Curtains Up for the One Percent

While many Americans were stockpiling toilet paper and Clorox, the rich bought houses, sparking a gold rush in the decorating trades.

#beverly-hills-calif, #design, #high-net-worth-individuals, #home-appliances, #home-repairs-and-improvements, #interior-design-and-furnishings, #luxury-goods-and-services, #palm-beach-fla, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #real-estate-brokers, #san-antonio-tex, #sea-island-ga


For a Brooklyn Heights Townhouse, a Divine Reinvention

The Greek Revival house, once home to the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, needed more than just a simple renovation to function in the 21st century.

#brooklyn-heights-brooklyn-ny, #design, #furniture, #home-repairs-and-improvements, #interior-design-and-furnishings, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #restoration-and-renovation


Shopping for Kitchen Range Hoods

Whether you choose a showstopper or one that’s virtually invisible, a range hood is essential. Otherwise, you’ll be smelling that fish for days.

#design, #furniture, #home-repairs-and-improvements, #interior-design-and-furnishings, #kitchens, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #restoration-and-renovation


Is It Time for an Enid Collins Revival?

Generation Etsy has dusted off the wooden box handbags she designed in the 1960s. And now her son, Jeep, is publishing a memoir.

#design, #handbags-and-purses, #texas


16 Global Design Concepts for an Unpredictable Future

The challenges of the past year gave designers every reason to recede into the shadows, but creativity won’t be denied.

#architecture, #area-planning-and-renewal, #art, #building-construction, #culture-arts, #design, #furniture, #sculpture, #sustainable-living, #textiles, #wood-and-wood-products


The best logos of Y Combinator’s W21 batch

Our picks for the most intriguing companies of Y Combinator’s latest batch were based entirely on substance and our endless expertise, so it’s time for something much more superficial. Here are the 11 best logos from the hundreds of companies that presented yesterday.

Watching companies go by 60 seconds at a time for like 8 hours was pretty mind-numbing even when a lot of them were cool, but I always perked up when I saw something with a nice logo. So I started marking them down, and sure enough soon a post appeared.

Sadly many of these will be bought in short order and their cool logos retired, like what happened with my favorite recent logo, DataFleets. I guess it isn’t really sad because they all get super rich, but there goes a perfectly good logo, you know?

Anyway, let’s proceed. These aren’t in any particular order except that the first three are my favorites and the rest all tie for fourth.


A capital E always makes a lot of interesting geometric possibilities available. Enombic’s logo makes the most of this famous trisulc optical illusion while not overdoing it, giving a clear (if impossible) shape that is also obviously a letter — without any extraneous lines or materials, in fact with the absolute minimum. The clean type is also well-chosen (and avoids repetition by changing case). Gold star.


This isn’t the first time a U and I have been joined in this way, but it’s done here very elegantly and with complementary curves and spacing in all the right places. They use the inversion of the above as well, but I think white on black looks better than black on white.

Perfect Recall

Here’s one where the logo is informed by the purpose of the company, which records and highlights video calls. A loop with an arrow is a universal cross-lingual symbol for returning to something, and there are a few ways to do this that are flashier but don’t look as good. Getting the effect of a circle and not just a semicircle without compromising the shape of the P is a tough thing to balance. This logo does have the awkward side effect of putting a recognizable P right before the P in perfect, so you end up with PPerfect Recall. It happens a lot, but still something to watch out for.


Another logo actually informed by the company’s purpose, this one combined with the logotype could do with a little more work (the tail curve bothers me, the plus is too much, and the Dr Mario player in me wants a solid lower capsule half) — but it’s immediately recognizable and adequately communicates what the company does wordlessly, a rare quality. Got to hand it to them for the name, too.


It’s a bold decision to leave off half the “o” in any situation, since it can quickly become another letter or symbol if you don’t do it right. In this case using it as a rising sun works really well, also suggesting the purpose of the app. Having an uppercase R the same size as the lowercase letters normally something that would really bother me, and might have gone badly, but it works here because of the white space left by the o. Not perfect but surprisingly palatable.

I liked the idea of this one, but the graphic needs simplification. The proportions are off with the eyepiece, lens barrel, and plate, and the dial is one element too many. I like the slotted D, but there’s something off about it. Maybe it’s an optical illusion but some of the stripes look thicker than the others. Actually, now that I look closely it’s super obvious someone left an extra pixel on the bottom layer. The geometric type is solid too, but lose the .ai, it’s small and weird. Just… Dashlabs.


