Some time into the process of developing the mammoth package that is the Tourenatlas, we realised that a digital filter to the 1000+ routes would be a brilliant addition to the paper. So we sat down and sketched a mobile interface for Helvetic Backcountry's data, and over the late-summer months we developed an app for iOS and Android. The 30 areas with their 399 peaks can be filtered by ascent duration and difficulty, and the detail view shows you Serafin's beautiful maps overlaid with peak and route descriptions and photography. After the somewhat confusing twilight state of Apple's review process, the app is now live for free, on both the App Store and Google Play. Everything is in German, but if you're travelling Switzerland and enjoy touring, you can still get a very good overview of what areas might interest you.
It's been quite a ride, but we made it! The Tourenatlas is here, and it's a delight to handle. Together with Helvetic Backcountry we've created a package consisting of 30 areas with some 400 peaks and over 1000 routes in a 384-page book, complemented by 30 detailed tour maps. It's a combination of anecdotal texts, stunning photography and at the core, a system of visualisation that allows you both instant overview and deep insight into different aspects of the routes. There are some 1600 key points where routes intersect, and with the help of overview maps and adjacent graphs, you can easily put together your own alpine treks. The whole thing is available for preorder at helveticbackcountry.ch, and will start shipping after Nov 1st.
Anyone spending time in the Bay Area between Oct 24-26, should visit the Books in Browsers conference at the Internet Archive. We'll be speaking Friday morning, and both days are littered with interesting people.
How to document a 3-week trip through Europe with 13 artists + 1 minibus, running 9 projects + 1 radio station, using 9 different online services, and telling everything in 2 different voices? When asked by Heller Ent./Sound Development to develop an online documentation platform for the upcomingSound Development City 2013, this is the question we asked ourselves. The result can be found here. The site utilises streams from the various communication services (Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Vimeo, etc.) already used by the artists, and adds a 2nd layer of focused, carefully curated narration on top. The trip starts on Sept 23rd, and we're super curious what will happen as soon as the wheels start rolling.
Through projects like Berlin Transit and Sasso San Gottardo, artists/filmmakers Video Noir has made a name for themselves in the area of larger-than-life video installations. On their newly revised website, we wanted to give the documentation a chance to convey at least part of the works' spatial presence; an interface based on snappy scrolling and full-screen media. Co-founder and multi-talent Fabian Wegmüller dove in and took care of development himself, and the result is now online here.
A latest step in our collaboration with Sitterwerk, is the publication 'Archive der Zukunft'. The book, designed by István Scheibler, collects material – inspiration, transcripts, essays – related to the 2011 symposium with the same name. The book release/presentation will take place in the Sitterwerk Art Library on Wednesday 24th of April, at 7:30pm. More info here.
We spent the month of February in Brooklyn, NY, working with artist magazine Triple Canopy as they develop a new publishing platform to launch in September. Together we ask how publishing platforms and applications might not only illuminate but also amplify the fundamental relationships between people, places, objects, and social processes that constitute Triple Canopy's expanded field of publication. The February residency culminated in a 2-hour presentation/discussion around these questions, serving as a launch of a collaboration which which will continue far beyond the September platform launch.
The image of Mercurius appears over and over again in the history of Zürich – in an architectural, commercial and iconographical context – and the book 'Zürcher Mercuriositäten', published by orell füssli, tells this story. Based on the mercurial treasure trove of collector Karl Bernhard and enriched through texts/essays by various authorities on the subject, this book tells the story of a city from the perspective of a Roman god. With a combination of longer texts, archive material and categorial, linear and topographical indexes, we guide the reader through both time and space. In collaboration with Cornelia Diethelm.
Google has outdoor navigation pegged, and others keep trying, more or less successfully. But what about finding your way indoors? The HSLU research project DYGOS (German) focuses on mobile navigation in Swiss train stations, and invited us to come up with a couple of strategies / interface concepts.
This year's June issue of the Fabrikszeitung (currently on display in MoMA, by the way – congratulations!) contains an essay we wrote on the impact of data on archives. Read the text here, or get the full FaZ issue as PDF.
The literary work of writer/composer Alfred Wälchli (1922-2003) is an oeuvre barely known to the general public, but teeming with composing strategies that could be of great interest for authors and philologists. This research project, running under the Interpretation umbrella at HKB, aims to translate Wälchli's methods into an interactive set of 'game rules' ('Spielregeln'), to closer investigate the effects of iteration, word substitution, melodic writing etc. At the end of the project we will also have clarified the demands of a critical edition of his work, which will be applied in a larger, national project.
What is Query By Example Image Search? How would such an interface look? And what would be the benefits of being able to find images using images, instead of words? These are some of the questions we (at least try to) answer through our involvement in the MUSIC research project. MUSIC is a collaboration with HES-SO, UniGE and HSLU, where the QBE Image Search interface was our part, developed together with Floid. We'll post links as soon as we get clearance.
Super happy to announce that Lines, a modest 2-man show, managed to compete with the big guys!
