It’s a holiday in America and Germany today, so this morning I went out to do some semiotic spotting like an elder millennial Cayce Pollard.
Just kidding (not kidding). I went to have breakfast at an outdoor cafe and went for a long walk. All imagery shown in this post was captured in service of a stroll. That stroll had a smoked salmon & horseradish cream on toast in the middle of it. I was walking a trendy mixed use neighborhood that was just on the line between hipster and yuppie.
I felt like I got in as I was wearing entirely unbranded minimalist garments. I was eyeing “out of home” advertising design elements during a stint a digital nomad in a major culture & financial hub. Yes, I enjoy my own main character energy when I’m pretending I’m a Gibsonian heroine.
It was a fine breakfast had the cafe’s outdoor seating not been underneath forest of trees in full pollination mode lining an urban roundabout. I must be Cayce twice over as my allergies weren’t limited to fashion.
The pollen was killing me after two hours. Cayce is the protagonist of William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition and makes her living in advertising by having an extreme sensitivity to corporate logos and mascots. My eyes were itchy, red and swollen and my own aesthetic attention felt equally uncomfortable. Everywhere I looked was mass market diffusion “direct to consumer” aesthetics. Including on an Ann Frank day poster.
The poster’s design included multiple 2016 style Pantone shades of blue including teal with geometric blocking. It gave the impression it was a cookware brand being advertised on the New York City subway somewhere in the middle of the DTC design boom.
Other design elements also brought to mind the DTC rush for me. Flat lay citrus with a reusable shopping bag? A pensive woman on a simple prop like a stair case? I can’t tell if it was Everlane circa 2014 or Bon Appetite from before their woke crisis.
Thankfully weirdness did eventually prevail over the seamless sameness of flattened consumption messaging. A Linkin Park tribute band and something labeled “Heavy Pysch Stoner Kraut” gave me some faith that weird shit was alive and well. Sanded down Silicon Valley by way Baudrillard consumer aesthetics may be soothing in their sameness.
But I was searching for friction. If only to distract myself from being itchy. Pollen and boutique design agency products make me break out.