Designing socks - our Lucky Monkey gifts

After completing the first step of designing socks for our Lucky Monkey, the brainstorming session, it's then time to get to the part we love best - hand sketches. 

Designing socks - our Lucky Monkey gifts
Hand Sketching our Lucky Monkey
We are firm advocates of the pen and pad and enjoy starting all of our projects in this way. After our hand sketches are completed, it's then time to transfer over to digital with the aid of our awesome digital sketch boards.

Here is our first design of our Lucky Monkey. After sending this over to our sock factory; two main alterations were advised and required.

Designing socks - our Lucky Monkey gifts
Our Initial Monkey Design
Firstly, the design was too colourful! Even the very best of weaving machines, in this case it was, can only manage 5-6 colours of yarn. We simplified the design to have just 4 colours as this makes the product more manufacturable and also helps save costs by reducing complexity.

Secondly, the design had too much detail. As much as the headband looks great, the fine weaving required would potentially have an effect on the look of the product and overall quality.  This lead us to simplify design.

Designing Socks: Simplifying and refining the look of our lucky monkey.

This was the next design from our team and again we submitted to factory for feedback.
Designing socks - our Lucky Monkey gifts
Simplifying and Refining

After the design was finalised, the factory then provided us with a grid map of our Lucky Monkey sock. Each individual square represents a sewing point. This sewing pattern is then interpreted by computer for production.  Shading represents the different colours of yarn needed. This allows us to picture how big or small we want our monkey to be on our customised sock.

Designing socks - our Lucky Monkey gifts
Grid map of our Lucky Monkey 
You always need to talk through designs with factory. A small issue with our design was the positioning of the logo on the base of the foot - potentially causing discomfort when walking.  A quick shift of design, and our monkey socks were ready for sampling. 
Designing socks - our Lucky Monkey gifts
The Final Design
Monkey Socks are now in sampling so check back on our promotional product blog for more case studies.  

Our next blog will be about the packaging and tag aspect to our lucky monkey socks; be sure to keep an eye on our friends at ODM's twitter and Facebook to be the first to find out when it is posted.

The curious case of the Beijing metro

If you happen to be in Beijing try to use the local metro, it’s not only one of the most convenient modes of transportation to get around the city, but also shows something very interesting – subway zoetrope.

This effect is used to produce the illusion of motion by moving rapidly a set of sequenced pictures. Those pictures are installed along the metro lineNot so many people know that in fact Chinese played a very important role in development of this early form of animation as Ding Huan was the one who invented “magic lantern” around 100BC – the first primitive version of zoetrope.

The curious case of Beijing metro
Zoetrope animation has inspired a number of quite interesting campaigns all around the globe. For instance, the “Masstransiscope” in NYC underground: decades long art project – part graffiti, part conceptual experiment – that started in late 80s by Bill Brand. It was one of the most notable and infamous urban art that made its way to the history of NY.

This is a pretty interesting and fresh approach to underground advertisement and was already proved to be effective. Zoetrope technology is installed in the undergrounds of San Francisco, Boston, Milan and other cities all around the world. It is used as a memorable and distinctive method to promote the products. The number of big brands like Nike running shoes, Coca Cola, Visa and many more have tried this technology as a part of their promotional campaigns.

What do you think of zoetrope animation? Share your opinion with us below.

iPrint 3D Expo 2015 in Zhuhai

iPrint 3D Expo also known as Inside 3D Printing is the largest professional 3D printing and additive manufacturing event worldwide. This time the conference was held 15-17 October in Zhuhai. Attending iPrint 3D Expo was an excellent opportunity to check out the 3D printing trend and to stay on top of the latest development in the 3D printing space.

iPrint 3D Expo 2015 in Zhuhai
3D printing is predicted to reshape the world and many industries as we know them today. 3D printing poses a challenge for the businesses all along the supply, manufacturing, and retailing chains to rethink their strategies and operations. It is going to have even greater impact in the following industries: overall manufacturing, medicine, design, fashion and the list goes on and on.

iPrint 3D Expo 2015 in Zhuhai
This conference has become one of the world’s well-known exhibitions within the 3D printing industry, hosting both international and Chinese speakers. One of the most notable were Tyler Benster, Bower Song, founder & designer of Bowen Studio and the head of Beijing 3D printing technology Center for Medical Health. Some of the topics discussed included application of 3D technology in variety of industries, for instance medicine, jewelry, art etc. which is extremely beneficial for the businesses in respective industries.


