Today, we had the great honor to catch a slice of time with MOO’s esteemed Global Creative Director Brendan Stephens. As lovers of great design here at Abduzeedo (and huge personal fans of MOO!) this was an enormous privilege to get a glimpse into a brilliant mind that helps to drive MOO’s ability to deliver game-changing products. With nearly 20 years spent in various creative posts for big publishers like The Boston Globe to the world’s leading car-sharing network, Zipcar, Stephens is a supremely talented visionary we can thank for ensuring MOO is delivering the best possible experience to customers just like us. Without further ado, enjoy our peek into how Brendan Stephens makes the magic happen at MOO and his creative process to get there. We hope you all are as inspired as we are by this creative force with a personal penchant for great food, an amazing magazine rack and the perfect Manhattan. Q: What's the absolute best piece of advice that has stuck with you throughout your career that you'd like to pass on to young designers today? A: A professor and mentor, Phil Geraci, once said to me “It’s your career. Take control of it.” That has always stayed with me. Don’t wait for someone to put opportunities or make decisions or see gaps in front of you. Be (self-) aware and take or make or fill them. Always be looking ahead (with insights from the past) and be proactive in building your career. It’s yours. Make it great. Q: What is your creative process? Have you taken out superfluous steps throughout the years? A: I’ve idealized it a tad here, but it kind of goes like this (even if we have some work to do…): When possible, we like to have discovery sessions. It gets all stakeholders, from marketing to social, into a room to understand the ask, the journey and what is (or isn’t) possible. Our Experience Design and Development teams are important members of these sessions, too, as they can help determine available resources. A discovery session can greatly shape a brief (in fact, we ask that a start to the brief is brought along so that we can input and ask or answer any questions ahead of submission). When the final brief is submitted, we are sure to read it carefully and come up with any follow-up questions. We look for a fantastic, tight, and not overly prescriptive brief. It is vital that the creative team understands it. If not, the expectation is that they will ask for clarification. We move to (collaborative) concepting: Working from the brief, using brand guidelines and values, and in tandem -- designer, copywriter and photographer/illustrator, whomever is on the creative team -- to come up with a single-minded, kick-ass, ownable direction. We are inspired by what is around us but want something all our own. We encourage rough layouts to get the idea across. Some ideas work, some don’t. That’s okay. It’s about brainstorming and getting ideas down on paper. From there we build presentation decks that include mood boards. We push to have plenty of time for concepting. Sometimes we get the time, sometimes we don’t, but we still strive to produce the best work. We then start to present to stakeholders and look for thoughtful, collaborative, honest and consolidated feedback. We hope that we have answered the brief, but may have also pushed beyond it, staying on (and pushing the) brand and toward the intended goals. In terms of collaboration, we have been working very hard at being sure the right people are in the room, at the right times. We strive very hard to not be “design by committee”. Creatives don’t want to be told what to do (as we are problem-solvers) but we do need to understand business objectives and goals. Work needs to be on-brand, but hard working as well. On sign-off (and there may be a few iterations before we get there), we move to make it a reality. Pre-production is just as important (if not more) as production. Don’t skimp here. It pays off in the end. We may tweak in studio (we shoot almost all of our imagery in our London office) but we go in prepared to deliver against the approved concept. We rely on a strong artworking team to bring us home. They are fantastic and don’t let us down. And we know it’s not over after it has shipped. As creatives we should always want to understand how our work performed. We push for post-mortems. To get results, see if there are any opportunities to A/B test or optimize the work. Q: During your career at MOO what is the one body of work that makes you most proud? A: Oh, man, we’ve worked on many great initiatives: our NFC Business Cards (embedded with a chip), our Cotton paper (made from recycled t-shirt offcuts) and our MOO Notebook (try picking a color, it’s harder than it looks!). But I would have to say our creative team, currently 24 strong between London and Boston, is the body of work I am most proud of. They are smart, driven, talented and tenacious. They inspire me, make me laugh and teach me every day. (They make me crazy some days, too, but I know that goes both ways). Q: Can you share any tips for taking printed design material to the next level? A: It starts with wonderful work. Our drive is to partner with our customers to deliver beautifully crafted and detailed products that showcases their designs, photographs, illustrations, etc. The