a for agile

We are devoted to helping people learn, think, and create better.

We endeavour to record, study, and promote their living heritage and identity. We undertake research on the functions and values of their cultural expressions and practices.

We develop solutions to ease them through our times.

d for development

We create digital products, provide UX design services and organise industry events and workshops.

We work across business, technical, visual and marketing levels, to ensure that the final product experience does not degrade because of politics, budgets and strong personalities.

We think hard and play even harder, not only from a design perspective, but on project management and engineering aspects, mitigating risk for you (and us).

ax for analogue

em for digital

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offf 2014

Every year, a wide range of design events take place around the world. This year was all about OFFF Barcelona for us!

OFFF was born a decade ago as a post-digital culture festival: this year’s edition covered illustration, photography, branding, animation and motion design, art direction, interaction and service design

OFFF 2014 hosted 45 speakers, each an expert in their particular area of design, all in 3 long days: lectures took place in two different rooms of the Museu del Disseny de Barcelona with presentations overlapping each other, making it quite difficult to track and catch everyone of our picks, which was sad, as there was a lot worth listening to!

Let’s start with Lorem Ipsum and Atelier: Atelier is an education centre and innovator in the field of design and visual arts – Lorem Ipsum is a group of Atelier alumni from last year – the OFFF Teaser and the OFFF Opening Titles that we all took notice of, as well as the entire OFFF campaign, was created by them and the Atelier teaching staff

Polynoid followed, speaking about their career path from film school to their recent collaboration with Microsoft and Nike

Mucho demonstrated some really nice branding projects, such as Kostrok, the Sunrise packaging, their City Guides – walking us through each site from a creator’s perspective, where each selected site is branded by an architect or designer – and Falado – the typeface created for Ibercamera

Aaron Becker and Filmography, a boutique production studio specialising in title design for feature films, live action direction, animation and visual effects were next

Chip Kidd, the Meryl Streep of book design, talked about his book covers, the story behind “You better not cry” and the evolution of his mantras

The last speakers of the day were Fleur & Manu, art directors for many video clips – this one is absolutely worth a mention: Gesaffelstein “Pursuit” – highly recommended to anyone interested in film direction, as it really brings to life how much effort this kind of work demands

The second day of OFFF started off-key for us, as the lettering workshop was reason enough not to catch Oliver Jeffers, hands down our favourite children books illustrator! Not to be missed: Oliver Jeffer’s World

So, the first presentation we actually caught was Pomme Chan‘s – a really kind designer from Bangkok giving her first lecture on “what if’s” and how her very own answers to those questions lead her from illustration and hand lettering to pattern design, interior design and fashion design, with clients ranging from MTV to Marc Jacobs and Nylon Magazine

Second Story speaking about interaction and immersive digital productions were definitely one of OFFF’s hightlights: they presented their multi-awarded project Triumph of the Winter Queen and other really interesting works

In-between presentations, we also managed to watch a short documentary film by director Mireia Pujol, tackling the delicate subject of migration and asylum seekers throughout the European Union, with personal stories of struggle: Diary of Hunger – watch it and feed your thought!

Alex Mathers then took over – a young, self-taught illustrator who jumped from his studies in geography to “geo-graphics” not that far away! The most important thing Alex pointed out in his presentation is that, as a self-taught professional, he experienced all the challenges of the profession in a very distinct way, which he decided to turn into a web platform about self-promotion: the Red Lemon Club

Robert Peters – the only speaker to use Powerpoint in OFFF 2014! – lectured us about design in general and captivated us with his Solace House

Between lectures, Casey Neistat was a much-needed break: a very talented person, famous in HBO circles, with fantastic work such as the “Make it Count” video for Nike and a lot more

Another highlight of OFFF 2014 was Danny Yount, the American graphic designer who produced the opening titles for blockbusters like Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man 3 – his “Rules I try to live by” is an essential toolkit for young designers

Our third and last day started with Lotta Nieminen, a young illustrator and graphic designer from Finland living and working in New York, followed by Kate Moross – the creative director who loves colour – quoting her: “Inspiration is for Americans, it is the worst thing in the world, so cheesy! What gave you inspiration? It is pizza feeding so many designers and developers at three o’clock in the morning”

Probably the most essential presentation of OFFF 2014 was given by Eric Spiekermann, who was the only speaker to mention service design and agile creativity, the agile development method applied to the design process – he also spoke about his love of typography and attempted to answer questions such as “Who needs so many typefaces?” and “Is there life before death?”

