Last night, in the subway, a gentleman across from me, was reading a chinese newspaper. I sat there for the longest time, looking at it. (See picture below) The only non-chinese characters on the entire page were the letters “FBI”, in one of the big headlines, and the number “15”, in a smaller one. I tried to pay attention to what path my eyes were taking when screening the page. They constantly locked themselves onto the “FBI”. My eyes couldn’t make sense of all the strange chinese symbols and would always go back to the familiar. Interesting, how it was actually ‘exhausting’ to try to look at this page, make sense of it. I think my mind realized it was a newspaper, yet it wasn’t able to draw any information. It was fascinating for me, to look at the layout/design/color scheme from an entirely neutral perspective, I was not distracted by the content but looked at the page as ‘one big picture’. And I remdinded myself, that this must have been what it felt like, sitting across from my parents, when they were reading the newspaper. Once you learn how to read, you can not not read, it’s automatic. I sometimes wish I could turn it off, and just look at my designs as I am looking at this chinese newspaper.
This scene reminded me of a fairly humourus moment I experienced in Chinatown, about 5 years ago. I stumbled upon a little chinese pharmacy, where I ended up spending an hour looking at all the amazingly foreign drug designs. I fell in love with a little red box, featuring a portrait of a fairly important looking male. I grabbed 5 of them and walked up to the register. The lady briefly glanced at my selection, rose an eybrow, looked at me, and with a charming chinese accent she said: “You have no idea what you are buying, right!?” I nodded. “It’s laxative, he he he he!” I guffawed.
I brought the 5 wonderfully designed laxative packagings back to Switzerland, as a gift to my designer friends. Yep, they all got a kick out of it.
(my apologies for the blurry picture)