Miscellaneous projects and sketches
A better Reader Reply card
A while back, magazine publishers came up with an idea to help their advertisers provide more info for their readers. They printed a code number in the ad, usually at the bottom - For more information, circle 244 on the Reader Reply card or just Circle 244. Then, towards the back of the magazine would be a card to fill in and mark the numbers of the advertisers from which one wanted more info. The card was be pre-addressed to a magazine reply service. It provided another selling point for the magazine and for its advertisers. Most of the reply cards were not well designed. Below is an example. (Now with the abundance of websites listed in magazine ads, the Reader Reply card is obsolete.)
• Target market/user: The magazine reader who desires more information from an advertiser.
• Category headings have no value - the reader just wants to find a number and circle it.
• The columns of numbers are split into two sides of the card.
• The hierarchy layout of numbers doesn't facilitate easy navigation.
• Contact info blanks and check-off boxes are grouped together.
• All advertiser numbers are grouped together.
• Advertiser numbers are ordered for easier scanning and navigation.
• Numbers are larger and easier to find and read.
Dates: Observations: long ago; Sketches: late 1980s/early 1990s
My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on May 16, 1992. What a joyous occasion - to honor a lifetime partner with a gala celebration. It was held in a country club ballroom with a great meal, speeches from each of the 3 sons, and a dance performance by niece/granddaughter Allison. Earlier, I had volunteered to design the invitation.
Anniversary invitations are fairly standard - Rococo swash lettering in a formal symmetrical composition. I wanted something more than that - something that conveyed the longevity of 50 years. The concept was to show two photographs - one from their wedding in 1942 and a current one, from 50 years later. The type and layout fit a 1940s style to further emphasize the length of time, achieved by the typeface, subdued colors, absence of green (it was being rationed during the war), and the photo elements positioned at an angle. A 40s look would also be somewhat familiar to many of the guests in attendance.
The invitations were printed on a standard card stock at a print shop in Edmond and shipped to Dallas where they were addressed and mailed. One set was framed and presented to the honorees. The unique invitation, that also served as a keepsake memento, received numerous commendations from guests. Design and production: winter, 1992
Brochure for historic house in Edmond
Plan rendering for Hafer Park
Proposal and final plan for rebuilt OC Art Department
Calendar newsletter for City Arts Center
Map to Art Deco lectures in Tulsa
Logo for Graphic Design 1 class
Student-requested, the mark represents Jim's in-class teaching style: Student asks a question, Jim responds with another question, student discovers answer.
1987, 1988, 1990? just a blank card-stock, 1991 cover of newsletter. 1985 illustration by Garry Lewis, Brookhaven College, 1987 Change of Address card
Identity for Sarah Martin
Worksheets for Robert Mondavi wine sales
Addition to PHP Church
Areas of concern
• Lack of parking
• Poor sense of entry from main Parking lot
• Poor sense of order, maze of hallways
• Inadequate gym/Family Activity Center
• Poor connection to nature, vistas
• Visitors, first time users, guests
• Infrequent churchgoer/member
• Regular, frequent churchgoer/member
Objectives for new plan
• Provide connection to:
1. Fellow members: worshippers, users, social functions
2. Nature: sky, clouds, earth, trees
3. God: heavens, spirituality, uplifting
• Create a sense of entry; welcoming, inviting, clear
• Provide open gathering expanse, vista, light, free space
• Create a sense of order; symmetry, balance, alignment, comfort
St. Louis History Museum floor plan, Forest Park, August 1989
• Spaces closed to the public are greyed out to visually clarify accessibility.
• Lower level stairs are drawn more accurately to better show how to get to the restrooms.
• Gallery names are printed within the galleries to avoid adding another step of translating codes to the legend. There is no need to require the viewer to look back and forth between the plan and the legend. make the info easy to find and easy to read.
The museum responded to my submitted suggestions and agreed to incorporate them into the new guide.
Some miscellaneous project sketches
A round recording/television studio
There was a period, during high school, in which I was fascinated by a nail care device my mother had that was about 14" round. The structure looked like a model of a building. Or, that's what my imagination saw it to be. I would often spend spare time (or, more likely, homework time) sketching numerous highways, amusement parks, buildings, and stage sets. This was also the era of rock bands, especially from England, and going to concerts. A local tv station had a studio in Northpark shopping center where they produced and aired an afternoon teen show similar to American bandstand called Sump'n Else. All of these factors came together and formed the concept of a recording and television gallery studio to produce albums and record live performances and television shows. Concept and sketches: 1966-69?
