Monday, September 23, 2019

Boys Noize, Dark Mode & Starbucks Brand Guide

Weekly Update 2019-34: Hard electronica from Boys Noize, the usability of dark mode in UI design and Starbucks's new digital brand guide.

A new font from Starbucks called Lander.

Music: Boys Noize
I honestly can't believe I haven't written about this awesome electronic music yet. Alexander Ridha is the mastermind behind an act that sounds like much more than just one person. Extremely heavy beats, computer-generated robot vocals and an overall rather industrial sound make Ridha's music immediately recognizable. I first heard of Ridha's work through a particularly groovy electronic coverr of Feist's My Moon My Man and honestly, never took 2007's Oi Oi Oi off my phone since. I suggest starting there and working your way forward.

This was quite a week of events. Game Grumps Live started the week off with my first seated show at the Danforth Music Hall - complete with a live audience playing of Mario Party. Arin and Dan put on a great show, inviting members of the audience to the stage to take turns playing with them. It was a really nice lighthearted night out.

Wednesday marked the 16th anniversary of the 2003 Blackout, with an amazing party rolling through the streets. There's always some kind of group bike ride as part of the event, but this year falling on a Wednesday meant we got to collide with a real Cruising event. Or rather, I began the night bike cruising and we eventually collided with the Blackout party. The various groups of cyclists, pedestrians, musicians, dancers, stilt-walkers, artists and professional streetlight deactivators merged together along Yonge Street.

Ran into some drumming friends!

From there, we walked together and eventually took over the intersection of College and University, quite an achievement compared with the arguably less busy intersection from last year (Bloor and Avenue). While I did really enjoy the various art displays down Philosopher's Walk last year, this year I decided to continue the Toronto Cruisers ride and we took a lovely ride ending at the Toronto Music Garden.

I got to see Wolf Parade on Friday for the sixth time, sadly now missing Dante Decaro from their ongoing lineup. While I did miss him, the show was still awesome. Four new songs (all sounding really good), really cool home-movie style film effects as a backdrop and honestly, I am sort of into this simpler setup of my three favourite boys. Spencer, Dan and Arlen are still killin' it.

This weekend brought a wonderful bout of room-style karaoke in Koreatown. Can you believe I've lived in Koreatown for four years and never done room karaoke before?! It was also somehow a pretty special three-minute walk to the karaoke bar - I left my apartment with a road beer just as a group of people (also public drinking) were walking by. I ended up tagging along since we all happened to be going to the same karaoke bar, it made quite an entrance.

Something I had been waiting for for a while: our yearly pilgrimage to the Art Gallery of Hamilton. My whole family trekked out, with the added bonus of our friends Mel (who lives in Hamilton) and Mike. There is an amazing collection of dresses and couture from the Hamilton-based fashion house Milli, a wonderful full-floor exhibit on comics and zines, and of course a visit to the gallery's very own Bruegel-Bosch Bus.

As a bonus, we finally made it to the Gage Park Greenhouse to see all the beautiful plants. I can't believe the size of some of the leaves, literally bigger than my whole body. And grown in Canada! I highly suggest visiting if you're in the area - it's free to visit, open seven days a week from 9-5.

This week brings a book club hosted by the lovely Rachel Lissner of Young Urbanists League on a non-fiction political book called Teardown by Dave Meslin. I sadly haven't had a chance to read the book in full yet, but I am excited to sit down for a few hours in Christie Pits and chat about ways we can make democracy more accessible and actionable.

Tuesday is trivia night at Stormcrow Manor, and although I don't do so well in the realm of pop culture, I hope my wittiness and overall charm will be enough to contribute to a win for my team.

Logan's birthday fun continues into Wednesday for a classic drinking night at his favourite bar from university days - The Lab. He has good taste in friends so I'm sure it'll be a fun time.

On Friday I am running a company-wide lunch and learn on accessibility with my coworker Sheri. This has been a long time in the works and I'm excited to finally give my coworkers some of the tools to make their work more accessible and usable by everyone.

And if that wasn't enough, the weekend brings Harbourfront's Taiwan Festival and a trip to the AGO to see the Brian Jungen exhibit (and maybe an infinity room).

Random Thought: Dark Mode
So many apps and devices are adding a feature for "dark mode" - opting for a darker interface over a lighter one that has been the style for many years.

I think Google Maps has been doing this really well for a while - automatically switching your navigation map to a dark version when the sun goes down in your location. Not only does this help drivers to better see where they're going, but it actually uses less battery life on your device (fewer pixels needed to brighten to screen) and less straining on the eyes when the interface matches the user's natural surroundings.

But that right there is the issue. Most apps that include a dark mode or theme, require the user to turn it on manually. I understand some users will want a constant mode of either light or dark, but wouldn't the overwhelming majority of users want it to update automatically based on timezone, a-la Google Maps? Dark mode is great, but why should I have to manually activate it twice a day with the movements of the sun on the horizon? Are we living in the stone ages?

Inspiration: Starbucks Brand Guide
There's nothing I like more than a well-designed brand guide. It's such a delightfully meta activity to sit down and design an experience for other designers to continue your set rules of voice and tone, in a way that is both easy and joyful to use.

Starbucks has just released their online brand guide, an interactive experience and delightfully simple catalog of fonts, colours, logo usage, illustration and more.

There's no reason for a brand guide to be drab or boring to read - any little bit of fun can be added if it aligns with the brand. I especially love the subtle animations and ability for users to type a phrase into their typography page to try out the fonts.

Having worked at Starbucks for four years, I did always admire their good design in advertisements, menu boards and merchandise. Their design team does a good job of injecting fun and playfulness into very simple designs without any unnecessary clutter. I particularly enjoy their font Lander, which appears to be custom made for the brand. It feels very reminiscent of the coffee-drinking experience - comfortable, yet a little bit sharp.

Check it out here.

No comments:

Post a Comment