Saturday, 3 October 2009

MAC Cosmetics

I think the website for MAC Cosmetics is a very piece of web design that includes some incredible photography and very selective imagery. MAC is a brand that are truly inspiring as they have made such a name for themselves through their incredible use of branding; making them now almost a designer makeup desired by girls who are willing to pay extortionate prices for their products. They glamorise makeup in a way that other cosmetic brands do not do; and rather than using millions of images of beautiful girls looking amazing in their product they actually just sell the product as it is. The packaging and typography they use is so iconic that it is easily recognisable and they have their own unique style of photography that makes their advertising and website stand out from others. The website is simple to use but very effective and is a true representation of the store and the product which are also simple to use but have an enormous impact. MAC products always come in plain black casing or packaging with the words MAC in an easy and simple white typeface. The only colour seen is that of the product you are buying and the website is the same. No colour is used except for the colour of the product in the images. I think the website has inspired me, as with many of the other things on this blog, because it is an example of successful branding and incredible web design that works well in reflecting the brand and providing an online link that displays the company in exactly the way is should be.

John Baskerville

John Baskerville (1706-1775) was an English businessman, writer and stonecutter best remembered as a printer and the founder of the typeface 'Baskerville'. He was a member of the Royal Society of Arts and through this he was able to meet many people who could help him make his work well know. He printed works for the University of Cambridge in 1758 and despite being an atheist he printed the Folio Bible in 1763 which became one of his most famous works. His typefaces were greatly admired by many and in particular Benjamin Franklin who took many of his designs to the US where they were adopted for most of the federal government publishing. Despite being a typographical genius Baskerville was criticised a large amount for his work, probably by jealous competitors; but this meant that his success did not last long. It was not until 1920 when the Baskerville typeface was revived and released in Linotype and Monotype. Baskerville had many followers of great success, eg. Bodoni. Bodoni copied Baskervilles increased stroke contrast and more vertical, slightly condensed upper case yet make his work slightly more extreme. 
I have always thought of Baskerville as an understated and very elegant typeface and it has been my favourite typeface for a long time. I think it has so many uses and although it is sometimes thought of as a boring typeface used for official documents and work related subjects, it is definitely one of the most beautiful and most concisely constructed letter forms that should really gain more appreciation.

Moulin Rouge

Another film with a truly inspiring set and incredible costume and makeup design is Moulin Rouge. The 2001 film is an Australian/American/British musical/romantic-drama directed by Baz Luhrmann. The film is about a young English poet who falls in love with the star cabaret actress of the Moulin Rouge in Paris. It is a beautiful story with a tragic ending that is told so perfectly through a variety of songs combined with dance, numerous set changes and an unbelievable array of spectacular costumes. It also contains well thought about topography throughout to help tell the story as if it was being written by the writer who is also narrating. The film includes actors such as Euan McGregor and Nicole Kidman and was nominated for 8 Oscars and won 2 (best art director and best costume design). It was also the first musical to be nominated for best picture in 22 years. I think this film is a masterpiece of design as it is a collaboration of the best of all design sectors and the outcome is something truly amazing that will be a much appreciated and loved film for many years to come. 

Cool Brands

'Cool Brands - An insight into some of Britain's coolest brands' is a book by Angela Cooper that highlights what brands, from a variety of sectors, have become particularly popular and are seen as as 'cool' and discusses why. It is an interesting book filled with inspiring imagery from so many different brands that it is bound to give you some ideas of what successful branding consists of and inspire you in your own branding projects. It includes brands from Chanel, to Cannon, and even Rachel's Organic Yogurt. I found this book very useful as it made me think more about what is needed to build up a successful and 'cool' brand and this is a topic that I am very interested in and am thinking about doing my final self-initiated project on.


It is no surprise really that Terence Conran would have an incredible website, but after going online recently to try and book dinner at the his restaurant (the bluebird), I was very impressed at just how easy the website was to use; and yet how impressive and sophisticated it still managed to look. is the official website which provides links to all of Conran's different fields, which could potentially make it a very confusing and hectic as the website needs to contain so much information. Yet this website, in true Conran style simplifies everything into neat categories in a perfectly stylish graphic format. The website is true to the nature of Conran and is a representation of the stores, products and restaurants that Conran is trying to promote through it. Sir Terence Conran (born in 1931) is an English designer, restauranteur, retailer and writer who is a great inspiration to all young designers as he is a man who has been upmost successful in his career and it was his mind as a designer and talent for creating a brand that lead to this success. Take a look at his website as it not only is an impressive piece of web design with a sophisticated layout but also allows you to look at the Conran brand as a whole. It allows you to look at the products he sells in his stores, the design of the stores themselves, the restaurant interiors and his writing and design studios. 