This one truly seems to have no connection whatsoever to the company, or even the famed geneticist, but I just love the M-mountain. It would have been legendary if Mendel made hiking boots or camping gear (not too late for a pivot). This kind of letter-art is surprisingly rare to find done well, and this is really just on the charming side of primitive, but you can see the thought that went into it. The type isn’t great, though, can’t stand those billowy d’s.

Nuntius Therapeutics

DNA’s double helix structure (tied in with Nuntius’s gene therapy) can be used to create lots of forms, but this capital N is really a nice one. The stylized bases aren’t exactly biologically accurate, but they work well and the sinuous curve of the helix flows beautifully into the circle.

Aspen Cloud

The muted rainbow has been used to death, but apparently they just didn’t mute it enough. Aspen Cloud goes all the way into pastels, but they’re harmonious enough that they suggest CMYK rather than other polychromatic logos. The leaf-tree combo is simple and memorable, they avoid weight and symmetry problems, and the colors are nicely arranged. On a white background it recedes harmlessly and on a black one it pops. Can’t say the same about the type, though. Can’t really say anything at all.


I hate this high-visibility color when it’s on the stupid Uber bikes that litter my neighborhood, but I have to say, it makes for a great dot. The full logotype is nothing to write home about (any logotype for a company called “ping pong” that doesn’t utilize some kind of symmetrical or two-sided motif is a waste), but what I assume is the app logo is great. The darker grey tone does a lot of work — it establishes a sort of “off-camera light” that casts a shadow, and because it’s ever so slightly narrower than the dot/ball, it gives an illusion of depth as well. I suppose it could be interpreted as being the flight line of the ball (i.e. it is zooming up and to the left) but I like my way better. It also might be a little too close to the flag of Japan.


I don’t know why this works, but it does. The bell combined with the chicken takes two “alarms” and makes them one cute item that screams (or rather crows) “notifications.” Or possibly “Peeps.” Let’s just hope Nintendo doesn’t sue them for infringement of a bunch of the bird-type characters in Animal Crossing (especially Knox).

Good work to all these companies and the many more I only didn’t list because I got tired. Design is important, not just for catching the user’s eye, but because it indicates attention to detail and an approach beyond the purely functional — something startups often struggle with.

#design, #logos, #tc


In Southampton, a Beach House Not Like the Others

Designed in the 1960s by the underrecognized talent Ward Bennett, this Modernist home remains a paragon of minimalism and grace.

#design, #historic-buildings-and-sites, #interior-design-and-furnishings, #southampton-ny, #ward-bennett


Foods From Afar Hope to Catch the Eye of American Shoppers

Immigrant entrepreneurs are working with designers and brand strategists to create packaging that appeals to a wider range of consumers.

#consumer-behavior, #containers-and-packaging, #design, #entrepreneurship, #food, #moon-man, #new-york-shuk-inc, #supermarkets-and-grocery-stores, #wunder-creamery, #yolele-foods-inc


Shopping for Daybeds

What’s the most multifunctional piece of furniture you’ll ever buy? Probably a daybed. Here’s why — and what to look for.

#beds-and-bedding, #design, #furniture, #interior-design-and-furnishings, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-and-housing-residential


Elsa Peretti, Star Designer of Elegant Jewelry, Dies at 80

Celebrities wore Ms. Peretti’s creations on the red carpet and in the movies. Some years her merchandise represented 10 percent or more of Tiffany’s sales.

#deaths-obituaries, #design, #fashion-and-apparel, #jewels-and-jewelry, #models-professional, #peretti-elsa, #tiffanycompany


A Designer Who Finds Beauty in Austerity

For Loren Daye, stripping a space back to its most essential elements is an aesthetic practice to live by.

#clinton-hill-brooklyn-ny, #content-type-personal-profile, #design, #interior-design-and-furnishings, #loren-daye


Atlassian peps up Confluence with new graphical design features

Confluence, Atlassian’s wiki-like collaborative workspace, has been around for over 15 years and is often a core knowledge-sharing tool for the companies that implement it. But for the most part, Confluence is a business tool and looks like it, with walls of text and the occasional graph, table or image. But user expectations have changed and so it’s maybe no major surprise that Atlassian is now bringing a stronger emphasis on design to the service.

