Form follows emotion – I

Lately I have been researching on user centered design, based on the perspective: Form follows emotion. Which leads me to re-think about designers’ role for communication solutions.

As designers we are in search for ways to improve ourselves, try to catch up with new trends, follow art moves, foresee emerging technologies… All these visual libraries set the stage for the design works we create. Most of the time we try to find functional, simple and visually effective communication solutions. The question is: Where do people’s emotions and needs stand in these solutions? Not an answer but a clue is a quote from Hartmut Esslinger’s advice for designers video: “People want to be convinced by emotion, not by rational”.

We have to admit the gap between what we learned back at the university and what we are expected to create in practice. Getting feedback from design professors and colleagues is different from getting feedback from brands or customers. At the university we created dreams for ourselves, while professional life is for finding visual communication solutions for the real world and real people. In order to do that designers have to move away from their visual libraries sometimes; and spend time to discover: What do people need, what are the realities of the society they live in, what kind of communication will make people feel how?

A way not to discard peoples’ needs and emotions for a designer may be researching on social and behavioral sciences. I find Sheila Pontis’ paper “Metascience: a paradigm for postgraduate communication design research” enlightening. It is based on five areas in which communication design research may benefit from a meta-scientific approach: Research structure, assessment criteria, type of research approaches, communication channels and community links, and the gap between theory and practice.

One of the things Pontis mentions is lack of conscious decisions in design practice. I agree that designers should have solid reasons and background research for their decisions. Besides, not our personal tastes but users’ needs and emotions should have higher priority in design solutions.

I remind myself frequently the meaning of communication. According to wikipedia, it is the meaningful exchange of information between two or more living creatures. So, what is more important than what we, the designers are willing to give is what the users are in need to take. Although all these sound like a radical change but also small details make a difference. A few months ago I came across this video: How design thinking transformed Airbnb (an online platform for finding and hosting a place to stay), from failing startup to billion-dollar company. I find most of the changes they make more than functional, rather emotional. One of the inspiring changes was about their wish list button, which used to be a star. They looked into how people were interacting with the star and wondered what would happen if they changed it to a heart. When they tried, it increased user engagement by 30%. So may be to touch the emotions of people is not that hard?

Do the Green Thing

The first time I watched Andy Hobsbawm’s TED Talk, I remembered Hartmut Esslinger’s words: “Designers can change the world”. It feels right, however putting these words into action and coming up with a world changing design seems like a dream come true. That’s why I find Hobsbawm’s talk inspiring. It reminds me of the power of design and story telling but most of all it encourages me to make a change.

Here is Do the Green Thing with its own words: “If you join up just to make yourself feel good or to enjoy the videos and stories and then do nothing, that’s not great. Green Thing is about inspiring people to do greener things, lead greener lives and make a real difference.”

Mom, Am I Barbarian?

Partially barbaric map of Istanbul

Partially barbaric map of Istanbul

13th Istanbul Biennial, named after Lale Muldur’s book “Mom, am I barbarian?”, will start in a few days. The curator, Fulya Erdemci announced the focal point of the biennial will be “the notion of the public domain as a political forum”. Although there are lots of speculations and ambiguities about it, I prefer to pass them by and focus on the part I find inspirational.

Research wall

Research wall

A part of the research: Atatürk's alphabet

A part of the research: Atatürk’s alphabet

Interns working on barbaric hand writing

Interns working on barbaric hand writing

I confess, I am a fan of Dutch design, and sometimes I find myself surfing on the websites of Dutch creative agencies, design offices and stuff. A few days ago I came across LAVA, it is the agency who created the design concept of the biennial. They also have a blog where you can see all the design process including their researches.

At first I found it a little weird, IKSV working with foreign creatives for the 13th Istanbul Biennial because it seems to have such a local soul. I even remembered one of my instructors at the university warning us about designing works with a language we don’t understand for a culture we don’t know may end up with a total disaster. Then I went through LAVA’s blog and I went through it again, again and again… And I discovered they have gone through a remarkable, consistent and inspirational design process. Now I think they may have been even more successful than any local agency could have been. The reason is simple, they went through all the background research process about Turkish culture which may have been easily avoided by the local creatives. Another reason is, looking from a further angle they may be better at identifying Turkish cultural aspects, digesting and expressing them visually. What I’m trying to say is: May be they can not comprehend Turkish culture like a native, but they can find better design solutions to visualize it than a native.

