I have a great business idea and you can have it.
We’ve all heard about the high cost of cheap clothing. Factories around the world spin out millions of dollars of cheaply made clothing to feed America’s shopping habits, which we buy, wear once and store in a closet until we stuff them in a bag and haul them away to Salvation Army. The good stuff often hangs around in the same closet but it can be worn just as infrequently (if ever). I have so much clothing that I never wear but I’ll never throw it away. It’s good stuff; I just don’t have a piece that ties it all together.
Websites like RentTheRunway.com already exist, but what if we built a website that crowdsourced the same idea and gave users access to a library of clothing and accessories that are nestled in their neighbor’s closets? Think of it as Airbnb for clothing. For the sake of a clear explanation, let’s call it LendLuxe. Here’s how it works:
I have a beautiful purple suit (probably made by Bureau).
I build a profile on LendLuxe using Facebook.
That profile includes all of my measurements: weight, height, waist size, etc.
I photograph the clothes I’d like to loan out (including my beautiful purple suit) with a brief stat-sheet: how many times have I worn this, current condition and so forth.
Other LendLuxemembers are automatically matched to my profile based on their qualifying measurements, so my suit shows up whenever “suit” is entered into a query bar.
A LendLuxe member rents my suit for $50.
I drop the suit off at a participating dry cleaner who preps the suit for rental.
When the renter is finished using it, they return my suit to the same dry cleaner who cleans and preps it for return.
The dry cleaner and LendLuxetake their portion from the sale and I get an automatic deposit into my bank account when I pick the suit up from the dry cleaner.
I review the renter, the renter reviews me and those reviews are visible to all other users.

I’d use LendLuxe, especially if it picked up and delivered for free. Would you?
-Dave
Photo courtesy Fashion Beans.

I have a great business idea and you can have it.

We’ve all heard about the high cost of cheap clothing. Factories around the world spin out millions of dollars of cheaply made clothing to feed America’s shopping habits, which we buy, wear once and store in a closet until we stuff them in a bag and haul them away to Salvation Army. The good stuff often hangs around in the same closet but it can be worn just as infrequently (if ever). I have so much clothing that I never wear but I’ll never throw it away. It’s good stuff; I just don’t have a piece that ties it all together.

Websites like RentTheRunway.com already exist, but what if we built a website that crowdsourced the same idea and gave users access to a library of clothing and accessories that are nestled in their neighbor’s closets? Think of it as Airbnb for clothing. For the sake of a clear explanation, let’s call it LendLuxe. Here’s how it works:

  1. I have a beautiful purple suit (probably made by Bureau).
  2. I build a profile on LendLuxe using Facebook.
  3. That profile includes all of my measurements: weight, height, waist size, etc.
  4. I photograph the clothes I’d like to loan out (including my beautiful purple suit) with a brief stat-sheet: how many times have I worn this, current condition and so forth.
  5. Other LendLuxemembers are automatically matched to my profile based on their qualifying measurements, so my suit shows up whenever “suit” is entered into a query bar.
  6. A LendLuxe member rents my suit for $50.
  7. I drop the suit off at a participating dry cleaner who preps the suit for rental.
  8. When the renter is finished using it, they return my suit to the same dry cleaner who cleans and preps it for return.
  9. The dry cleaner and LendLuxetake their portion from the sale and I get an automatic deposit into my bank account when I pick the suit up from the dry cleaner.
  10. I review the renter, the renter reviews me and those reviews are visible to all other users.

I’d use LendLuxe, especially if it picked up and delivered for free. Would you?

-Dave

Photo courtesy Fashion Beans.

We were not able to illustrate all of the submissions we received for this latest issue of Block Club magazine, but I did want to revisit a few and give them a quick visual treatment to match the message. The result is a different style than the illustrations featured in the magazine, but that have some range to match the variety of Shhh submissions.

