Michele Jannuzzi, Richard Smith
dotlinepixel. Thoughts on cross-media design
Preface by Cecil Balmond and Bruno Monguzzi
colour & b/w illustration
Technological advances have changed not only the constraints and possibilities of individual media, but the interplay between media, and our expectations. Never before have we had the potential to channel and cross-reference such a wealth and diversity of information; and never before have we been posed such difficult questions about how information is structured, delivered, and accessed; about who sees what, where, and for how long. Designers not only have to be successful in designing for this medium and that medium but in making them work in tandem with each other, without tautology or contradiction. A cross-media approach involves media selection, optimisation, and articulation to define effective and efficient strategies for the delivery of information, where each medium is played according to its strengths. In this environment everyone is a prospector: everything is up for grabs. “dotlinepixel” illustrates these themes through the working methodology of Jannuzzi Smith, one of Europe’s most innovative and influential design studios.
“When repro and print become more cost effective, the quantity, size and weight of design portfolio books shoot up, threatening the shelf space and floorboard strength of any mildly interested buyer. GCE is a company that has bucked this trend by producing carefully conceived graphic design books in a small (A5) format, and at a modest price. To their credit, this is not a straightjacket:”
Dotlinepixel, the first in the series, is the closest to a conventional monograph with a sequence of projects from the London practice Jannuzzi Smith. The text and image selection might have benefitted from an outside eye, but the book includes enough detail about each project, including cross-media projects for Central St Martins, RIBA and Online Magic, to be a worthwhile purchase: the merit of a small book like this is that there is little danger of the content outstaying its welcome.
Review from: eye 42, by Martin Soames
dotlinepixel – thoughts on cross-media design
Technical innovations change not only the possibilities in individual design, but above all also the interplay of different media, and our expectations of them. The main focus of the author’s investigations is on the structuring of information and its presentation, as well as the answers to the questions of who sees what, where and for how long.
The task of the designer in terms of coordination of the different media is explained technically.
Die Technischen Neuerungen veränderten nicht nur die Möglichkeiten individueller Gestaltung, sondern vor allem das Zusammenspiel verschiedener Medien und unsere Erwartungen daran. Im Mittelpunkt der Untersuchungen der Autoren stehen die Strukturierung von Informationen und deren Präsentation, aber auch die Frage, wer sich was, wo und für wie lange ansieht. Die Aufgabe des Designers in puncto Koordination der verschiedenen Medien wird fachkundig erläutert.
Review from: Novum 07/2001
Books about design companies are big, thick and full of images?… Wrong! Jannuzzi and Smith of London have just published an unpretentious, thin volume about seven of their works.
Through their examples, they illustrate the potential and limits of artistic design for the Internet, while interplaying new and old media.
One example is an online fashion parade. To keep download times as short as possible, they have produced small-scale, very low resolution video sequences. That people are moving is as much as can be made out. By passing the mouse over the fuzzy film, the visitor can view a static image at normal resolution. This idea is not, however, just an emergency solution, but takes on its own new aesthetic. There is some text which discusses the problems encountered and the solutions found. An illustrated double page for each project does not so much present the finished product, but rather the ideas behind it.
Quer durch die Medien
Bücher über Designfirmen sind gross, dick und voller bilder. Alles falsch, Jannuzzi und Smith aus London haben ein unprätentiöses, dünnes Büchlein mit sieben ihrer Arbeiten herausgegeben.
Anhand dieser Beispiele beleuchten sie Möglichkeiten und Limiten der gestaltung fürs Internet und befassen sich mit dem Zusammenspiel von neuen und alten Medien. Die Designer stellen zum Beispiel die Präsentation einer Modeschau auf dem Internet vor. Um die Ladezeiten kurz zu halten, haben sie kleine Videosequenzen in sehr tiefer Auflösung erstellt. Man ahnt nur noch, dass sich hier Menschen bewegen. Fährt die Betrachterin mit der Maus über den gepixelten Film, erscheint ein normal aufgelöstes Standbild. Diese Idee wirkt nicht wie eine Notlösung, sondern hat eine eigene, neue Ästhetik. Präzise Texte erläutern die Problemstellungen und die gefundenen Lösungen. Eine Bilddoppelseite zu jedem Projekt bildet nicht das fertige Prudukt ab, sondern die Idee dahinter. Die eigentlichen Arbeitsproben sind briefmarkengrossgerade noch knapp erkennbar. Kaum mehr lesbar sind jedoch die hellgrauen Miniaturbildlegenden.
