I am a ruined designer. My eyes burn red at the sight of standardized fonts (Comic Sans and Papyrus are the top two on my hit-list), and poorly used Photoshop preset effects (damn you bevel and emboss!). I went to school for Entertainment Design (movie posters/campaigns and video game ads), and my outlook on these posters changed dramatically over my years at FIDM. I learned so much about titles and effects and photography and even color schemes that determine the genre of the movie. (99.9% of the time, white background with red or bright text is a light-hearted comedy or holiday movie; characters lined up in a staggered row or a single looming character almost always means a horror film. Useless information from the brain of Natalie I know, but I bet you’ll start to notice these things now that I’ve pointed them out. (Insert evil, corrupting laugh here). I was living in Los Angeles at the time where you can’t go more than 50 feet without seeing some kind of movie ad, and I’d have mini panic attacks over poorly designed posters, or nearly wreck my car, elated by a captivating and well executed one. My eyes and brain were jaded with the babblings of my professors and the ever-growing knowledge of the semantics of the design industry.
Any graphic designer/artist knows this feeling and knows it well, even dreads it. You see an advertisement with a green background and red text, a pixelated picture, or an outer glow on text set at 100% opacity; you amuse your friends with the “I know that font” game. Non-designers don’t think twice about the aspects determining poor design, or merely say “Hmm, that looks funny/not right/oh well,” while us designer folk convulse in the corner.
Working for Tangram has been an interesting and refreshing experience so far. I have finally come into a world where I have very few preconceived notions, no real technical knowledge, and aside from my own personal taste in furniture, no real experience. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate any form of design, despite a lack of personal know-how, but a month ago, my only judgment of a desk chair was whether or not it was comfortable to sit in. I heard the words “office furniture” and thought of the movie Office Space: cubicles twisted into a maze with no sight of an exit, executive offices whose square footage and net worth rivaled that of a small mansion, and employees a pin-drop away from going postal. I thought “office furniture” and jumped directly to Corporate America, where the only excitement in an office is changing from Swingline to Boston staplers.
So I started this job in relief from the panic attacks and preconceived, nitpicky design sight design school so kindly blessed me with. My eyes are however, starting to adjust to the Tangram guided judgment of the world of office furniture. I was watching a movie and I caught my eyes drifting past the fore fronted actors to judge the furniture set up in the background. “Hmm. That couch almost looks like the Await Lounge…” My eyes quickly darted back to the actors and I thought, “And so it begins…but really? So soon?” Becoming “ruined” in the world of design takes months, even years, to develop in to the hellish wrath that infects your brain. So for now, I am safe. Safe from the twitches and twangs of the minor brain aneurisms that are sure to unfold as I condemn set designers for choosing Ikea furniture over Steelcase, or the thoughts of “the Leap chair would look SOOOO much better there than that tacky $50 Staples thing.”
I’ll end this (note/ramble/blog) with a much-deserved thank you: I thank you, Tangram, for giving me a fresh look at the world of furniture, and my poor little brain a break from the zombie-like state bad design propels me into. And to my fellow designers, a question: what design faux-pas make your skin crawl?