The incredible amount of sharing, learning and leveraging that happened, allowed us to network with other professionals and vendors in the 3D printing industry. We were able to take the pulse of what is happening for tools, technologies, and processes, and hear ideas we weren’t even aware of. The information we collected and contacts we made are invaluable.

Let us know your opinion about 3D printing below.

Experimental Chinese Typography

It is hard to deny the importance of typography in Chinese culture. The complexity of shape, the choice of color and the meaning of the characters themselves are able to influence the message through the context. No wonder, it starts to be increasingly popular to use Chinese typography in design not only in China, but also abroad. 

Chinese typography is a source of inspiration for graphic designers that can be used to experiment with wordplay through language’s pictographs and sometimes the results are pretty amazing.

Experimental Chinese Typography 
Literally “杯具” means “cups and other containers”, but Chinese increasingly use it online as a replacement to “” that is pronounced same way, but means “tragic”.

Experimental Chinese Typography 
The expression “酱油” means “get soy sauce” and refers to a popular internet meme with the meaning of “I was just passing by” and “None of my business”.

Experimental Chinese Typography 
The “悲催” is simplified version of obsolete “悲摧”, which means “sorrowful”, one of the other meanings is “out of luck”.
Experimental Chinese Typography 
The “腐女” stands for “tofu girl”, but it is also a slang word for “rotten woman”.
Experimental Chinese Typography 
Chinese singer Huang Xiaoming in the “One World, One Dream” sung English phrase “” Not at all” in a way that it was pronounced similarly to “闹大套” which sounds like the Chinese phrase "闹笑话" meaning “to make a fool of oneself.”. This made “Not at all” so popular that it led to a social boom in Chinese media and people started using this phrase, when they want to refer to “somebody who made a fool out of themselves”.

Experimental Chinese Typography
Grassroots is the direct translation of the“草根”, but used in slang refers to the ordinary people and low level of the organization/movement.

This art project is a perfect example to show how Chinese typography might be used in design. Pictographs not only refer to the materials used on the picture, but also indirectly point out on the hidden meaning and allow to explore the context of the visuals on numerous levels. It provides an infinite opportunities for it to be used in advertising in Asia or as a fresh twist in Western promotional campaign. And the last but not least it is eye pleasing as an element of the design.

What do you think of Chinese typography? Share your opinion with us below.

The Ultimate Guide to Smart Packaging

Consumer demands are growing, and therefore the initial functions of packaging such as protecting and preserving the product are no longer enough. Nowadays it has to offer additional value to help distinguish the product from the rivals offerings. Being one of the most essential parts of consumer’s first impression of the product it can enhance the experience of using the product considerably.
Let's have a look at the major trends in the smart packaging below:


Ease of use is one of the key features that drives innovation, especially in the food industry. Portability, easy open and dispose, mess-free are noteworthy benefits that improve the quality of the product. 

The Ultimate Guide to Smart Packaging
South Korean industrial designer Yeongkeun Jeong came up with "Butter! Better!" concept, which is based on the idea of creating the package for easy single-serving. Disposable packaging balances convenience and neatness that is perfect for consumption-on-the-go.

The Ultimate Guide to Smart Packaging
Seedspoon adds an extra information function to the packaging with notes of how to plant the seed and take care of them. It's a remarkable example of designing the product based on consumer’s needs and usage, combining 3 products in 1 a seed package, lightweight wooden shovel, and gardening label. 


These days consumers are becoming increasingly more conscious of global environmental issues and this affects their buying habits accordingly. Ecological sustainability is no longer optional for the packaging as consumers are actively looking for businesses who are "going green", and offer Eco-conscious production.

The Ultimate Guide to Smart Packaging
This packaging, designed by Guo Lili for Trift toothpaste allows to use the product completely and prevents the waste of the remaining toothpaste. Consequentially it leads to waste minimization and promotes ethical consumption.

Added value to the business

Packaging can be used as an effective means of communication to point out the essence of the product and brand offering through its shape and function. Innovative design can effectively increase brand awareness, differentiate the product and provide brand identification. The pack might be used to enhance the value consumers place on the product and help to reinforce the branding.

