Choosy is one of those tiny pieces of software that quickly becomes indispensable. Its premise is beautifully simple: open the right link in the right browser, every time.
That premise belies its incredibly power though. Choosy also lets you set behaviours and customs actions. Always open mail:to links in Chrome? No sweat. Send a link from Chrome to Safari? Easy. The accompanying extensions – for all of the major browsers – make that a piece of cake.
I was introduced to Choosy by George Brocklehurst, a former colleague and Choosy's creator (when he saw me copying and pasting links between browsers). I used it for years and was dismayed when it finally stopped working because of changes in OSX.
When it came time to update Choosy, I happily took George up on his offer to update the icon. The previous icon felt complicated, especially given how simple Choosy is to use. In fairness, the original icon was a product of its time and reflected Apple's Aqua aesthetic with reflections, gradients, and 3D effects.
My goal for the icon’s redesign was to simplify it as much as possible. It needed to feel elegant, simple, and straightforward.
After some thought, I chose to base the new version on one of the original icon’s triangles. This creates a tie between the original icon and the new one. It's a strong geometric element and communicates the concepts of direction, navigation and movement.
Finding the proper balance of the C to the triangle proved to be a surprising challenge (turns out that mathematical alignment was completely visually wrong). I also found drawing a geometrically perfect triangle with rounded corners very, very difficult (I was trying to use the Pathfinder tool to merge circles with the corners of a triangle and then remove the negative spaces).
Eventually, I realised that Adobe had probably solved this problem. A quick Google search later and I used the incredibly simple “round corners” option. ಠ_ಠ
In the end, I’m very happy with how the final version turned out. A particularly difficult challenge was ensuring that the icon represented well at all sizes – as small as 16 pixels square, for use in the Apple menu bar and as a favicon (the 16 pixel square version actually has a slightly different layout and font weight to render properly).
And here’s what Choosy looks like when it’s running in your Mac’s menu bar:
You can buy Choosy for $10 USD. It’s worth every penny.
Back in 2013, my friend Steve Marshall asked me to speak at the Expedia Summer Symposium. Steve knows Eva-Lotta from their time together at Yahoo!, so I didn’t think anything of seeing her at the evening. Also, I’d just started at Expedia that week and was singularly focussed on delivering a good talk.
I spoke about how wayfinding is an intrinsic part of the human brain’s spatial awareness (memory palaces!), how this should be applied to signage systems, and how it can benefit the web.
A few weeks later, Eva-Lotta messaged me to tell me that her sketchnotes from my talk were on Flickr. What I didn’t realise until April of this year is that, for the fourth time, she compiled all of her lovely notes into a book.
She sent me a digital copy and it’s a great piece, full of lettering, beautiful sketches and genuinely interesting tidbits.
I volunteered to help with the interaction design and the flow of the user journeys. Additionally, I contributed to the visual styling and the refinement of the app icon.
The app opens with half the screen devoted to a map view, and the other half a list of the nearby grocery stores. If the user touches the map, the list collapses. This allows the user to pan and zoom the map to refine their search.
Selecting a grocery store from the list brings up the hours of operation, as well as giving the user options for walking and driving directions, and calling the store.
Recently, I was experimenting with a new illustration style. Rather than render an object in its whole, I abstracted the representation slightly by using geometric planes. At first, I tried using polygons but the overall effect was jumbled and not quite what I wanted.
After doing some reading about polygons and geometric planes, I eventually came across Delaunay triangulation. The mathematics behind them are fascinating but I was instantly drawn to their application to my problem.
After drawing a couple of simple objects with Delaunay triangles, I decided to apply them to an idea I had for a series of prints. My friend Steve is passionate about mid-century modern furniture and we’d recently had a conversation about the work of Charles and Ray Eames.
With that conversation fresh in mind, I drew the Eames’ classic chairs with Delaunay triangles, wrote a short history of each chair, and had the finished posters printed on a beautiful mocha FSC paper.
