Friday, 16 December 2011

Courting controversy

Have you familiarised yourself with new Facebook Timeline or the new YouTube user interface?

I've been looking at these UI redesigns, particularly the later. The YouTube redesign follows its acquisition by Google and takes it one step further towards becoming the world's largest socially connected TV network. To introduce the new site, YouTube ran a promotional campaign “Get More Into YouTube” but within hours of its launch, users were venting their anger: "Why change something that already works well?" citing the new 'digital lacquer' as more business-like but loosing its original personality and eclecticsm.

Sometimes new designs take time to get the public on board, the visual identity for London 2012 a case in point.

From a design point of view, I like how the 2012 logo breaks with tradition – from the free spirited brush strokes and dashes of colour (Barcelona 1992, Sydney 2000) and lightly illustrative styles (Athens 2004 and Bejing 2008) to a more structured block-style that mythologises London as young and street-smart, we see Wolff Olins taking cues from the likes of graffiti artist Banksy, hip-hop act Gorillaz and possibly even Tracey Emin.

The visual identity "behaves well" across the gamut of online and offline media, capable of being tightly integrated within a sponsor's particular branding and colour scheme, and I've also heard how easy the logo can be implemented across signage – the tell-tale signs being the jagged lines and angular forms.

Designs that get it right straight away then lose it

Step back further into the past and cast your mind over the Mk 1 Volkswagen Scirocco design.

Scirocco Mk 1 model

The curbside classic was launched circa 1974 and was a sharp looking car conceived by Giorgetto Guigiaro's team at Italdesign. The updated Mk 2 model promised so much but never really succeeded in the same way, commercially or aesthetically. The new Scirocco Mk 2 moved away from the earlier wedge-shaped rear hatch design to allow a larger passenger and luggage space, thus taking on a rounder look. A unique feature was a spoiler halfway up the glass on the rear hatch but many people view the enhancements as forgettable gimmicks.

The same could be said for certain petrol stations designs that have been redesigned over the years but have lost the essence of what was originally good. Take for example the old Caltex design that was rolled out in 1997 and compare against the revised design created circa 2010.

I would be most interested to hear from anyone who has an example of a redesigned forecourt that has somehow lost something of the original design, whether it be on functional, economical or visual terms.

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