Design Diary: USPS Gets a Makeover, Stefan Sagmeister Cuts the “Bullshit,” Designers Pledge Their Love for Adobe and More

The week’s best design stories to see you through the weekend.

One of the perks of my new-ish position as managing editor at AIGA is spending my mornings reading design stories and calling it “work.” But not everyone gets to (or wants to) peruse RSS feeds like it’s their job. Consider this a hit list (as well as a few things you may have missed) of the most interesting things I’ve and seen, read and watched this week.

This week I…

…ooh and aah along with everyone else at GrandArmy’s USPS packaging redesign (though not all their awesome ideas will actually go into production). Fingers crossed that this will actually help streamline the woebegone postal system; bonus points if it makes my interaction with the notoriously grumpy post office in my neighborhood even a smidgen more pleasant.

…defer my enrollment in the Jeff Koons School of Enlightenment™. No, it’s not a real school, it’s just one of many derisive terms Hyperallergic uses to describe the artist’s interview with Charlie Rose. Koons-haters will have a field day with these pull-quotes, or perhaps you, too, find all this Koons-bashing as tiresome as I do. What’s wrong with a guy who makes a bright orange balloon animal sculpture because, “It makes [him] smile. It makes [him] feel good.”

…watch Stefan Sagmeister call “bullshit” on the latest buzzword people are tossing around. First, everyone was a “curator” and now everyone’s a “storyteller.” While I think storytelling goes beyond novel writing and filmmaking, as he suggests, I agree 100% that the real meaning of telling stories gets completely watered down when suddenly everyone from advertisers to roller coaster designers (his example) are claiming the title.

…thank former Ogilvy & Mather CEO Shelly Lazarus for telling everyone to just relax already about the whole building-a-personal-brand thing. “Those words imply that people need to adopt identities that are artificial and plastic and packaged, when what actually works is authenticity.” (For an example of how the company maintains its own voice, look no further than their amazing Induction Box.)

…encourage every graphic design instructor to show their young, computer-literate students Terry Hemphill’s short doc on how Adobe Illustrator changed graphic design and drawing forever. Whip it out when they start to complain about things like slow load times. Nothing will shut them up faster than a glimpse of the “good” ol’ days of cut-and-paste mock-ups and Rapidograph pens.

…am still on the fence about whether we can really hang our hat on any of the new design salary data that keeps bubbling up. On the heels of AIGA’s annual survey, Fast Company reported on another survey that seems to confirm not only “wide discrepancies” in pay amongst designers, but wide discrepancies in the way data is gathered. Yes, designers in California and New York (and Australia, too) seem to be earning more, and yes, knowing how to code is a bankable skill, but the real takeaway might just be to take it all with a grain of salt.

…get schooled in the difference between productivity and time, and nearly spit out my super-efficient desk-side lunch upon reading the words “time management is a misnomer.”

…download the new DESIGNerd100 trivia app to play this weekend, because there’s no such thing as time management anymore, remember?

…get pumped for the last days of summer baseball games after learning my hometown heroes, the Dodgers, invented the high five. Oh, what, not design-related enough for you? Is it too buzzword-y to say they designed it? Kidding. (Please don’t call bullshit on me.)

Still have more catching up to do? Check outlast week’s (still completely relevant) Design Diary.