If You're Not a Designer, Please Don't Read This. by Steven B. Wheeler

Today at the Google I/O Conference, the design language for the brand was unveiled in the form of an interactive manifesto titled Material Design.

Playful, natural-feeling animations, intuitive and consistent interactions between elements, and a bold use of color are all illustrated and mapped out for developers and designers. This gives them tools that will inform and direct the user of Google products through the language of design. 

So? What does this have to do with making pants?

As a designer of consumer products, and as someone who enthusiastically loves to learn about other areas of focus for the profession of design, I marveled at the thesis of the entire document and the wonderfully concise examples provided. Who cares if it's not directly related to my day-to-day work? On some level, we designers are influenced in ways both subtle and overt, and we owe it to ourselves and to our users/audiences/customers to be polyglots of visual languages. 

After all, art is created for the artist, but design is created for the user. 


No, Your Jeans Aren't Just Going Through a Phase. by Steven B. Wheeler

Gay Jeans are made from denim dyed with conventional indigo color like normal jeans, but wash & wear gradually exposes the rainbow-hued yarns underneath the surface.

Gay Jeans are made from denim dyed with conventional indigo color like normal jeans, but wash & wear gradually exposes the rainbow-hued yarns underneath the surface.

They're here, they're queer, and they tipped past 100% of their crowdfunding goal in less than 24 hours, so get used to it!

Gay Jeans, a project I have had the incredibly rewarding experience of working on for Betabrand, is essentially an amazing pair of 5-pocket jeans, made from American-milled denim and sewn here in San Francisco. But what makes them so special is the unique fabric; an indigo-dyed denim that arrives looking as normal as can be, but that, over time, wears down to expose a bright rainbow of colored yarns just below the surface. 

It's one of those rare products that is not only zeitgeisty, subtly confrontational, and packs a satirical punch, but also has a deeply personal relevance. So it's been an intensely rewarding experience to have people respond to it so positively, not just the LGBT community, but allies, friends and family as well. 

I liken Gay Jeans to my own path towards self-realization; I've always been gay, but time, exposure to abrasion and subsequent wounds from life's lessons, plus a steady process of maturation have revealed themselves in an acceptance of my identity as a gay man. Gay Jeans don't simply "become gay" any more than I did. The colors that make them unique and beautiful and special and different were always there—woven into the very fabric they're made of. And, like me, they'll eventually come out. Yet none of those things make them any less of a pair of jeans, just as none of the attributes of my own character make me any less of a human being. 

It isn't often that I get a chance to work on a product so profoundly related to my own experiences, so I want to acknowledge the team at Betabrand that I am so fortunate to work with, and also the wider audience to whom this product spoke to that helped bring Gay Jeans from concept to reality. I'm deeply and humbly grateful to you all.

Thank you. 

The North Face Fuse Uno Hardshell Jacket by Steven B. Wheeler

Pretty cool new jacket from TNF. The Fuse Uno ($399) hardshell jacket is engineered to cut down on cutting waste (like the DARPA Hoodie), but also made from a material that is woven with two yarn types to balance performance/weight/durability without needing to piece different fabrics together. 

The North Face Fuse Uno ($399),  Source: WIRED

The North Face Fuse Uno ($399), Source: WIRED

It's super minimal and light, and they did a good job of telling the pattern engineering story with graphics: 

Diagram of the pattern engineering on the Fuse Uno jacket.  Credit: The North Face

Diagram of the pattern engineering on the Fuse Uno jacket. Credit: The North Face

When we release the 2014 version of the DARPA Hoodie, I'd love to work on a graphic (or animated GIF?) that does as good a job of visually showing how little fabric is used. From a product design perspective, it's neat to see the single layer pocket bags being made from the shell fabric like that, as well as the elbow articulation and how they've engineered what is basically a dolman sleeve.

Source: SNEWS (paywall) and Wired

Free Flat Friday: Shorts! by Steven B. Wheeler

Betabrand's Indigo "Bawaiian" Print Cotton Canvas Shorts

Betabrand's Indigo "Bawaiian" Print Cotton Canvas Shorts

I’d like to give you a preview of the new Bawaiian Short we’ll be releasing soon. The one shown above is in the dark indigo floral print, and the fabric is really beautiful in person. Click the link to download the .AI file, and you’ll find it all set ups for use with a line art version, a solid color fill, and a colored up version that is like the one shown above. You may need to right-click or option-click and select "save as."

Use it as a platform to create your own short design for the Betabrand Think Tank, for design school, your career, or personal development. If you find these flats useful, please let me know! I love seeing how people have used these in their work.

Free Flat Friday: Back to Basics with a Male Croquis Figure by Steven B. Wheeler

It's the first Free Flat Friday of 2014! So this week, we're going back to the basics with a downloadable male croquis form for all you designers to use in your work. Download it for use when making flats in Illustrator, or print some out and trace over the top of them by hand; I'm sure you'll find tons of uses for these handy templates! I use them in my work at Betabrand as an aid to rapid pencil sketches during initial design ideation, as well as creating new garment flats in Illustrator.

These are provided to you, the readers of An Aetnian Fountain, for free. Use them in design classes, personal development, or even in your professional career. If you find these flats helpful, let me know by leaving a comment below or hit me up on twitter @stevenbwheeler

Good luck!