Together with Helvetic Backcountry, we follow up their 2009 snowboard tour book with a completely new approach to winter sport guides. Backed up by the incredible amount of data these guys collected over the last years on their endless treks over the alps, we've developed an intricate visual system that allows us to highlight dangers and affordances along a multitude of tours. This is growing into a true Hercules' project, but the idea of having a revolutionary tool like this in our hands in 2013, is amazingly energising.
Perspectives (previously 'collecthing') originates from some sketches back in 2007, and developed from the same ideas about collecting web fragments as Trails. However, it took on a completely different shape: Where Trails allows you subjectively de-fragment your online research locally and physically, Perspectives lets you gather everything online, order and categorise in a completely free, visual layout based on coordinates, and collaborate with others on dynamic information maps. Over the last 5 years the project has lingered in the back of our minds, with at least 2 bigger attempts to bring it into a public domain. Finally, thanks to a 4-day programming spurt in October 2011, it seems we finally arrived at a working solution. More to follow in the next months...
Jaron Lanier's You are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto is bubbling with personal conviction and passion, which makes it a very engaging read. Putting a finger on our moral responsibility, and calling to light the grave (but often suppressed) issues with crowd-based authorship; not only technical efficiency and objective consensus should shape our New Media, but also highly reflected subjective ideas, well aware of the impact they cause. A super read not only for nerds, but for everyone who cares about were we're heading.
In early November, the library in Sitterwerk, St.Gallen, received a few scores of people, all with one thing in common: an interest in a fusion between libraries and alternative ordering structures. For this Sitterwerk Symposium—the first in a series—we and the Sitterwerk crew invited speakers under the categories 1) Ordering Science, 2) Art and 3) New Structures of Knowledge. More info here.
A cold day in February 2009, a couple of skiers were making their way down the slopes of Diemtigtal, Berner Oberland. Approaching one of the many small huts situated on the hillside, the scenery suddenly changed from idyllic to horrible: Resting against the wall of the building was a dead black man.
That’s the starting point for ‘Le Dossier Diemtigtal’, a collaboration between Astrom / Zimmer and renowned authors/playwrights Antoine Jaccoud and Beat Sterchi. The story of the unknown man found frozen to death in the Bernese mountains is the seed for an online narrative(s), bridging genres, disciplines, and geographic and cultural areas.
We'd love to give you some proper insight into what we've been doing so far, but until the documentation site is up and running you'll simply have to trust us: This tale, supported by Migros Culture Percentage and the Oertli Foundation, will be told like none before.
Yeboaa Ofosu (Bern University of the Arts) contacted us recently regarding an interface for a teaching module she calls 'Forschungswort' ('Research Word'). The module is short and direct, and centered around definitions of a design research vocabulary, created through student-teacher interaction. We immediately saw a great opportunity to expand on an idea we've had for a while, utilising Dropbox for near-real-time content publishing. Forschungswort.ch is a customised, first attempt, but we hope to be able to make the source available on http://yellow.isthecolour.com soon.
In his book 'Von den Mythen der Buchkultur zu den Visionen der Informationsgesellschaft', Michael Giesecke discusses how over several hundred years, the Book Culture governed almost the entire translation of our world into science, philosophy, history, and in extension our understanding of the world. The argument is that the processing of experiences into causal/linear threads of text has locked us in a very specific perception of the things around us. With the advent of electronic media like the internet, we start to discover which senses became stunted on the way. Important thoughts that back up many of our Café Society's presentations.
When professor Edy Portmann came to us for an identity/website for the new media initiative Mediamatics, he had three requests: Helvetica, small caps and the colour green. Based on a very small budget we came up with a simple and direct solution, online today thanks to the code of Nicolas Spycher.
In the process we discovered a lot of overlap in thoughts and approaches. Specialising in Fuzzy Technology, Edy is hard at work investigating the innards of human/computer interaction, and where we can find connection points not only on the conditions of the machine. This collaboration definitely isn't finished.
Although most of our work revolves around moving from Print to screen, and the effects of this transition, we find is equally important to walk the other way. Looking around, most attempts to fuse print and screen are mere replicas of paper in digital form; moving photographs and talking text. With Access to Pages (Atop), however, we apply digital strategies to paper, highlighting qualities of both mediums. The indexes take on a super important role; maps creating open, flippable landscapes to be explored through haptic links. Ideal for project documentation, the flexible Atop format is atlas, encyclopaedia and world in one.
We are very very happy to announce that Lines just got honoured with the Swiss Federal Design Award! As a consequence, the Café Society will for half a year during 2012 move its headquarters to New York!
The Café des Rêves exhibition in Helmhaus, Zürich, isn't just an ordinary exhibition (if there is such a thing). The works are a completely personal collection of Swiss video art from the last 10 years, based on the emotional preference of curators Aufdi Aufdermauer and Simon Maurer. The idea, as well as the title has a few different roots (from Buena Vista Social Club to [...] to a Tunisian café), and the whole project is rather undefined, in the most positive sense. Our challenge, in designing the poster, flyers, handout and website for the exhibition, was to find a way to solidify that undefinable idea. The result can be viewed all over town right now, and in Helmhaus between April 29rd – June 19th.
