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The Design of Prada
Of course, I’ve studied these things pretty closely.
I’m very interested in design and art,
and how Design can
make Art more powerful.
So when Miucci Prada was thinking about taking over a compound of industrial buildings in Milan to rethink their presence as a significant array of art-filled buildings, who do you think she chose?
What you’ll see are photographic studies of placemaking, texture, materiality, signage. What I found compelling, in a walking wander through the compounds, was the detailing—the little things, the big gestures—the larger framing of the site, and the smaller details: materials, specially-made elements: flooring, grillwork,
blasted glass and metals,
gravel, screeds, joins and joints.
When I’m walking, I’m touching everything as I walk. Someone mentioned that to me the other day, that “walking behind you is like walking behind an octopus, you keep touching everything, your arms and hands flailing around.”
People said, as I recall childhood —
“would you keep your hands of that, please?”
But aside from the allegory of the octopus, what I’m really interested in is the holism, the touching-points of how people sense places.
And it’s how I feel things.
You walk into something, a place, and you could do the following: that would be “scent,” then the power of the “sight,” what’s the sight drawing through to you? You hear, what? There could be a lot of clues to a place for a blind person on two out of three of the senses so far. As well, there is the touch, the balanced nuance, as some say, to intuition — the sensing instinct. There is a discipline to the procession into the environment of PradaFondazine | Milan. So I look for things.
And you can see what I look for.
Just a stairway, with
perforated barrier screen.
You are here.
Stone. Gravel. Grate.
Check out the material mix.
Kids and site mapping and end-grain 4″x4″s.
Even industrialized places —
kids have the ability to play.
Note the stairway through
the perforated screen behind.
What’s striking about this place is that the thinking comes forward in the spirit of an Italian industrial compound, but as you enter the exhibition areas, there is a striking embellishment to the journeying from one place to another inside the complex and a complicated, thoughtfully orchestrated detailing of how buildings come together, how pathways form themselves, how corridors collide and the manner in which light enters the place.
THE DEEP STRATEGY OF LUXURY | CONTEXT DESIGN & PLACEMAKING
BRAND STRATEGY, DEVELOPMENT + DESIGN
Girvin Strategic Luxury: http://bit.ly/NwMv46
Girvin Brand Luxe Thinking: http://bit.ly/gTW5HZ
AS A DESIGNER, A BRAND PERSON —
A CREATIVE, A STRATEGIST, A MARKETER —
ALIGNMENTS OF CREATIVITY.
THAT COMES TO THIS PARALLELISM: THE SYNCHRONY OF
HOW YOU THINK, WHAT YOU’VE WORKED ON
AS WELL AS WHERE
IT COMES DOWN TO:
WHAT YOU ACTUALLY KNOW,
AND WHAT YOU UNDERSTAND —
which I’d play
as two different things.
WHEN IT COMES BACK TO YOU — THINKING JOURNEY, what comes to mind? WHERE WERE YOU? Where did you go? What did you see? Why was any of that inspiring?
What do you know — that which you’ve really been-through, places you’ve been to, experiences that you’ve touched directly.
And what do you understand?
As I talk to new talent, new relationships in GIRVIN’s team roster — people that we work with, what we need, people that we are looking at for new GIRVIN talent, I’m asking about knowledge, experience in the real, and understanding.
Not theory. Action.
I search between these words —
what do you know?
And what do you understand?
Knowing is being.
Understanding is being in the midst of — it’s putting things together, being in the middle of comprehension as a transaction in learning, grasping and holding.
Knowing is to be-in.
to stand in-between.
At this point in my career
what I find
[literally: “what are you finding / what have you found?”] —
is the going back
to the life points where key ideas
find their moments
of revelation and flowering.
I’ve been doing that, wandering the long creative journey, the working practice of my life’s “work.”
And going back, asking — “what is the work?”
what are you doing,
what have you done?
For our line of work, questions worth considering.
You got here in the range of your creative work for a reason — you were driven to come here.
And that would be why?
Ask your self:
Why this work?
How this work?
I go to moments,
I think of instants
that set momentum
in the unfolding of
my creative —
making / working —
That work is magnetized in drawing just-now stories,
colors — hand-ground pigments
torn by hand.