Next up was Steve Simpson and his famous illustrated barcodes

The last highlight of the festival was Aaron Koblin with his agency’s unique blend of interaction design and coding – making use of the very latest HTML5 and Processing goodness – showcasing work for the music band Arcade Fire such as The Reflector application and other pieces such as Unnumbered Sparks

All in all, OFFF 2014 lived up to its reputation as a meeting point for many designers – young or old, famous or green – from all over the world, giving the stage to the crème de la crème of all digital design areas! With a little improvement on the logistics and commute to avoid missing out on the good stuff, it’s a go for us for 2015 – see you all there

wiad greece on indiegogo

The choice to run World IA Day Greece in a world-class venue on a tiny, beautiful island has attracted interest from a global audience, who has already pre-booked a large chunk of the venue seating, while thousands of others will be following the proceedings through our live streaming.

However, getting people and materials from the United States, Japan and all over Europe to Syros is a logistical challenge, involving many hidden costs. Travel and accommodation sponsors are sometimes willing and able to cover these costs by providing flight and room product. In the current climate, most of these sponsors were unwilling or unable to do so, citing financial limitations or requirements we could not fulfill – such as who should speak at the event and where the event should be relocated to (Athens rather than Syros).

Why not compromise?

There are various reasons behind our will to host the inaugural World IA Day Greece event in Syros, at the Apollon Theatre, with this speaker lineup. However, there is a single overarching chain of thought: this event is about experience design, shouldn’t we design it as an unforgettable experience?

What’s in it for you?

Well, for one, apart from the awesome perks listed on our Indiegogo campaign page, every contribution to this campaign is guaranteed entry to the event, even after the online ticket allocation is sold out (i.e. we have reserved some seats for you). Every contributor will be thanked on-screen in our opening and closing sessions (broadcast live for the entire world to see).

If you contribute to this campaign but are too far away to join us in Syros on February 15th, we promise you this: your name will echo through eternity using any analogue or digital medium at our disposal. You are great. You are good. You bring life, like no other could (you can also keep a low profile if you want, just let us know). We’ll get in touch for your address to mail you the perk corresponding to your contribution. You’ll have also earned yourself a new pen-pal for the holiday season.

Finally, if you made it that far but cannot contribute in money, why not contribute in kind? Speak to your friends about WIAD Greece, share this campaign using the Indiegogo tools, participate in our call for lightning talks and exhibitions, drop us a line to volunteer at the event, or simply create some good karma. The design universe will thank you for it!

WIAD Badge

invitation to wiad

World IA Day Greece will be hosted on February 15th 2014 at the Apollon Theatre in Hermoupolis, Syros

Our event theme is how we can use experience design to make the world a better place. This theme is further specialised into the following topics:

  • Cross-channel UX – providing an experiential continuity through different channels and devices
  • UX beyond business – improving life quality around the world and achieve sustainability by design
  • Pervasive UX – information architecture in conjunction with computation, interaction and the physical world
  • Show don’t tell or tell don’t show? – presentation choices that insight discovery
  • Emergent changes – what are the trends and wicked problems of today and tomorrow that will impact what we do

To explore this theme, we have invited software, graphic, product, sound, stage designers and technologists that are re-defining the way people experience a typical day at the office, a visit to the museum, a stroll in the park, a game, a concert or dance performance. Experience builders.

But this is not all. We want you to be a part of it. Do you have a project you are working on that is relevant to the event central theme and topics? Do you have a concept you would like our invited speakers and global audience to hear about?