Today’s update, for example, brings features like cover images, title emojis and customizable space avatars (that is, “icons that denote a ‘space’ or section of Confluence”) to the service. The team also recently introduced smart links, which allow you to paste links from services like YouTube and Trello and have the service immediately recognize them and display them in their native format. Other new features include the ability to schedule when a new page is published and the ability to convert pages to blog posts (because, as it turns out, Atlassian has seen a bit of a resurgence in corporate blogging — mostly for internal audiences — during the pandemic).

Image Credits: Atlassian

“We ended up doing something that we called ‘love sprint,’ where we prioritize about 30 features for the enhancements, which are all — if you think about the themes — about how you design information in this world where you have to read more, where you have to write more,” Natalia Baryshnikova, the Head Of Product Management for Atlassian’s Confluence Experience Group, told me. “And there’s the attention span that’s kind of pushing its limits. So how do you design for that situation? How do you discover our content?”

Baryshnikova tells me that the team took a close look at how content production, management and delivery works in the social media world. But some of the new features are also purely a reaction to a changing work environment. Take the ability to schedule when pages are published, for example. Employees who work from home may work especially late or early right now, for example, in order to prioritize childcare. But they still want the content they produce to be seen inside the company and that can be hard when you would otherwise publish it at 11pm, for example.

Image Credits: Atlassian

And having your content get noticed is getting harder because Confluence usage has dramatically increased in the last twelve months. As Atlassian noted today, over 60,000 companies are now using the service. And inside those companies, those users are also far more active than ever before. The number of Confluence pages created from March 2020 to March 2021 increased by more than 33 percent. The average user now creates 11 percent more pages, but the product’s superusers have often doubled or tripled their output.

The use of Confluence has also helped many companies reduce their number of meetings, but as Baryshnikova noted, “not only are pages competing with meetings — but pages are competing with pages.” So using good graphics, for example, is a way for a user’s content to stand out in the noise of corporate content production. Which, I have to admit, strikes me as a somewhat strange dynamic. But I guess that just like on the web, in order to stand out in a corporate environment, you have to make the documents you produce stand out in order to get noticed. Maybe that — as well as the lack of watercooler conversations — is also the reason why corporate blogging is seeing an uptick right now.

#atlassian, #confluence, #design, #document-management, #document-sharing, #enterprise, #tc, #wiki


A Pioneer of Digital Design Looks Back on a Defining Era

Loretta Staples, a U.I. designer in the 1980s and ’90s, had a front-row seat to the rise of personal computing.

#apple-inc, #computers-and-the-internet, #design, #smithsonian-institution


The Next Amenity? Furnished Condos

Developers are catering to buyers who want a true move-in experience, with the furniture already in place.

#condominiums, #design, #design-within-reach, #furniture, #luxury-goods-and-services, #manhattan-nyc, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #restoration-hardware-holdings-inc


4 signs your product is not as accessible as you think

For too many companies, accessibility wasn’t baked into their products from the start, meaning they now find themselves trying to figure out how to inject it retrospectively. But bringing decades-long legacy code and design into the future isn’t easy (or cheap).

Businesses have to overcome the fear and uncertainty about how to do such retrofitting, address the lack of education to launch such projects, and balance the scope of these iterations while still maintaining other production work.

Among the U.S. adult population, 26% live with some form of disability, and businesses that are ignorant or slow to respond to accessibility needs are producing digital products for a smaller group of users. Someone who is a neophyte might not be able to use a product with overwhelming cognitive overhead. Someone using a product that isn’t localized may not be able to refill their prescription in a new country.

We recently saw this play out in the “cat lawyer” episode, which the kitten-faced attorney took in good humor. But it also reminded us that many people struggle with today’s basic tools, and for those who don’t, it’s hard to understand just how much this disrupts people’s personal and professional lives.

If you’re a founder with a software product out there, you probably won’t receive as loud an alarm bell as a viral cat filter video to tell you that something’s wrong. At least not immediately. Unfortunately, that time will come because social media has become the megaphone for support issues. You want to avoid that final, uncontrollable warning sign. Here are four other warning signs that make clear your product is not as accessible as you might think — and how you can address that.

1. You didn’t define a11y principles at the start of your journey

Accessibility is a key ingredient in your product cake — and it’ll always taste best when it’s added to the mix at the beginning. It’s also more time- and cost-effective, as fixing a usability issue after the product has been released can cost up to 100 times more than earlier on in the development process.

Your roadmap should work toward the four principles of accessibility, described using the acronym POUR.