-Tim

Last year today I posted about the writer Elmore Leonard, who had just died. His famous 10 Rules of Great Writing had made an impact on me and my peers. His list is direct and arbitrary-sounding, though, of course, he makes a lot of sense. (No. 6 is my favorite: “Never use the words ‘suddenly or ‘all hell broke loose.’” Okaaay. Got it.)
Until we’ve made our own lists, which, come to think of it (I bet he’d love that phrase), all writers should be curating as they go, I’m going to listen to those who have been doing this for longer than I have. Folks like Stephen King. Ever hear of him? Here’s his list of 20—20!—which I find to be more welcoming than Mr. Leonard’s, though no more correct. To each his own (another phrase the late Leonard would kill me for; and that sentence-ending preposition….I need a copy editor. Here we go.):
1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that arenot the story.”
2. Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”
3. Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend.”
4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.”
5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”
6. The magic is in you. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”
7. Read, read, read. ”If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”
8. Don’t worry about making other people happy. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”
9. Turn off the TV. “TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs.”
10. You have three months. “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”


11. There are two secrets to success. “I stayed physical healthy, and I stayed married.”
12. Write one word at a time. “Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ the work is always accomplished one word at a time.”
13. Eliminate distraction. “There’s should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with.”
14. Stick to your own style. “One cannot imitate a writer’s approach to a particular genre, no matter how simple what that writer is doing may seem.”
15. Dig. “Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible.”
16. Take a break. “You’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience.”
17. Leave out the boring parts and kill your darlings. “(kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.)”
18. The research shouldn’t overshadow the story. “Remember that word back. That’s where the research belongs: as far in the background and the back story as you can get it.”
19. You become a writer simply by reading and writing. “You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”
20. Writing is about getting happy. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”
-Ben
Image courtesy DishMag.

Last year today I posted about the writer Elmore Leonard, who had just died. His famous 10 Rules of Great Writing had made an impact on me and my peers. His list is direct and arbitrary-sounding, though, of course, he makes a lot of sense. (No. 6 is my favorite: “Never use the words ‘suddenly or ‘all hell broke loose.’” Okaaay. Got it.)

Until we’ve made our own lists, which, come to think of it (I bet he’d love that phrase), all writers should be curating as they go, I’m going to listen to those who have been doing this for longer than I have. Folks like Stephen King. Ever hear of him? Here’s his list of 20—20!—which I find to be more welcoming than Mr. Leonard’s, though no more correct. To each his own (another phrase the late Leonard would kill me for; and that sentence-ending preposition….I need a copy editor. Here we go.):

1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that arenot the story.”

2. Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”

3. Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend.”

4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.”

5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”

6. The magic is in you. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”

7. Read, read, read. ”If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

8. Don’t worry about making other people happy. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

9. Turn off the TV. “TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs.”

10. You have three months. “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”

11. There are two secrets to success. “I stayed physical healthy, and I stayed married.”

12. Write one word at a time. “Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ the work is always accomplished one word at a time.”

13. Eliminate distraction. “There’s should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with.”

14. Stick to your own style. “One cannot imitate a writer’s approach to a particular genre, no matter how simple what that writer is doing may seem.”

15. Dig. “Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible.”

16. Take a break. “You’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience.”

17. Leave out the boring parts and kill your darlings. “(kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.)”

18. The research shouldn’t overshadow the story. “Remember that word back. That’s where the research belongs: as far in the background and the back story as you can get it.”

19. You become a writer simply by reading and writing. “You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”

20. Writing is about getting happy. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”

-Ben

Image courtesy DishMag.

In June, I wrote about how we come up with our magazine’s themes. I wrote that in each year’s four issues, we look to cover a variety of themes under an umbrella arc—something that connects these vague, abstract concepts from issue to issue. Sometimes those themes bleed into each other. Now is such a time.
Our current issue, Shhh, looks at secrets, lies and other silence, about how those barriers can build walls of seclusion and emotional imprisonment. Our next issue, Borders, looks at the boundaries that keep us within some imaginary or physical limit. As you see, they both address confinement, among other ideas, as it relates to self-identity.
I’m finding such excitement in traversing these two issues at the same time. As with almost every theme we’ve explored in the last two years, there’s an inverse reaction to the title: Stop implies Start; Comfort implies Discomfort or Fear; The Fight implies Passivity, or something to that effect. With both Shhh and Borders, we’re looking at how definition can hold us to a standard, or keep us labeled, or in order, in check, or accessible. But, of course, we also see that there are walls that these definitions build, some of which we ought to tear down, and some of which we ought to keep.
I hope that—and know that—our readers take time on our pages, to delve into the layers we’re trying to swim, even the lighter, shallower ones. I know that there are strong connections to be drawn from one issue to the next, in one story format or another, but I trust that there are many, many, infinitely many more that we can’t possibly convey in 64 pages. The goal with the bleeding of these themes under a four-issue arc is to marinate in this idea for a while, and enjoy it slowly. If your time spent with an issue of Block Club is like a warm bath or cup of tea, then we’ll have done our part. The rest is up to you. :-)
Stay tuned for more on Issue 37, Borders, in the coming weeks, and enjoy Issue 36, Shhh, currently available on free newsstands around WNY and online. Thanks for reading!
-Ben
Image of Crafterall's paper lakes courtesy Colossal.

