Thursday, April 28, 2016

Feds Rescind Permission to Use "Clearer" Font for Highway Signs

Readability, especially at high speeds, long distances and varying road conditions, can make the difference between life and death on America's highways. So there was a lot of enthusiasm and excitement for the new Clearview font in 2004, after tests proved it to be easier to read than the current Highway Gothic on freeway signs.

But after recent research showed the new font to be no better or possibly worse for readability on actual road signs,  the Federal Highway Authority rescinded its approval for use on any new signs. States that rushed to adopt Clearview are confused and a little miffed...

Hunter Communications Original News Source:

Link to Article:
America's Highway Fonts Got More Drama Than The Bachelor

Excerpt: "Typefaces are rarely heralded as groundbreaking, but in 2004, Clearview seemed to be exactly that. Meeker began working on it 1991, after noticing what he calls the 'crummy' state of highway signs in Oregon. 'Why do all highway signs have to be so cluttered and difficult to read,' he says he wondered. So, with transportation researchers at Penn State University and with funding from 3M, Meeker and his team started exploring how to improve the the Highway Administration’s Standard Highway Alphabet, the design originally developed in 1945 and, again, known colloquially as Highway Gothic. Meeker wanted something more legible, especially for America’s older drivers.

 Like Highway Gothic, there’s a simplicity to Clearview that makes it ideal for ushering drivers along the highway at high speeds. Both typefaces are similar to Transport, a highway road sign typeface British designers Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert developed in 1958. Clearview’s biggest difference is in the interstices of its letters: Meeker and his colleagues opened them up, so that the eyes of letters like b, e, and a are bigger. They made lowercase letters a little taller, and gave some letters longer tails. The goal was to give the letters more definition, because road sign letters—especially white ones—can appear fuzzy when illuminated by headlight beams.
In 1997, Penn State researchers subjected Clearview to a range of legibility tests. The results were unambiguously positive, showing that Clearview increased nighttime reading distance by as much as 16 percent. In 2001, a team led by Texas A&M transportation researcher Paul Carlson independently confirmed that Clearview improved the recognition distance of highway signs by as much as 12 percent, a difference of 74 feet over Highway Gothic...

 But the Highway Administration granted Clearview provisional approval, pending further investigation. The studies out of Penn State and Texas A&M had demonstrated Clearview’s improved legibility on positive contrast signs—for instance, those with white letters on a green background. It wasn’t clear how Clearview would perform on signs of negative contrast—that is, signs with black letters on a yellow, orange, or white background. In 2006, a followup study at Texas A&M found that Clearview offered no significant benefit over Highway Gothic in such cases. In fact, nighttime recognition tests found that replacing Clearview actually decreased the distance at which people could read negative-contrast highway signs."

Chart Helps You Understand Typographic Terms

 Most everyone is interested and dazzled by design and typography, but few of us actually can convincingly talk a good game, using the lingo and terms correctly.  Enter this cool little chart that boils it all down to a form we can understand.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:

Link to Article:
Handy Chart Helps You Understand the Elements of Typography

Excerpt: "Typography is complicated. Letters are easy enough—we learn the alphabet as children and then cease to consciously notice them as time goes on—but typography, the art of crafting the written language, is a tricky business. Typographers create fonts in type design software, where letters are mapped with a series of coordinates. By tweaking each vector a millimeter here, and a hair there, designers can create the kind of expressiveness that differentiates Baskerville from, say, Courier. Both are serif typefaces, but they feel extraordinarily different.
'The Taxonomy of Typography,' a new print from the Pop Chart Lab poster-makers, explains the typographer’s palette. Painters have colors; typographers have neo-grotesque type, ascenders, and letter-spacing. Like a periodic table of type elements, the chart explains typography by breaking down varieties of type, letter anatomy, measurements and spacing, and typesetting."

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Super Bowl Logo's Evolution

In the past weeks' flood of Super Bowl news and ginned-up controversy, one thing that might have escaped notice is the Big Game's logo itself, which has evolved from a simple printed sentence in 1965 to the mock-monumental trophy shape we have seen since 1998.  Here are some of the many incarnations of the official logo to promote the annual mega-championship.