Review from: Hoch Parterre, Issue 10 October 2001
Dot Line Pixel
Thoughts on Cross-Media Design
By Sandy Wheeler
A new book by Michele Jannuzzi and Richard Smith
Problems beget solutions. Often the most satisfying are those that are utterly unforeseen at the outset, where the design process comes alive in the interplay of message, audience, medium and context.” So reads the final page of Dotlinepixel: Thoughts on Cross-Media Design, thereby capturing the book‘s essence.
Dotlinepixel, published last year by GCE Gabriele Capelli Editore, Switzerland, is a small book, measuring approximately 6 x 8 inches (15 x 21 cm) and composed of a mere 48 pages. It marks a refreshing departure from the excessive nature of more recent “process picture books,” which illustrate a given firm‘s energetic and prolific participation in solving design problems. Instead, this volume records the varied experiences of two creative designers liberated and inspired by constraints and self-imposed limitations inherent in technology and in communication design paradigms both past and present. This little gem, the product of Jannuzzi Smith, a design consultancy based in London, offers a wellspring of some of the most innovative thinking and graphic communication found anywhere.
Michele Jannuzzi and Richard Smith forged their business interests and creative expertise in 1993, after graduating from the Royal College of Art. Since then, they have grown and evolved, keeping time with the constant and often rapid changes in digital media and technology. They focus on the changing demands of visual communication and the need for creative teams to generate effective solutions to diverse problems in varied contexts. In addition to their business adventures, Jannuzzi and Smith are lecturers in graphic design at Central Saint Martins in undergraduate and graduate programs. While reading Dotlinepixel, one immediately senses that the recurring themes of contemporary visual communications are carefully examined and articulated, and that they cross professional and academic lines.
Dotlinepixel is organized into eight thematic sections: “Cross-media,” “Lowest common denominator,” “Movement vs. resolution,” “Hexadecimalisation,” “Datum,” “Hyperlinearity,” “Moving target” and “Articulated media.” Each section is based upon a revealing project that illuminates and clarifies Jannuzzi Smith‘s inventive approach to new technology. This review examines five sections that are of great relevance to interaction designers.
Following prefaces by Cecil Balmond and Bruno Monguzzi, the book opens with “Cross-media,” an introduction to the topic of communication from an historical perspective. It briefly discusses how new media has altered both our means of communicating and our methods of seeing and thinking. Here, we see through the philosophical lens of Jannuzzi Smith. The implications of technology, as the authors observe, are far-reaching: they challenge the conventional notions of what it means to communicate and what constitutes the possibilities and constraints of the communication process. Subsequently, a dialogue emerges between their unique approach to problem-solving, the interrelationships between various media and the expectations of messages, senders and receivers. They state, “Communication may be an old problem, but it is more difficult today than it has ever been, simply because there is so much more of it. Never before have we had the potential to channel and cross-reference such a wealth and diversity of information; but never before have we been posed such difficult questions about how information is structured, delivered and accessed; about who sees what, where and for how long.”
Related to their insights about current issues surrounding communication are their ardent suggestions that designers move beyond the superficial traps of technology to push the limits of digital media toward a greater emphasis on information and the conveyed message: “Ultimately, it is not so much the technology that is important but the facility, and not the medium but the delivery. We must start to see through the technology, instead of staring at it. The transition from an old world of static information to a new, fluid and dynamic communications environment necessitates considerable, and ongoing, reinvention.”