How do you communicate an interactive web app, which isn't a service or a tool or an art piece, but an interactive Idea? We don't know, but it's fun to try! Right now our very-non-hyper-link is going through the presses, and it looks really pretty.
Our SchplitZing, realised together with Fabian Wegmüller, just got supported by BAK through their Sitemapping project, Kanton Zürich via Fachstelle Kultur, and Aargauer Kuratorium. Now entering phase 2.
Berlin-based font designer Hannes von Döhren shook the world of type in early 2010, when Brandon Grotesque hit the charts, and bumped MyFonts' Helvetica sales to a 2nd for several months. Our collaboration in the design and development of the HvD Fonts website focuses on Hannes' spec sheets. By expanding the page area to fit all the sheets for all fonts, laid out in a grid, the navigation takes on a panning nature, giving the visitor a feeling of moving through an endless field of type and lettering. Making portfolio sites is often very demanding, but once in a while they are just great fun. HvDFonts.com was one of those.
Together with photographer Balz Murer, we designed a modular portfolio system for Austrian construction/engineering giant Strabag. The portfolio is easily adjustable for different clients, and its use is equally practical on a construction site as in a shielded office.
Czech-born journalist/philosopher Vilém Flusser wrote brilliant stuff. Alongside McLuhan, Baudrillard et al, he was one of the last century's most insightful critics of media's influence on culture. With entertaining wit and elaborate (sometimes to the point of confusion) in his Does Writing Have a Future? and Into the Universe of Technical Images, he paints his vision for the evolution of human communication, knowledge creation, and thinking. This in our opinion brilliant lateral thinker is a definite must-read for anyone interested in the ways and workings of communal knowledge. We can hardly imagine our work without his influence.
In early 2008 we developed an idea for how health communication could work differently. The idea included a modular poster publishing system, allowing direct, up-to-date customer-related information in pharmacy shopping windows. A place that today is mostly occupied by advertising for pharmaceutical products.
Together with pharma educators medinform, we shaped a streamlined workflow for their communication strategies involving these modular posters, and established a counter-view to the current pharmacy information politics. The initiative shifted the roles of joining pharmacies to one of an information provider rather than drug seller. Currently over 40 pharmacies all over Switzerland are using the modules and their accompanying digital distribution system, and the number is growing.
Texplora, a HKB research project, is an investigation into possible formats for online travel literature. With the help of intelligent databases and visualisation strategies, a core team of 5 people from the areas of literature, technical engineering and graphic design, developed several strategies for how travel literature can be accessed in new ways. The results range from experimental, hardly realisable ideas to working prototypes running on mobile platforms (iOS). The iPad version is being tested and used for educational purposes at the Swiss Literature Institute in Bern/Biel.
Finaly! Its online! Our new atelier Website.
Anything Swiss video/film art lands on the desks of Videocompany sooner or later. As an addition to their company website, they asked us to build a doorway to their extensive collection online. The task consisted of creating an easy-to-use index, and still preserve the air of intricate artistic and conceptual correlations. And of course it should look great. Our solution is now online.
What can designers contribute to such a big problem..? Perhaps the most obvious way is by providing new access to facts. 300 Years of Climate Change (2007) is a self-published edition of a extensive textual study on the topic, translated into an infographical layout that allows for experiencing the growing public discourse over the last three centuries. A text from Spencer Weart split up in four categories: Society, Politics, Media and Disasters. The publication shows the growing correlation of these aspects and their sometimes unlucky influence on each other.
Julie Harboe (head of Art Research at the Luzern University of Applied Sciences and Arts) asked us for a contribution to their ZAD project: the use and relevance of digital pens in creative practice. After having looked into the current use cases, we started questioning pens in these scenarios at all. Our take was to develop a scenario where the relevance of the actual handwriting is unquestionable. We drew up a workflow where annotation, freeform hand drawn graphics and the use of emotional tagging played a central role, and the users' interaction with pre-printed texts provided the data necessary to create a digital reference landscape.
UPDATE: The concept (written for print in the Organ journal) can be found online here.
As a part of sculpting a cinematic portrait of Swiss filmmaker Daniel Schmid, directors Benny Jaberg and Pascal Hoffman asked us to design print and web identity for the film.
Assigning different functions to different spaces is a fundamental task that Architects and Graphic Designers have in common.
For Luzern University of App. Sciences and Arts, we developed an exhibition concept and book design for their first batch of Cultural Management graduates, in collaboration with Miriam Sturzenegger. As foundation lies an investigation of the collected prejudices about this practice, confirmed or voided with the help of pieces and fragments from the studies.
The first project that we launch as The Café Society just won the Swiss Federal Design Award! And will be showcased from November 7th, 2008 till February 1st, 2009 at Bellerive Museum in Zürich.