Hunter Communications original news source:

Link to article:
The Evolution of the Super Bowl's Zany Logos

Excerpt: "From the very beginning, the Super Bowl’s visual language had a certain…flair to it. You can see this all the way back in 1967 when the Green Bay Packers played the Kansas City Chiefs in the inaugural game. The first attempt wasn’t so much a logo as a sentence --

And in the following years, we saw plenty of questionably designed gems.


The Super Bowl’s branding lacked consistency, which was likely the result of the NFL commissioning different firms to design it every year. The logos were often ugly, occasionally charmingly so. Over the years, as the Super Bowl logo evolved, it ultimately settled into an aesthetic that could be described as back of the letterman’s jacket chic. It was all blocky roman numerals and heavy-handed illustrations.

Then all of a sudden in 2010, everything changed. Gone were the colorful illustrations, and shaded typography. In their place was a shiny, skeuomorphic Vince Lombardi trophy of a logo.

Designed in tandem by the NFL and design studio Landor, the silvery logo was meant to be a reflection of the sporting event’s booming success. 'Given the Super Bowl’s global size and scale we really wanted a design that was permanent and that really could emphasize the prestige and stature of the game,' said Mark Waller, chief marketing officer of the NFL back in 2010.

On a day where the average American eats 10 times the recommended serving of fake cheese while watching grown men pummel each other, prestige and stature are questionable adjectives to invoke. But we get what they were trying to say. The branding was pretty bad, if it existed at all. It was chaotic and oftentimes poorly executed. The new logo was an attempt to streamline all that."

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Designers are Not Sold on Pantone Color of the Year 2015

And the Pantone Color of the Year for 2015 is........ Marsala!  The midtone wine red with a hint of brown looks intriguing on paper, but compared to the lively, welcoming reception most of the Pantone winners receive from the design community, this muted tone is getting a less-than-muted response. Home furnishing designers and decorators are comparing the shade to 1970s furniture, and worse.

Hunter Communications original news source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "'There's not really a color that I hate, but now I have an exception,' says Los Angeles interior designer Kerry Joyce. 'It's a repellent version of cranberry, deeply unattractive, like cranberries with mildew, wine turned to vinegar. What were they thinking?'

According to the official statement from Pantone, which provides professional color standards for the design industries, Marsala 'incorporates the satisfying richness of a tastefully fulfilling meal while its grounding red-brown roots point to a sophisticated, natural earthiness.' Apparently, not everyone got the memo.

'Sorry, Marsala, you couldn't be more off track,' Los Angeles designer Christian May says. 'No muddy tones, thank you.'

The brown undertone of Marsala also left some East Coast designers unimpressed. 'This is certainly not a color that translates well into d├ęcor,' says David Scott, who is based in New York. 'It brings me back to the days of the Pottery Barn slipcovered exaggerated roll arm sectional sofa covered in wine-colored cotton velvet.'

'I can see that people think it has a retro feel,' says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, the think tank that tracks color trends throughout the world. 'It's a color that has been around before, in the 1970s with avocado and harvest gold.' Nevertheless, manufacturers including Pottery Barn and coffee maker Keurig have shown little resistance to the color, and it does look rich in silk and velvet from Kravet fabrics."

Monday, February 2, 2015

New Technology Creates Printable LED "Lightpaper"

This could be the start of a whole new area of consumer goods, or it could be just a cute gimmick.  Either way, it's incredibly cool. Tech company Rohinni has invented a process to embed LEDs no thicker than human blood cells into a paper matrix than can be shaped and printed.  The only drawback so far is that the distribution of LEDs is a tiny bit random, so the light has a shimmering quality.  It could lead to self-illuminating signs and display materials, or how about a lampshade that provides a soft night light when the lamp is turned off?

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
FastCo Lab

Link to article:

Excerpt: "How would you use light if it was paper-thin and could be applied to any surface anywhere? When Rohinni CMO Nick Smoot asked me that question, I was pretty stumped at first.

But he's already figuring it out. That's because Rohinni has developed a form of what it calls Lightpaper. It's a way to print lighting and apply it to nearly any surface, in any shape, and for any situation. It's a kind of stunning proposition that reminds me of the first time I heard about 3-D printing.

'With Lightpaper it's more of a platform of light that we don't even know how it's going to be used,' explains Smoot. 'All we know is that we're trying to unlock the ability to create light.'