Main image of the biennial

Main image of the biennial

Their research includes civility and barbarity, color codes of Turkey, urban transformation in Tarlabasi, re-construction of Taksim Square, behaviors and interactions with space, and it also includes public’s and police’s behaviours through Gezi Park protests.

Yellow background, black barbaric handwriting versus the civil one split up with a detail of Istanbul map. I find the work sharp, bold, strong and influential. What impresses me most is that, when I look at the work I feel nervous like I am really asked if I am barbaric. Am I?

Photography credit: All the pictures are from LAVA’s blog.

Vogue, A Green Holiday

(English extended version)

I wandered through the soul of the parks with a bank employer at a lunch break, having picnic with medicine students, joining the meeting of two marketing coordinators.

Words & Editorial Design, July 2013, Vogue Turkey

Words & Editorial Design, July 2013, Vogue Turkey

I had planned this holiday months ago with totally different expectations, it was meant to be an ordinary one, further from work and daily life. However when the departure time came the Gezi Park protests have already changed all the dynamics of my life. My expectations turned out to be just the opposite, I did not want to leave Istanbul and especially Gezi Park mentally or spiritually. I found myself in need of another way to participate. And started going to the parks at the cities I visited, Bologna, Milan and Amsterdam. All the parks I’ve been to were at the center of those cities, just like Gezi Park. I met different people there who welcomed me to their park routines.

Giardini Margherita, Bologna

Giardini Margherita, Bologna

This graffiti was made by the street artists involved in the festival Gardens Invaders.

This graffiti was made by the street artists involved in the festival Gardens Invaders.

"I play basketball twice a week at a park in my native town, Copparo. I grew up in this park and right now we are taking care of it with my basketball mates. During the weekend I go to parks in Bologna; Giardini Margherita and Villa Ghigi's." _Marco

“I play basketball twice a week at a park in Copparo. I grew up in this park and right now we are taking care of it with my basketball mates. During the weekend I go to parks in Bologna; Giardini Margherita and Villa Ghigi’s.” _Marco

Bologna – Giardini Margherita

Giardini Margherita is, at size almost seven Gezi Parks. The crowd was very young, although it was a weekday all the students were spending time there playing frisbee, football, guitar… It was very peaceful despite all the crowd and attractions.

Marco is 37, he has degrees in political sciences and welfare planning. He works as a coordinator in a refugees shelter. He spends time in the park three or four times a week with his wife and basketball mates. I ask him about the graffiti I saw at Giardini Margherita: Garden Invaders. He says “It’s sort of an urban festival settled at the park, a passive invasion of course! The goal is basically to open the park to everybody’s participation and creativity.”

He follows Gezi Park protests especially through independent media. He says: “It’s not about being ‘conservative’ and defending a park; more than that, a park is the symbol of liberty and socialization while a mall is the symbol of mere consumerism. In few words I think the idea behind the ‘replacement’ is: Let’s replace less rights with more consumerism.”

Sempione, Milan

Sempione, Milan

“Coming here is much better than going to a cafe, both more quiet and relaxing” _Francesco

“Coming here is much better than going to a cafe, both more quiet and relaxing” _Francesco

Milan, Sempione

Although the park is very close to where I stay, I prefer walking to Sforza Castle and pass through it in order to enter Sempione. It is bigger than ten times of Gezi. It starts with Sforza’s garden, and goes on and on including Palazzo dell’Arte, Tower of Branca, aquarium and Gianni Brera Arena until the Arch of Peace.

When I came across Francesco, he was working with his notebook. He’s a freelancer working on security systems. He lives in Pavia and comes to Milan everyday for work and spends his spare time in Sempione. When I ask him if he also went to parks in Pavia, with a smile he answers, “There is no need to go to parks there, the city itself is already green and peaceful”.

“I also love this park because there is a special area for the dogs.” _Sandra

“I also love this park because there is a special area for the dogs.” _Sandra

Sandra was walking with her dogs Milo and Tala by the time we encountered. She was taking them to the “dogs area” of the park. She’s German and her husband works for oil industry. For the last 16 years had lived in many different countries because of her husband’s work, they had been living in Milan for a year by then. She says, “We insisted about finding a house close to the park”. Her favorite moment at the park is when it’s raining, she prefers to spend her time alone with her thoughts. She mentions how important it is to have a park at the very center of the city. When we start talking about Gezi Park (which was planned to be replaced with a shopping mall back then) she makes a comparison with shopping and going to parks. She remembers the times she was living in the United States, Houston, she says “I have done a lot of shopping back then, but after a few months I got bored, shopping is not an activity which can be compared to spending time at a park, I love trees, birds, the nature.”