The Ultimate Guide to Smart Packaging
Thelma's Treats use this simple yet effective packaging to communicate that their homemade cookies are "made fresh and delivered warm right out of the oven".

The Ultimate Guide to Smart Packaging
This fitting packaging was designed by Alex Creamer for spaghetti brand called NYC, that was supposed to represent one of the city's most iconic building.

There is a need for a brand to keep up with the changing needs of consumers and reflect this in the productConsumer-oriented and creative packaging is powerful to draw customer’s attention to the product and even serve as a competitive advantage. But it is only one of the many ways in which brands can create a sharp increase in market share, customer satisfaction and profitability.

As you can see there is always room for improvement for something that already exists. You just have to think outside the box. Do you have any creative packaging ideas ?

Want to know more about how Mindsparkz can help your business to grow? Feel free to contact us.

Contemporary Chinese Architecture

The modern Chinese architecture combines a unique blend of traditional style and Western influence. In recent years, it starts to be more and more notable worldwide and for a good reason. Today we are going to go through selection of remarkable examples of Chinese contemporary architecture.

The over-water highway in Hubei province

It is one of its kind construction in the world, that was opened up last month and was meant to shorten commute between Shanghai and Chengdu. Uniqueness of this bridge is that it doesn't cross the river, but is built along it. One of the reasons behind it was to avoid cutting down the forest surrounding that area. 

highway on water.jpg
The over-water highway

The Piano House in Huainan city, Anhui

This remarkable building was students' project from local architecture school and was built to draw interest to the city. The Piano House consists of two parts - the violin, made completely out of glass, that is used as grand entrance and the piano as main building. Inside it has numerous conference rooms and is used mainly as the venue for hosting art exhibitions or any other events.

The Piano House
The Piano House

Thames Town in Songjiang, near Shanghai

Thames Town resembles classical old English market style town and is a product of so-called 'copycat architecture' that is so popular in Middle Kingdom. Most of the architecture was directly copied from buildings found in different parts of England. Picturesque town has become one of the most popular locations for a wedding photography.

English town in China.jpg
Thames Town

Galaxy Soho in Beijing

This retail, office and entertainment complex in Beijing was designed by Zaha Hadid, one of the most well-know woman architect in the world. Galaxy Soho is futuristic-looking building whose design was meant to "respond to the varied contextual relationships and dynamic conditions of Beijing," says Zaha Hadid. 

Galaxy Soho
Galaxy Soho

Alibaba Headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang

This building was built in 2009 to serve as headquarters for one of the leading companies in China. It was designed to combine as much of open space as possible to enhance the productivity of employees while keeping the informal atmosphere and encourage creativity. It is yet another great example of architecture that integrates contemporary and traditional elements in itself, such as garden networks that are typical for Hangzhou area and the sun shading screens that reflect Chinese ice-ray lattices used widely throughout the region.

Alibaba Headquarters building.jpg
Alibaba Headquarters

What do you think of Chinese architecture? Share your opinion with us below.

Rapid Prototyping - But to 3D print a house?

A company in China made waves at the beginning of April when it announced it had 3D-printed more than ten houses in just under 27 hours. Some of these house are now being advertised by real estate agencies for a moderate fee. Would you feel safe renting or purchasing a house that was made by recycled material from other construction sites? Would you be concerned about getting your moneys worth, let alone safety implications?

Close-up shot of house being printed
The Shanghai WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co. built more than ten full homes out of recycled construction and industrial waste. Should we see this as a good thing in terms of the WinSung company is using construction waste to provide new homes in the city and different location in China or should we be worried that in the near future there are chance more homes and hotels possible where we work is going to be 3D printed? 3D printing allows for basically any design to be constructed at a much faster speed than normal. While it still has it's limitations in terms of materials available at it's current stage, in the future it might very well replace current construction methods. New improvements towards improving efficiency, lowering cost, and increasing the printing scale are constantly being invented.

House support being assembled - triangle trusses makes for strong floors

In the next 10 to 20 years will there be large amount of 3D homes being advertised and purchased in the real estate market. At the moment many people have concerns regarding the safety of these houses. Would you purchase a 3D printed home and why?