The Fourth Wall

3.31.09 A Not-So-Washington Washington Event

Some things about event design are very different these days and some things have remained the same over time. One aspect that never changes: A well-branded event ensures that an organization’s message is put forward with clarity and power.

The Center for Democracy & Technology held their annual Gala dinner event recently. It all started with an e-invitation (shown above), saving paper, postage, and allowing for iterations as sponsor committees grew. This is also extremely appropriate for a forward-thinking Internet policy leader like CDT.

Entering the venue, the Gala typography and message–Leading the Internet in Transition–greets guests and sets the tone for an exciting evening.

The event program and a laptop sticker give-away carry the graphical elements from the e-vite to each place setting at over 60 tables.

Color-coordinated centerpieces are a nice touch.

CDT’s tagline–written by Leslie Harris, President– is an excellent example of summarizing a complex organization’s message into a few powerful words. We projected the tagline to the left and right of the main stage at the event.

For the main stage, the event’s theme and the essential elements of CDT’s tagline are combined as a simple but effective backdrop and worked well behind keynote speakers Chairman Jon Leibowitz (FTC) and US Congressman Rick Boucher (Chair of the Subcommitte on Communications, Technology and the Internet). Best of all… that blazing hot red electric guitar! Yes, a group from the tech-community, including CDT founder Jerry Berman on drums–took the stage and rocked the house!

It was really an exciting, lively evening that–most importantly–met CDT’s goal for forwarding their message and agenda.

To view CDT’s previous Gala materials visit the designfarm portfolio.

3.28.09 DESIGN MATTERS [by Molly] #2

Mom says: A few posts ago, I ranted on about the fantastic and enduring design of Converse Chuck Taylor Allstar sneakers. Here’s Molly, to talk about hers.

My mom LOVES her artistic chucks, but not nearly as much as I do! I am saving money to buy a new custom-made pair. The amazing thing about the Converse web site is that you can design your own personal pair however you like.

Pictured above: These happen to be my favorite pair of Chucks right now because I customized them with mismatched shoe laces. And also they’re orange!

Mom says: It’s really cool when successful companies turn their customers into design partners… and it’s super smart marketing in today’s I-gotta-be-me world.

3.28.09 DESIGN MATTERS [by Molly] #1

Using a laptop for most of my work at designfarm, means that my projects travel home with me and this invites more opportunities to share what I do as a professional designer with my family. My daughter, Molly  (age 11), has become particularly interested and engaged in all things design-related; discussing logos and book cover design with me when we get home from work and school and even (gasp) talking about being a designer.

For now, Molly mainly needs to concentrate on being a sixth grader–grappling with linear functions, French vocabulary and science projects, among a zillion other things–but the kid just can’t help paying attention to and thinking about design.

So I’d like to introduce a regular column (when Molly’s homework is done!) where she can share her ideas about design… the good, the not so good, and the sublime. Take it away MOLLY!

A table of contents is used to find any item/chapter in a book, right? I can barely call this a table of contents. It was created sloppily and messily, I could hardly find what I needed, when I needed it!¬† If you can find anything in it in under 5 minutes that’s amazing!

Mom says: This is a kind of trendy/hipster treatment for a TOC, but what good is trendy if it doesn’t work? This is a classic example of form NOT following function.

This took awhile to figure out the words. It’s not readable and is poorly designed! Complaint 1; the “N” isn’t understandable. Complaint 2; the “G” looks out of order and sloppy. This doesn’t work because as an advertisement you would want people to buy from you, but if your ad isn’t readable then no one will know what or why you’re selling that item.

Mom says: This isn’t a new concept (people as letter forms) but I’ve seen it done much more effectively. Perhaps this falls into the “too much of a good thing” category. One word built out of human characters would be plenty. Three words becomes… difficult. There’s also possibly a problem of scale. If this were a billboard you’d have a better chance at reading the words from a great distance. But who reads a magazine from more than a foot away?

Molly and I hope you enjoy this column. If you are a school-age kid who thinks about design, drop us an email, we’ll write back!