That came in a series
of meditations that showed them as
the metaphor of journeyer,
This figure came as a meditation
on the meander, the sojourn into a place where you
For not everyone who wanders
is the one,
the two together,
the crowd of wanderers,
For my journey, the Wanderer is
the explorer that lies within each of us.
I painted 32 in a meditative retreat.
There are 4 seasonal and directional cards.
And twenty-eight wanderers in the puzzlements of:
The Wanderer in the Mountain Series.
The Forest Wanderer Series.
The Desert Wanderer Series.
Cave Wanderer Series.
And these Wanderers:
You wander alone, or with another — close, far.
But there will always
be another Wanderer.
The closed journeyer, the opened pathway.
The Journeyer, the Raven, the Horse.
The ice fire —
one finding the other:
Embroiled in the storm
A cleansing recharge
Destruction of knowledge
Of course, this is only a handful of these 28 studies, but the point was drawing meaning from inspiration — designing storytelling and illustrating the character of the outcomes; finding energy in journey, in opening doors unopened, sharing partnership in crossing, walking into
the super-naturality of
the Cave, and
air and fire.
But what is
to the work?
In any creative journey, we contemplate and build strategies towards emotionality — style and persona, we lean into storytelling legacy and evolvement, we meditate on the patterning of metaphor, allegory, symbolic context.
We all wander.
The answer is never a straight line.
It wavers. It’s labyrinthine. It goes right, left, straight, turns back.
That’s the Wander.
and the wonder.
B a r c e l o n a, Gaudi Hall
These would be
queries for me.
Why not apply
to our own history?
Your design, your work, stewardship, brand-making.
Y O U
A R E
W A N D E R E R
S E A
Listening to the waves
A flowing quietude
What else, in the articulation of points of inspiration — you find a point of Light, what would you do with it?
That would be Ravens for me.
Tricksters, intelligent, resourceful, playful, black beautiful.
Drawing them is like calligraphy, listening to them is like magic,
watching them is a way in the world.
And the story, there.
Have an inspiration?
Draw it out,
mark it on stone,
draft on wood.
In the beginnings, I drew — the 70s — on found wood, to practice, save money, experiment, form improvisationally, draw free.
What does that mean to now?
I did a logo, drawn in sand.
Just make it.
As in the beginnings of the work, it’s about finding that point of expression in design — the signature of storytelling, to illustrate that one idea, in the best manner possible.
S O U L
F U L L Y
L O V E
on a seafound driftwood 2×4”timber.
on an old plank.
Eye see you on an abandoned timber.
I contemplate the movement through
other challenging movements
in the wander.
As a Creative,
when things don’t go well,
what do you do about it?
I draw them in.
And draw them out.
There are two periods of darkness.
I go back.
I can remember the first time that I was exposed to a Tibetan vajrayana teaching presence — a human distillation of Himalayan spirituality.
It was Sogyal Rinpoche, decades back. Sogyal Rinpoche (born c. 1950, several years before me ) is a Tibetan Dzogchen master of the Nyingma tradition. He is the founder of Rigpa and the author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. That book came out sometime after my connection with him.
He was a relatively young man.
And I’d been asked to create some art for him on a poster.
That was all about death.
And the quote that I’d rendered, with a kind of wet brush, was about breathing in, breathing out. And you keep breathing. You keep breathing till you can’t. And you exhale. And that’s that.
And business challenges.
What would the meditations be for these travails?
I worked with horses, and they walked me through.
Somehow, they hold
sentient observation that is calming,
looking into them.
Being around them,
Working with them.
You know that sensing, I’d imagine.
These are dreams of wild horses of fire.
In my earlier years of studying Chinese calligraphy and painting, what I learned from my research on the 6th century canon on painting by art critic Hsieh Ho was that the real work was about energy, finding the energy that flows through everything. And drawing it out.
Imagine, 550AD and setting these
as the two top principles of painting?
“Spirit Resonance,” or vitality, and seems to translate to the nervous energy transmitted from the artist into the work. The overall energy of a work of art. Xie He said that without Spirit Resonance, there was no need to look further.
“Bone Method,” or the way of using the brush. This refers not only to texture and brush stroke, but to the close link between handwriting and personality. In his day, the art of calligraphy was inseparable from painting.