The section entitled “Lowest common denominator” presents problems designers encounter when typographic issues of legibility, elegance and personality meet those of the screen and bandwidth: namely scalability, rastering and low data-transfer speeds. The result is Jannuzzi Smith‘s typeface Mies, which was designed in 1995 and used for the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design website.
“Movement vs. resolution” provides a brilliant demonstration of translating one experience, a fashion show, into another medium, the web, without compromising the integrity of either. Through a combination of still frames and digital video, the best of both worlds intersect to provide the user with valuable information about the collection and the fashion designer while maintaining the visual and kinetic character of the original event.
“Hexadecimalisation” and “Hyperlinearity” present projects sharing similar concerns regarding visual consistency and coherency in presentation across multiple media and implementations. The former delves into the realm of color theory and explores a method developed for achieving visual consistency across multiple media: print, exhibitions and as an online website offering extensive search capabilities. This is illustrated through an identity designed for Brown‘s First, a Royal Institute of British Architects initiative. The latter, “Hyperlinearity,” addresses information hierarchies, structures and mechanisms for navigating in print and on the web. These issues are demonstrated through “Directions,“ the annual student recruitment drive of Central Saint Martins. This involved the development and design of a prospectus, individual course documentation, a website, posters, banners and an exhibition. Ultimately, the project demonstrates the reciprocal benefits of one medium upon another.
Dotlinepixel should not be mistaken for a “how to” reference on multimedia or interaction design. The book is didactic only with respect to representing specific experiments and inventions that Jannuzzi Smith has incorporated into its own work.
In a highly succinct and intelligent manner, Jannuzzi and Smith challenge awareness on all levels. They explore new ways of seeing, perceiving and problem-solving in the context of a brave new technological world. With each new technological change and innovation, they re-structure their thinking and practice to respond most effectively and efficiently to the “not-so-obvious” and the elusive nature of these changes.
Communication exists at the macroscopic and microscopic levels. This book is a manifestation of the latter. Just as the smallest unit of matter is the quark, the smallest unit of measure in visual communication could arguably be the pixel: the graphemes capable of interacting to form messages that are abstract or representational depending upon context.
The strength of Dotlinepixel lies in its potential to motivate its readers to reach beyond its content. For the visual communicator, it incites the development of apt methodologies and individualistic approaches to problem-solving stemming from dreams, philosophies and inspiring individuals. In a sense, the book offers a timely manifesto for a new century.
DESIGN MUSEUM, LONDON
SOMEWHERE TOTALLY ELSE
European Design Biennial
27 September 2003 to 4 January 2004
The Design Museum is celebrating the best of European contemporary design in Somewhere Totally Else – European Design Biennial, the first of a series of exhibitions featuring the most exciting and innovative design projects to have been produced in Europe in the past two years.
Exploring every area of design – from the ‘office of the future’ that the French designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have dreamt up for Vitra, and the Trent 80 engine developed by Rolls-Royce’s design engineers for the new A380 double-decker jumbo jet which promises to revolutionise air travel, to the hottest couture collection and a 27p stamp – the Biennial will be a must-see exhibition running from 27 September 2003 to 4 January 2004.
The Design Museum’s first Biennial comes at a time of unprecedented public interest in design when, thanks to advances in technology, we can choose to change the way we lead our lives: by living and working in the same place, for example, or working while we travel. The same new technologies are enabling today’s designers to work more creatively than ever before. The theme of Somewhere Totally Else – originally the title of an essay by the design theorist Reyner Banham – is to show how inspiring and innovative design can transform our daily lives for the better.
As well as offering Design Museum visitors a whistle-stop tour of the most exciting innovations in European design, the Biennial will encourage them to question their perceptions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ design. Some exhibits will be chosen because they look great, others for practicality, their positive impact on the environment or ingenious use of technology. While featuring work by famous designers, Somewhere Totally Else will also introduce Europe’s rising design stars and unearth anonymously designed products, which, like everything else in the exhibition, will exemplify excellence in design. Visitors will be able to voice their opinions by voting on what they consider to be the best – and worst – examples of different aspects of design in the Biennial.