Upper level: Control rooms and private viewing boxes.
Main level: The main recording studio and gallery seating.
Basement level: Three smaller recording studios with control rooms, dressing rooms, offices, storage rooms and two sets of hydraulic elevators - one for moving sets and equipment and another central set for raising performance platforms in the main studio.
Satellite structure: Entrance to an elevator that leads to a tunnel to the main structure, to escort bands and personnel to the dressing rooms safely.
Rooftop fire and fountain detail sketches.
A better museum guide
This small but fascinating Museum of American Finance is dedicated to money and economics. Part of the appeal is that it is located in the grand banking lobby of an early location of the Bank of New York. The old hall and current museum is one flight up from the entry and ticket counter. Museum visitors are handed a one sheet Guide and floor plan of the Museum (left below).
Part of the design process is to understand the user - the reader, viewer; the target audience. The museumgoer is often somewhat overwhelmed with being in a unfamiliar naborhood and entering an unfamiliar museum. Great museum materials help the visitor establish orientation and feel welcomed and comfortable in the space.
Above right: Improvements to the Guide
The text elements are aligned for more order and less chaos.
Contact info is grouped together as a unit.
The out-of-place inappropriate serifs in the words Exhibit Guide have been removed.
The kerning in Exhibit Guide has been tightened, allowing a larger point size.
The Museum logo serves as the 'You are Here' point of reference at the top of the stairs.
But, the most important and necessary improvement is changing the orientation of the floor plan to better respect the user. The existing plan has the title at the top and the entry direction towards the bottom and the exhibit labels on their side. Notice the restroom symbols laying on their side in the rotunda.
We are conditioned to expect north at the top. With EXHIBIT GUIDE at the bottom, it serves as the starting point for the user. From the entry in the rotunda, the user moves on up into the museum:
Lesson - and it may be the most important lesson for a designer:
Design and critique work through the eyes of the user, the customer, the reader; not the client, and not the designer.
Problems with the guide map to the UN
During May, 2007, I toured the United Nations in New York City. It was fascinating - I learned that it was the UN that mandated all air traffic controllers and pilots on the planet speak and understand English, that red means stop and green means go, and even the expiration date for milk. The logistics of the tour - learning where to go, getting tickets, waiting for a tour - were not conducted well, a bit awkward, confusing, and inefficient. The map handed out was no better:
Here's a map of the United Nations for visitors. Its from a brochure that is printed in a multitude of languages for the international visitors. At first glance it looks like a decent map, but here's how this map could be better:
Change the label of 1st Basement to Lower Level. The label on the left, Visitor's Lobby is okay since it is at the entrance level, but the visitor doesn't know nor care how many basements there are - first, second - we just don't care. Basement sounds a bit scary - 'we gotta go down to the basement?' Lower Level works because it relates to the lobby level - one intuitively gets that it is beneath that.
Change the icon for the Ticket Desk. A dollar sign often means an ATM machine. The ticket desk is actually the first place the visitor wants to go - to get a ticket to go on the tour. One would not think to go to the place with a dollar sign - one wants a ticket, not money.
Use the standard icon for Elevator. The one used here looks like the one for an empty vending machine.
Delete references to the Tour Coordinator. The visitor doesn't care who is in charge of coordinating tours. If that also serves as tour information, then label it Tour Information (although there is another Info booth by the entrance and one is likely to seek info from there or the ticket seller).
Reduce the number of legend icons. Legends make the reader go back and forth from map to legend to find stuff - usually, as is the case here, there is enough room on the map to label the item without adding another layer of information.
Remove the tiny arrows pointing to the restroom entrances. Move the restroom symbols to the entrances. One doesn't care where the bathrooms actually are as much as where the entrance to the bathroom is. The arrows are added to compensate for poor design decisions. Instead of adding crap, redesign and solve the problem. Design should aid communication and comprehension, not bog it down.
Change the color coding. The light green in the lower right of the left map is off limits to visitors, but the dark blue Exhibits Area color looks more foreboding - the light green, being so close to the tan area, looks inviting; like one can go there.
Here is the crucial change to make - reorient the map on the left 90 degrees to the left. One enters at the green entrance and looks straight ahead - the map should respect that orientation so the visitor can get his/her bearings more easily and intuitively. And - the two maps are oriented differently. If one does get the orientation bearings from the first map, then one goes downstairs and the map for that level is turned differently. Its just rude and inconsiderate to be messing with people at a time when they are disoriented and want to be guided, not confused.
Note: This map is another great example of a piece in which the designer did not design for the user.