The Bone Method also sets an alignment that should be familiar to all designers — the personal spiritual presence of the “you” in your work.
That is, if you’re going to draw a horse, draw them out.
And I went to the ancient Gods.
Drawing a string of dozens of beings —
and this as a gathering of forces —
a meditational drawing set.
That set of watercolor contemplations took me to a better place.
Months of paintings — 108 beings.
I’ve been offering all of these —
all of these meditations on Etsy.
You can explore here.
The point is the finding
what lies beneath and
The why of your work,
the deeper side of design,
the soulful side of brand.
Marketing as a conversation, a contemplation on humanity,
the knowing exchange of ideas, of ideals, of that which is made
Or many others.
Walk to the deeper.
In questioning your self, you can ask
better questions of
those that you work with.
G I R V I N | BRANDS BASED ON GENIUS
BUILDING STRATEGY AROUND PEOPLE
As designers, we stand to create ideas, impressions, messages and visualizations. And they are patterns — patterning of recognition, patterning pathways, patterning constructions.
We create code, don’t we?
You might ask, just what is a pattern? It’s an ancient phrasing to the notion of a modeling —something right, as a portrayal, an outline, a plan, a modeling — to that of principle, and yes, a principal. Could be true as a patron, as in the Latin “patronus” — that would be a 14th century appropriation, “the one to follow, as in a model.”
What if you could design a single mark, that then would be the centering point of a strategy to design, literally, everything?
Logo first, designed — outwardly?
Start close-in, then move out to everything.
Interiors, signing, packaging, lighting, products.
Just do it all, applicably.
Kris Ruhs did.
Everyone knows about 10 Corso Como.
You too, right?
As a reminding, that
would be this visioning.
I was there, looking at environments, walking them, studying them, shooting them.My own history lies in that selfsame exploration — how could you design a mark that becomes the center of an experiential universe?
You could, like this, start with the walk-in
and see how it works.
Get out there.
Look for a patterning.
Make a patterning.
Sure, we all love type.
We love letters that we can relate to — whether handrawn, clean fonts, old-style work or hyper-modernist future fontography.
I like both.
Recent. Now. Future.
But we forget about how it actually works —
the alphabet is a mystery of markings that reach back thousands of years yet in the last 500 years, there has been a wide dispersal of how type is actually arranged, and that’s something we forget —
how it’s set as an array of characters.
e del Design
In our work, coincidentally aligned with a blog posting [one of many] on GIRVIN’s type design, as well as our typographical eblast disseminated to our friends and clients around the world, we design type by drawing it, pens, pencils, brushes — then we convert these renderings to a digital form and build on that towards key-strokable accessibility.
This museum plays to the history of letter press work — the technological evolution of the last 500+ years, then examines the way and the what of type design, the stamp work of creating hand-carved and punched lead types for impression, as well as the printed exemplars. The Museum is built as a foundation to type and printing, endowed by a visionary and grateful printer.
Here’s a tour in a collection of small images for your perusal. It’s quite an amazing collection — not only to the notion of type design, but as well, a collection of presses and types of printing, and folios of letter samples from some of the grand font houses of Italy.
Anyone involved with the basics of design will recognize how this works — lead type, impressed once or repetitively into stock by a single punch of pressure, or rolled and repeatedly stamped for the creation of a multiplicity of documents.
As it was back then.
And as it was back then, later —
into the last century.
When I first started as a typophile, I worked on old-style press plate work and letterpress — and there are likely a couple here that will recognize a Vandercook. Others will get the general tenor of the press strategy — inking type set in a press set-up and impressing that reversed typography into paper.
Its feeling is unmistakable.
Questions about an image, pull it out, resend to me with a question: ask me?
Been there, done that.
One thing that is distinct to much of the work is the perfume of hot ink, linotype-cooked metal, sheared paper stocks.
Nothing like that, in contemporary press work.
This museum is a celebration of an entirely ingenious technology, that in its iterations and variations over time, continued to push the limits of how quickly words and ideals could be cast as a set of letters, then printed.