Paolo is 29, works at a bank. His ritual is to come to park every monday and tuesday to eat and read. It was one of those days for him, at that moment he was reading a book on a bank close to Sforza. “At work I interact with people a lot, two hours a week I like giving a break and spend time in nature” he says.

Vondelpark, Amsterdam

Vondelpark, Amsterdam

The Fish by Picasso. Vondelpark, Amsterdam

The Fish by Picasso. Vondelpark, Amsterdam

Amsterdam – Vondelpark

Moving on to Netherlands I said goodbye to the sunny weather of Italy. For the Dutch, going to parks is an essential activity. Vondelpark is visited by about ten million people every year. The park is about eleven Gezi Parks at size. Inside there are Dutch Film Museum, sculptures (including Picasso’s “the Fish”), playground for the kids, open-air theatre and an area for special events.

"In Helsinki park is everywhere! It’s like the city is actually built inside a big park" _Saara

“In Helsinki park is everywhere! It’s like the city is actually built inside a big park” _Saara

Two bikes, a blanket, fruits and cookies… I encountered with a Finnish couple having picnic. They are both medicine students. First I ask about their park routines in Helsinki, they say: “We go everyday for sports, also on the weekends for picnic with friends”. The conversation inevitably lead us to Turkish government’s critiques about the doctors who voluntarily took care of the injured protesters in Gezi. Tuomas answers underlining the doctors should follow their own ethics: “according to the Hippocratic Oath, doctors must help everyone who is in need”.

“Out of our work environment we think more freely and it is more likely to come up with new ideas." _Roger & Tibout

“Out of our work environment we think more freely and it is more likely to come up with new ideas.” _Roger & Tibout

I come across two people talking: Roger and Tibout. They are both working at the marketing department of Loterij. I join them, and we start walking towards the exit of the park. They come to Vondelpark everyday on lunchbreak to talk about work in a more relaxing environment. “Out of our work environment we think more freely and it is more likely to come up with new ideas. In the office we are stuck behind our desks seeing the same things and same people everyday which isn’t very inspirational.” says Roger. “So coming here is actually a part of your daily working life?” I ask. They answer smiling “yes, we are actually working right now!”. They are following the news about Gezi Park from Dutch media, I wondered what would they think if Vondelpark was to be replaced with a shopping mall or another project. Tibout thinks if they will build a park somewhere else or have a bigger plan, it may be considerable. While Roger says: “This park has it’s own cultural value, removing it would be like breaking down Rijks Museum and building it somewhere else”. By the end of the conversation Tibout agrees with Roger: “Values of the park are more than the trees and grass in it. People come together and spend their time here, even if you remove the park itself, you can not replace the soul of it in another place, because it happens to be here spontaneously”.

Vondelpark, Amsterdam

Vondelpark, Amsterdam

By the end of my vacation, I meet a friend of mine, Mine Sim. She has been living in Netherlands for 4 years. Our meeting is not at a park, rather in a Turkish way, we meet up for coffee. I wonder how Turkish people and Dutch differ about their park habits, she says “For the Dutch going to park is a major part of daily life. They spend their time at the parks in different ways: meeting with friends, reading books, walking, running… They also want their children to grow up close to nature. On the other hand, here people go to parks alone too, they feel safe. Meeting up for a coffee in Turkish culture is the reflection of going to park in Dutch’s”.

On the night of June 15th just before I flew back to Istanbul, I read that the protesters at Gezi Park was forced to leave the park by the police. I remember the protests in the Netherlands on 1971 to stop the car accidents which ended with arrangement of the bike ways. I wish also our story has a happy ending.

(Photography credit: @oualadinle)

Vogue, Astrology Illustrations

Illustration, 2012, Vogue Turkey.

Illustration, 2012, Vogue Turkey.

