Old Guard the online home of Tom Johnson

9th October 13

Hartmut Esslinger

I explained that to make design a core element of Apple’s corporate strategy, it would have to be seen as a leadership issue; world-class design can’t work its way up from the bottom, watered down by the motivations and egos of every layer of management it passes through.

How I Taught Steve Jobs To Put Design First


29th April 13

Dieter Rams

When he was asked about doing consumer research during his time at Braun, he simply said, “Never. We wanted to change the world.”

My lunch with Dieter Rams


17th April 13

The Save Icon

This conversation on Branch has been getting quite a bit of coverage over the past couple of weeks. The discussion opens with this statement:

The Save symbol is years overdue for a rethink. How can this immensely vital symbol be communicated in a timeless form so we never have to go through this again?

There have been some great, interesting comments on Branch, with a number of very well thought out and executed proposals made for replacements to the familiar diskette icon we all know.

Reading the posts brought me back to a familiar thought though – that the design industry really loves getting stuck in to debates fixated on very small details.

What about saving?

If we take a step back from the save icon and look at the actual act of saving a file; this is an area where it is very easy to have a problem. Most people will at some point have lost a small or large piece work because they forgot to save.

If people are still having this problem after years of computer use, then it is unlikely it will go away now through users altering their behavior. It feels like an issue that needs resolving.There are quite a few apps that already tackle this issue. Some of my favourite apps, both on mobile and desktop do not have a save icon at all. Do we do this by changing the logo, or by taking a broader view and evaluating that functionality from scratch to see if we can improve it?

A debate and discussion about the save icon is interesting, but ultimately feels like designing better branding for a broken product.


10th March 13

Sign Painters film Trailer

Sign Painters from Faythe Levine and Sam Macon looks great. I can watch people with this much skill and craft talk about something they love all day.

There was a time, as recently as the 1980s, when storefronts, murals, banners, barn signs, billboards, and even street signs were all hand-lettered with brush and paint. But, like many skilled trades, the sign industry has been overrun by the techno-fueled promise of quicker and cheaper. The resulting proliferation of computer-designed, die-cut vinyl lettering and inkjet printers has ushered a creeping sameness into our landscape. Fortunately, there is a growing trend to seek out traditional sign painters and a renaissance in the trade.

Further reading

http://signpaintermovie.blogspot.co.uk/ – Film website

Sign Painters book on Amazon


3rd March 13

Jessica Hische – From Berlin With Love

I have been lucky enough to see Jessica Hische talk twice in the last six months at Inspire and Naconf. Both were great, and her extended lecture at Inspire was probably the best talk/lecture I have ever seen. 2 hours+ went by in a flash.

The last couple of times I have been in Germany and visiting Berlin I have always made time to stop by the Gestalten Space, which is a combined shop, gallery and workshop space. Jessica recently held a workshop there and Gestalten produced this short film.

Gestalten.tv took the chance of a very brief break during the workshop to let Jessica talk us through some of the pros and cons of the letters B/E/R/L/I/N.

Further reading

http://jessicahische.is/ – Jessica Hische

http://shop.gestalten.com/ – Gestalten publishing, shop and space in Berlin.