Industry news, trends and insights.


With McDonald’s on the streets of China, Starbucks commandeering almost every New York street corner, and people spending more time with Microsoft than their families, it would seem the majority of Americans agree with The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s opinion of globalization as irreversible. But society’s growing complacency with such monopolistic endeavors has provoked New York designer Scott Ballum to show its seamier side. In July, he published the premiere issue of Consume®evolution, a magazine that focuses on the infiltration of the bland in New York, a city that not long ago was free of big box retailer giants like Home Depot and Best Buy. But the magazine smartly also provides alternative choices for the resilient strain of Manhattan. A detailed map of independent bookshops, mom and pop hardware stores, and coffee shops around town is included. Ballum’s vision makes many dramatic statements through image alone: A comprehensive photo essay on the Starbucks epidemic is striking (all 153 storefronts are accounted for). So is a homely homage to the staid ubiquitous fashion of Gap. In the hands of the right publishing conglomerate, CR could become the next Zagat guide for style-savvy, nonconforming consumers.




When ad agency BBDO needed a pair of rotisserie chickens to leap onto their hind legs and sumo wrestle over a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi, they turned to Framestore NY for their commercial visual effects expertise. The New York office is the first U.S. outpost settled by Framestore CFC, the largest visual effects and computer animation studio in Europe (movie credits include Harry Potter, Troy, and Cold Mountain; 2 Oscars and 11 Emmys attest to their artistry). With a killer reel and an army of 10 digital artists enlisted from the London office, Framestore veteran Jon Collins is quietly dominating the commercial effects market on Madison Avenue. The heated rivalry with The Mill’s successful U.S. satellite office notwithstanding, Framestore NY plans victory by running an efficient unit. “We work two jobs at once while preparing for a third; it’s a steady flow of work which is ideal for us,” says Collins. “Sure, there’s a demand to do . lm work here, but we want to keep our focus on commercials.” At least, that’s what he says now. Framestore’s been in New York less than a year and has already recruited U.S. clients like GMC, Miller, and Cingular.


When design duo Sam Borkson and Arturo Sandoval aren’t creating animated TV commercials featuring pixelated robots and baby chicks for funky-friendly clients like MTV, Nike, and Sony, they’re working like a rather tall pair of Santa’s elves in their Miami toy shop. Their famous “Friends With You” line of unconventional plush toys—a variety of cuddly, amoeba-shaped creatures with x’s for eyes and random placement of irregular limbs—has been charming America’s urban youth market since 2002. To release their long-awaited modular wooden toy line, “The Good Wood Gang,” Friends With You chose the grand opening of the store Giant Robot New York to launch the limited edition. (GRNY is the fourth Giant Robot store in the U.S.: There are also two in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco). Brent Fierro, manager of the ambitious GRNY, is helping to build his own brand in the Big Apple by getting exclusive rights to toy designs like The Good Wood Gang. It might all sound like fun and games but the plush toy sector of the $150 billion toy industry is highly mature and continues to grow regardless of the proliferation of electronic toys.


AIGA is trying to outdo itself. Its inaugural Design Legends Gala last year in New York honored 20 designers while raising $80,000 for the organization. This year, they hope to raise just as much money but with slightly less pomp and circumstance. It’s still a pricey ticket at $350 for cocktails and dinner, but on Sept. 14, only three designers will receive the Design Legend medals: Bart Crosby of Crosby Associates in Chicago; Meredith Davis, N.C. State professor of graphic design (and founder of the school’s Ph.D. program, which she now directs); and Steff Geissbuhler of C&G Partners in New York. AIGA is reinstating its “Leadership Recognition Award” to pay homage to corporate giants Gillette and Hallmark for their design sensibilities. And to balance the scales, local AIGA chapter fellows will be honored, deemed “Local Heroes,” at the black-tie event.