Now is the time to let us know! Send us an email (info@axem.gr with subject WIAD) before January 31st with an overview of the project work or concept you would like to present (in pdf, blog, gallery or other digital format) and a motivation letter. The presentation format will be either a 5-minute lightning talk or an exhibition at the Apollon Theatre foyer, so do not forget to mention your preference in your motivation letter.

World IA Day

world ia day

Ad Axem has the privilege of hosting the inaugural GR event in the World IA Day series in Hermoupolis, Syros. Our theme for this year is how we can use experience design to make the world a better place.

To explore this theme, we have invited Andreas Kioroglou (Matadog Design), Panagiotis Kovanis (Mindworks), Jannis Anastasakis (JAM pedals), Koven J. Smith (Kinetic Museums), Vladimir Jankovic (Nordeus), Andreas Triantafillidis (ThinkingVivl.io), Themis Chapsis (OgilvyOne Worldwide), Vangelis Bibakis (Ad AxemDemian Labs), Eleni Vakondiou and Periklis Therrios (Xylo eyewear) for a day packed full of UX goodness on an island not so far away…

UX Design

ux

The most important traits of excellent UX practitioners according to Mitch Stein (or, why you might want to talk to us):

no1.. Empathy

no2.. Diverse experience and interests, which empower associative thinking (just take a look at our timeline)

no3.. Ability to deal with uncertainty and managing risk, not avoiding it (living and working in Greece always helps)

no4.. (that’s a good one!) Profound laziness (no comment)

and no5.. Balance of confidence and open-mindedness (never afraid to fail or listen to someone else’s opinion, always armed with a plan B)

(The Spectrum of User Experience by Information Architects Inc.)

EDA Belgrade 04
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Sergei Sviatchenko 05
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BDW Workshops 05
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Kare 01
Delicatessen Monday 02
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Dragana Ognjenovic
Kalemegdan Park
Beetroot Monsters 02
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Oskar Zieta 02
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bdw 2013

It has been said that if May belongs to the New York Design Week and the Venice Art Biennale, June is all about Belgrade. 2013 was the ninth consecutive year that the Belgrade Design Week embellished our lives. Visiting a city of contrasts: on the one hand, ruins reminding us of a war catastrophe not that far away and, on the other, a wealth of culture mixing heritage with modernism, showing us who Serbians are and shaping the future through new perspectives, a statement heard at BDW was constantly being validated: “it is not politics that are changing the world, but design”

So, more about that week. BDW was about exciting Serbian designers exhibiting all over Belgrade and la crème de la crème of European design. Our very own Beetroot with their unique Monsters exhibition, the collages of the kind and gentle Sergei Sviatchenko, Dragana Ognjenović‘s fashion show, the BDW workshops, three days’ worth of innovation lectures (32!), a lot of fun, parties and people meeting each other, exchanging ideas about design and living. Most of that wonderful schedule was hosted at the Museum of Contemporary Art, an amazing building which has remained closed for the past 7 years, until Jovan Jelovac, founder/curator of BDW and the most charismatic person you could ever meet in marketing/comms, decided to re-open it for all of us. Already a very special opportunity in itself, imagine that wonderful building with huge projections of Dusan Reljin‘s photo auction and Goran Balaban’s (Samsung-sponsored) 3D mapping on the Grand Opening night.

Highlights of the innovation lectures were Clemens Weisshaar‘s extravagant robots, Oskar Zieta‘s unique furniture-making techniques, Daan Roosegaarde speaking about the relationship between us humans and our environment, demonstrating light constructions and interactive new-age roads, Laura Lee‘s take on branding a country, based on the information gathered from participants of her BDW workshop, and Troika‘s light installations such as “the weather yesterday“. Yet another of our fellow countrymen, Demetrios Fakinos, used Greece as an example of a country that needs design to redefine its position in the world. Christophe Pillet lectured on desire and needs, Studio Dumbar from Rotterdam captivated us through their very special Alzheimer campaign, Yurko Gutsulyak told us three stories about understanding people through design, wasting time and designing for limited edition, while Studio FM demonstrated designs for widely different clients, ranging from Electrolux to Benetton. Last but not least, EDA agency of the year Jäger & Jäger indulged us on knowledge and belief, through their class work on the Stift Zwettl monastery exhibition, the Siemens Music Foundation corporate branding and their reading chairs, with Andrien Rovero closing the proceedings with his Skinni leather animals and Hermès work.

