The Space Needle announced today the winning design that will replace the existing Galaxy Gold (which I love and is awesome)…and it’s trees.
Two problems here. One, I think the design is just wrong for the top of the Space Needle. The only time any of us will see this is from the side and quite a distance, so an intricate design intended to be viewed from above doesn’t make sense. Plus, this part of Needle has a dramatic hourglass shape when seen from the side…so it seems like we’re going to end up with some mighty squatty trees.
Bigger problem, though, is what an uninspired ripoff this design is. Just compare it to the Matthew Knight Arena court at the University of Oregon.
Nicole Commins, who designed “Trees” for the Space Needle, said her inspiration was “standing in the middle of one of Washington’s state parks, looking up to the tree tops.” The Ducks, meanwhile, described their arena floor as “framed by a representation of a view from beneath a forest of fir trees.” I’m having a hard time making a distinction between those two concepts—the only difference I see is a more polished execution on the court version.
Ultimately, though, this is just one Seattlite’s opinion. (Obviously other Seattlites had their say, too, or we wouldn’t be in this situation.) We’ll see how it plays out—and anyway, the Needle will be back to boring old white six months from now.
UPDATE: People have been pointing out another issue on the Space Needle Facebook page. Did Commins use clip art or stock brushes to create her design? I can’t tell, but if so, that might be a violation of the contest rules, which state the designs “must be original works and not include or consist of … works owned or controlled by others.”
I didn’t love his performance tonight. Neither did a lot of folks. I really think he missed an opportunity to put Romney to shame with a clear economic plan—it almost just seemed like someone who felt too important to be there.
On the other hand, I was somewhat encouraged by this perspective (yeah, she means “not to vote for”):
Regardless, we’ll wake up tomorrow and see what all the pundits say. Then take that with a grain of salt. And frankly, even though Obama had a dull showing tonight, I don’t think there’s a lot that will happen in the polls. They’ve been nearly even for a few weeks now—barring some spikes in Obama’s favor—and I don’t see anything from tonight’s sleepy wonkfest changing that. On the media side, though, I’m sure we’ll be seeing all sorts of developments in the campaign narrative (like the “Romney Comeback”).
Why did it work?
The concept—quotes from Mitt Romney superimposed on pictures of Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development—was solid for a couple reasons (and not just because Hanna came up with the idea to juxtapose the two). One, Romney is an out-of-touch millionaire politician who can’t go a week without proving it by putting his foot in his mouth. Classist, ignorant, or just inadvertently hilarious, people recognize that what he says reveals him as someone who so completely doesn’t relate to—or empathize with—the vast majority of Americans. And two (to borrow a phrase): there’s always money in the banana stand. The internet comes with a built-in audience for anything Arrested Development-related. Plus, I’d like to think this audience has a pretty well-developed sense of humor who appreciate clever comedy—after all, they are fans of the show in the first place.
And while the pictures themselves have a simple execution, they still rely on constraints to succeed. First of all, a picture needs a quote from Romney slapped on a screencap of Lucille. Not the other way around. A minor distinction, but that alone disqualifies about half of the submissions I’ve gotten (although, “I don’t understand the question, and I won’t respond to it” is incredible over Romney at a press conference). Also important is the accuracy of the quote itself. No paraphrasing or fictionalizing what Romney says—anyway, he’s usually funnier unedited. And even though this is about as low-brow design as you can get, sticking to typographic standards is still key. Basic meme typography goes something like this: all caps, set in Impact, and white with a black stroke a few pixels thick. Overall, those basic rules keep the tumblr (mostly) consistent with itself and with the visual language people expect from internet humor.
Finally, and I’m not sure if this falls under execution, but the timing was ideal. I had enough content by the time Romney’s 47% comment (and the rest of that tape) dropped, which I think for many was the final straw for him being totally unrelatable and kind of terrifying; that was also the same week the tumblr blew up. It got some good press at the same time folks were trying to make sense of what Romney was saying. And for some, I think Lucille and Mitt helps take the edge off the terrible reality that a real man who says and believes things like this has a very real chance of winning the presidency.