Watch Gabe Kean (Belle & Wissell’s founder and Principal) as he provides a behind-the-scenes look into the studio’s process—presented at the Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) Conference in Seattle, titled “Approaching the Media-Centric Project.”
In this one-hour workshop and Q+A session, Gabe uses the Space Needle’s SkyPad™ as his primary case study. Further examples include The Frick Orientation Center in Pittsburgh, and the Digital Retail Experiences at Umpqua Bank’s flagship store in San Francisco.
Communication Arts magazine, a professional journal for those involved in creativity in visual communications, has announced the winners of its 23rd annual interactive competition. Thirty-eight projects were selected by a jury of creative professionals; 985 entries were submitted to the competition. The selected projects will be reproduced in the March/April 2017 issue of Communication Arts, both in print and digital editions, with more than 30,000 copies distributed worldwide, and on commarts.com, assuring important exposure to the creators and publishers of these award-winning projects.
Through its editorials, feature articles and the annual competitions it sponsors, CA provides new ideas and information, while promoting the highest professional standards for the field. Now in its 58th year, CA continues to showcase the current best—whether it’s from industry veterans or tomorrow’s stars—in advertising, design, photography, illustration, interactive and typography. Everything is reproduced with quality printing and attention to detail unmatched by any trade publication anywhere.
In partnership with Mark Bashore and Katrina Crawford, Belle & Wissell realized an experimental web experience called RadioEight. The project aims to measure the condition of our planet in an entirely new way: the subconscious dreams of the world’s children. Through the intersection of audio, documentary, interactivity, and social media, RadioEight unlocks subtle commonalities among the youngest global citizens, eliminating barriers both physical and intangible.
Dream recordings were collected from children around the world, ages 7 to 13—while recording in Nepal, Katrina captured several accounts just hours before the Gorkha earthquake. At the time of this writing, RadioEight.net holds nearly 200 dream recordings, with each categorized according to its location: Asia, the Americas, or Africa. This project will grow over time through online submissions and field recordings (Europe coming soon).
RadioEight is an ongoing effort, with both accessibility and innovation as its highest priorities. The desktop and mobile sites present the experience across a variety of devices, and the frequently-updated podcast channel (available via iTunes or the mobile site) and submission instructions facilitate global participation.
In order to adequately present this effort, Belle & Wissell applied advanced web-building tools to achieve a simultaneously surreal and organic quality in the interface. 3D simulation and particle systems (implemented using WebGL), along with a layered, dynamic soundtrack (all original music and ambient compositions), contribute to the viewers’ sense of immersion.
Belle & Wissell partnered with photographer Todd Blubaugh in the co-creation of the photographic memoir, Too Far Gone. The travelogue and photography book is the latest from Belle & Wissell Editions (and published by Gingko Press). The project has already been getting attention from Juxtapoz Magazine and Iron & Air Magazine (a quote from its editor is included below).
“Todd, I just went through the book. I’m broken, humbled, inspired, and in awe. Your words alone are enough to stand on their own. They brought me to tears, made me want to hug my kids, kiss my wife, and not take a second for granted. Then, your images take things to a whole other level… I want to walk into each frame and live out each of those moments. Thank you for sharing this with me. I’m blown away.”
Some background on the project: Todd Blubaugh quit his job in pursuit of adventure on the open road. His long-planned trip criss-crossing the nation was meant to be an escape and an opportunity to forge a new existence while pursuing his twin passions for photography and motorcycle culture.
With the passing of Todd’s parents only days before his expected departure, his journey took on unanticipated gravity. All told, Todd spent six months on the road, touching down in various U.S. cities during his transcontinental trip. His time spent traveling marks a personal sea change, and a period of great self-discovery. Too Far Gone is the photographic and anecdotal account of his experiences, presented through short vignettes as well as personal letters and artifacts. Threads of human experience weave throughout the text, presented in Todd’s compassionate voice and providing the reader with deep access to every detail of his trip, from the fine points of motorcycle culture to the deeply personal stories he encountered along the road.
Too Far Gone breaks with the traditional motorcycle adventure narrative, joining mixed media pieces with a compelling story to create an engrossing visual experience.
Belle & Wissell and Lockwood & Sons partnered to create Oxbow, a place for cross-disciplinary experiments located in Georgetown. SHAKE, a series by artist Alex Lockwood, was on exhibit in Oxbow’s new art installation space from June–September of this year.
The series highlights Lockwood’s meditation-through-repetition art making approach and allows for true interaction with the pieces. The artist’s use of commonplace materials—bottle caps, plastic lighters, discarded lottery tickets—revitalizes and transforms them into organic, often mobile, works of art.
Oxbow recently hosted a process presentation and closing celebration of SHAKE. With the ongoing renovation of the space, art installations will be presented at regular intervals. Check back for updates on upcoming events and exhibits.
Oxbow is a collaboration between Belle & Wissell and design-build company Lockwood & Sons. Click here for more information on the project.
In collaboration with the Friends of Georgetown History, Belle & Wissell designed signage that fittingly integrates with the buildings and history of the Georgetown neighborhood. The informative placards recognize noteworthy buildings and residences, bringing greater awareness to this first settlement of King County.
