Robert L. Peters

16 September 2008

1960s Braun foretells Apple’s future?



Winnipeg, Canada

I had a pleasant outdoor lunch at the Forks with old friend Gary Ludwig yesterday (Creative Director at Interbrand in Toronto, back in the ‘Peg for the weekend bar mitzvah of a friend’s son) and the inimitable(?) Dieter Rams came up in conversation. A discussion ensued regarding the intrinsic qualites imbued in Rams’ remarkable products designed for Braun in the 1960s and ’70s (I still use my ergonomically-perfect 30+ year-old Braun ET66 calculator daily—not even a change of batteries in three decades!), and Gary mentioned an article he had seen on Gizmodo recently that reveals the uncanny design similarity between Apple’s products today and Braun products from when we were kids.

When Gary returned to Toronto last night he sent me the link—here are Dieter Rams’ ‘10 principles for good design’ as often cited by Jonathan Ive (the “genius” designer behind Apple’s successful products):

• Good design is innovative.

• Good design makes a product useful.

• Good design is aesthetic.

• Good design helps us to understand a product.

• Good design is unobtrusive.

• Good design is honest.

• Good design is durable.

• Good design is consequent to the last detail.

• Good design is concerned with the environment.

• Good design is as little design as possible.

(Thanks, Gary).

Images: Some direct design comparisons between the Braun products by Rams and the Apple products by Ives. The interface of the new iPhone looks remarkably like my old Braun calculator (which I wouldn’t part with even if you offered me an iPhone in exchange). “Homage? Evolution? Rip-off? Decide for yourself…”

15 September 2008

Zenish… with tactile rewards.




Winnipeg Beach, Canada

During the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed collaborating with ceramist Evelin Richter (my girlfriend) in the creation of a series of pieces that combine stoneware vessels (thrown by Ev) with beach findings (bits of coral, pebbles, etc.). A selection of these works—which we’ve called “Zenish” (approaching “zen,” but perhaps more accurately “wabi-sabi”)—is now on exhibit at the Fishfly Gallery in Winnipeg Beach. I’ve always been an intensely visual person, and so am very happy to be experiencing tactility (better late than never, methinks) through the haptic art-form of ceramics.

As Ev puts it, “These pieces were an exercise in contemplation—combining natural findings with man-made form… the tactile end-results were surprisingly rewarding to mind and spirit…” You can see more of Ev’s works on her new website (designed at Circle and which launched this past weekend) here.

Images: Zenish; generous thrown stoneware basins (200mm to 250mm Ø) fused with merged beach findings; some low-fired to Cone 04 with burnished steel glaze, others wood-fired to Cone 12+ (unglazed, but flame-kissed with warm blushes and ash).


12 September 2008

Do the right thing… National Digital Media Day


Winnipeg, Canada

I’ll be giving a 30-minute keynote presentation (on Thursday, 25 September) as part of the National Digital Media Day celebrations in Manitoba. My topic is “Do the right thing. Do the thing right,” and will allegedly “contain practical advice, and ‘pithy insights’ from around the world” along with “age-old principles applied to current media scenarios.” I’ll use Circle’s “Maxim Dictum” (a sort of in-house manifesto to work and live by) as an outline. The mixer evening starts at 19:00 and my talk is at 20:00, followed by a “stirring of the proverbial new media pot” with sounds from DJ Lil’Phil who will “mix an eclectic melange of house, disco, techno, electro, down tempo, trip/hip hop, 80s, lounge, and acid jazz” until the wee hours. (It sounds like mine is the sage and sober bit that evening… :-)

The host venue is  the Pastry Castle Café on the corner of Arthur and McDermot in Winnipeg’s Exhange District. Cost is $5 and includes two drink tickets and enough cheese to make a Swiss schoolboy blush.

8 September 2008

Design Journeys, recognizing pioneers…




Boston, Massachusetts

The “Design Journeys” project celebrates the stories and work of diverse designers and educators through online galleries and biographical essays, a special collection in the AIGA Design Archives and a traveling exhibition in 2009. The first seven featured designers’ entries have been published… see how the histories and work of these designers can inspire the next generation of young people from all backgrounds to consider design as a viable and rewarding career… view the Journeys here.

Images: three works by Chaz Maviyane-Davies (from top): Poster on the plight of Palestinian people, Self/Iraq Cultural Centre, 1980; Poster to commemorate the 100th year of the death of Toulouse Lautrec, Salon des Cent, France, 2001; Poster on AIDS awareness, Centre of Design of Rosario, Argentina, 2007.

7 September 2008

Harvest time…



Ste. Anne, Manitoba

With flights of geese honking overhead and overnight temperatures dipping into the single digits, it seems summer is rapidly drawing to a close here in Eastern Manitoba. This weekend was a (long-overdue) time of outdoor catch-up at my place in the woods… mowing the meadow (first time this year), cutting firewood, re-potting dozens of houseplants (thanks, Ev!) and harvesting what remained of several varieties of crab apples (deer have a remarkable reach when standing up on their rear legs—the ‘low-hanging fruit’ was all but gone).

Next up, apple jelly… mmmm.

5 September 2008

Ever greener…


Stege, Denmark

Morten Flyverbom’s “Green Beetle” at Louisiana… inspiring!

2 September 2008

New Zealand… living on the edge.


Auckland, New Zealand

The September/October 2008 (#363 Interactive Annual) issue of Communication Arts magazine contains a feature article entitled “Living on the Edge: Visual Communication Design in New Zealand” written by Circle’s principal, Robert L. Peters. The in-depth piece investigates New Zealand’s unique attributes, history, culture, and current realities in relation to visual communication—the feature is accompanied by a selection of contemporary works by Kiwi designers drawn in large part from recent winners of DINZ awards shows (Designers Institute of New Zealand).

Peters visited New Zealand in late 2007, touring design offices in Auckland and Wellington (in conjunction with DINZ lectures in both cities) and acting as an external moderator for students graduating from the Wanganui School of Design. He has been contributing foreign feature articles to Communication Arts magazine since 1994, including pieces on design and design events in Russia, Portugal, Uruguay, Australia, Korea, Japan, Brazil, China, Denmark, and Cuba. Copies of CA issue #363 are available at book stores and major news outlets around the world and may be purchased online from the Communication Arts website.

“To foreigners, New Zealand is an exotically bucolic, clean green land of extraordinary natural beauty—a pristine playground-destination for thrill-seekers, and a place apart from the rest of the world—a view effectively reinforced by the tourism slogan “100% Pure New Zealand.”

To the country’s quietly self-reliant inhabitants, New Zealand offers a peaceful, friendly, egalitarian and multi-cultural haven for individualists who find themselves surrounded by a moat known as the Pacific Ocean. Blessed with a temperate climate, the island nation enjoys a relaxed lifestyle imbued with a love of the outdoors and the waters surrounding it, and an enviable quality of life.

Less known abroad (under the radar, some might quip) is the wellspring of talent, innovation and design prowess emerging from the NZ creative community—it’s at the forefront of this wave that the candidly fresh and vibrant vernacular of New Zealand’s visual communication design finds itself…”

Read more of the article (with full creative credits for works shown) or download the entire CA New Zealand design feature here (1.2 MB).

Note: this feature article from the Communication Arts magazine September/October 2008 Interactive Annual appears with permission from Communication Arts ©2008 Coyne & Blanchard, Inc. All rights reserved.

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