  • Perceivable: Your users need to be able to perceive all of the information displayed on your user interface.
  • Operable: Your users must be able to operate and navigate your interface components.
  • Understandable: Your content and the functioning of your user interface must be clearly understandable to users.
  • Robust: Your content has to be robust enough that a wide variety of users can continue to access it as technologies advance, including assistive technologies.

Without following each of these principles consistently, you cannot guarantee that your product is accessible to everybody.

The roadmap should integrate accessibility efforts into the design, development and quality assurance process, all the way through to product release and updates, where the cycle starts all over.

This means it’s vital to have everyone on your team informed and committed to accessibility. You could even go further and nominate one person from each team to lead the accessibility process and be responsible for each team’s compliance. It’s worth starting any new project with an accessibility audit so you understand exactly where your gaps are. And by syncing with sales and support teams, you can identify where users are experiencing friction.

This baking process helps you avoid legal problems in the future as a result of non-compliance. In 2019, a blind man successfully sued Domino’s after he was unable to order food on the Domino’s website and mobile app, despite using screen-reading software. Beyoncé’s company was sued by a blind woman that same year. Product owners are wide open to lawsuits if they don’t implement the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

To help you on your way, IBM’s Carbon Design System is an open-source design system for digital products that offers free guidelines to build an accessible product, including for people with physical or cognitive disabilities. In addition, software tools exist that can help you do accessibility checks ahead of time rather than when the product is finished.

2. You’re treating a11y like a set-it-and-forget-it

Design trends evolve fast in the tech world. Your team is probably staying on top of the latest software or mobile features, but are they paying attention to accessibility?

A11y needs maintenance; the requirements for the web and mobile platforms are changing all the time and it’s important (as well as necessary) to stay on top of those changes. If you’re not carrying out constant tweaks and upgrades, chances are that you’ve racked up a few accessibility issues over time.

Plan regular meetings where you review and discuss your products’ accessibility and a11y compliance. Look at what other products are doing to be more accessible and attend courses about inclusive design (e.g., TechCrunch Sessions). Platforms like the A11Y Project are also incredibly useful resources for teams to stay up to date, and they also offer books, tutorials, professional support and professional testers.

3. You and your team haven’t tried out a11y tools

The best accessibility tool you have is your team itself. Building a product with a diverse group of people will mean you encounter and rectify any barriers to use faster and can innovate with greater impact — after all, people with disabilities are some of the world’s greatest innovators.

Outside of your team makeup, ask yourself: Have you ever used a screen reader? Or tried to navigate your website using only your keyboard? Seen your designs simulated against various types of vision?

If the answer is no, chances are you’re letting key accessibility features slip through the cracks. By putting yourself in the shoes of someone with impairments, these tools force you toward a better appreciation of their needs.

Try and get your team using these tools as early as possible, especially if you’re struggling to convey to them the importance of a11y. Once you’ve broadened your perspective, it’ll genuinely be harder to not see how people with different abilities are experiencing your product. Which is why you should come back to your product afterward, as a user, and explore it through a new lens.

4. You aren’t talking to your users

Lastly, there’s little chance you’ve built a truly accessible product without actually talking to its users. The general population is the most diverse set of critics to warn you if your product’s falling short for people of different backgrounds and abilities. Every single user experiences a product uniquely, and regardless of all the effort you’ve put in until now, there will likely be issues.

Lend an ear to a wide range of users, throughout the product life cycle. You can do this by doing user testing with each update, asking users to complete surveys on their in-app experience, and holding focus groups that proactively enlist people with a spectrum of needs.

Accessible design is just good design. It’s a misconception that it only improves UX for people with disabilities — it provides a better experience for everyone. And all founders want their product to reach as many people as possible. Once you put in the initial effort and embrace it, it becomes easier, like another tool in your kit. You won’t get it 100% right on the first try. But this is about progress, not perfection.

#accessibility, #column, #design, #developer, #diversity, #opinion, #tc, #usability, #ux, #web-accessibility


A Legendary Designer Strikes Out on His Own to Redesign Legends

For two decades, Ian Callum led the look at Jaguar Land Rover. Now he’s reimagining some vintage cars, including the Jag Mark 2 and a classic Corvette.

#antique-and-classic-cars, #automobiles, #callum-ian, #content-type-personal-profile, #design, #england, #jaguar-land-rover


Two Emerging Designers Who Find Comfort in Antiquity

Max Zinser’s new collection of animal-like furniture and Matthew Fisher’s debut offering of marble and wood objects are both rooted in age-old crafts.

