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Design Take-Aways from NYC

For most of last week I had the opportunity to explore New York City with family and friends! NYC is known for being forward-thinking in many areas and the area of design is no exception. Though the extent of our trip included far more than strictly graphic design elements, I think there are aspects we can glean from this man-made city through nearly all of its monuments and sights. I'd love to share a few design ideas I took away from some of my favorite spots in NYC. 

1. Islands Around Manhattan

We spent the first morning of our trip exploring the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island via ferry, and I must say, it was the highlight of the trip for me! Breathtakingly beautiful, the natural (and man-made) landscape taught a little lesson in color scheme. Nearly all of the buildings are made of glass, while the monuments are neutral colors in order to blend in well with the earthy colors of the trees and grass.

In design, it's often important to maintain a color scheme in order to get the look you're going for. All of the buildings and monuments I saw on these islands truly enhanced the natural aspects of the landscape while the landscape also allowed the beautiful monuments to shine. 

2. Empire State Building

The views from the Empire State Building are incredible, but it was this Art Deco lobby sign that really blew me away. Constructed in the 1930's, the design and style of the building breathes late 1920's classy elegance and edgy shapes. The 24-karat gold and aluminum leaf design makes a big statement and stands out in the already-extravagant lobby.

This sign reminded me of the importance of having somewhere for the eye to go that will hold the attention and engage the audience. For me, this sign thoroughly engaged my eye and directed my attention to the beauty of this awesome building. 

3. Grand Central Station

NYC's Grand Central Station certainly isn't a place you want to miss out on! The vaulted ceilings of the main concourse are painted with stars and zodiac symbols, while the high arches and old-fashioned ticket booths transport you to a different time. Though the main concourse is quite large, I immediately spotted the iconic clock in the middle of the room. Not only is it beautiful, but before the world of cell phones and accessibility of time keeping, it was essential information for passengers trying to get to their final destinations.

Therefore, we can see that vital information should be easy to spot and given the center stage.

4. Top of the Rock

Well, there's no sense in trying to fool you ... that is another image of the Empire State Building. However, it was taken from the top of Rockefeller Center! Just looking at this picture, it is clear to see that there's one building that stands out from all the rest, but we wouldn't be able to have this view without the height and positioning of Rockefeller Center. 

So, what can we learn? Your positioning matters! Having a good website with easy-to-find information and a layout that highlights the strong points of your business helps to make your business stand apart from the rest. 

5. Cooper Hewitt

For the last item on the list, it seems appropriate to speak on the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. That's right, a museum on design—how fun! This piece really stood out to me. It's a Polythread Knitted Textile Pavilion designed installed by Jenny Sabin. Not only is it beautiful, it is supremely functional. It's knitted threads are solar active and designed to collect, absorb, and deliver luminance.

This beauty teaches us that it's not all about aesthetic design but function as well. We give quite a bit of attention to this subject and that's because it's so important. To me, a design really isn't completely beautiful unless it has good function. Design without function can often cause frustration, which is not the type of user experience we want to create for our clients. Instead, take a note from Sabin and make sure your designs are not only beautiful, but also functional!

I definitely brought a lot back with me from NYC and I hope this blog helps you in your endeavors as well!