Archive for the ‘Personality’ Category

In Memorium: Alan Fletcher (1931-2006)

October 7, 2006

Fletcher #1 Alan Fletcher
I found out from the Design Observer blog that one of my heroes in the graphic design world has passed away last month on September 21. Alan Feltcher (one of the founding members of the influential graphic design firm Pentagram) is one fo the reasons why I decided to take whatever business learning I had and fuse it with whatever creative learning I could muster and lead the unpredictable life of a planner in the ad world. His work and especially his life has inspired me like no other personality from the creative design world.

He once remarked thus about work and life – “I’d sooner do the same on Monday or Wednesday as I do on a Saturday or Sunday. I don’t divide my life between labour and pleasure.” It is this ethos that, I think, that contributed to the amazing body of work he has done. When work itself becomes a pleasure, the results are bound to be extraordinary.

The British art director Graham Fink had once remarked that the creative mind should be like a sponge and absorb everything around it. And then squeeze the mind for the juices to flow in making the work happen. Alan Fletcher’s book ‘The Art of Looking Sideways’ is the perfect example of such a sponge of a mind. It is one of my favorite books of all time. ‘Beware Wet Paint’ is an excellent book on his thinking pertaining to the work he did at Pentagram. I keenly look forward to his upcoming book (which will be published posthumouslythis month) titled ‘Picturing and Poeting’.

His body of work embodies his fresh, modern, surprising and witty approach to find the most simplistic solution to a design problem. Which is quite evident in his quote – “I like to reduce everything to its absolute essence because that is a way to avoid getting trapped in a style.” – and some of the work below.

Reuters Logo V&A Logo

Fletcher Poster 1 Fletcher Poster 2

A retrospective of his work will open at The Design Museum in London on November 11, 2006.

To summarize his witful intellect and playful charm, Alan’s Pentagram partner and friend Michael Beirut gives us this little story from back in their days:

“I find myself thinking back to my first dinner with Alan, shortly after I joined Pentagram. I was seated at a table with some of my new partners, and the meal was winding down. Alan made a bet that none of us could duplicate a trick he was about to do. It involved two wine corks — Alan enjoyed activites that required the consumption of good wine — that had to be exchanged from one hand to another. “Ready?” he said. “Okay, watch.” He held the corks between his thumbs and forefingers, and then traded them in one quick gesture. It didn’t look like magic. It looked easy, something anyone could do.

“Got it?” Alan asked. “Now you try.” So we did try. And try. And try. And he leaned back in his chair, sipping his wine with a faint smile on his lips, watching all of us attempt, without success, to imitate the effortless simplicity of Alan Fletcher.”

For a man who lived by his quote, “Design is not a thing you do. It’s a way of life,” and who showed us the art of looking sideways, our gratitude will be lifelong.




Quote of the Day (In Memorium)

July 6, 2006

Theodore-LevittTheodore Levitt (1925 – 2006)

Influential marketing scholar and former editor of Harvard Business Review

I still remember the day in my undergrad ‘Marketing Basics’ class, when we first came across Theodore Levitt’s seminal masterpiece – ‘Marketing Myopia’. He talks about how great corporations get too narrow-minded in their vision and focus thinking that the industry they are in, will remain unchanged forever. He talks about the oil and railway industry of the US as a classic example. It’s been a long road since my undergrad days and Levitt’s masterpiece is even more valid than ever before in todays fast-changing business landscape, where things move at the speed of light.

Levitt passed away last wednesday (June 29) at the age of 81. In saluting those 81 years of contributing and shaping the marketing world of today, here’s one of his lesser known quotes (one that is not really on his favorite subject – marketing, but more about the art of writing).

“If people don’t read what you write, then what you write is a museum piece.”

[Source: BusinessWeek Online, June 29, 2006]

The Wizardry of Woz

June 24, 2006


Steve Jobs has always been the celebrated of the original duo behind Apple computers. But now his original eccentric other half is coming out with a book that (after reading Guy Kawasaki's pre-release blurb) is gonna be a smash storyteller delving deep into the gray-scale mind of a genius inventor. Obviously, we are talking about the new book by Steve Wozniak (co-authored with Gina Smith) that's coming out this November.

I'm excited after reading Guy's great blurb on his blog site. For starter's here's what Guy's little blurb says:

"Every engineer—and certainly every engineering student—should read this book. It is about the thrill of invention, the process of making the world a better place, and the purity of entrepreneurship. I, Woz is the personal computer generation’s version of The Soul of a New Machine. It is, in a nutshell, the engineer’s manifesto. I hope that the so-called “innovation experts” and MBAs choke when they read it."

Touted as every engineer geeks dream and every MBA's thought-provoking nightmare, it's gonna be a kick-ass read for a person like me who dwindles between right and left brain thinking managing the tension between creatives and clients in ad agencies. I also like the top ten things that Guy so profoundly (and entertainingly) likes to come up with on most things. The three that stood out for me from his top ten takeaways from the book are:

1. Woz and Jobs worked as Alice in Wonderland characters at shopping mall in San Jose. (I had always sensed in my mind that there has to be an 'Alice in Wonderland' connection in the Apple story)

2. The statement that convinced Woz to leave HP to start Apple (uttered by Allen Baum) was, “You can be an engineer and become a manager and get rich, or you can be an engineer and stay an engineer and get rich.” (There had to be great inspirational quote somewhere in Wozniak's legendary career)

3. Woz taught computer technology to elementary school students for ten years. (Shows his modesty and willfullness to impart knowledge)

And finally, here's Woz's top 4 tips on being a great engineer (maybe the first and four might help me too in my zig-zag ad career):

  1. Don’t waver.
  2. See things in gray-scale.
  3. Work alone.
  4. Trust your instincts.

So there's a genuine book to look forward to this fall. And one to give my brother-in-law who is starting his freshman year of engineering college next month. He doesn't read much, but I hope this kicks off his engineering as well as reading instincts on the career path ahead.