Current-day Georgetown features numerous structures from its early history: vestiges from the hops agriculture and brewing industries that greatly shaped the neighborhood, and the broader Seattle economy.
The placards—cast in bronze, and treated with a matte gloss—can be found throughout Georgetown, mounted or stanchioned on historical properties. Belle & Wissell applied varied designs for each building type: the residential placards are delicate and ornate, while those for businesses are clear and bold.
Local Georgetown community members and businesses came together to write the descriptions of each, with the help and resources of the Friends of Georgetown History.
Click here to learn more about Georgetown history and its significance in the development of modern-day Seattle.
Belle & Wissell joined Mark Bashore and Katrina Crawford of Yonder on the experimental web experience, RadioEight. With support from the Gates Foundation, RadioEight aims to enhance our international community through universal experiences: the subconscious dreams of children.
RadioEight collects dreams from children around the world, inviting users to expose the commonalities—and differences—among them. A corresponding video podcast with themed episodes of dream accounts, curated ambient tracks, and transcribed translations can be accessed on all mobile devices at m.radioeight.net, or via iTunes.
The immersive web interface is meant to evoke dreamscapes and neuropathways, and features an original soundtrack of music and ambient sounds. Belle & Wissell designed and built the site, employing 3D simulation and particle systems.
Woodland Park Zoo recently welcomed three Malayan Tigers into their new Field House exhibit. Belle & Wissell was selected to create two interactive activities to educate visitors on the species and their critical endangerment.
The Conservation Field House depicts the actual structures used by biologists working to save Malayan Tigers. A central display—controlled by a series of objects on a work table—reveals three narrative vignettes explaining the current threats to tiger welfare.
Tablet interactive stations offer an additional three activities intended for individual exploration. Zoo patrons can learn more, commit to tiger conservation, and send messages of thanks to those working to save Malayan Tigers.
Belle & Wissell crafted a multi-dimensional, educational platform for visitors to the acclaimed Seattle Central Library. The new Visitor Center Exhibit, catering to users of all ages, transforms the typical Library experience.
The Seattle Central Library is a striking, iconic element of the skyline designed by world-renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Its architectural significance and receptive ideology make it the most-visited site in Seattle, drawing almost 2 million visitors annually. Belle & Wissell designed the Visitor Center Exhibit to evoke the same form-follows-function approach of the Koolhaas Central Library.
Belle & Wissell worked closely with Lockwood & Sons, a design build company, to realize this exhibit. The Visitor Center Exhibit was produced in close collaboration with the Seattle Public Library and the Seattle Public Library Foundation.
The Visitor Center Exhibit “Look” and “Learn” stations feature interactive and dynamic components celebrating librarians, libraries, and their indispensable role as a civic resource. Users can discover historical information, facts about the design and philosophy of the Central Library, and personal interviews produced by StoryCorps.
During the development of all Belle & Wissell projects, a critical process step is a period of rigorous usability testing. The name alone reveals its purpose: how intuitive, accessible, and universal will this experience be for its users?
Recently, Belle & Wissell was fortunate enough to conduct usability testing with a friend of the studio, Venerable Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche. He is a resident lama at Sakya Monastery in Seattle. Ven. Tulku Yeshi graciously assisted with a project under development, offering both words of encouragement and insightful observations.
Based on core audience profiles, Belle & Wissell selects a small group to test that best represents each audience segment. The consideration of these future users drives the final design and functionality of each new interface.
Aside from being a highly important component of any project, usability testing allows the design and development teams to pre-visualize their work in action.
We thank Venerable Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche (and all our participants) for your indispensable assistance, comments, and enthusiasm.
Learn more about the Sakya Monastery and Ven. Tulku Yeshi on his Facebook page here.
Belle & Wissell helped the Space Needle launch one of its most exciting new offerings called SkyPad™—an interactive wall measuring 20-feet wide. SkyPad™ is part of a large set of digital enhancements being added to the Observation Deck experience.
From start to finish, Belle & Wissell worked in concert with brand strategy agency Creature, Olson Kundig Architects, a/v hardware specialist Streamline Solutions, database consultant Idea Gateway, and the Space Needle’s internal team to bring this project to the Observation Deck.
With over 1.5 million visitors a year, the Space Needle is the second most visited public space in Seattle (second only to the Seattle Central Library). Skypad™ encourages visitors to make their mark on a 3D global guestbook and to share and browse Space Needle memories.
Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle has since been a symbol for the Seattle experience, with people traveling from all over the world to catch the view from its Observation Deck.
Belle & Wissell designed the Skypad™ interactive guestbook to encourage visitors to leave their mark and visualize the distance and significance of the journey they have taken to get there—via an 8-foot-tall interactive 3D globe. Meanwhile, visitors can explore 52 years of memories through a photographic installation that allows guests to view and filter memorabilia, early tower design and construction, sunsets, etc. Guests are also encouraged to contribute their own memories by uploading photos through the Space Needle’s website.
SkyPad™ is a perfect blend of inventive design and technology that gives visitors both the inspiration and ability to share memories and build new experiences together in one of the world’s most iconic towers.
Read more about Skypad™ on GeekWire.