Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Helvetica Cameo

Mad Men / Helvetica, originally uploaded by Nick Sherman.

Look to the right of the image above. A little orange, white and black Helvetica promotional poster lurking in the background, hoping for a cameo. That's why I love this show. It's like the birth of cool happening right before your eyes. At the time the show is set, 1965, Helvetica was still a relative newbie. There has been some debate whether the wordmark of the new agency of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP) is set in Helvetica or it's predecessor Akzidenz-Grotesk, which is probably more likely. Still, it's fun to have a show on the tube where picking out artwork in the background is almost as much fun as the show itself (okay, not quite).

Last Sunday's show also had a moment near to my heart when Don is upset at the results of a focus group saying essentially how can you know how people will react to something that we haven't created yet. I always think there's a bit of truth to that in usability testing. It's recommended you create something people are familiar with, yet you want to create something innovative. Usability experts rarely recommend anything that doesn't already exist making any innovative concepts incremental at best. We tell ourselves to push the envelope but never to push the user (even with professional products). It's a very frustrating loop. Which reminds me, why don't I have any Rye in my file cabinet?

clip via Gawker and Viddler

Of course, that's not the real point of the scene but the more interesting subtext of Don's discomfort with Dr. Miller's psychological peepers getting a little too close to home. Or something. Just guessing.

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