For me, it took me to my beginnings and my Alphabet Odyssey in 1976: meeting with fine printers, type designers, stone cutters, glass and crystal engravers, sign painters, shop owners, and typographical artists in London, Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, and in studios in Switzerland, Austria, and the former U.S.S.R including Moscow and Tallinn.
All on a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for:
And yes, the decimal point is correct.
It was in this adventure, meeting live with masters like David Kindersley, Will & Sebastian Carter, Heather Child, Donald Jackson, Ann Hecle, Adrian Frutiger, Hermann Zapf, Gudrun Zapf von Hesse, Friedrich Neugebauer, Hans Halbey, Hans Schmitt, Karlgeorg Hoefer, Maxim Zhukov, Leonid Pronenko, Villu Toots — among others — that I laid the foundations
for who I am today.
As many know, I have
a deep and abiding love
I seek it out,
look for it,
And to that, we created [Michael & I]
It’s what you can’t see, or what you can imagine, through the fog, that’s interesting. I found it fascinating to experience that selfsame and happy precipitation in Venice, along with our AluFriends.
Comune de Venizia is an astonishing city. Its history is about defense from the Germanic Lombards who — after their destruction of Roma — sought out other valuable real estate, including Venezia. The people escaped to the marshlands and erected a city on wooden Alder pillars, lashed in quicklime, that created a petrified substratum of pilings that created a concretized foundation, supported with Istrian limestone, that, mostly, survives to this day. There are other challenges.
Haze made it
all the better
in my eyes.
The flight in
And DHL by Gondolier
[1 — the first of the series of Italian notations.]
You Shall Be Death | Viola Installations
Given that today is the day for the celebration of Death, the hallowed eve — I offer this meditation: and what was, and what shall be — for all of us; it’s that one inescapable truth.
In my return from Europe, I’d referenced
an exhibit and video installation that was in a crypt.
It wasn’t planned as a discovery,
a known entity, but rather it appeared on
a late night walk-through
the labyrinths of Milano.
And, rather than the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, just around the corner in the ancient side of Milano, a stately set of galleries and massive library shelves, corridors and objects of art — this expression was underground — in a sepulcher.
It’s a powerful alignment
history and spirituality.
That was where the power was, an exhibit on the vanishment
that is our trait in a profoundly sanctified space —
an underground transitional place;
in the evanescence of all of us —
where we go, as we shall
At 4.00min, you can grasp the tenor of the production.
We all know its inevitability.
It comes, we go.
Bill Viola designed it, shot it, wrote it, produced it.
It has the character of these studies — the video.
It’s an astonishing piece of work –
a grouping of three separate installations.
I waited until late, with Dawn,
to see the show at 10.00pm.
Down into a crypt.
Imagine the dust:
What I have learned in one day is
t h a t :
E V E R Y D A Y
J O U R N E Y
[SMALL OR LARGE]
however long, difficult or winding these stairs might be —
their point is
to take you to
another point of view,
another way to see
o u t.
That: the green light doesn’t only mean GO.
It could mean STOP.
Sometimes there are signs —
that, in their simplicity —
convey the most obvious wisdom.
Read them, and contemplate their direction.
And: p a y a t t e n t i o n.
Out, the shoreline, hiking on water,
you see where you’re going, where you’ve been.
And, at the same time — you can see what is above.
And what is below.
Sometimes, there are signs that say nothing.
Yet, in their place, and what they lead to,
they can say everything.
Deer like peanut butter.
Two hands, in the supplication of an offered prayer — could be,
in meditation: a discovering.
Sometimes, one might presume
that what you can’t see
There are things to be learned,
in every path, every way.
Every day, as light emerges, out — that way.
GIRVIN | Decatur Island Studios
G I R V I N | THE MESSAGE IS THE VOICE
DESIGNED TEXTUAL CONTENT: THE BREATH OF SOULBRAND
The Legacy of the Eagle Scout Award
This year, the badge and legacy of the Eagle Scout reaches back a century. In the Girvin family, this is a potent tradition. All of the Girvin brothers are Eagles. And the tradition of scouting runs passionately deep in our experience. Every season — we’d pack up our gear and head out, the hiking path, pitching camp, wandering and explorations wild. 50 mile hikes were set as consistently as the turning of summer.