#design, #fisher-matthew-designer, #furniture, #wood-and-wood-products, #zinser-max


A Florentine Villa Whose Story Is One of Family

For three generations, the Caponis’ 15th-century home has been a repository of history, style and togetherness.

#caponi-loretta, #design, #families-and-family-life, #florence-italy, #interior-design-and-furnishings, #italy


‘Like a Warm Hug From an Angel’

For a handful of cultures across the globe, the Arab world among them, these distinct blankets deliver not only an impossibly warm, soft hug but a great sense of belonging.

#beds-and-bedding, #design, #far-east-south-and-southeast-asia-and-pacific-areas, #immigration-and-emigration, #middle-east, #muslim-americans, #north-africa, #qasimi-farah-al, #united-states


Maze raises another $15 million for its user testing platform

Maze has closed a $15 million Series A funding round led by Emergence Capital. The company lets you run user tests at scale so that you can get feedback before rolling out a design update or test copy.

When you have a lot of users, you don’t want to roll out some changes before testing it first. Some companies run A/B tests on a small portion of users and gather feedback with custom forms and polls. But that involves some coding and complications in your roadmap. Other companies simply spend a lot of time talking one-to-one with some customers.

Maze lets you test something new based on a Figma, InVision, Adobe XD, Marvel or Sketch project. You can design something new in your favorite app and start a new test based on that project.

From your web browser, you can ask your user to do something in your app, provide some context and ask a quick question at the end of the test. After that, you get a link for your next testing campaign.

You can test it on hundreds or thousands of potential users and get a detailed report with a success rate, where your users drop off, answers to your questions and polls and more. Maze now also lets you test concepts without a design.

Essentially, Maze wants to empower product designers and product managers. They can be in charge of the product roadmap with actual numbers to back their claims. And everybody can collaborate on user tests as it’s a software-as-a-service product. It makes it easier to run a design-led company.

In addition to Emergence Capital, Jay Simons and existing investors Amplify Partners, Partech and Seedcamp also participated in today’s funding round. The company plans to grow the size of its team.

Over the past 12 months, Maze has grown its monthly recurring revenue by 600%. It now generates $1.5 million in annual recurring revenue and 40,000 companies are now using Maze. One million testers have completed at least one test on Maze. Customers include GE, Samsung, Vodafone, Braze and FairMoney

#design, #developer, #europe, #fundings-exits, #maze, #startups, #user-test, #user-testing


A Designer Who Celebrates West Indian Elegance

With his joyful second collection, Maximilian Davis establishes himself as one of London’s most exciting fashion talents.

#bonner-grace-wales, #caribbean-area, #content-type-personal-profile, #davis-maximilian-fashion-designer, #design, #fashion-and-apparel, #london-england, #trinidad-and-tobago, #wales-bonner-fashion-label


New York Times Depicts Total Covid Death Toll on Front Page

It began with one dot. Then it grew to nearly half a million. A graphic on Sunday’s front page depicts the totality of Covid’s devastation in the country.

#college-point-queens-ny, #deaths-fatalities, #design, #marsh-bill, #new-york-times, #newspapers, #quarantine-life-and-culture


Ella Emhoff Makes a Small Collection of Knitwear

The second daughter turned model released a five-piece collection. Only one of each item was made.

#design, #e-commerce, #emhoff-ella, #fashion-and-apparel, #knitting-and-knit-goods, #parsons-the-new-school-for-design, #shopping-centers-and-malls, #textiles


The Makers Keeping the Ancient Art of Weaving Alive

Through thoughtful collaborations with Mexican artisans in Oaxaca and elsewhere, contemporary designers are helping to evolve — and protect — one of the world’s most enduring handicrafts.

#art, #coahuila-mexico, #design, #handicrafts, #mexico-city-mexico, #oaxaca-mexico, #textiles


How Japonisme Forever Changed the Course of Western Design

In the late 19th century, Japanese aesthetics and craftsmanship overtook Paris, inspiring a movement that would radically transform Europe’s visual culture.

#art, #design, #fashion-and-apparel, #france, #gray-eileen, #japan, #monet-claude, #van-gogh-vincent


A Jewelry Line Inspired by a Design Family’s Heirlooms

Ilaria Icardi’s debut collection of gold pendants and signet rings draws on her father’s most treasured creations.

#content-type-personal-profile, #design, #fashion-and-apparel, #gold, #icardi-ilaria, #italy, #jewels-and-jewelry


Shopping for Clamp Lamps

A clamp lamp is the easiest fix when you need to bring light to a dark corner — or a makeshift home office.

