Summer 2007

Superfuture

Brendan Dawes
Anne Burdick
John O’Reilly
Overview / website design

‘Like late-1960s Vignelli ... totally contemporary’

Launched in 1999 as a personal project by designer Wayne Berkowitz, Superfuture provides information about the world’s leading cities: London, Berlin, Tokyo, etc. Its ‘Concierge’ service caters for ‘creative professionals coming to cities on business for a few days, i.e. fashion buyers, retailers, designers, advertising, press, fashion, design, art, marketing and trending execs’. Technical production: Nicholas Marshall Website Designers, Paris.

Design production: Norihiko Beppu, Sydney. Cartography: Tim Chu, Shanghai.

John O’Reilly: Time Out meets information mapping . . . a beautifully abstracted space. Why you would want to go anywhere when you can lose yourself in a 2D maze of icons and maps?

Adrian Shaughnessy: ‘Urban cartography for global shopping experts,’ announces this slightly chaotic website, which offers insider shopping tips for visitors to the world’s leading cities. It’s clearly a labour of love, but poor editing and an undisciplined layout contribute to the shambolic look. The use of all-lowercase gives the site a vaguely trendy, style-conscious atmosphere.

Brendan Dawes: While I like sites that show masses of data, this is pretty overwhelming in its data representation. From an interactive point of view I wanted to be able to turn things off and on. A filter system could be used to allow people to (for instance) just choose ‘bars+clubs’ on the map, and then have the facility to print just that information.

Erik Spiekermann: This is remarkable for two reasons. First, the information is actually useful if you travel to a city and need advice. I checked some of the details for Berlin and was surprised how accurate things were, as well as up-to-date – more than most printed guides can ever be. The PDF downloads are great, if expensive (20 euros for one).

Second, 2007 is the year of Helvetica’s 50th birthday, and this site is an example of how to use that typeface. Every typeface suggests its own layout style (nobody in their right minds would use Helvetica for a novel or even magazine columns), but as a ‘cool’ information face it works well. All lowercase, two weights only and the hierarchies are distinguished by colour rather than weight or size. It looks like a very good late-1960s piece of Massimo Vignelli and totally contemporary.

Anne Burdick: Superfuture is an emblem of Web success. Started

as a hobby, the site’s personal approach to global shopping has grown into a full-fledged business, a destination site for hipster fashion junkies worldwide. The uneven reviews get their street cred because they can be submitted by anyone, anywhere. The 1970s-era Modern design is starting to feel a bit worn out, which helps to make a site obsessed with consumption of the latest seem surprisingly unpretentious. Because it is somewhat confessional, coy, and clearly a labour of love, it is far more fun and authentic than any corporate supersite could ever hope to be.

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