Learn Chinese Characters Easily

The Chinese language, an instant thought of mind would be to think "crazy" or "impossible to learn" but when living in China like myself, to learn and understand the Chinese language is vital and key attribute to have in order to fit in with the Chinese culture and lifestyle. This could mean in terms of ordering food at dinner, navigating when travelling in a taxi, negotiating a price within a local Chinese market and of course communicating with friends,staff and locals.

Whilst living in China, I have always had an interest of learning the spoken Chinese but have wandered away from the visual characteristics of the language due to the visual complexity, artistic forms and majorly the amount of individual characters that need to be memorized.

However, this week I came across a webpage called Chineasy, enlightening and twisting my perspective of not wanting to learn the Chinese characters, into wanting to learn!


Chineasy is a Chinese teaching syllabus which uses fun and friendly creatives visuals within the characters themselves. For example, they character for "fire" represents the form a flame, of which Chineasy have studied and created a flame icon/symbol around the "strokes" of the character. A carefully selected range of orange shades has been selected, contrasting well with the jet black colour of the character, and illustrating the meaning through aesthetics.


The Chinese language, an instant thought of mind would be to think "crazy" or "impossible to learn" but when living in China,like myself, to learn and understand the Chinese language is vital and key attribute to have in order to fit in with the Chinese culture and lifestyle. This could mean in terms of ordering food at dinner, navigating when travelling in a taxi, negotiating a price within a local Chinese market and of course communicating with friends,staff and locals.



Whilst living in China, I have always had an interest of learning the spoken Chinese but have wandered away from the visual characteristics of the language due to the visual complexity, artistic forms and majorly the amount of individual characters that need to be memorized.

However, this week I came across a webpage called Chineasy, enlightening and twisting my perspective of not wanting to learn the Chinese characters, into wanting to learn!

Chineasy is a Chinese teaching syllabus which uses fun and friendly creatives visuals within the characters themselves. For example, they character for "fire" represents the form a flame, of which Chineasy have studied and created a flame icon/symbol around the "strokes" of the character. A carefully selected range of orange shades has been selected, contrasting well with the jet black colour of the character, and illustrating the meaning through aesthetics.

The colour choices Chineasy have used are very important in terms of visual teaching and portraying the characters in a way in which they can be understood easily but also memorized with ease. The use of light, pastel colours have been chosen, illustrating the characters in a subtle but artistic way. Such as for the word "door" , light browns and grays have been selected, representing the stereotypical colours of a wooden door, making it easier for the user to remember, but not overpowering the main focus of the learning activity which is the character itself.

The colour choices Chineasy have used are very important in terms of visual teaching and portraying the characters in a way in which they can be understood easily but also memorized with ease. The use of light, pastel colours have been chosen, illustrating the characters in a subtle but artistic way. Such as for the word "door" , light browns and grays have been selected, representing the stereotypical colours of a wooden door, making it easier for the user to remember, but not overpowering the main focus of the learning activity which is the character itself.

The Porthole by Martin Kastner

Hailing from Chicago, in a design studio making top notch homewares, Martin Kastner's porthole offers a window into minimalist items.






The porthole's ambiguous appearance teases the viewer to question its purpose; when in fact its purpose is pure and simple.

One of the 7 x 7 inch circular glass panels is held on by a removable Allen bolt to contain whatever you feel necessary.

Here's another sexy shot.
Crucial Detail sells these babies from Europe and the US for $99 not inc shipping.
Have a look for yourself: http://crucialdetail.com/work/porthole.html

Design and Manufacture within China

Hi there, we are Mindsparkz- a multinational team of highly motivated, creative and demanding artists. Weather it’s creating a flyer for print publishing, an engineered product for industrial design or even a company website, we love to work one-on-one with our clients to create amazing projects. Based in Hong Kong our team is able to pull inspiration from a wealth of Eastern and Western styles while using local facilities to keep production costs as low as possible.

HOW WE DESIGN?
A creative and energetic group of graphic, web, and industrial designers have joined together to form a collaberative team the likes of which have not been seen since Voltron. How do we design? By walking into an office that breeds creativity, putting our heads together, and coming up with the best solution possible for our clients.

