Wednesday, June 28, 2006

finding your inner nerd

Design Barcode, a Japanese design company, have given barcodes "a fun and beautiful makeover, while keeping its functional utility intact". They have created endless designs but this is one is my favourite.
oh, how i love this. This is what makes Japan so special: pure, undiluted, focused perfectionism. Yes, Japan is cool, sooo modern, efficient, in touch with tradition etc but it is its fixation with perfection that makes it rock; shops that specialise in only one type of ramen in one type of broth, restaurant toilets with toilet roll whose free end is folded into a triangle for each new user, changing cubicles with fold out platforms to step onto when getting dressed so you don't have to stand on the (conceptually dirty) floor, flower-shaped sweets available only in seasonally appropriate blooms. Little moments of total attention to detail, like this company created with the sole aim to correct that barcode blot on the packaging landscape.

This obsession with detail means that Japan is a nation of nerds. Nerds get really into a subject, nerds have strong opinions about what is wrong and right about minutiae and nerds care. Design barcode are nerds as only a design nerd would spend time on this sort of thing and yet look at the loveliness of the result - suddenly the binary code for 100Y wasabi flavoured noodles becomes Niagra Falls. Genuis. And its this Nerdism that makes Japan cool. My Nickledeon creative guru friend Alex was just talking about this the other day - that its important to tap into your inner nerd because that's where your creative motivations and inspirations come from. I think she's right, that obsessively caring and thinking about one subject brings unexpected pay offs - look at Steve Jobs and his font nerdism, Innocent and their fruit nerdism. Good things happen when nerds do things.

Barcode Design won the Titanium award at Cannes. A Japanese design house winning an award for the integrated marketing campaign for a series of barcodes. You couldn't make it up.
See more of their work at

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