best work may be overlooked if the printing or material is poor. We promise “to move heaven and earth” so that our customers are happy. We take that very seriously. Q: What are the stylistic trends you are seeing that you would consider timeless for print design? A: Strong typography will always be timeless in design. Editorial and book design, site design, on packaging, in wayfindinding (look to the NYC or London subway systems, for example). There’s no excuse for bad typography. Or kerning. Or leading. Q: What's the best part about working at MOO? A: Well, it’s a cool brand. It’s cool people. We have a strong set of values we honestly embrace and strive to live by everyday. And, lots of snacks. It’s a nice mix. Q: What brands do you most admire and how do they influence your work? A: I’ve been a big fan of MUJI since I discovered the brand in NYC years ago. The simplicity of the product is amazing. Something I, personally, and we at MOO, are fans of, value and embrace wholeheartedly. I also am a big fan of Airbnb. From the site to the search to the booking. Great customer journey. So far, my experience has also been right on. From selecting a space to settling in, it’s been flawless. When I am home, as soon as I walk into my apartment, I turn on my Sonos (Play:1) and leave it on all day. I love the site. I loved the packaging. I love the design of the speaker. Lastly, and a bit more local, I’m digging London Symphony Orchestra’s typography (commissioned by the London-based agency, The Partners). It’s so thoughtful and ownable. It’s mesmerizing. Q: What do you do to enjoy life NOT in the office? A: Cooking, running (offsets the cooking), travelling and theater. When I lived in the States, I had a garden plot, which I loved, but have not found that here in London. Q: What are the top three books you can recommend as must-reads for burgeoning designers? A: Oh man. There are many. Logo Modernism by Jens Muller. Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton. Just My Type by Simon Garfield. Anything by Steven Heller. On my list to read: Branding: In Five and a Half Steps by Michael Johnson And I could stand in front of a magazine rack for hours. GQ, Bon Appetit and New York magazines are always in the seat pocket when I fly back to London from the States. I also love Communication Arts, Creative Review and Lürzer's Archive to see who is rocking the world. And I love to drool through annuals, checking out (not limited to) Comm Arts, Society of Publication Designers and D&AD annuals. Was that three? Q: What inspires you? A: Anything that visually draws me in. A beautifully designed book cover or magazine spread or website. An amazing living room, or bedroom or kitchen. Smart packaging (which I may hoard a bit, but in a beautifully organized way). A deliciously presented plate of food. (Sorry about that bad pun). A great pun. Confidence. Humor. Talent.
If you ever needed a reason to invest in LG’s big, dreamy 21:9 UltraWide display that delivers plenty of screen space to juggle all of your creative projects we’re giving it to you here. According to a recent study by the University of Utah, using a larger monitor helped participants in said study complete tasks up to 52% faster, saving an average 2.5 hours each day. We’ll take any extra hour we can get nowadays to be more productive behind the desk. 'Curve and Create' by @Littledrill featuring LG UltraWide Monitor 34UC98 Feedback from notable design professionals including our very own Fabio Sasso have touted the benefits of the UltraWide monitor as being as expansive as the displays themselves including the allowance of smooth multi-tasking through dozens of windows offering incredible accuracy in the color representation department. As a result, you can leave that Fitbit on the nightstand by offing the dreaded sprints between the computer and printer to adjust color differences. Also adored, it’s ergonomic curved design, which wraps around the user making long hours at work more efficient. If you need further encouragement to take the plunge, the 21:9 UltraWide display also utilizes sRGB over 99% IPS technology, guaranteeing color accuracy with factory color calibration, and eliminating frustrating color shifting and distortion commonplace with traditional monitors. It’s easy to adjust settings via the On-Screen Control and the monitors have a Screen Split function with 14 options for simple multitasking. “Personally I think creative professionals would definitely benefit from it,” said Joe, an illustration alumni from Parsons. “The monitor is basically the new drawing board, the color correction and what you see on screen should exactly be what you printed. And if you’re video editing, then there should be no lag whatsoever.” The monitors are already making a big, pun intended, impact. According to a survey of Parsons students, over 70 percent felt the UltraWide’s vast display made multitasking easier and improved productivity. Parsons Making Center 3D LabParsons student experiences LG UltraWide Monitor“I never knew i needed an UltraWide display until using the LG 21:9 - the sheer gain of productivity is unfathomable, “ said Fabio Sasso, Founder of design blog Abduzeedo. “You realize how much you can accomplish with the additional real estate especially when