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

We stare at our computer monitors more than ever. It’s always been important to me to have a desktop wallpaper that is enjoyable to look at without being too distracting.

My favorite site for wallpaper images these days is fiftyfootshadows. Curator John Carey has an incredible eye and is always uploading new images. He also posts his thoughts on trends in the digital world and puts together podcasts featuring music that has recently caught his attention. Every article, photo and podcast is worth checking out. 

- Steve

As a Buffalo design student, with my roots in this city, I feel fortunate to have had an internship here at Block Club. With their hometown pride and wanting better for our city it was great to work somewhere where I could participate on projects that were going to affect Buffalo on its upward journey. Block Club opened my eyes more to what a positive turn we have taken and I found it inspiring that they are so dedicated to the come back of Buffalo.
Graduating in a year from Villa Maria, both my professors and the people I have meet in Buffalo’s creative community have helped me to grow as a designer. While Villa helped me to learn about principles, history and programs, Block Club has added teamwork, client relations, production and refining my skills. As someone just breaking into the industry, both have helped push me to prepare myself for what the future holds for me as a designer.
I am excited to stay in this city and be part of making it the better Buffalo we are working towards. The more I put myself out there the more I see what a positive impact the creative community is having around town and am exciting that I will be able to continue to help make our city grow. 
-Leah

As a Buffalo design student, with my roots in this city, I feel fortunate to have had an internship here at Block Club. With their hometown pride and wanting better for our city it was great to work somewhere where I could participate on projects that were going to affect Buffalo on its upward journey. Block Club opened my eyes more to what a positive turn we have taken and I found it inspiring that they are so dedicated to the come back of Buffalo.

Graduating in a year from Villa Maria, both my professors and the people I have meet in Buffalo’s creative community have helped me to grow as a designer. While Villa helped me to learn about principles, history and programs, Block Club has added teamwork, client relations, production and refining my skills. As someone just breaking into the industry, both have helped push me to prepare myself for what the future holds for me as a designer.

I am excited to stay in this city and be part of making it the better Buffalo we are working towards. The more I put myself out there the more I see what a positive impact the creative community is having around town and am exciting that I will be able to continue to help make our city grow. 

-Leah

Captions, clockwise from top:

"I don’t think people realize how hurtful of a word ‘still’ can be. So many times people have asked me if I’m ‘still’ chasing my dream of being on television, with a tone that implies I’ll eventually be giving up."

"Sometimes I stay up late without asking."

"I’m an architect, and I’ve designed buildings all over the world. Every time I get a commission in an emerging market, I get excited about the opportunity to draw from the country’s heritage, culture, and art. But the client never wantsit. They all want the same thing: ‘modern style, modern style, modern style.’ Everything has to be high and glassy. It’s almost as if everyone wants to hide their differences. It’s boring.”

"I was hoping I’d be somebody by now."

Have you seen Humans of New York, the inquisitive photo blog (and book, and Facebook feed) that pairs candid portraits of New Yorkers with simple questions about everyday life. Subjects flock to curator Brandon’s lens, offering glimpses into their world that is at times vague and abstract, and sometimes specific and startling. I see it as a testament to the power of confession, that once it’s out there, captured for (digital) eternity, it’s no longer yours; the things we hole up inside of our quiet souls become the property and benefit of everyone else. That’s pretty damn awesome if you ask me. That’s sharing. That’s truth.

Take one look through Brandon’s impressive collection and consider what you’d say if you were asked, “Tell me about yourself…”

-Ben

Buffalo has been on a real upswing if you have not noticed. Buffalove is all the rage, the cranes are still building up the skyline, things have generally been looking up. I’d like to think it has a lot to do with the fact that we’re finally doing things right. We’ve gone ahead in beginning to correct past mistakes and now, are planning new developments with thought and vision. Yeah, Buffalo sure seems like it’s rising but then something dumb happens. Even if it’s on a small level, such as designing a logo for a restaurant for a chance at “winning” $200. This is called crowd-sourcing and it’s a terrible business practice. 
Would you invest all this money into hiring an architecture firm, a construction crew, purchasing the land and building a restaurant from scratch to then offer a paltry, low wage for one of the biggest components of your brand’s success? These crowd-sourced design competitions appeal to in-debt college students, grappling with probably tens of thousands of debt, for the chance to brand your hotdog stand for a measly $200. It’s a shame, it’s a sham, it’s cheap and I hope no young designer ever falls for one of these tricks for the sake of getting “exposure.” 
I can’t wait to visit this new establishment, test out all the different items on the menu and then only pay for the one I liked.
-Tim

p.s. The author of this post’s first job was at a place where he worked for $3/hr and all the hot dogs he could eat, so he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to hot dogs.
Photo Credit: HotdogFail

Buffalo has been on a real upswing if you have not noticed. Buffalove is all the rage, the cranes are still building up the skyline, things have generally been looking up. I’d like to think it has a lot to do with the fact that we’re finally doing things right. We’ve gone ahead in beginning to correct past mistakes and now, are planning new developments with thought and vision. Yeah, Buffalo sure seems like it’s rising but then something dumb happens. Even if it’s on a small level, such as designing a logo for a restaurant for a chance at “winning” $200. This is called crowd-sourcing and it’s a terrible business practice. 

Would you invest all this money into hiring an architecture firm, a construction crew, purchasing the land and building a restaurant from scratch to then offer a paltry, low wage for one of the biggest components of your brand’s success? These crowd-sourced design competitions appeal to in-debt college students, grappling with probably tens of thousands of debt, for the chance to brand your hotdog stand for a measly $200. It’s a shame, it’s a sham, it’s cheap and I hope no young designer ever falls for one of these tricks for the sake of getting “exposure.” 

I can’t wait to visit this new establishment, test out all the different items on the menu and then only pay for the one I liked.

-Tim

p.s. The author of this post’s first job was at a place where he worked for $3/hr and all the hot dogs he could eat, so he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to hot dogs.

Photo Credit: HotdogFail