In June, I wrote about how we come up with our magazine’s themes. I wrote that in each year’s four issues, we look to cover a variety of themes under an umbrella arc—something that connects these vague, abstract concepts from issue to issue. Sometimes those themes bleed into each other. Now is such a time.

Our current issue, Shhh, looks at secrets, lies and other silence, about how those barriers can build walls of seclusion and emotional imprisonment. Our next issue, Borders, looks at the boundaries that keep us within some imaginary or physical limit. As you see, they both address confinement, among other ideas, as it relates to self-identity.

I’m finding such excitement in traversing these two issues at the same time. As with almost every theme we’ve explored in the last two years, there’s an inverse reaction to the title: Stop implies Start; Comfort implies Discomfort or Fear; The Fight implies Passivity, or something to that effect. With both Shhh and Borders, we’re looking at how definition can hold us to a standard, or keep us labeled, or in order, in check, or accessible. But, of course, we also see that there are walls that these definitions build, some of which we ought to tear down, and some of which we ought to keep.

I hope that—and know that—our readers take time on our pages, to delve into the layers we’re trying to swim, even the lighter, shallower ones. I know that there are strong connections to be drawn from one issue to the next, in one story format or another, but I trust that there are many, many, infinitely many more that we can’t possibly convey in 64 pages. The goal with the bleeding of these themes under a four-issue arc is to marinate in this idea for a while, and enjoy it slowly. If your time spent with an issue of Block Club is like a warm bath or cup of tea, then we’ll have done our part. The rest is up to you. :-)

Stay tuned for more on Issue 37, Borders, in the coming weeks, and enjoy Issue 36, Shhh, currently available on free newsstands around WNY and online. Thanks for reading!

-Ben

Image of Crafterall's paper lakes courtesy Colossal.

New Last Names

Surnames are an interesting thing. For many of us, they give a clear indication of our roots and family origin. At a glance, you could look at the names Nick Van Der Kolk, Conan O’Brien and Anthony Bourdain and have a pretty clear idea of what country their ancestors came from. More interesting, to me, are names in which it’s clear what profession our families were involved in when someone came to them and told them that it’s time to select a last name. For example, Fowler means “Bird catcher” in English, Sherman means “Shear-man” in German (one who uses shears) and Bookbinder means, um, book binder.

We’re lucky that our names are set by the crafty occupations, nicknames and places of our long-deceased ancestors. Imagine if surnames came into style in 2014? What would we be called? Here’s a (Dave-created) list of Block Club’s new last names based on our day-to-day doings around the office:

Patrick Finan: Patrick Van Der Commander

Brandon Davis: Brandon Doodletamer

Steve Soroka: Steven O’MacBookFixer

Taylor Schupp: Taylor deProofread

Ben Siegel: Benjamin Gigglesmith

Ryan McMullen: Ryan Snackfetcher

Julie Molloy: Julie Fancylunchovich

Dave Horesh: David Spræchensmüch

Tim Staszak: Timothy Fixedgearsson

What’s your 2014 Surname?

Arunas Kacinskas
http://cargocollective.com/Yellowcardas Pixeden
http://www.pixeden.com/ Pixeden
http://www.pixeden.com/ Mike / Creative Mints
http://creativemints.com/

The world is flat. (almost).

Flat has been a buzzword in the design world for several years now since we all collectively became nauseated by the shiny, glossy, web 2.0 aesthetic that had been so pervasive since the early days of the iPhone. Even Apple embraced a fully flat UI about one year ago for their iOS 7 which officially decreed extreme simplicity as the new name of the game. However, now that we’ve all been rocking in the flat world for a while, it seems the knee-jerk snap to monochrome starkness has rubberbanded back a bit towards the fun 3D effects of the old days while maintaining the clean flat look that still dominates the digital world. This is the dawning of the age of ALMOST flatness.

