travel

A Designer in Europe - Paris

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I had a strong visceral reaction to Paris on the first day. Paris is grand, from the size of the city to the countless breathtaking sights. It's also very intimate. You have your two-top cafe tables lining many streets, and small candle-lit restaurants all over the city to discover.

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These images are from La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre, a beautiful church that overlooks all of Paris. The De Stijl / Mondrian windows are the first stained glass windows I have actually enjoyed. There was also type inspiration all over the place. I got up close and personal, checking out all the engraving marks.

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This is what a McDonald's competitor looks like. Here is a high-noon showdown of the two across the rue. 

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I love the idea that you can put a notification bubble in the upper-right corner of any graphic and turn it into an app metaphor.

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I saw this funky repeating R through the corner of my eye and had to circle around for a second look.

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One logo trend I noticed was taking a sans-serif type and disregarding gravity with the letters. They could be floating or sinking in any formation. The other trend was taking a handwritten script and elevating it through a different medium like metal or neon. I really wish I took more photos of both of these trends because I saw so many examples.

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The Arab World Institute. This is, by far, the most amazing facade of a building I have seen. It pays homage to Islamic geometric patterns in a modern way with different sized lenses that automatically and independently open and close to allow light and heat into the building when needed. Form and function in harmony. I really wish I could have seen the filtered light from the inside, but we were there on a Monday. Fermé le lundi.

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We walked on this sidewalk one day and it was just a sidewalk. The next day an entire photography exhibit had popped up. It was free to wander through, and it was comprehensive, like any paid-entry, world-class museum. It was a fascinating collection of photos from different artists from around the world, on the theme of family.

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What can't you wait to talk about? A secret. I once heard a trick to a lot of website sales. Tell people that there is a deal or coupon code, and that it's only for them, and that they can't share it. Everyone is going to share it! Here is an example of a place we heard about that is down an alley somewhere in Paris. What's inside? Sorry, I can't tell you.

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I was lost for words after encountering this mural at the Galerie de Minéralogie et de Géologie. From far away it just looked like a beautiful scientific illustration of various plants and fruits. Upon closer inspection, you can see that the entire piece was created with inlaid stones. I just found out on google that it's a Florentine tabletop from the 17th century. Here are more examples.

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The more we get into unfamiliar territory, the more we rely on signs like these to tell us everything we need to know. Wish us luck on the next leg of our journey!

A Designer in Europe - Amsterdam

For the next four months I will be traveling through Europe with my girlfriend, Lisa! As I travel, I will document the interesting design I encounter. It's nice to be in a new place where my periphery is free to discover design and make fresh judgement on it's worth. I am 10 days into my travels, and the idea to create this blog came only as I sit on a train across Germany. Please bear with me as I know the quality of my documentation will increase over time.

First stop - Amsterdam. A cheap(er) flight from America landed us in Amsterdam, so we took a few days to see it, before heading south and east to Eastern Europe.

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Joy in the unfamiliar. It was a rush to discover this lounge restaurant in the industrial area of Noord, just a free ferry ride from Amsterdam. The logo looks just slightly cooler than an industrial shipping company. If there was any more indication of what was inside, it would have lost it's mystery.

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Please rate your visit. What a great way to illicit reaction from people that come into your business. This was stationed at the end of the tour for FloraHolland, the largest flower market in the world. I assume the participation rate is close to 100%.

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Don't confuse FloraHolland with Tourism Alsace, which is located on the border of France and Germany in the heart of pretzel country. I wouldn't have ever connected the two except that I have just spent four days in Alsace, France.

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What art movement inspired this grave? Spotted at the Zorgvlied Cemetary

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Now this is a community garden entrance. You better not let your weeds show here, we're counting on you.

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My first two beers in Europe. I can't wait to document all the labels. While one label is obviously more professional than the other I would like to propose that the limited availability, atmosphere, and the company the beer is owned by (or shared with) add to or subtract from it's overall brand value. Franziskaner is a great German beer. Does it subtract from it to know that it's owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev? Yes, it does. Does the design of the Kek! label leave much to be desired? Yes, but you can only get this delicious beer in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel (and a few locations in Amsterdam). I now have a positive reaction to the Kek label and get frustrated looking at the other. What I'm trying to say is that design, like your DNA, only take you so far. and your upbringing matters just as much.

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The Amsterdam flag is often touted as one of the most badass flags out there. I am left feeling a lack of meaning and feel that they might have De Stijl'ed it down too much (art joke!). Give me a dragon flag any day, Wales.

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We finish today the way we finished Amsterdam, with the logo for Thalys. This company owns the Amsterdam > Paris direct route, which is where we are heading next!