Archive for November, 2006

A different look at Manga/Anime inspired product design

When it comes to branding and corporate identity, it’s rather old news that western companies and design firms like to recieve their inspiration from Asia, namely Japan and India. When I see this, I normally perk up; it’s always interesting to see how a western company pulls this off. It’s not easy to be a “Culture Copycat”. Being influenced by the visuals of a different culture does not mean that one can successfully recreate these visuals with the same feel and “virginity” – to be able to immitate a culture properly, you need to understand that culture well enough in order to speak it’s visual language.

This brings me to my this new “Brand Watch” (notice it’s a category, now?). This British company’s name is Eyeko (formerly Eye Beauty). This company, led by it’s founder, Nina Leykind (former publicist), manufactures cosmetics which are meant for the 20-something crowd, with the look and feel of items which are geared towards 14 year-old Japanese schoolgirls. Now, it doesn’t take a designer to point out that the way the western world markets manga/anime inspired products is to stick a random comic character on a random product with some gibberish-Japanese attached. While Eyeko’s mascot indeed is an anime schoolgirl’s severed head, they generally try to avoid this with their product design. Instead of the aforementioned product design method, they stick to stemming their thought point from “if there was an anime schoolgirl, which products would SHE use, after waking up in the morning and washing her face?”

Eyeko’s products, therefor, are very simplistic in their design, using “cutesy fonts” (similar to the ol’ dreaded Comic Sans), hearts and florals, and an animal or two. Coming from a European company, this is a very welcomed change. The company was interested in keeping the “fun spirit” of anime and manga in their products, but wasn’t interested in plastering the image of “Takahasi no Yamaguchi” all over each product (don’t ask me who that is exactly, I just made it up, but it would have been convincing enough to a westerner).

While their products seem to very “pre-teen”, their target market is women much older than the jr. highschool crowd. This puts them in a tough position – their products are not affordable to the crowd which is sure to covet these items the most, which may be one of the reasons why most of the Eyeko products were at some point redesigned (clashing colors, like in the image above, were replaced with better color combinations like in the image below in order to make the products seem less like novelty items), and then pulled from the shelves in the US altogether. At this current point in time, Eyeko products are sold in the UK and the creators have moved on to other “interesting” cosmetic vetures, such as Liparazzi (which seems to have become very popular in the United States).

I’m going to leave you with this overly-pink photograh, which was taken by a swedish blogger. Perhaps it can help explain this company and it’s product design better than I can:

See what I mean? Straight out of an anime infomercial. Wow, Feel the GLOW!

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Language of Hebrew

We went to see the film “Borat” tonight, but I have to admit that I was less concentrated on the film itself and more concentrating on trying to make an effort to not miss one single word that Borat was saying in “Kazach” to his “Producer” in the film. The reason? Almost every single word he said was in Hebrew. That’s right, Hebrew.

The actor, Sasha Baron Cohen, is a british actor born to a british father and an Israeli mother. He’s a fluent speaker of Hebrew, although I had not, up until tonight, heard him speak a work of Hebrew. I was rather floored – most of what he said in the film which wasn’t english was Hebrew, and a lot of it was very very funny.

If you’re interested in seeing some clips from the film and a promotional short in which he speaks Hebrew multiple times, check out this post on the forum.

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