While searching for inspiration for an icon set we were designing here at Block Club, I came across these great examples that illustrate these shifting trends (literally). For this project, we knew that these icons would have to be simple and clean in order to fit in with the client’s brand and the web site that we were starting to shape around it. At the same time though, one of the goals of the project was to create more of a warm fuzzy feeling for the end user so we found our Goldilocks answer inspired by some of these “flat but fun” illustrations.

-Ryan

Hip-hop is my go-to, get-in-the-zone music to throw on at work, especially when I’m trying to power through a slow spot in a project. It blocks miscellaneous office noise out and helps remind me that if Kendrick can put in work and overcome the rough streets of Compton, I can certainly find the right adjective to plug in and finish this article.

One of my favorite things is the collaborative nature of this genre, down to the construction of the music itself. Producers often pull from the most unexpected sources in constructing a beat, and this meeting of contrasting generations and cultures is fascinating.

I was recently drawn to the beat behind a J. Cole song, which sampled a 1960s dance-music orchestra from Guinea. This led me into a black hole of Guinean folk music—a whole new genre of music that I never would have been exposed to otherwise.

Tracking down samples is the best way to find new (often old) music, and is a good reminder to never take anything, especially popular music, at face value. Always question, always dig to find the source, because this process of discovery can provide you with a more complex, layered understanding. Or at the very least, it will give you some new music to get lost in at work.

-Taylor

I’m not going to lie, one of the best perks about the work I do is that I can do it all while listening to music, radio and podcasts. I love a good podcast, and can find myself binge listening to anything new and engaging especially if it’s about anything design. I’ve recently been turned onto a podcast by my co-hauss Julie called On The Grid. It’s a podcast featuring three designers who call in from across the country to discuss design, its effect on the world and vice versa. The most recent podcast had a segment that really resonated with me about how the design world embraces the concept of failure and makes it seem like it’s something creatives should strive for.
Because you know, once you fail a lot, you’ve really made it.
I’ve always hated this mentality of failure is acceptable, fail a lot, fail hard!
It’s like I see what you’re doing there, but… naw. “Fail Hard” sounds to me like a train wreck. Or a Bruce Willis sequel. 
I think it’s a dumb concept some folks rally around. If you’re failing and it continues then maybe you’re doing it wrong. Failing sucks and shouldn’t be worn like a badge of honor. I think I just puke in my mouth a little when I hear some companies sob story about how many times they failed at something before they got it right.
Everyone fails at something at some point in their life. I’m not immune from it either, it happens all the time. Ideas get crushed, logos rejected and so on and so forth but, once you succeed at something that’s when we should be celebrating and trying to reproduce again and again. 
I want to hear more about the A-ha moments that finally stuck or changed the clients perspective or began the innovation process. 
Those are the stories where I think we can learn the most. Hearing the stories about successful business practices, design processes, client interactions. Those are the places where I take away the knowledge to succeed and then use again in my own work. 

We all have sucked at some point, lets get to how we un-sucked.
-Tim

I’m not going to lie, one of the best perks about the work I do is that I can do it all while listening to music, radio and podcasts. I love a good podcast, and can find myself binge listening to anything new and engaging especially if it’s about anything design. I’ve recently been turned onto a podcast by my co-hauss Julie called On The Grid. It’s a podcast featuring three designers who call in from across the country to discuss design, its effect on the world and vice versa. The most recent podcast had a segment that really resonated with me about how the design world embraces the concept of failure and makes it seem like it’s something creatives should strive for.

Because you know, once you fail a lot, you’ve really made it.

I’ve always hated this mentality of failure is acceptable, fail a lot, fail hard!

It’s like I see what you’re doing there, but… naw. “Fail Hard” sounds to me like a train wreck. Or a Bruce Willis sequel. 

I think it’s a dumb concept some folks rally around. If you’re failing and it continues then maybe you’re doing it wrong. Failing sucks and shouldn’t be worn like a badge of honor. I think I just puke in my mouth a little when I hear some companies sob story about how many times they failed at something before they got it right.

