Friday, 7 November 2008

Italian Shops

After my recent trip to Italy, I was amazed at the effort and detail that almost every small shop owner puts into their shop front.

I knew that Italians were among the smartest dressed people in the world, but I didn’t know that they also took so much pride in the presentation of their shops. We stayed for 4 days in the walled town of Lucca in Tuscany (Toscana). Lucca is an amazing town. A city of Medieval history, almost every building within the walls of the town has character.

Every shop from the cobbler, delicatessen, bakery, confectioner, tobacconist , chocolate shop to clothing shop made the most out of their display areas. There was a chocolate shop that had a queue outside and onto the street that sold such elegantly presented chocolate selections. There was another chocolate shop only a few doors down the same street and they had completely different range of products. I can say that I have never seen such a collection of traditionally run establishments in one space.  

There was a small shop selling only spirits, but they managed to put a barrel and a tiny copper distiller in the window. Lucca also has some of the best wine stores in all of Italy. There is also an antiques and art fair on the third Sunday of every month in Lucca, it sprawls into various narrow streets and piazzas.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Vehicle Graphics

I’ve been looking at vehicle graphics while I’ve been on holiday this year. I was in Toronto in the spring and I’m just back from a week in Italy. I’ve now become a collector of pictures of cool vans that have been “wrapped”

I walked past this van and had to take a quick snap. It is obviously a mobile advert for a vineyard, which is great because all they have to do is park it up and people are automatically interested. Also, because we always subconsciously associate the color blue, or images of the sky, with thoughts of clear optimism, then this has a shiny, sparkly atmospheric quality that we can’t quite describe. But when we walk past we know that it looks cool, but can’t quite explain why.

I passed this van parked on the harbor front. It is another example of a very clear message. What do they do? Answer: Pizza restaurant. I know it’s obvious, but I’ve seen so many vehicles that are unreadable. 

These two were taken in Italy. Again they are exactly what they say they are, but this is why I like them.

So I couldn’t resist putting in a plug about some of the vans we at Fantasy Prints have done. We did a full wrap of a van for Blair Drummond Safari Park . We covered the vehicle with the background image, then we added the text over the top. We think the overall effect is quite impactful. We have also re-done one of our own vehicles to promote our photo studio and canvas printing departments. This is just a half wrap, but we still think it has a strong overall effect.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Evolving brands

Some brands are just part of the everyday fabric of our lives as consumers. I doubt if anybody noticed when irn bru changed the design of their cans last year. They have tweeked it ever so slightly. The previous design had been like that for almost ten years.

fanta have also recently changed to a more youthful look.

One more obvious one is cadbury's hot chocolate . They change their packaging about once every three years. It has evolved ever so slightly in such small amounts that, again, hardly anyone notices.

We already identify with brands so much that if a designer was to radically re-launch a product that looked completely different, it would need a substantial amount of advertising to back that change up.

The small local brand oxenrig eggs changed their free range eggs packaging a few years ago. They have since gone from a small local brand to a regional, not quite national brand. Their boxes can be bought from Edinburgh to Newcastle, which is very good for a small farm. I believe this success is down to people identifying with the strong brand.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Breakfast Cereals

I always wonder why breakfast cereals are so eye catching on the shelves of supermarkets. Why do they have such a “wow” factor? Is because the message they permeate has evolved into the subconscious equivalent of saying “wakey wakey!”

The cereals also take up almost as much room as the alcohol in my local supermarket. Do we really need about 35 different brands? Or is it that most of these brands come under the umbrella of just three parent companies, kelloggs , weetabix and nestle ? Cereal packaging by its very nature takes up more room than, say tins of beans, so maybe if the big players ensure that they have such a large variety, that the smaller cereal brands don’t even get the chance to compete. Are there any smaller cereal brands?


From a design point of view, the packaging leaves very little room to visualize the actual cereal. With the exception of optivita , they focus more on the ‘big swoosh’ and bright morning sunshine colours, which I admit do work in their purpose to get that positive “get up and go” message across.

So I have to conclude that we all know what’s inside an otherwise boring box of cereal and the unique selling point of each individual product type doesn’t differ so much. Their main device for selling more product is by emphasizing their “top of the morning” message.

Friday, 26 September 2008

My first entry

Well this is my first blog entry. The purpose of this blog is to show and discuss contemporary design at its widest of perspective, from grahic design, contemporary architecture, 3D design, retail environments, cg animation, display graphics to street signage. Graphic design is my profession. I'd like to showcase a little bit of my own work, but mostly pass comment on work done by others.