While designing new astrology signs for Vogue Turkey, I started with illustrating the “V”, then went on with adding components with references to each sign. My aim was to keep the signs as simple as possible, however I did not want the graphics to look totally flat too, so I decided to embed a soft texture in them. The main colors that are used are shades of yellow and red which are also suitable for Vogue Turkey’s brand identity, as an exception  I added blue to two signs, in order to make a reference to water.

These illustrations are still in use both in the print magazine and the iPad edition. While in the magazine every month the featured sign is the stand alone image, in the ipad edition all signs are used together with round beige backgrounds (as seen above).

Vogue, Marco Zanini

Editorial design, 2012 July, Vogue Turkey.

Editorial design, 2012, Vogue Turkey.

Marco Zanini and his new line which he designed for Rochas was covered in Vogue Turkey on the July issue of 2012. 

I was inspired by the reflection of geometry to Zanini’s line and tried to extend it to the layout. While working on the title, I was led by typography to explore new angles. On both of the speads, I used the angle of ‘y’ with an extended line and the horizontal bottom line of Marco. This helped me have a “neat and energetic” feeling on the first spread, while on the other hand let me emphasize the geometrical reference by using the same angle to crop the pictures on the second spread.

Vogue, Impossible Conversations

Editorial design, 2012 June, Vogue Turkey.

Editorial design, 2012 June, Vogue Turkey.

On the June 2012 issue of Vogue Turkey we covered Met’s Spring 2012 exhibition, Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations. It explores the strong similarities between Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada. The inspiration of the exhibition is Miguel Covarrubias’s “Impossible Interviews” for Vanity Fair in the 1930s.

Designing a layout for this article was very exciting for me. Schiaparelli and Prada are very different from one another, however they explored similar themes through different approaches. And the “Impossible Conversations” never really existed, since two of them have never met. Designing the layout was like visualizing a very realistic dream.

Editorial design, 2012 June, Vogue Turkey.

Editorial design, 2012 June, Vogue Turkey.

I decided to design a symmetrical 8 pages layout, this was my design solution for expressing their differences. For the head line I used Sangbleu airline together with Narziss and Narziss drops to strengthen the power and the contrast of the portraits. The symmetry is noticed on the following 3 spreads. On the second and the fourth spread, photographs of Schiaparelli’s and Prada’s collections are facing each other, while on the third one the text flows with quotes from both designers. For background color of the side quotes I used shades of gold and black, although they are different from each other they don’t have enough contrast to destroy the symmetry of the spread. Although every spread is symmetrical within itself, a sharp difference is noticed when focused on the dynamics of each spread. Just like Schiaparelli’s and Prada’s similarities versus their differences.

Hartmut Esslinger’s Advice for Designers

 

Hartmut Esslinger is the founder of frog design, where an interdisciplinary team of more than 1,000 designers, strategists, and software engineers work. Some of their clients are Apple, Sony, Lufthansa, Microsoft, Siemens and General Electric. In the video, Esslinger talks about the facts that I think nowadays designers started disregarding. His advices are not only important for designers, but also quite valuable for all the other people who work for creative companies. I must confess that this is the most inspiring video I watched lately, here are my favorite quotes:

“Form follows function” has been abused for sh*tty design.”

“Products are not for themselves, products are for us.”

“People want to be convinced by emotion, not by rationale.”

“Does it have to be rectangular because of a display?.. Today’s designers always make those boring boxes, they don’t understand symbols anymore.”

“If it’s accepted quick, it is not good.”

“What would people like to do if they had the courage to ask for it?”

“The question is how can designers change the world. Design can not, designers can change the world.”

Starbucks, Posters and E-Mailing

Illustration & graphic design, 2011, client work.

Posters, illustration & graphic design, 2011, client work.

While I was working for TUT, I was responsible for the art direction of Starbucks Turkey for over two years; including the brand identity change in 2011. Here are some posters I illustrated and designed according to the new brand identity. The posters have simple and plain graphics combined with clear typography. For the posters on the left side orange with beige and brown are used while the ones on the right side are mainly green and gray. The fonts are Avenir, Sentinel and Ben Hand.

E-mailing, illustration & graphic design, 2012, client work.

E-mailing, illustration & graphic design, 2012, client work.

As you see the e-mailing above, the same visual language is maintained through the other mediums as well. This is the design for a new store in one of the Princes’ Islands in Istanbul. I tried to strengthen the visual impression of the brand with the continuity of the color codes and fonts combined with particular illustrations for each work.