User Interface Time Travel

I just wasted spent a good portion of my afternoon doing a little user interface time travel, back to the glory days of pre-OS X Mac operating systems, courtesy of the Internet Archive classic Mac OS emulators.

I came to find out about these classic Mac OS emulators via the Tedium email newsletter (always interesting), which cited an article from Fast Company In it, author Mark Wilson reminisces about the classic Mac interface, and explores the virtues of elegance and simplicity over complexity and flash.

Despite its 1-bit color scheme and seemingly unsophisticated graphics, the classic Macintosh (not Mac) OS possesses a warmth and personality that modern operating systems struggle to convey. Susan Kare’s design, especially her icons, have become, well, iconic – leaping from that little 8-inch black and white screen into popular culture and design immortality. And maybe I’m remembering this more fondly due to the passage of time, but that cute little bomb icon made those system errors a little easier to take.

It may seem impossible to some people now, but to use that original Macintosh in 1984 was a truly revelatory experience. There was no color (OK, there were two colors – black and white), and the animations were rudimentary and limited And yet, it almost seemed alive, like a trusty companion rather than a tool. And that user interface was the reason why.

If you remember what I’m talking about, do yourself a favor and try these emulators out (my personal all-time favorite Macintosh system is System 6, but there are several from which to choose). And if you have never had the pleasure of using a pre-OSX system, take one of these classic mac OS emulators for a spin. I think you will be surprised and delighted.

Step Up Your Video Conference Background Game With GotYourBack

Video calls and conferences are fast becoming the new normal, in both our work lives and everyday lives. While you may not mind your colleagues or friends getting a glimpse into your home during a chat, GotYourBack can help you up the cool factor of your video meetings with custom backgrounds contributed by some of the world’s best artists, designers and museums. From the GotYourBack site:

Whether for work or personal use, many of us spent the last weeks in and out of video conference calls.

Far from ideal. But it sparked an idea.

GotYourBack

An ever growing collection of virtual backdrops for use in video call apps. Expressions of optimism and art by the world’s best designers, illustrators, animators, photographers, filmmakers and artists.

Adding some much needed creativity to video conferences whilst also raising awareness for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and promoting artists and their art. Everybody benefits.

The backgrounds include colorful abstracts, whimsical photo manipulations and illustrations, fine art paintings from the Dutch Rijksmuseum and breathtaking photography. There are even several animated backgrounds, if that’s your thing. The site’s FAQ gives instructions for using the backgrounds in Microsoft Teams and Zoom, and they are also perfect for desktop wallapers.

All of the backgrounds on GotYourBack are available to use free of charge, but you can make a voluntary donation to the COVID-19 Response Fund when you download.

Via It’s Nice That.

Evermade’s technicolour, rainbow-themed posters by leading artists to thank NHS workers

Brighton-based design studio, Evermade, has once again commissioned artists for its latest poster series, this time raising money for the NHS and standing in solidarity with key workers during the COVID-19 pandemic the way they know best – design.

Besides the positive messaging, these lovely, colorful posters offer vibrant visuals that definitely brightened my mood this Monday morning. Via Creative Boom.

Movies and Documentaries for Creatives

Most everyone is (hopefully) staying at home much more these days. But, even if you are working from home, you probably have more free time on your hands. Netflix and Prime Video offer a multitude of mindless distraction, but why not watch something that could improve your art or inspire your next masterpiece?

The Pixel Surplus blog has put together a list of the “27 Best Movies & Documentaries For Creatives”, and while it does contain some fairly well-known choices, there are several on the list that I, personally was previously unaware of.

So, pop some corn, fire up the smart TV or laptop and widen your design horizons.

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Hand-Drawn Infographics of African-American Life

Infographics are, to me, one of the more perfect intersections of art and science. To graphically represent complex data in a novel, visually exciting way takes real talent – even in this era of scripted, programmatic data analysis. Which makes these hand-drawn infographics by pioneering author, sociologist and activist W. E. B. Du Bois all the more remarkable.

Among his many other talents and interests, Du Bois must also have harbored some graphic design ability, because these graphics are, in my opinion, prime examples of the artform. They were created for his groundbreaking work, “The Exhibit of American Negroes”. According to Du Bois, they attempted to show “(a) The history of the American Negro. (b) His present condition. (c) His education. (d) His literature.” I think they achieved this goal, and much more.

You can read more about Du Bois and see more of these infographics at The Public Domain Review.

Pentagram and the Case of the Forgotten Typeface

From Fast Company, via Web Designer Depot’s WebdesignerNews, the story of Pentagram partner Michael Bierut, an unusual branding assignment, and a lost typeface by one of the greats of type design.

Particularly for something as multi-faceted as a university, typography can be a way to create visual coherence across various schools and other parts of the institution. In the case of Syracuse, the hunt for the perfect typeface also unearthed an unlikely connection between past and present, and between the academic world and the rich history of type design. When Bierut and Jesse Reed, his associate partner at the time, discovered a typeface linking the university and the famous early 20th-century type designer Frederic Goudy, it set into motion a typeface excavation that resulted in the central element of the new school identity.

Read “Pentagram And The Case Of The Forgotten Typeface” by Meg Miller at Fast Company.