#content-type-service, #design, #furniture, #home-repairs-and-improvements, #interior-design-and-furnishings, #lighting, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-and-housing-residential


DesignCrowd raises $10 million AUD to grow its DIY platform, BrandCrowd

DesignCrowd announced today it has raised $10 million AUD (about $7.6 billion USD) in pre-IPO funding. The capital will be used on hiring and product development, with the goal of accelerating the growth of BrandCrowd, its DIY platform.

The new funding comes as DesignCrowd gets ready for a potential initial public offering on the Australian Securities Exchange. The round’s investors include Perennial Value Management, Alium Capital, Ellerston Capital, Regal Funds Managemetn and CVC, along with returning backers Starfish Ventures and AirTree Ventures. DesignCrowd has now raised more than $22 million AUD in total.

Founded in 2007 and based in Sydney, Australia, DesignCrowd built its reputation as a design crowdsourcing platform, allowing users to get proposals from designers around the world. BrandCrowd was launched to complement DesignCrowd’s crowdsourcing/marketplace model, expanding its potential user base and differentiating it from other sites people use to find designers, like 99designs and Fiverr.

While there are other DIY logo makers aimed at entrepreneurs and small brands, including tools from Design Hill, Canva and Tailor Brands, BrandCrowd had an advantage from the start because it already has access to more than 800,000 designers through DesignCrowd, allowing the company to find the best logo designers from around the world for its library, said co-founder and chief executive officer Alec Lynch. BrandCrowd prefers to buy designs upfront before publishing them, since all logos are exclusive to the platform (users can pay an extra fee to remove logos from its library).

BrandCrowd customers pay a one-off fee to download a logo and can sign up for monthly or annual subscriptions. Many use both platforms, Lynch said.

“For example, if a small business wants to start by getting a custom logo design from a designer on DesignCrowd, we then allow them to use that logo in our DIY design tools on BrandCrowd to make everything else they might need, from business card designs to Instagram posts and email signature,” said Lynch. “They can even make modifications to their logo on BrandCrowd using our logo editor tool.”

DesignCrowd’s net revenues in 2020 grew 54% year-over-year, due primarily to BrandCrowd. The company says BrandCrowd saw over five million sign-ups over the past 12 months, with more than half of its revenue from the United States.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company experienced some headwinds in March and April 2020, Lynch said, but then global demand for online design rebounded and began increasing.

“Our hypothesis is that the pandemic led to more people starting new businesses in the second half of 2020 and more people needing design for those businesses, which was helpful for us,” he added. “In addition to this small ‘boom’ in small businesses starting, we think the pandemic has probably accelerated an existing trend of businesses sourcing design online rather than offline.”

#australia, #brandcrowd, #branding, #design, #designcrowd, #designers, #diy, #fundings-exits, #logos, #startups, #tc


Overlooked No More: Jay Jaxon, Pioneering Black Designer of French Couture

He worked in fashion houses like Jean-Louis Scherrer, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior and dressed Annie Lennox, Thelma Houston and other stars.

#biographical-information, #black-people, #couture-fashion, #design, #fashion-and-apparel, #jamaica-queens-ny, #jaxon-jay-jason, #paris-france


LottieFiles, a platform for the animation format, lands $9 million Series A led by M12, Microsoft’s venture fund

LottieFiles, a platform for JSON-based Lottie animations, has raised a Series A of $9 million. The round was led by M12, Microsoft’s venture capital arm, with participation from returning investor 500 Startups.

Based in San Francisco and Kuala Lumpur, LottieFiles was founded in 2018. The platform includes Lottie creation, editing and testing tools, and a marketplace for animations. It now claims about one million users from 65,000 companies, including Airbnb, Google, TikTok, Disney and Netflix, and 300% year-over-year growth. The new funding brings its total raised to about $10 million.

Smaller than GIF or PNG graphics, Lottie animations also have the advantage of being scalable and interactive. It was introduced as an open-source library by Airbnb engineers six years ago and quickly became popular with app developers because Lottie files can be used across platforms without additional coding and edited after shipping.

An illustration from animation startup LottieFiles

An illustration from animation startup LottieFiles

LottieFiles co-founder and chief executive officer Kshitij Minglani told TechCrunch the startup originally started as a community for designers and developers, before adding tools, integrations and other resources. It launched its marketplace during the COVID-19 lockdown, with 70% of earnings going directly to creators, and also has a list of animators who are available for hire.