New table cards for MoMA's Cafe2
One afternoon in the fall of 2005, I was at the Museum of Modern Art, hereafter referred to as MoMA. I had ordered lunch in Cafe2 (its the cafe on the 2nd floor) and went and sat next to an older woman. As we were waiting for our food to arrive, we got to talking about the food delivery system, hereafter referred to as FDS.
An explanation of the MoMA FDS
The host hands you a card that explains the procedure at Cafe2. After you order at the counter, the cashier hands you a laminated card with a number on it and she (they were all women) types that number into your order on the machine. Once you find a seat, you are supposed to place your numbered card into the alligator clip mounted at the top of a wire stand. Guys (they were all men) later pick up the order and check the ticket for the number that the cashier typed in. The guys then have to scan the entire room until they find the card with the number that they seek.
Okay, back to the story: This woman wisely suggested that they could color code the numbers. Brilliant idea. I told her so. She flushed a bit and we discussed it a bit further, enjoyed our lunch, then parted ways amicably.
A few months later, Sean and I are sitting in about the same area in the same cafe. I told Sean about the discussion I had with the lady. We further refined the concept - 3 or 4 different colors. And different shapes. Color coding the numbers and using different shapes would reduce the amount of cards the guys would have to scan. If the guy was looking for 'Red round 44' he would only have to peruse the round red cards until he found number 44. Also, Cafe2 at MoMA was very minimally furnished - simple tables and chairs, white walls with white framed white art on them. We felt the splashes of accent colors on the table tops would add a nice aesthetic touch to the space. Especially since it was in a museum. We made a few sketches and notes (our work space shown at left). Sean took some pictures and we refined our notes and the images over the next few weeks.
The proposed new FDS consists of colorful unique floral shapes that uniquely denote food order numbers and provide an innovative and fun aesthetic element within Cafe2 at MoMA.
The new cards also serve as 'centerpieces' on the table. Centerpieces remind us of having guests over, decorating the table, and providing a special sense of comfort and care for our guests. The floral shapes offset the rigid geometry of the architectural features in the space and become, themselves, abstract works of art - art that is functional and enhances the Cafe2 dining experience.
Some of Sean's rough sketches of the cards. On the left - flowers and shapes. On the right - refined roughs of all flowers.
The proposed FDS table cards:
1. Enhance the efficiency of delivery of food. It is easier and quicker to spot a particular number. The basic concept already in place with black & white, is now carried even further.
2. Add a fun layer of aesthetics to the cafe. The spots of colors and shapes become focal points that help unify the room and provide a sense of whimsy and fun for the tired and hungry museumgoer.
3. Continue to show how MoMA pays attention to detail and impresses the visitor with innovative graphics and systems for operation. The proposed solution meets the objectives of improving the FDS and adding a fun element of focal aesthetics to the museum cafe.
Sean designed a leave-behind presentation that included diagrams, sample cards, sketches, and thorough rationale.
In addition to improving the efficiency of the FDS and enhancing the aesthetics of the space, the new shapes offset the rigid geometry of the architectural features in the cafe and become themselves, abstract works of art - art that is functional and enhances the dining experience for the MoMA guest.
Above: the existing FDS in Cafe2. Below, the proposed FDS in Cafe2.
The new shapes and colors used in Cafe2 lend themselves appropriately to a set of coasters that can be sold in the MoMA Design Store. The museum visitor can now take a bit of their experience home with them. Each flower shape has the additional copy of Cafe2 and MoMA to help reinforce the brand image of the museum. The coasters are sold in a flat pack of 4. The simple clear package allows the coasters and MoMA brand to be easily seen while sitting on the shelf in the store. Shoppers can buy multiple sets if they need more than 4 coasters.
Concept refinements, notes, sketches and fotos: July 2006
Preparation of submission packet: September & October 2006
Submission to MoMA: October 20, 2006
Cafe2 was remodeled in November of 2006. A visit after it reopened showed that they are now using three colors - black, white, and red. Each card has instructions printed on it.
In 2009, I noticed a new pattern on the napkins - these geometric shapes would be perfect on the table cards. These patterns were designed by Ivan Chermayeff in the 1960s for use on sugar packets at the MoMA Cafe. The three basic chspaes - circle, square, triangle - would be perfect for the table cards.
The slightly blurry foto below is of brgr, an excellent hamburger restaurant on 7th Avenue in NYC that uses a similar system of colored flag cards.
