What we've been up to lately.

What we've been up to lately.

Dramatic Simplicity™ & The Colorblind Neuroscientist

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Via Frank Jackson in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Mary is a brilliant scientist who is forced to investigate the world from a black & white monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision and acquires all the physical information there is to explain why a person will describe a tomato as “red” or the sky as “blue.” She discovers just which wavelength combinations from the sky stimulate the retina, triggering the central nervous system to contract the vocal chords and expel air from the lungs to utter the sentence, “The sky is blue”…What will happen when Mary is released from her black & white room or is given a color monitor? Will she learn anything…or not? Lesson here is always keep your color swatch book handy.


Nida-Rümelin, Martine, "Qualia: The Knowledge Argument", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2015/entries/qualia-knowledge/.

Dramatic Simplicity™ & The Prisoner's Dilemma

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Via the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Two criminals are arrested for robbing a bank and placed in separate isolation cells. Both care more about their personal freedom than the welfare of their accomplice. A clever prosecutor makes the following offer to each: “You may choose to confess or remain silent. If you confess and your accomplice remains silent, I will drop all charges against you and use your testimony to ensure that your accomplice does serious time. Likewise, if your accomplice confesses while you remain silent, they will go free while you do the time. If you both confess, I’ll see to it that you both get early parole. But if you both remain silent, I’ll have to settle for token sentences on firearms possession charges. If you wish to confess, you must leave a note with the jailor before I return tomorrow morning.” Clearly, they should just make the logo bigger.


Kuhn, Steven, "Prisoner's Dilemma", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2017/entries/prisoner-dilemma/

Dramatic Simplicity™ & Schrödinger’s Cat

We are guided by Dramatic Simplicity in design. but also as an overarching principle to life. The term addresses a tension – the emotional appeal of drama versus the characteristic beauty of simplicity. Too much drama complicates, and too much simplicity is common.

The following experiment explores inherent tension in a more theoretical context (cited in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

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A thought experiment devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger, presents a cat, a flask of poison, and a radioactive source in a sealed box with an internal monitor. At some point, the monitor will detect radioactivity, causing the flask to shatter, releasing the poison, which kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that the cat is both dead and alive until the box is opened. Once you look inside the box, you will see that the cat is either alive or dead, but until then, the observer must accept the co-existence of what seems to be opposites. Just more proof that you should always think outside the box.

Branding a Nation

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Consider a country's accoutrement in parallel to branding. There's a flag instead of a logo, an anthem instead of a slogan, and a country does have positioning - we call it national identity. 

In light of celebrations about to take place in North America (the Fourth of July and Canada Day), we want to look at what shapes a country's brand. You could say history is the biggest contributor: policy decisions, international events, and even sports influence a country's character; for example, US is baseball and Canada is hockey. But is there more? Does design play a role in a nation's understanding of itself? 

If you ask Greg Durrel, the answer is a resounding yes - his new movie about the Canadian design industry touches on some of the most iconic design moments of Canada’s history: creation of logos for Crown Corporations and Expo 67, which fall under what he calls the “Golden era” of design in Canada.

One of the most identifiable pieces of a country’s branding is the flag. In Canada, the maple leaf has evolved to hold as much symbolism as a brand’s logo might. It’s no surprise that this symbol is the focus of the country’s flag. In fact, George F.G. Stanley took the leaf’s meaning into account when he designed the flag in 1964.

When proposing his design via a written memo, Stanley claimed that the flag should be simple, recognizable, use traditional colors and symbols and be a “unifying force” for the country. Stanley examined Canada’s key emblems before settling on the leaf, which had already been used by citizens as a signifier for the country.

Stanley proposed two options for the flag, one with a single leaf and one with three maple leaves joined by the stem. Ultimately, Stanley argued for the single leaf design, claiming that the single leaf would have the "virtue of simplicity," being recognizable as "distinctly Canadian," and enabling it to become an iconic symbol.

Brand Love & Big Macs

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Bringing a massive restaurant brand to mainstream retail is not only a test of equity, but also a case study in brand loyalty. The more trust you build with consumers, the stronger the foundation to support extensions. For McDonald’s, it’s no surprise that something as iconic as the Big Mac Sauce garnered this level of excitement. Passion for the product carries over to the package design, so the brand must remain consistent to protect its equity and delight its devoted fans.

…A quintessential product and crave-worthy design, guaranteed to keep consumers lovin’ it.