February 18, 2009

Darwin Days Designs

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Last week’s post looked at graphics that appear in the Sun’s new science section, so I figured this week I’d discuss the pages themselves. As already mentioned, Science is among the more “magazine-y” sections of the newspaper, running longer feature stories and interviews. The first page has, so far, almost invariably held a single unified feature (though sometimes multiple stories within this feature).
[img_assist|nid=35216|title=Darwin Design Photo|desc=|link=node|align=center|width=|height=0]

This week’s feature is Darwin Days, a series of lectures and events on campus and around Ithaca celebrating 150 years of “On the Origin of Species” and 200 years since the birth of Charles Darwin himself. A single photo was available, which only related to one of the lecture stories. To provide an anchoring graphic and unify the page, we resorted to “word art”, featuring some of evolutions most notable – and most notorious – implications and perversions.

The number ‘200’ appears in vertical garmond, anchoring a thick, grey line firmly to the edge of the page. Shooting off the line are various phrases associated with evolution, in various shades and sizes, in Helvetica Neue, with a black weight.

Designers need to constantly work within constraints of the page, and one of this week’s biggest constraints was lack of space. Three great articles had two pages to spread over, and yet there was not nearly enough room for “dramatic whitespace.” If we had zero constraints, this is what it would have looked like:

[img_assist|nid=35217|title=Darwin Design Alt|desc=|link=node|align=center|width=|height=0]

Here a giant void of content surrounding it on all sides emphasizes the word art. Sometimes a vacuum is more powerful than the thickest detail work. Perhaps it has something to do with entropy and an extreme lack of disorder… Unfortunately this design is the antithesis of appropriate for the issue this week, since it would screw the budgeting of article space on page nine — sadly a proper design for the day is not always the best design.

[img_assist|nid=35218|title=Page 9 Darwin|desc=|link=node|align=center|width=|height=0]

The second page of Science often comes with “The Scientist”, a feature interview series where we write on Cornell professors and their exciting research contributions. If the full-body photo cut looks like an idea lifted from the New York Times Magazine, well… that’s because it is. Nonetheless, it’s still fabulous.

The Scientist logo is a bit of a design-baby of mine, since I hand-drew the astronomer/chemist in a fedora. The poofy lab coat leaves the figure gender-ambiguous, though perhaps the hat makes it a man… oh well…

[img_assist|nid=35219|title=The Scientist Darwin|desc=|link=node|align=center|width=|height=0]