A wedge cruise ship
A ship is just a big thing that floats. It needs a flat side so it can dock alongside a straight-edged pier and it needs to be hydrodynamic (aerodynamic but in the water) on the open sea. So, instead of being long and narrow, it could be shaped like a wedge of pizza. If you've ever floated pizza in the bathtub, then you witnessed how well it sliced through the water and still could dock along the side of the tub.
The triangle shape allows more options for a unique resort experience. There can be more broad areas for activities and vistas.
Just an intriguing idea - not sure if the structure is feasible, cost-effective, or practical. But, it is a fun idea. March 2010
Comparisons - Not quite to scale, but close.
Triangle boat from J.Ruiter, a Product Designer from West Michigan, December 2016
Award winning and globally acclaimed designer, Joey Ruiter pushes through the boundaries of the norm and finds new ways to solve problems which leads to products that are as useful as they are jaw dropping. He has the ability to see around the expected and to notice the unexpected in otherwise ordinary things.
The Dare to Dream yacht, 2018, has space for 12 guests and 40 crew. Visionary French designer George Lucian, based in Monaco, admits his creation is largely fantasy but believes it could be built one day. Its design is reminiscent of the US navy's recently commissioned $7.6 billion Zumwalt-class US Navy destroyer of October 2016:
Some sketches for airports
Our modern lifestyle includes spending time in airports: counters, concourses, lounges, food kiosks, baggage claim. Due to government inefficiency and panic fear among some Americans, some of that time is spent in lines and waiting. While frustrating, it is still amazing to later step into a metal cylinder and soar through the skies to another city in a matter of minutes or hours. Often, while waiting, I will sketch improvements to the experience.
I realized a while back that I was a 'noticer'. I notice things. Example: At O'Hare airport in Chicago, I couldn't help but spot how the base of the sign outside the Brookstone kiosk did not respect the patterns in the terrazzo floor. So, of course, I moved the sign. Didn't bother to check with anybody, even though there were several people nearby watching. In its new position, it creates an arrangement that is more orderly, more connected to its environment, and more respectful of the viewer and our innate desire for order.
1. An orderly environment is often preferable to one of chaos.
2. Seemingly disparate elements can respect each other, often in subtle ways.
3. If you act like you know what you're doing, you can get by with almost anything.
4. It's often easier to ask forgiveness than to seek permission.
Although I didn't need to do either in this case. The Brookstone employee did not care about me or what unusual stuff I was doing to their sign.
I suspect, if you've flown much at all, you have searched an airport waiting lounge looking for an outlet to plug in your charger. Some new airports and remodeled lounges are installing more outlets, but these pictures were shot at Newark airport. There are a few charging stations, but each one only had 4 outlets and each was occupied. Then I noticed the ring of pay phones - there were 4 or 5 of these in this lounge. I walked around several times to check - never was a single phone ever in use. Not one. Of course not. People were standing nearby using their cellphones.
So, it seems quite easy to replace the phone banks with a similar circular structure that contains banks of outlets above a worksurface. The electrical power is already there which, I assume is one of the main deterrents to adding more outlets in an airport lounge. No waiting area or floor space would be lost as the new structure would not be any larger than the existing one. Sketches:
Love Field in Dallas
Love Field was once one of the busiest airports in the nation. Then, DFW airport opened and to minimize competition, laws were passed to limit traffic at Love Field. Southwest airlines was founded and used Love Field as it's home base, but much of the terminal was repurposed or just abandoned. While traffic has increased (including other airlines also), many areas were outdated. An extensive reconstruction of the entire terminal is taking place in 2012-13. The map above left shows the new terminal in coral and the old in the tan. The new wings of the terminal seemed awkward and inefficient. Got me to thinking and sketching. What if small airports (not hubs) were redesigned around a more centralized node.
1. Instead of spread out thru concourses, one centralized area with all services in the 4 corners:
a. Restaurant, sit-down for those with time.
b. Food court, with several options and shared seating areas.
c. Store: several outlets: snacks, magazines, books, electronics, souvenirs, all together like department store.
d. Entry and exit.
2. Shorter concourses.
3. Minimal ticketing area. Trend is to pre-ticket online and print boarding pass or download it to smartphone. Fewer checked bags.
4. Better area for security lines - more room for queue lines, wider aisles, more scanning stations, larger area for retrieving belongings, and more seats for redressing.
New concourse at San Francisco airport
Notice the chaotic hallways and aisles on the left. Imagine arriving and deplaning at one of the gates (grey dots) and trying to find your way to baggage claim or ground transportation. What a maze of options. And, you'd be battling the passengers trying to find their gate. For the visitor, there will need to be extensive wayfinding signage.