having to deal with multiple programs like photoshop or a code editor.” Samuel, who is studying illustration said: “I think the 21:9 monitor is the future of screens putting yourself inside the screen as it curves around you. It's user oriented. It's ergonomic. This brings full immersion, the future of virtual reality.” In exemplifying that giving back is just as imperative as delivering beautiful products, LG has partnered with leading design institutions to provide UltraWide Monitors to help students produce work that will positively impact their industries, from architecture to product design. The New School’s Parsons School for Design in New York City is the most recent recipient of this generous grant, receiving state-of-the-art computer lab featuring new LG 34” Class 21:9 UltraWide Monitors. For 2017, LG is exploring a range of different specialized schools in addition to Parson’s to receive the UltraWide Academy Sponsorship Program, furthering the brand’s commitment to giving talented individuals within the creative world the freedom and comfort to create. Parsons Making Center Graphic LabParsons Making Center 3D LabFor more information make sure to check out: http://www.lg.com/us/ultrawide-monitors http://blogs.newschool.edu/news/2017/05/parsons-students-expand-on-innovative-work-with-ultrawide-monitors-from-lg/#.WSLzi6jyve-
We’re excited to share a pretty sweet contest we think you all may want to know about brought to you by our friends at LG. We generally shy away from promoting too many contests but this one we think you all may take interest in due to the popularity of the UltraWide Monitors. LG UltraWide™ Festival is an online festival reflecting LG UltraWide monitor’s desire to make your digital life wider, more fun, and more convenient. The festival supports your digital life dreams with a new theme every time. LG is playing host to a creative competition, the LG UltraWideTM Festival 2016- Dream Canvas geared towards designers, photographers and creators the world over that are passionate about their work. The final winner will be awarded $10,000 worth of Dream Creative Desk Gear. And as the winner, your work will be posted on the Dream Canvas Campaign’s official website, along with social media, and hundreds of global media outlets. What’s more, the final winner’s work will be showcased at the LG monitor exhibition booth in the world’s biggest consumer electronics show, CES*, in Las Vegas 2017! Anyone can easily enter this event by submitting an original 21:9 ratio image. The festival will be judged by three renowned creators who have created a world all their own in their respective fields and in the eyes of the public – Artist and Illustrator Jon Burgerman, Graphic Designer and Photographer Mike Kus and photography artist Dirk Bakker. For more details on how to enter visit the campaign website at: http://www.ultrawidefestival.com. The submission period is from Sept. 21st to Oct. 4th.
Our friends from Webdesigner Depot are always working on new ideas for the design industry. In a time of an overflow of information and with easy access to tools to share ideas and projects, it becomes evermore complicated to keep up to date. In an effort to address this problem, WebdesignerNews was launched to help us keep up with breaking news, trending topics and expert opinions. WebdesignerNews was created to support the web design community and takes on similar characteristics of the old Digg.com where users could submit articles, and based on popular vote, an article would be featured. The difference is that WebdesignerNews is all about design. Simple and without much fanfare, it brings curated information straight to you in a truly mesmerizing way. We built WebdesignerNews.com to provide web designers and developers with a single location to discover the latest and most significant stories on the Web. More about WebdesignerNews here: WebdesignerNews features the breaking news stories of the day, sourced by designers for designers. Handpicked by industry experts from hundreds of blogs, social media, and news posts; our high-quality content features fresh tools and apps, case studies, code demos, inspiration, videos, and more. Vote up stories that matter to you, and easily share them with your network. Sign up to our newsletter for daily updates, or create an account and archive your favorites from our selection of the most vital news, trends, and opinions from across the Web.
Designing a great product involves a series of phases, each requiring a specific set of skills along with the necessary materials. That could go from pen and paper to components for design and code. Our friends from UI8 help us with these components and assets for important phases, like wireframing, UI kits and icon assets and the best thing is they have kits for different platforms including the Material UI Kit which is based on Google's new Material Design Visual Language. Among all these products, UI8 now offers the UI8 Ultimate Bundle which includes pretty much everything you need so you can focus more on making your product really shine. When we say Ultimate, we really mean it. Get instant access to our entire collection of premium resources as well as all future products, forever. 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