Everyone fails at something at some point in their life. I’m not immune from it either, it happens all the time. Ideas get crushed, logos rejected and so on and so forth but, once you succeed at something that’s when we should be celebrating and trying to reproduce again and again. 

I want to hear more about the A-ha moments that finally stuck or changed the clients perspective or began the innovation process. 

Those are the stories where I think we can learn the most. Hearing the stories about successful business practices, design processes, client interactions. Those are the places where I take away the knowledge to succeed and then use again in my own work. 

We all have sucked at some point, lets get to how we un-sucked.

-Tim

Clifton Page's photos of Pittsburgh (accompanying Laura Zorch's story, “Second Opinion,” in Issue 36: Shhh of Block Club) tell a story about urban life in PGH that belies the typical kind of city shots you see in such stories. Zorch’s story explores the refusal of some in the city to adopt the “Most Livable City” banner Pittsburgh had been installed with by a Forbes.com ranking. The city is not truly “livable,” some say; what does “livable” even mean, asked others. We invited Page to photograph his city as he sees it, with a sense of both livable charm—mixed-use buildings, density, beautiful spaces and views, public access, free art—and the echoes of an empty city. Who lives here, and why? Who has access to these wonderful qualities, and how come for those who don’t? Do explore Page’s photos with this curiosity, and enjoy Zorch’s story on Pittsburgh’s divided title.

-Ben

In April, I read a fascinating article in Fast Company about one of my favorite companies, Airbnb, where CEO Brian Chesky talks a lot about the vision and strategy for the business. In that article, it was hinted that there was great change on the horizon. Fast forward to last week, when I received an email from Airbnb about “an important brand update”, which was vague, elusive and… pink. Their old logo was still at the top but in my heart, I knew that this was the prelude to a rebrand and I saw myself running out into the road in slow motion yelling, "Noooooooooooooooooo, Airbnb don’t do it!"
I love branding, so of course I love a good rebrand. I’d be out of a job if everyone decided now that they were just going to hold course with whatever their brand says to them today, daggumit, come hell or massive shifts in societal tastes! But I’ve also seen so many of these huge, consumer-facing brands try to peacefully unroll a rebrand (see: Gap, Pepsi, JCPenney, the 2012 Olympics, RadioShack The Shack) only to have the entire internet collectively drop a two ton Acme anvil right on top of their new logo.
And boy have they ever. Practically instantaneously, the citizens of the internet have turned the new Airbnb “Bélo” (???) into everything from a happy dog face, to Peter Griffin’s chin to a whole slew of female and male body parts that veer way into the NSFW category. It’s such an interesting and swift reaction, led by the greater design community, which I suspect uses these rebranding fails as a much needed opportunity to laugh at itself a little bit. Evidently, another company also unveiled a new brandmark recently that is almost identical, which doesn’t really help. Not laughing, surely, is the agency that worked on this for the last year.
I think I fall somewhere in the middle of all this. I have booked five stays at Airbnbs already this year, and will probably double that before 2014 is out. I am the unofficial brand ambassador every company wants: I tell anyone and everyone who still has not used Airbnb that they have to try it, that it’s the only way I travel. I showed my parents how it works. I rave about every apartment I’ve ever stayed in. I also appreciate that brand is not a logo and that Airbnb has developed a new identity around a vision that is moving on from glorified couch surfing to a more complete hospitality experience based on human connection (I think). I love logos that are clean, simplified, sans-serif… and often design them myself.
Still, though Airbnb’s old logo was too bubbly, too immature, too web-2008, I feel this leap was a bit too far and this new guy has lost the happy-go-lucky, free-spirited vibe (one of the most appealing and romanticized aspects of traveling) that their old script had. And ultimately, I come back to that email I received last week and I feel like maybe a flattened, simplified, single-color version of the script was exactly where the Airbnb logo should have gone?
Unlike some of the truly catastrophic rebrand attempts, I don’t think there is anything wrong or totally off base with the new Airbnb. The linework is clean. The typeface is nice. I think the new brandmark will fair just fine once all the fervor dies down. But in the meantime, man oh man, do I feel for that design team.
- JulieP.S. Airbnb, the new website is great. Just absolutely fantastic. Nice work!