LottieFiles’ core platform and tools are currently pre-revenue, with plans to monetize later this year. “It’s not often a revolutionary format comes about and disrupts an entire industry, saving tons of precious design and development hours,” said Minglani. “We didn’t want to stunt the adoption of Lottie by monetizing early on.”

The new funding will be used on LottieFiles’ product roadmap, expanding its infrastructure and increasing its global user base.

#animation, #asia, #design, #developers, #fundings-exits, #lottie, #lottiefiles, #malaysia, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc


Creative Fabrica, a platform for digital crafting resources, lands $7 million Series A

Roemie Hillenaar and Anca Stefan, the co-founders of Creative Fabrica

Roemie Hillenaar and Anca Stefan, the co-founders of Creative Fabrica

Creative Fabrica is best known as a marketplace for digital files, like fonts, graphics and machine embroidery designs, created for crafters. Now the Amsterdam-based startup is planning to expand into new verticals, including yarn crafts and projects for kids, with a $7 million Series A round led by Felix Capital. FJ Labs and returning investor Peak Capital also participated.

The new funding brings Creative Fabrica’s total raised to about $7.6 million, including its 2019 seed round.

Before launching Creative Fabrica in 2016, co-founders Anca Stefan and Roemie Hillenaar ran a digital agency. The startup was created to make finding digital files for creative projects easier. It started as a marketplace, but now also includes a showcase for finished projects, tools for creating fonts and word art, and a subscription service called the Craft Club. The company currently claims more than one million users around the world, with about 60% located in the United States and 20% in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

Creative Fabrica’s sellers make money in a couple of ways. If their digital assets are purchased individually, they get 50% of revenue. Files downloaded through the subscription service are assigned points, with creators receiving revenue at the end of the subscription period based on the number of points they accumulate.

Hillenaar, the company’s chief executive officer, told TechCrunch that Creative Fabrica launches new verticals based on what they see users sharing on their platform. For example, its designs are often used for die-cutting, and it recently launched POD (print on demand) files and digital embroidery verticals based on user interest.

Many of the files sold on Creative Fabrica include a commercial license and about 35% of its users actively sell the crafts they make. There are several other marketplaces that offers digital downloads for crafters and designers, including Etsy and Creative Market. Hillenaar said Creative Fabrica’s automated curation gives it more control over copyright infringement than Etsy, which means its users have more assurance that they can sell things made with its files without running into issues. While Creative Market also sells fonts, vector graphics and other files, it is mostly targeted toward publishers and website designers. Creative Fabrica’s focus on crafters means it files are designed to work with home equipment like Silhouette, a die-cutting machine.

Creative Fabrica also focuses on the entire creative process of a crafter or the “full funnel,” Hillenaar added. For example, someone who wants to make decorations for a birthday party can look through projects shared to the platform for inspiration, download digital materials and then start crafting using Creative Fabrica’s tutorials. Since many of Creative Fabrica’s crafts involve equipment like desktop die-cutting machines or sewing and embroidery machines, the platform offers a series of comprehensive tutorials to help crafters get started.

As Creative Fabrica expands into verticals like yarn crafts (it already offers knitting and crochet patterns) and kids projects, it’ll compete more directly with site likes Ravelry, which many yarn crafters rely on for patterns and services like Kiwi Crate that supply materials and instructions for children. Hillenaar said Creative Fabrica’s value proposition is focusing on the many people who take part in several different kinds of crafts.

According to a report from the Association for Creative Industries, about 63% of American households are involved with some form of craft. Out of that number, most partake in multiple kinds of projects.

“Somebody who is knitting is also likely to do die-cutting or woodworking, or another type of craft,” he said. “We believe that with our holistic view on this market we can cater to your whole creative crafting side instead of focusing on just one niche.”

#crafting, #creative-fabrica, #design, #europe, #fundings-exits, #startups, #tc, #the-netherlands


White House, dark mode: Biden admin refreshes Presidency’s website, vows accessibility, the official website for all Presidential actions and efforts, is among the first things to be changed up under the freshly inaugurated President Biden. A fashionable dark mode appeared, a large text toggle for straining eyes, and the webmaster has committed to making the whole site conform to the latest accessibility guidelines.

The look isn’t so very different from the previous administration’s site — they’re both fairly modern and minimal experiences, with big photos up front and tidy lists of priorities and announcements once you drill down into a category.

