphic design is happening all the time. What is your part in this process?

Paul Rand, Icon of Icons

As a consummate designer, one of Paul Rand’s initial projects consisted of re-designing himself into a marketable commodity. He was initially born to the name Peretz Rosenbaum in Brooklyn, New York, and went on to study at the Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design, and the Art Students League during his mid teens to early twenties. It was during this time that he decided to identify himself as a brand, rather than by his overtly Jewish heritage. At the same time, Rand’s design work was beginning to grow in popularity and in demand. By the time he was in his twenties, he had already established himself as a graphic artist capable of condensing an immense amount of meaning into perfectly balanced and powerful designs.

Although his extensive career included teaching at Yale University and forwarding the Mid-Century Modernist movement in the United States, some of Rand’s most defining work is still seen in major corporate logos. His commercial designs include Westinghouse, UPS, Colorforms, ABC networks, Ford, NEXT computers, and IBM. The IBM logo is just one of the demonstrations of Rand’s conceptual understanding of form and space, as two designs of the stripes were presented for the corporate identity. A bold version was intended for public identification, while the more delicate version received greater utilization within the company, where finesse would be seen as an aspect of personality.

Current Impacts

Even after his passing in 1996, Rand has continued to remain influential and inspirational to the world of visual media. As a designer, he took the structural solidity of the Bauhaus movement and recomposed these forms into graphics, which greatly became the basis for Mid-Century Modernism. The style has continued to impact the melding of function and aesthetics for branding and marketing, and is still a strong basis for present day print campaigns.

Visions Forward

It’s interesting to ponder what Paul Rand would be doing now, had he been born into the millennial generation. Design seems to have taken new meaning these days, or has it? The Visual Media Alliance will be hosting a design conference during SF Design Week on June 9 at the Midway in San Francisco. We will be hearing from some of the Paul Rand of today and have a conversation about the evolution of design. Join us.

How to Make a Design Conference Happen

So, what’s new about that? It’s been done before – no? Perhaps you’ve done one yourself. Or a wedding? A Bar Mitzvah? They aren’t exactly the same but there are quite a few similar considerations along with their divergent purposes.

Unlike a wedding where you may be more concerned about having too many positive responses that might overextend your budget or overload your venue, when planning a conference you concern yourself with getting the butts in seats – along with over extending the budget AND overloading the venue.

In both cases you want to make sure you deliver on your promise. At a wedding both bride and groom need to show up and be happy to be there. At the Bar Mitzvah the kid needs to do his part as expertly as possible. And then, of course, you want people to leave happy, inspired and glad they attended. Perhaps that’s more important for a conference than these milestone events.

So, how shall we accomplish this? Keeping relevant is key, and creating memorable experiences for attendees is hugely important. Visual Media is keeping up with the trends of 2016, looking to bring you an event that is not only meaningful and useful, but also a contemporary and interactive experience. It is called re:think and it will happen on June 9 at the Midway in San Francisco in conjunction with AIGA’s SF Design Week.

The big ‘e’ word in events is still engagement in 2016 and we are putting strategies in place just for that purpose.

Now, we don’t want to give it all away, at least not all at once, but stay tuned for peek at what our presenters are preparing and, as well, those little extras that will keep you engaged. (Although we may decide just to surprise you.) We are thinking of out-of-the-box, exploring creative ways to provide the experience you deserve, while still staying in alignment with your business objectives.

If you want to stay tuned into the planning, subscribe to this blog. Even better, take advantage of the limited opportunity to register yourself and a guest for free to the Cheese or Font-due Happy Hour that follows the conference. With that we will have captured your email address and be able to send you all the lastest happening.

For the Love of Gray

By: Dava Guthmiller

Those who know me, know my love of the color gray. Warm or cool, inviting or forbidding, modern and vintage. Gray, in all its nuances, is spectacular in that it can work with any skin tone, it looks amazing in every room of the house, and it complements almost any other color.  As much as I love white space and a really rich black, I am truly passionate about gray.

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Here are some of my favorite shades of gray:

  • pencil lead
  • steel & platinum
  • concrete
  • chalkboard
  • Converse shoes
  • felt