In April, I read a fascinating article in Fast Company about one of my favorite companies, Airbnb, where CEO Brian Chesky talks a lot about the vision and strategy for the business. In that article, it was hinted that there was great change on the horizon. Fast forward to last week, when I received an email from Airbnb about “an important brand update”, which was vague, elusive and… pink. Their old logo was still at the top but in my heart, I knew that this was the prelude to a rebrand and I saw myself running out into the road in slow motion yelling, "Noooooooooooooooooo, Airbnb don’t do it!"

I love branding, so of course I love a good rebrand. I’d be out of a job if everyone decided now that they were just going to hold course with whatever their brand says to them today, daggumit, come hell or massive shifts in societal tastes! But I’ve also seen so many of these huge, consumer-facing brands try to peacefully unroll a rebrand (see: Gap, Pepsi, JCPenney, the 2012 Olympics, RadioShack The Shack) only to have the entire internet collectively drop a two ton Acme anvil right on top of their new logo.

And boy have they ever. Practically instantaneously, the citizens of the internet have turned the new Airbnb “Bélo” (???) into everything from a happy dog face, to Peter Griffin’s chin to a whole slew of female and male body parts that veer way into the NSFW category. It’s such an interesting and swift reaction, led by the greater design community, which I suspect uses these rebranding fails as a much needed opportunity to laugh at itself a little bit. Evidently, another company also unveiled a new brandmark recently that is almost identical, which doesn’t really help. Not laughing, surely, is the agency that worked on this for the last year.

I think I fall somewhere in the middle of all this. I have booked five stays at Airbnbs already this year, and will probably double that before 2014 is out. I am the unofficial brand ambassador every company wants: I tell anyone and everyone who still has not used Airbnb that they have to try it, that it’s the only way I travel. I showed my parents how it works. I rave about every apartment I’ve ever stayed in. I also appreciate that brand is not a logo and that Airbnb has developed a new identity around a vision that is moving on from glorified couch surfing to a more complete hospitality experience based on human connection (I think). I love logos that are clean, simplified, sans-serif… and often design them myself.

Still, though Airbnb’s old logo was too bubbly, too immature, too web-2008, I feel this leap was a bit too far and this new guy has lost the happy-go-lucky, free-spirited vibe (one of the most appealing and romanticized aspects of traveling) that their old script had. And ultimately, I come back to that email I received last week and I feel like maybe a flattened, simplified, single-color version of the script was exactly where the Airbnb logo should have gone?

Unlike some of the truly catastrophic rebrand attempts, I don’t think there is anything wrong or totally off base with the new Airbnb. The linework is clean. The typeface is nice. I think the new brandmark will fair just fine once all the fervor dies down. But in the meantime, man oh man, do I feel for that design team.

- Julie

P.S. Airbnb, the new website is great. Just absolutely fantastic. Nice work!

Issue 36: Shhh kicked off with a blast Friday night. Our office was filled to the brim with neon orange magazines, limited-edition handmade black books of secrets, the Betty Crockski food truck that was overflowing with insanely good pierogi, music all night (and morning) from S(in)inters, and a themed collection of art curated by our friend Chris Fritton at the Western New York Book Arts Center. Oh, and a typewriter on which guests typed their secrets and placed in a lockbox.

Quite a night, indeed.

We’ll have more posts about the launch party and its many interactive elements, including our collaboration with Chris and WNYBAC. There are secrets all over town, lies that are begging to be truthed. It’s time to face the music. Stay tuned, and get ready to divulge.

For now, some photos of our fun. Enjoy. :-)

-Ben

It’s an interesting process when working on a branding project in which the logo has already been developed and designed elsewhere. Your task is to use someone else’s work as the jumping off point, picking up where they left off and conveying that brand’s look and feel.

We were given that challenge to help create the brand look for Blood & Sand, a restaurant that will be opening very soon in the former Laughlin’s space, steps away from the theater district downtown. The restaurant will be specializing in craft cocktails, plates meant for sharing and a late night atmosphere where you’ll most likely be leaving the kids at home. 

Since the logo had already been in place we wanted to build around that look and try to create a certain sophistication level with textures and patterns reminiscent of 1930s Gatsby inspired decadence. This is a sampling of inspiration and actual patterns and textures we’ve developed that will be seen throughout the restaurants brand. 

I am looking forward to having some three-martini lunches here very soon.

-Tim