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Not Your Father's Conference Table

Another exciting design challenge came my way recently involving a client who wanted a new table for their conference room. Their existing table had a few issues which needed to be resolved, namely:

1. The legs interfered with the chairs.

2. The integrated power and data ports were outdated.

3. the outlets on the floor were clearly visible with unsightly cables hanging out.

4. The finishes didn’t match the other newer furniture in the room.

After I got the dimensions of the room and the location of the outlets, I set out to design a table which would solve the various issues. It was important that it be constructed such that they could fabricate the metal structure on-site (client has a prototype shop). Also, the existing table was very large, so it was essential that the new design could break down into manageable pieces that would actually fit through the door. At the client’s request I created several different designs, but the one depicted below got the nod. It was my favorite, too.

As you can see, one of the pedestals doubles as a conduit and covers up the floor outlet completely while still providing easy access. The center of the table is basically an access panel to the cabling so that it can be wired easily.

What do you think?

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Designing a Trade Show Exhibit That Lasts

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Designing a Trade Show Exhibit That Lasts

I don’t typically design trade show booths, but I was very excited at the chance to design this one for a client several years ago. Since they were just getting their feet wet at the time as a trade show exhibitor, they wanted a design that could expand and contract to fit different venues. To maximize efficiency, I created a modular design that would allow them to showcase both their various products on the same basic structure. It made sense to construct these modules so that it would be easy to update their surface treatments so they could be rearranged and re-skinned to create an entirely new look for a minimal investment. The images below represent some of the ideation, 3D models, photos of the eventual completed booth, and a virtual look at future possibilities. Detail sketch by Reed Crawford.

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Skeleton Chair Concept

I’ve been carrying around this chair idea in my head for a long time. Recently I decided to get it out of my head and build a 3D model of it so it would quit bothering me. The idea is based on a simple notion of designing a single vertebra-inspired structural element which, when duplicated and configured properly, could be used to build an adjustable chair. The chair shown below represents just one possible configuration. This is just the first draft. I’m already thinking about the weaknesses inherent in this design and how I might address them to make it easier to build, adjust, manufacture, etc. Still, it was a fun exercise. What do you think?

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Four Different Ways to Showcase One Wine Brand

I dug this one up from deep in the archives and re-rendered it using the latest methods.  I thought it worthwhile because this particular project shows how it is possible to go in some very different directions creatively in spite of the fairly strict parameters that must be followed on these kinds of projects.  All of these concepts are very different, but they all capture the brand essence well by remaining faithful to the clean, simple, premium-looking logo treatment that was used on the bottles.  Providing a few disparate options can really help clients to more precisely define the aesthetic they want their brand to present to consumers at retail.  

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Beautiful Beer Branding Raises the Bar

Major brands know there's a high marketing value in the art of establishing a consumer presence wherever and whenever possible, including (and perhaps especially) locations they may not consciously acknowledge it.  This was our task on this project, specifically targeting restaurant and bar accessories.  Since we're passionate about good design in all forms, we did our best to create pieces which we felt expressed the brand as beautifully and cleanly as possible, while also being a little clever and faithful to their intended function.

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3 Varietals, 4 Ideas

The challenge of visual merchandising design is to take an existing two-dimensional brand identity and translate it into three dimensions in such a way that it will command attention in store.  For this particular brand it was particularly rewarding, because it is defined by brilliant color and sweeping curves, which are automatically eye-catching.  Thinking up four completely different ways to interpret the identity was not easy, but the client was very happy with the results.  What do you think?

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Smokin' Display Concepts

This was an enjoyable project because the brand identity was simple and clean, the scale was small, and we were asked to explore the use of edge-lit acrylic to add interest.  After a round of sketches, we settled on a few directions and rendered them to scale.  Here are a couple of our favorites, along with some examples from the sketch round.