In its current state, Lightpaper is manufactured by mixing ink and tiny LEDs together and printing them out on a conductive layer. That object is then sandwiched between two other layers and sealed. The tiny diodes are about the size of a red blood cell, and randomly dispersed on the material. When current runs through the diodes, they light up.

The promise of thin lighting has been simmering for a while, thanks largely to breakthroughs in OLED technology. But nothing viable has come to market, and Lightpaper is much thinner than OLED—which has been able to get TVs down to a fraction of an inch thick—and is lower cost and has a life-span of around 20 years, like LEDs.

Rohinni isn't interested in the entrenched TV market. The company would rather put the technology to use where it can make a big difference soon; everything from illuminating a logo on a mobile phone to providing headlights for a car. A few companies are already working on Lightpaper implementations, but Smoot wouldn't name any."

Friday, January 30, 2015

LA History: The Birth of Sunset Boulevard

It's hard to believe, but in 1900 Los Angeles was a small city and Hollywood was another, five or six miles away.  When city planners with a vision laid out a country road to connect the two, and eventually lead West to the Pacific, they called it "Sunset Boulevard".  The name was possibly in honor of another developing town West of Hollywood which long since vanished, but we like to think of the new road starting off at downtown and heading West and off into its sunset "happily ever after".

Hunter Communications original news source:

Link to article:
How LA Celebrated Sunset Blvd's Opening in 1904

Excerpt: "Sunset may have been its name, but the boulevard's grand opening on May 14, 1904, marked the dawning of a new age in Los Angeles. A parade of a dozen or so automobiles -- accompanied by horse-drawn carriages, tally-hos, and electric rail cars -- puttered over the freshly macadamized roadway that now connected Los Angeles with the then-independent city of Hollywood. Crowds of well-wishers gathered along the route. Buildings displayed patriotic bunting.

The idea of a Sunset Boulevard had been around since 1887. As originally conceived, it would have run west from the Los Angeles city limits to the sea, connecting several of the towns that sprang up during the Southland's great real estate boom of the 1880s. But while some isolated segments were soon built (notably a stretch through the short-lived boomtown of Sunset, possibly the source of the road's name) a crucial link remained missing: the section between downtown Los Angeles and the rapidly growing suburb of Hollywood.

Property owners in the hilly area now known as Silver Lake and Echo Park soon realized that the road would catalyze development and boost the value of their holdings. In 1892, led by the Los Angeles and Pacific Railway and a Confederate Civil War veteran named George H. Smith, they petitioned the city to open Sunset Boulevard through their land. The city council mapped out a route the following year, tracing the path of the defunct Ostrich Farm Railway. Actual work, however, didn't begin in earnest until April 18, 1903, when contractor Charles Stansbury and his workers began carving the boulevard's meandering path into the area's soft sandstone hills.

When the new boulevard finally opened in the spring of 1904, its future as one of L.A.'s iconic automobile routes might have seemed unlikely. The road surface was uneven in places, and there had been no effort to plant shade trees -- an oversight that celebrants hastily remedied by fastening palm fronds to telegraph poles. Furthermore, the boulevard didn't yet extend to the sea and wouldn't until 1934, when sinuous Beverly Boulevard was remade into the westernmost stretch of Sunset."

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What Were They Thinking? Inappropriate Logos Give Totally Wrong Impression

When a company adopts a new logo design, a very important step is to step back and look at how the logo might appear to an outside eye.  Obviously this is easier said than done, since so many logos end up giving a laughably wrong impression of the image the company seeks.

Hunter Communications original news source:

Link to article:
14 Totally Inappropriate Logos

Excerpt: "Companies spend serious amounts of cash on getting their branding just right.

Usually, a re-brand takes months, a lot of navel-gazing, and hundreds of unfathomably expensive consultants.

Which is why we’re so confused by these NSFW logos, most of which have taken a seriously dark turn.

Seriously. Who signs these things off?

Here’s 14 totes inapropes logos that really shouldn’t have got past the guys in quality control. We’ll call them ‘rogos’.

 1. What do you need the pharmacy for, just out of interest?

 2. This Sushi restaurant logo is meant to be a sun rising behind a traditional Japanese tea house. Yep..."