The Eagle Award isn’t easy, it’s a lot of work — there is a sash-full of 21 “badges” — each, an exploration of a trade, a vocation, a skill. In my own experience, each badge taught me something unforgettable. I was talking to a client about tiering messages in marketing communications — and I realized this core Girvin principle, really came from meeting with a journalist newspaper editor about how the newspaper works, the research of reporting, organizing content founded on newspaper design strategies, information architecture [to page] and “what people will read.”
This principle I’ve recalled and held as real and presently applicable — for 40 years.
Eyes scan for relevance + resonance to:
Sub head >
First sentence >
Body text >
Content closure and conclusions
The First Official Tim Girvin Sign
Every eagle has a project, to win the award. Mine was building, carving [or routing out, by hand] a sign on a water trough that had been long abandoned and likely completely unknown, to hundreds of thousands of drivers, touring past Manito Park, and Grand Avenue, Spokane, Washington.
The point for me linked to what is now a foundational process of thinking about signing and environments —
research, messaging development — writing a messaged, registered in line length to fill the measure [see the right and left block copy registration], siting and design, drawing or scribing the message, incising, painting, affixing the design and, finally, building [or supervising] the installations.
These principles still apply, to our thinking about signing, environmental graphics — and how people “get messaging.”
During a time when many brands are celebrating their anniversary — from 10 years to centuries of staying power — I look to my personal experience in scouting, and the process of the Eagle Scout rank, to be one of the most powerful, and deeply meaningful, in the milestones of my life — the learnings there, unforgettable, to this day.
Eagle Scout &
Founder | Chief Creative Officer
GIRVIN | Strategic Branding
T E A M S l o c a t e d i n :
Seattle | NYC | San Francisco | Tokyo
G I R V I N STRATEGY | THE MESSAGE IS THE VOICE
DESIGNED TEXTUAL CONTENT: THE BREATH OF SOULBRAND
The Focus of Watch Fullness, Studying the Terrain Around You.
I was hiking and, to every horizon line, path, water-lined and sanded beach and I studied the wind, the insects’ movement, the course of birds, the turning light and colour of green-cast tree-light. And — who was near by? I watch the pace of the other — out there, far — the forest, deep — the long line of the beach. I measure the stride — and see what progress is made. The watch is the guard, the sentinel, the synchronizer of measuring and time — but the ancient meaning is “to be awake.”
I sense the allegory of the circle around each of us — the cast of the street, the sidewalk, the shop, the shelf, the attendant — the arrangement of service; and, as well, the sequence in and the egress out. In everything there is a path — but the pointed question would be: “as you make your way, what is your watch? How awake are you?”
In some — aligned to the business and brand world, they think only of the closest proximity — they do not see out, the farther watch, the horizon, the bigger spin, wheeling and turning, the machinery of time. At the table, the shelf, the shop — what deeper sight do they offer? They would show that hopefully in the bigger wander — and the wonder — the meaning of shelf, of object, of presence and of story?
What are you looking for?
To what degree, your wakefulness?
How close, your study of the circle around you, your journey?
TSG | Decatur Island Studios
G I R V I N | RETAIL
DESIGNING THE STRATEGY OF SELLING :
ENVIRONMENTS, EXPERIENCES = PLACES
I spent time at the Seattle Center today, Boeing PSC IMAX Theatre [Girvin did the logo for the complex, as well as the theatre, along with the signing treatments,]
checking out the monster “Image Maximum” screen showing of Prometheus [http://www.thescreamonline.com/girvin/index.html]– which the Girvin Seattle office has seen as a team — [that was Cinerama] this showing was IMAX.
Size does matter.
Meanwhile, the entire Seattle Center complex was jumping with the Gay Pride Parade — start, or finish, hard to tell which it was, but it was a party, for sure! There was rain bowed banners, hair, clothing, everywhere. And, even from the view point of our offices in NYC, there is a celebrative acknowledgement of gay spirit.
Photo credit of the Empire State Building adorned in the Pride Rainbow by Inga Sarta-Sorenson, who is the terrific director of communications at NGLTF.
G I R V I N | DESIGNING FOR MOVIES
THEATRICAL BRANDING + ENTERTAINMENT
IMAGINATION: AND THE TOOLS TO MAKE IT HAPPEN