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All of Summer in a Display

In the spirit of July 4th I thought I'd share this concept we designed back in 2008.  It's purpose was to create a single in-store destination for the good old American backyard barbecue.  You got yer beer, yer briquettes, yer grillin' tools, yer chips, and yer condiments (other side) all in one big screaming rotationally molded endcap of freedom!!  Booyah!  

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2 renderings, 13 years.

This is a cooler concept I created for a beverage company 13 years ago.  I thought it might be interesting and fun to bring it into 2018 to illustrate the staggering improvement in realism that is now achievable because of the advances in software and hardware over that time.  The older image was rendered in 2005 using Cinema 4D v.8.  The new one is rendered in 2018 using Cinema 4D v.18.  This clearly represents a pretty profound difference, but current advancements in modeling and rendering technology hold even greater promise.  In a few years, it's quite likely designers will be abandoning the current way of working entirely, swapping a flat screen and mouse for a VR headset and handheld controllers.  We will be manipulating fully rendered objects like these in realtime instead of in wireframe, and the days of waiting minutes or hours for renderings to finish will become a thing of the past.  

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Standing Out in a Sea of Tablets

Back in 2011 a loyal client of ours approached us with an opportunity to design a series of displays for a new Android-based tablet that was designed just for kids.  Fortunately a lot of legwork had already been done to create a playful graphic identity for the product, so our task was to interpret that identity into a three-dimensional form which, we hoped, would do it justice.  The end result is pictured below.  What do you think?  Many thanks to Reed Crawford for his help on this.

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Taking a Trip in the Industrial Design Time Machine

My grandfather, C. Hatfield Bills, was in industrial designer whose career inspired my own.  Born in 1890 and essentially self-taught, he designed cars for Chrysler and Chevrolet, wooden speedboats for Century, and elevators for Otis during the Great Depression.  He designed this scooter (below) in 1945 and rendered it in gouache on Canson Mi-Teintes paper.  I still have the original illustration and it's always been a favorite of mine.  I've often wondered what he would think of the effect computers have had on his profession.  With that in mind, I decided to bring his scooter concept into the 21st century by building it in Cinema 4D and rendering it in Keyshot to see how it might look if he had had access to the amazing design tools we take for granted today.  If you'd like to see more of his work, I posted more examples on my Behance profile.  Clicking this text will take you there.  

A couple of years ago I decided to attempt a portrait of him in oil (below).  He enjoyed oil painting, too.  Clicking this text will take you to some examples of his paintings and pastels.

C. Hatfield Bills.jpg

C. Hatfield Bills working away at his drawing board, below.

Clarence Bills drawing.jpg

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A Toast to Modularity

How do you design a wine display that can expand or contract to accommodate almost any store environment?  That was the question we answered with this design for Toasted Head wine back in 2009.  This very simple and inexpensive shelf module comprised of wood panels and sheet metal will easily stack vertically and nest horizontally to grow from a small counter display up to a huge mass display.  The flexibility of this design was a big hit, not just because of it's flexibility, but because it also effectively evoked the identity of the brand, the name of which refers to a process whereby fermenting barrels are charred with fire to impart toasty flavors to the wine during the fermentation process.  What do you think?

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Wine with an industrial edge

Back in 2012, we were thrilled to have a chance to come up with some looks for a new floor display for Don & Sons wines.  Being fans of the modern industrial movement in architecture, we viewed the project as a great opportunity to see how its associated forms and finishes might be applied to a simple 3 or 4 case floor stand.  The fruits of our labor are below.  The version with the cellared bottles was ultimately selected for production.  What do you think?  

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Making a Stand for Gnarly Head

Back in 2008 we had a chance to generate some ideas for a small footprint floor display for Gnarly Head wines.  The colorful, rustic logo evoked a rustic but premium feel, so we did our best to interpret it into a three dimensional form that would meet their budget, bear the significant weight of 3 cases of wine, knock down flat for easy shipping and assemble with minimal tools.  We took special care to give the logo some dimension using die cuts, screened transparent panels and distortion-printed vac-forms.  The resulting designs are below.

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