Alan Fletcher

I have been inspired by Alan Fletcher since visiting his exhibition at the Design Museum in 2006; which unfortunately was shown just before his death later that year. I have always felt that Alan Fletcher brought such beauty and amazing wit to graphic design and truly deserves the well respected reputation that he came receive. Some of his most famous works include the logo for the V&A museum which was an incredible work of typography showing his amazing craftsmanship. Alan Fletcher originally studied at the Royal College of Art in the 1950s and was foremost a painter and artist. It was due to his style of simplify forms that he created a unique identity for himself in the graphic sector and became known as the master of the visual pun. His work often contains ironic humor and he has created numerous iconic pieces that have shaped the world of graphic design that we have today. The design museum has made part of their website about Fletcher in his memory and it is worth taking a look at:


Flashdance has always been one of my favourite films. It was released in 1983 and was the first collaboration of the producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. Many of the sequences are filmed in the style of music videos of the time and this film became a huge influence on other 1980s films such as Top Gun (which became Simpson and Bruckheimer's most famous movie). When Flashdance was first released it gained very bad reviews from film critics, however was incredibly popular with the public and became the third highest grossing film of 1983 in the USA and earned worldwide over $100 million. I think the reason for the success of this film was the glamour that became associated with dancing and the unbelievable soundtrack that is still being played and loved by girls all over the world today. The soundtrack included songs such as 'Maniac' by Michael Sembello and 'What a feeling' by Irene Cara. Again, as with other films I have spoken about in this blog I think it is the set, the makeup and costume design and the lighting and creation of atmosphere that made me find it so interesting. It is an inspirational film because it is such a simple story line, with such a simple set and the film cost very little to produce; however the way it has been put together (lighting, music etc) makes it a very emotional film that has a real feel good factor about it. 

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Luxury Fashion Branding

I read this book by Uche Okonkwo after visiting Agent Provocateur because I had become very interested in what it was about luxury fashion brands that made people obsess over something as small and realistically insignificant as underwear, or a pair of shoes, or a handbag. This book critically analyses the essential aspects of fashion branding and allows you to understand the business strategy and the mind behind these successful companies. It is all about getting into the mind of the consumer and how humans are psychologically effected by these items. It looks at the way these companies portray their clothes (which are often not different in quality to the clothes in a high street store) to make the buyer feel that they are investing into more than just an item of clothing but into a brand and therefore a way of living. It is a very interesting read if you are interested in branding and is written by a very intelligent writer with an MBA from Brunel University, London and a Phd from ESC Rennes School of Business, France so you can be assured that what you are reading is coming from a woman with a great amount of experience in this sector and a good business orientated mind.

Agent Provocateur

Agent Provocateur first opened in Broadwick Street, Soho, London in 1994. It was founded by Joseph Corre (the son of Vivienne Westwood) and Serena Rees. I have always been intrigued as to what it was about this brand that made it seem ok to spend £150 on something that is essentially an undergarment. After visiting the store I realised that it was not so much the actual item of clothing that made it special to receive, but the fact that the company has so cleverly branded itself that purchasing underwear from their store became more of an exciting experience than a necessity. In fact I think the underwear itself is more of a souvenir that you will keep as a memory of the time you spent buying it and something you will probably hardly ever wear. The reason for my thinking of this is that the store itself is so enchanting; it is a shop unlike any other where you are spoilt by both the shop assistants and the luxury of the interior. Everything is so over adorned and you feel special being there because it is not the kind of place that you could go ordinarily and usually buying something as mundane as underwear is a quick and easy process that takes place in Marks and Spencers. Agent Provocateur has been so successful that it now has stores in 13 countries around the world and their underwear has been purchased and modeled by numerous A list celebs; including Kylie Minogue, Kate Moss and Paris Hilton. The shops originally sold very plain styles of underwear that were always enhanced by the stores unique style of individualism, it was in fact similar to the Vivienne Westwood store SEX on the Kings Road. I found the store to be an inspiration as it made me think about how creating an aura and atmosphere around a brand could lead to something being so much more successful and sought after than another similar product. I am interested in branding and fashion identities and I think this store truly epitomises how much successful branding can really do for a company.