We left Belgrade, having also visited the Yugoslav Drama Theatre during the European Design Awards and attended the EDA & BDW afterparty at Splav Play in Ušće, with a promise: Belgrade, we will remain true to you and return in 2014! Thank you for the memories!

Keep It Simple Stupid

6 design principles for web apps

The web comes with its own context. It is not the desktop. And while over time the lines between desktop and web blur more and more, there is still a unique aspect to creating rich interactions on the web. The following key design principles unlock these interactions and form the core of a UX framework for web applications:

  1. The direct principle or “where there is output, let there be input”. For example, instead of editing content on a separate page, do it directly in context.
  2. The lightweight principle or the need to produce a light footprint and reduce the effort required to interact with the web application. A primary way to create a light footprint is through the use of contextual tools.
  3. The in-page principle or the reduction of page refreshes which are disruptive to a user’s mental flow. Instead of assuming a page refresh for every action, we get back to modelling the user’s process. We then decide intelligently when to keep the user on the page, how to overlay information or provide information in the page flow, create dynamic content and in-page flows.
  4. The invitation principle or the primary challenge of discoverability. A feature is useless if users don’t discover it. A key way to improve discoverability is to provide invitations. Invitations cue the user to the next level of interaction.
  5. The transition principle or the powerful techniques of brighten and dim, expand and collapse, self-healing fade and spotlight.
  6. The reaction principle or “a responsive interface is an intelligent interface”. Use lively responses, including live search, live suggest, refining search, and autocomplete.

A highly recommended read on the subject, which directly inspired this post, is the book Designing Web Interfaces – Principles and Patterns for Rich Interaction by Bill Scott & Theresa Neil, available online or in print by O’Reilly

life

choose life

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

Here’s a simple truth: what you think about is what you remember.
Here’s a false assumption: our memory records everything it hears and sees.

Assumptions about how participants in any event create memories, learn and remember are made all the time. These assumptions and all of the related planning about that event content and logistics are based on a mix of theories and tradition.

Take a museum tour (the event) and some museum visitors (the event participants) as an example:

We’ve assumed that the more visitors walk around passively, listening to a tour guide (alive or app-ified), the more they will remember.

We’ve assumed that the quieter the visitors are, the more they can hear and recall information.

We’ve assumed that the more content that is covered, the more the visitors learn.

So how effective are these assumptions? Using these assumptions, how much is actually retained by you, the event participant? The answer is very little, if anything at all.

What ends up in your memory is not the content presented. It is the product of what you thought about as you experienced that content. If that tour had focussed more on your previous visits to the museum (when did you come, where did you go, what did you see, how long did you stay) and had taken care of the logistics of being you, the odds are you would remember it for a long time.

And what about a two-hour concert or a music festival? The set, the visuals, the singer, the PA, the food and beverage, your seating and even how you got those tickets, everything plays a part in determining what you think about as you experience the event. This is the memory you create.

How does all this apply to you, the performing arts venue, festival, theatre, museum, gallery, conference centre or resort? Make event logistics seamless, know the who, what, when and where of every last detail, have actionable information about your customers. Offer them an unforgettable experience.

Ad Axem Sign and Mailbox (Image 1 of 4)
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Ad Axem Sign and Mailbox (Image 2 of 4)

the design of everyday things

Brilliant work by Helen and Perikles, who took a simple initial idea and turned it around from concept to execution in a week (!). Professional all around, they sent us vector schematics and colour codes to consult, before sourcing the very best materials for our company sign – slash – mailbox.

Many thanks guys, we look forward to our next custom order…