Shopping bags are wonderful things. They come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, they are plain or patterned, and useful for many purposes. I am not the only one who likes them: I have seen whole exhibitions dedicated to their design, function and aesthetic appeal. These days there are fewer disposable plastic bags around, and an abundance of multi-use bags made from that weird polypropylene material (it’s still plastic). (Of course, now more people buy plastic bin liners instead of using the bag their groceries came in!) Here is a plastic bag I haven’t been able to part with. I already know that I won’t throw it away, but I haven’t found the right use for it yet. It’s not the plastic-ness I like, though: it’s the logo! I like the handwritten style, the simple line, the self-containment, the black and white.
I was tagging along for the ride. It was a hot day, and when we reached our destination I decided to stay in the car for the short time that was needed for the errand to be run. Maybe it was the heat that drew my attention to the airconditioning units, maybe it was the total uninterestingness of the car park in general, maybe I was staring into space. Whatever the reason, my eyes landed on the aircon badging, and curiosity about the typography has led me to discover that the company started up in the 1940s, and while I’m sure the logo has been modified over the years, it still retains an air of retro.
My Summer Hill friends have gone bush, and we celebrated the new year with them in their new home on the south coast. We had planned quite a feast: a first course of local prawns with homemade tartare sauce followed by barbecued steak from Benny Bros of Cobargo, served with anchovy butter and a salad of herbs and mixed leaves. We ate too many prawns so by consensus decided to defer main course until the following night. But next evening the meat could not be found! Each of us in turn searched both fridge and freezer, and to our dismay discovered that the bagged-up prawn shells, that we thought had been put in the garbage, were still in the fridge. By then it was too late in the day to replenish supplies from Benny’s, whose closed painted glass door can be seen here through the flyscreen.
Steel and coal
My first reaction to this spiral detail was how clever it was, to include a company logo in the facade of the building in such an aesthetic way. I was convinced it was the BHP logo—before they merged with Billiton and modernised their corporate identity—but now, after quite some time online trying to find evidence that my memory served me correctly, I’m not so sure. I’ve checked every Newcastle and Wollongong steelworks-related name I can think of, but I can’t find the logo anywhere! It’s bugging me that I can’t identify it, yet I can picture it so clearly, in that spot at the back of my mind that is just beyond reach. I am hoping that synchronicity will work in its usual way, and that some time over the coming days or weeks I will see it somewhere else, and experience that ‘ah, of course’ moment that is so eluding me now.
I’m reading again. There are phases in a busy life when there is little time for the luxury of reading fiction, but I have made time lately to fit in a chapter or two each evening. I don’t know what it says about my choice of writer, but I have now come across several novels (in a relatively short space of time) that include a reference to Tim Tams. There are common features: the writers are American, the characters in question have an Australian friend who brings them a packet of Tim Tams (written as fiction but I suspect drawn from truth), recipients of the Tim Tams are likeable (no Tim Tams for the bad guys), and there is some comment worked into the dialogue about how irresistible they are. And who could argue with that! I like my Tim Tams from the fridge, and how these two packets have lasted unopened for as long as they have is a miracle. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tim Tam logo is one of the most recognised in Australia.
Earlier this week the Google logo underwent an adjustment. The bottom of the l and e didn’t quite line up, so to fix it, the g was moved one pixel to the right and the l was moved one pixel down and to the right. The change is almost imperceptible—much more subtle than my rough mock-up shows—but the spacing was altered to allow the logo to appear more evenly positioned on small screens. Despite the fact that Google didn’t publicise the change it seems to have received an inordinate amount of publicity! The current Google logo has been in use since September 2013 and was designed by Ruth Kedar. It utilises the font Catull, an oldstyle serif designed for the Berthold Type Foundry in 1982 by Gustav Jaeger.
The FedEx logo is the best logo ever. I still remember the first time I saw that white arrow, the one that’s hidden in plain sight. I was working in-house for a book publisher when a parcel arrived from the US containing a piece of artwork I had commissioned for the project I was working on, an illustrated book about Ancient Rome. Midway through opening the parcel I stopped dead in my tracks: I saw the logo as I had never seen it before! The remarkable thing is that, in an office full of designers, no one else had ever seen it either. I’m not the only one who think the FedEx logo is brilliant. Designed by Lindon Leader in 1994, it has won a swag of design awards, and is used in design schools to demonstrate the effectiveness of negative space. Leader’s design philosophy centres around simplicity, clarity and understatement, where less is more. To create the FedEx logo he used a combination of Univers 67 and Futura Bold, morphed until the arrow was just so.
Steinway & Sons, maker of high quality, award-winning pianos, was founded in New York in 1853 by German immigrant Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg, who later changed his name to Henry E Steinway. By 2000, they had made more than 550,000 pianos, each of which takes almost a year to complete. In 2010, on John Lennon’s 70th birthday anniversary, Steinway introduced a series of limited edition pianos based on the white grand piano Lennon owned. More than 1600 artists—including Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, Daniel Barenboim and George Gershwin—have the title Steinway Artist, which means they have chosen to perform exclusively on Steinway pianos. Not only are Steinways notable for their sound quality, but their logo is instantly recognisable. It was designed by William Steinway and the current design was first used in 1955. I have noticed the typography of the logo before, with the S shapes and ampersand, but what brings it to my attention now is seeing Diana Krall, a Steinway Artist of course, play her set last night on the Sydney Opera House piano, logo in gold on the side facing the audience.