On the right, simple main pathways out of the terminal. Also, the food options are grouped in a court. Have you ever bought food at an airport, then walked a bit farther and found some other, even better options? Here, like in a mall food court, the diner can see all the options before deciding.
Easy navigation is crucial in an airport. Many users in an airport aren't comfortable - they're stressed over time, meeting people, upcoming meetings and presentations, and maybe even a fear of flying. Some people in a hubport may not be familiar with that airport or it's facilities.
This symbol version emphasizes how chaotic and confusing the new terminal is compared to the revised terminal layout.
Proposal for new traffic control sign at the OKC airport
In 2005, the airport in Oklahoma City, Will Rogers World Airport (one of the few airports named after someone who died in a plane crash), closed a large parking lot in order to build a new multi-story garage on the site. A remote lot was opened to compensate for the lost spaces. The airport needed a way to communicate to drivers where all of the parking lots were located. Like many airports, Will Rogers faced increasing competition from off-site lots and increased vehicular traffic as the number of flying passengers increased.
Funnel Design Group was the airport design firm. The banners inside the terminal, some of the signage, and the airport graphic pieces were designed by Funnel. I was hired as a team member to work on this project to improve the environmental graphics and wayfinding at the airport.
We explored the entire system of environmental graphics - signage, labels, wayfinding, placement, size, colors - from the exit off of the freeway to Meridian Road, the roadways towards the terminal and parking, and the entrances to the lots and the terminal. We explored user needs - the primary target market would be rushed, ignorant of the airport layout, and possibly a bit stressed. The new signs would need to provide assurance, guidance, and comfort. Details of exits, specific sizes and relative scale were not important. Just show the user how to get to the parking options - that's all the motorist is concerned about. The exit information is communicated by wayfinding signs inside the lots.
The map sign, lot signs, and other wayfinding signs were submitted to the director of the airport. Some were accepted and implemented, other proposals may wait for implementation until the new garage is finished. The map wayfinding sign was built and installed.
Concept: Jim Watson; Design: Jim Watson and Sean Cobb; Production: Sean Cobb; Fabrication: Airport staff
Designed: September 18, 2005; Sign installed: late fall, 2005
A map-like plan of the parking options at the airport; color-coded and clearly marked with type and labels.
1. Get attention of motorist - large sign, bright colors, recognizable type and symbols
2. Communicate quickly - use standard parking symbol to convey that this is about parking and black arrow to show 'You are here' and direction of travel
3. Show that there are several options for parking - lots, garage, and hourly
4. Guide the user accurately - show roadways, direction of travel, and lot entrances
5. Easy to read and understand - high contrast, sans serif type, bright colors, minimum of detail and clutter
6. Relate to existing system of color-coded signs in use at the airport - red for parking, blue for terminal
7. Easy to build and maintain - use existing standards and signboards and airport construction staff
Above left: Comp rendering of sign superimposed on site. Above right and below: Photos of finished installed sign.
Red River Casino District
Just across the border from 6 million people in North Texas, a loop of 5 or more casino hotel resorts, golf courses, motels, restaurants, theaters, lake and river activities and excursions. Express bus and train service from OKC, Tulsa, Dallas, and Ft. Worth.
Las Vegas casino resorts
Flamingo, Caesars, Excalibur. Contemporary connection between TI & Mirage. Paris (former Bally's).
Alpine Resort, indoor ski slope.
Addition to the UCO Union
National Gallery London addition
• Small pane reflective glass to reflect surrounding buildings.
• Major focal point angled wall in materials and style to relate to existing museum.
• Angle peculiar to grid and the surrounding buildings.
• Museum cafe and gift shop on first floor with outdoor seating, pedestrian activity, and easy access - enter from the museum or from the street.
Plan of multi-use development: tall twisting facade tower in center, shopping mall, hotels, restaurants, condo towers, conference center.
Mexico City Zocolo plaza & traffic patterns.
Grocery store with one checkout lane & one Express lane. United Nations security entrance plaza.
Customs checkpoint at a border crossing. Theater with industrial factory interior.
Indians, UT Austin, 1968-1970?
During a phone interview for dept chair, Nov 2005; a faculty meeting, Jan 2006; a committee meeting, Dec 2005
A typeface; I also explored using software to merge a letter set in Helvetica with the same letter set in Times Roman. Those are the two most specified typefaces and both are time-tested classics, so a single font from the marriage of those two might be even better. This is still a work-in-progress.
Sketch of personal tombstone 1980s