Animation showing dark and light modes on

Image Credits: White House

But one big design change implemented by the new administration that many will appreciate is the inclusion of a dark mode, or high contrast mode, and a large type toggle.

Dark modes have been around forever, but became de rigeur when Apple implemented its own system-wide versions on iOS and macOS a while back. It’s just easier on the eyes in many ways, and at any rate it’s nice to give users options.

The dark mode changes the headline type from a patriotic blue to an eye-friendly off-white, with links a calming Dijon. Even the White House logo itself goes from a dark blue background to full black with a white border. It’s all very tasteful, and if anything seems like a low contrast mode, not high.

The large type mode does what it says, making everything considerably bigger and easier to tap or click. The toggles, it must be said, are a bit over-prominent, but they’ll probably tweak that soon.

More important is the pledge in the accessibility section:

This commitment to accessibility for all begins with this site and our efforts to ensure all functionality and all content is accessible to all Americans.

Our ongoing accessibility effort works towards conforming to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.1, level AA criteria.

The WCAG guidelines are a set of best practices for designing a website so that its content can be easily accessed by people who use screen readers, need captions for audio, or can’t use a mouse or touchscreen easily. The guidelines aren’t particularly hard to meet, but as many have pointed out, it’s harder to retrofit a website to be accessible than to design it for accessibility from the start.

One thing I noticed was that many of the photos on the White House website have alt text or visible captions attached — these help visually impaired visitors understand what’s in an image. Here’s an example:

Screenshot showing the alt text of a photo of VP Kamala Harris and her family

Image Credits: White House





Normally that alt text would be read out by a screen reader when it got to the image, but it’s generally not made visible.

Unless the metadata was stripped from the previous administration’s site (it’s archived here), none of the photos I checked had text descriptions there, so this is a big improvement. Unfortunately some photos (like the big header photo on the front page) don’t have descriptions, something that should probably be remedied.

Accessibility in other places will mean prompt inclusion of plaintext versions of governance items and announcements (versus PDFs or other documents), captions on official videos and other media, and as the team notes, lots of little improvements that make the site better for everyone who visits.

It’s a small thing in a way, compared with the changes expected to accompany the new administration, but small things tend to pile up and become big things.

As Microsoft’s Isaac Hepworth noted, there’s still lots of work to do, and that’s why U.S. Digital Services hid a little message in the source code:

Section of source code asking for help from the US Digital Services administration

Image Credits: White House

If you’re interested in helping out, sign up here.

#accessibility, #biden-administration, #design, #government, #white-house


The Story of 2020 in 52 Magazine Covers

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#design, #magazines, #new-york-times, #two-thousand-twenty


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#design, #home-appliances, #kettles, #kitchens, #tableware, #tea


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#automobiles, #bayerische-motorenwerke-ag, #design, #general-motors, #genesis-motors, #hyundai-motor-co, #jeep-division-of-chrysler, #lexus-division-of-toyota-motor-corp, #toyota-motor-corp


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#architectural-digest, #deaths-obituaries, #design, #interior-design-and-furnishings, #magazines, #noland-paige-rense


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#cardin-pierre, #deaths-obituaries, #design, #fashion-and-apparel, #paris-france


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#callicoon-ny, #catskills-nys-area, #design, #interior-design-and-furnishings, #real-estate-and-housing-residential


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#bedford-stuyvesant-brooklyn-ny, #berkshires-mass, #design, #mcbride-patrick-1972, #metropolitan-museum-of-art, #onassis-jacqueline-kennedy, #textiles, #tillett-textiles


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#architecture, #content-type-personal-profile, #design, #interior-design-and-furnishings, #jewels-and-jewelry, #panconesi-marco, #paris-france, #rock-and-stone


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#automobiles, #chevrolet-division-of-general-motors-corp, #china, #design, #songsan-motors


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#art, #atascadero-calif, #design, #monoliths, #utah


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#antonelli-paola, #araki-kosuke, #art, #broken-nature-exhibit, #design, #gamper-martino-1971, #museum-of-modern-art, #museums, #new-york-city, #sustainable-living


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#art, #chianti-italy, #design, #furniture, #monasteries-and-monks, #rene-caovilla, #siena-italy


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#art, #automobiles, #design, #detroit-institute-of-arts, #museums


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#candles, #ceramics-and-pottery, #design, #shopping-and-retail, #sodermalm-stockholm-sweden, #stockholm-sweden, #tables