Paul Rand the Movie

November 26th, 2007

Paul Rand-heading

Don’t try to be original just try to be good.
– Paul Rand

What a great quote.

Paul Rand’s work was one of the earliest design models I tried to follow. The best of my early student work employed visual puns. Rand was a great visual punster. I had no idea why I liked this kind of work except that when I looked at it I “got it”. What I realized eventually was that when you combine two visual items together, each with their own symbolic meaning, you can create a third meaning beyond the original two. That new idea was what I got. When the design solution was clever and fun I felt like I was included in the solution. i still enjoy work that uses this technique. While Rand was a notoriously nasty teacher and not a very pleasant fellow I find his writing clear and enjoyable.

Rand was also the first “famous” designer I met when I went off to Design school. During my second week I was headed to the cafeteria and saw him talking to a class through an open classroom door. While I was standing there with my mouth open the Chair of my department came up behind me and asked if I wanted to go in and hear the rest of the presentation. Very cool.

Here’s a fun video I saw recently that inspired this post.

Open a WebFront

July 12th, 2007


From a story in the June issue of Fast Company comes news that outdoor clothing manufacturer NAU is trying a new retail strategy – a “webfront”.

“It starts with a retail concept that combines the efficiencies of the Web with the intimacy of the boutique. Called a “Webfront,” the Nau store integrates technology in a striking gallery-like setting. The central mechanism is a self-serve kiosk that transfers the online shopping experience to a touch screen and encourages customers to have their purchases sent home, with the incentive of a 10% discount and free shipping.” – Polly LaBare, FastCompany

All I can say is – it’s about time!

adcSTUDIO is in a very rural part of New York. The key reason we can live and work here is that we have access to the whole world online. I like to “shop locally” but sometimes I just need something that I can only find in a big mall or city. When that happens I shop online. This always makes me feel a little guilty when I see friends around town who are the local retailers. No matter how good their product lines are or how much care they’ve taken in choosing the stock they have in their shops they just can’t have everything I’m looking for. I’ve often imagined that if they would integrate an online store as part of their day-to-day sales process they could vastly expand their inventory at minimal cost. Understandably when I suggest this idea to them they’re skeptical. As a new retailing concept the risks and costs for a small business are more than they’re comfortable taking. That’s why I’m excited that NAU will give it a try.

The store sounds like it will be IKEA without the warehouse. All the products are available to touch and try on but the actual purchasing happens through the kiosk. For a vacation area this seems like a no brainer. Gone are the days of having to carry the shopping around all day or taking it back to the car. They could even overnight ship items to their hotel if it was a big rush. These days kiosks don’t have to be the big floor models they can be wall mounted throughout the store for about $3,000 each. When they’re not being used for ordering they can be video displays.

The systems are in place – highly sensitive touchscreens, online ordering and inventory control with suppliers, shipping, payment-processing. Add to this logistics powerhouse a technically savvy product maven retailer, a fun interface and a well designed store… sounds like fun. I can’t wait to try one!

Terminal Design 2.0

February 9th, 2007


This week we launched a new version of It’s the website of type designer James Montalbano. It’s a complete overhaul of the original site we designed in 2001. The site includes e-commerce, a type-tester and an administration system to manage products, orders and users. The site works both as an online store to sell the fonts Terminal Design creates and as a showcase for his custom type design and lettering work.

Terminal Design Homepage

Terminal Design Font Page
The Font page.

Terminal Design Custom Fonts
The Custom Fonts page.

Terminal Design Custom Font: Mayeur
Custom font page for Mayeur.

My objective was to make sure the site felt “typographic” and make the typefaces the stars of the show. We also wanted to reduce the number of clicks needed to get to the type displays. The main “Fonts” dropdown menu became the key element to address both of these concerns. Using this drop down you can preview a sample of each font that’s available from the homepage and get a page that they can be purchased from in 1 click. Once you’re on a font display page you can test the font by typing a line of your own text in a type-tester. You can also get more detailed information about the character set and what it looks like in text settings on the individual typeface display page. For the entire site the deepest page level is only 2 clicks from the home page. His audience has a wide range from sophisticated designers and design managers to small local sign companies. The HTML techniques we used needed to allow for a wide range of browsers and platforms to see and use the site as it was designed.

The site technology development took full advantage of our suite of website rapid development tools – codename: webBuilder. It includes a full e-commerce system that processes orders, detects fraud and manages the download process of font archives. All orders and communication are tracked by the system and alerts are sent via email whenever an order takes place or needs attention. The content on the site can be managed via the integrated CMS (Content Management System).

Terminal Design was one of our first clients and they remain a favorite client of ours to work for. I have to admit to a passion for typography so the opportunity to design a type designer’s site is a real thrill. This is the second version of the site that we’ve designed and developed. One of the great things about the project is that James is a tremendously talented type designer and his types are a delight to work with.

We have plans to continue to refine and upgrade the site in the future so check back every now and then to see the new stuff. Of course the best updates will be when Terminal Design adds new typefaces to its library.

I can hardly wait!

Why in the world!?

January 26th, 2007


Well it’s happened.

We’ve decided to add more noise to the already considerable din. Yes indeed… the adcSTUDIO blog is born. Our hope is that this blog will be a more fluid and adaptable platform for us to explore ideas and keep everyone up to date on what we’re thinking and doing. The real reason of course is that the old adc site just had to go. So my friends, welcome to just one of the 100,000 blogs that were started today.

We hope you enjoy it.

Chris and Kevin