Global Design in Burundi


Anyone who doubts that we live in a global economy needs to look at packaging and products from the far-flung reaches of the planet. These lovely labels for sauces and marmalades were made for Italbu Charcuterie in Burundi, a little landlocked country in Southeast Africa, bordered by Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Italbu Charcuterie is a deli shop offering organic products made from original Italian recipes.The design firm Ya Ye lists studios both in Zagreb, Croatia, and Bujumbura, Burundi. Ya Ye’s design has a contemporary universal quality that could have just as easily been produced in New York, London or Sydney. Cultural design differences were more distinctly identifiable before air travel and multinational retailers. A World War II vet once told me that if a soldier was parachuted onto foreign terrain, he would know where he landed by the typography and architecture, even before hearing the spoken language. With the Internet today, the whole world is exposed to the same visual references and design styles can’t be pinpointed to a particular culture or part of the world.

From Milan to Tokyo by Subway

Imagine that you are a regular Italian commuter on Line 2 of the Milan Metro subway. The train pulls up to Moscova station and you get off as usual. But wait! This isn’t right! You must have dozed off. This doesn’t look like Moscova station; it doesn’t even look like Italy. Like Captain Kirk in “Star Trek,” you’ve leaped time and space and have been beamed to Shibuya station in Tokyo.

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Global Ties

Preferred by über rich and famous men, E. Marinella neckties have been worn by aristocrats, global leaders, titans of industry and movie heart throbs. Founded in Naples in 1914, Marinella began as a tiny shop that catered to men with elegant taste and deep pockets. Throughout the 20th century, the family-owned business let its clientele from around the world beat a path to its Naples store, without spending a lira on advertising. Marinella himself (now the grandson) would advise customers on colors, patterns and measurements, and then have his artisans custom-make each necktie to each customer’s specifications. Only in the past decade has E. Marinella established boutique shops in a few fashion capitals outside of Italy. This has led to the launch of an advertising campaign telling elite clientele where its shops can be found. Playing off of the brand’s tagline “Since 1914, the taste of elegance,” the ads created by Footbite agency in Monza, Italy, feature neckties folded like an iconic food for which each location is known – Lugano chocolate, London tea, Tokyo sushi, Italian (Milan and Naples) espresso, and Parisian croissant. The campaign was art directed by Paolo Guidobono and Michele Sartori.

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Louis Vuitton Origami Invitation

The opening of a new location in Osaka, Japan, was occasion for luxury retailer Louis Vuitton to ask Italian design studio Happycentro to produce an appropriately elegant invitation card.The result was a printing and folding tour de force involving offset printing, transparent, silver mat, pearl and rainbow foils, dry embossing, silkscreen and die-cuts. As if that wasn’t complicated enough, the square sheet was precisely folded by hand origami-style 34 ways. One has to believe that the designer Federico Galvani has a fiendishly clever mind to devise something that tested the skills of printers and origami artists alike, but the team pulled it off and the result is lovely and unique.

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Reconsidering Time

Clocks have come in analog, digital, sundial, atomic, round face with hands that point to hours and minutes, and numbers that flip forward with each advancing minute. The Qlocktwo Touch, made by German design company Biegert & Funk, is the only clock that I can think of to declare the time typographically in a complete sentence. It’s perfect for dyslexics.

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