The finished posters:
It was only after I finished my prints (and drawing hundreds and hundreds of precise triangles) that I discovered DMesh – a beautiful little piece of software that will render a vector version of any raster images with Delaunay triangles. Oh well. ;)
While cleaning out my files, I rediscovered these somewhat cynical birthday cards that I made a few years ago. While the lettering isn't the most refined, I quite like the writing. Despite this being a personal project, there was still an approval process – Leah vetoed a few of the copy options including "ONE STEP CLOSER TO THE GRAVE". ;)
A quick peek at some food photography I did recently. It's always challenging to photograph raw fish so I'm quite happy with these two shots.
In 2014, D'Angelo released his third studio album, Black Messiah. In addition to being a fantastic piece of work that's received critical acclaim, it's notable because fourteen years had elapsed between its release and the release of his second album, Voodoo.
For me though, Black Messiah is notable because I can't find it in iTunes. My mental model when I look for an album or a song in iTunes is almost always to search by artist first and then refine my search from there. There are rare cases where I search directly for one song – Alice Cooper's Poison is an example – but for the most part, I search by artist. And that's where iTunes lets me down…Read More
The stairwell has beautiful light fixtures which, when paired with the wood walls, create a tremendous sense of the mid twentieth century era.
The hallway to the bathrooms has these reproductions of vintage Air India travel posters. I particularly like that at some point in the past few decades, Air India thought that "naughty pictures" offered by a beret-toting, moustached character in an overcoat was a major selling point for Paris.
Beautiful wooden doors, and more lovely light fixtures.
Don't miss the jukebox! Just incredible – look at those details!
The logo for TfL's Night Tube Service has two gorgeous little details. The eyes and the beak of the owl are glyphs (o's and dot of the i, respectively) that are pulled directly from their official typeface, Johnston Underground. It's not just a clever touch though – details like this help make the logo feel instantly familiar and unify it with the rest of TfL's visual language.
More photos from our brief stay in Hanoi.
Just the right amount of animation, stretch, bounce and easing.
Update: in contrast, here's an example of what might be the dullest animated GIF ever to be crammed into a marketing email.
I'm tempted to say, right off the bat, that these are the best mince pies in London. If they're not, they're certainly a contender for that title, something I feel somewhat qualified to judge*.
Yeast Bakery's mince pies are beautiful. Every single part of them feels as though it was created with love, care and attention. The details are beautiful and carefully considered as well. When I picked up the box, I was immediately drawn to the paper tags, a lovely, off-white, natural paper with a lovely toot. When I complimented Angela (one of the owners) on the tags, she laughed and told me that she'd made the paper herself. Astonishing.
And then there are the pies themselves:
They're beautifully constructed and perfectly baked. The short crust pastry is surprisingly substantial and gives these pies a wonderful weight – they don't fall apart in your hand like the Duchy Originals. That weight only enhances the experience in that each pie feels more solid and more real than say, the thin crust mince pies from Konditor and Cook. As you'll see below, the pastry maintains its shape and rise even as it's being eaten.
Form aside, they're delicious. The mince filling is rich, moist and perfect. It's a classic mixture of fruit and feels instantly familiar without being tired. It's a perfect example of how if something isn't broken, it shouldn't be fixed (Heston Blumenthal should take note). Frankly, I can't wait to go back this Saturday for more.
Yeast Bakery (map)
Open to the public Saturdays
* When I worked at Reevoo, a colleague brought in every single brand of mince pie available and we spent a morning tasting and reviewing them. He and I also once tracked the number of mince pies that we consumed in the month of December. It was well over 30 pies each when we called off the tally.
A smattering of shots from the new Dishoom in Kings Cross.
I've written before about Marvel's attention to design when it comes to film titles and end credits and the new trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy is no exception. I'm rarely a fan of movie logotypes, particularly within the science fiction and action genres – they're often clichéd treatments involving chrome/metal, 3D extrusions, gradients, rough or degraded typography, and the same fonts.
For me, the logotype for Guardians of the Galaxy is the exception to the rule, in no small part thanks to its details. The 3D extrusion is minimal and elegant. While there's still a metallic treatment, it's somewhat unique in its subtly (compare it to any of the typographic treatments for any of the Robocop films, remake included) and in that the metal is rusted, worn and old.
But really, it's the details in the lettering that delight me: the way the letterform of the U accommodates its neighbouring A; the overlap of the T and the H in the smaller text. It shows care and attention to detail.