WHAT WE DESIGN?
With over thirty years of combined experience, our staff has been involved in projects across the board. We have extensive knowledge of graphics design and are able to draw new ideas and concepts from our Asian environment. Our location has also allowed our industrial designers to work extremely close with factories inside of mainland China.
  • ·         Print/Publishing

We are able to produce a wide range of print and publishing products such as flyers for your next event, business cards for your next conference or meeting, menu’s for your new recipe’s and even company leaflets. We can do it all.
  • ·         Product/industrial Design

Ranging from CAD files to product engineering, our team of industrial designers are able to assist with your product design and produce innovative,creative and amazing ideas.
  • ·         Web/User Interface Design

Enticing customers and visitors via your personal website is a vital factor in able to be succesful, which is why we take pride in creating proffessional and appealing web design.
  • ·         Company Branding


Brand identiy is key in order to have an iconic and memerable company name/image. One way to do this is by creating the perfect company logo. Our team of designers have experience in producing many client logos and are ready to give you a handful of designs for your company too.

  
WHY WORK WITH US?
Being situated in mainland China has many advantages for both the client and ourselves. Firstly, we have a broad access to a vast range of factories and supplies who are available to create products and protypes,ready for mass production. Being within a train,bus or a car drive away, we are able to visit the suppliers in person, making orders and projects easier to handle and manage, in effect making sure everything is going smoothly and that standards are kept consistanly as high and possible.
Another service that we provide is product  Quality Control. To produce a final product is something that can be easily achieved, however in order to produce a finalised product that accurately meets the initial specification,is fully functional and safe, and meets high quality standards can become technical. Luckily our team have much experience with product quality control and project management and are always working to produce items with the highest possible standards that will satisfy the customer.

Check out www.Mindsparkz.com and let us know your thoughts.


Get in touch and start a conversation with us.




How to make a personalised Meme on Photoshop


There are many sites out there that let you create Memes online but most of them only allow you to use the standard pictures or upload your personal photos to their site. Making Memes about your friends or colleagues can be really funny and it is really simple to do a personalised one on Photoshop




Step 1
Find a funny picture of a friend. You may have to take a subtle one when they are not looking or you can easily (I'm sure) find a photo on their Facebook profile. I chose one here of my colleague wearing his sisters birthday sash. 





Step 2
Choose a funny line or two that could be used for the photo. It could be something that your friend often says or it could be a personal joke between you both. Alternatively it could just be mimicking something funny they are doing in the photo (I have chosen this option in this case) 


Step 3
Open the image in Photoshop. Use the text tool on the left hand side and then click where would you would like to put the text. You will need to make the text large (the font size will change depending on the picture size) It is best to have one line at the top and one at the bottom. You may need to add some space above the head for text. Use the font Impact to get your Meme looking at its best. Press the tick button when you are finished







Step 4
To give the text a border you will now need to double click on the layer under the ‘layers’ section. This will bring up an option menu. Go to the stroke section and under structure adjust the size. For larger images you will need to make a larger stroke but for this image I chose 5 pixels as it gives the text a nice border








Step 5
Crop your picture accordingly and then save your masterpiece! 
















Tutorial written by Alice Parlett. 

We also have a blog on how to create long shadows, or you could check out our blog about a font tool that we use all the time

Get a skylight in your office; whatever floor you're on!

So I gather we're all familiar with how our environment can effect our work output and it is often said that natural light is the best light to brighten up a room.
Philips has taken this idea and posed the question, can we create 'natural' light?

Introducing the Philips OneSpace natural light emitting panel. A cheap, easily manufactured panel that can be fit to sizes up to 10x3m. It proves to be a real window into the future of dark spaces like subway carriages, basements, tunnels, hospitals and prisons.



0PHOTO2_diPaolo.jpg

So I expect you're all wondering ...how?
The light is transmmitted via white LEDs, incredibly cheap to manufacture. The light then light passes through a series of layers of plastic, separated by titanium oxide nanoparticles, which when excited mimic the characteristics of natural sunlight.

0PHOTO3_onespace.jpg

This may be the next in line as more and more fluorescent tubing is being phased out.

Amazing, indestructible chair!

This week myself and a work colleague visited the Canton Trade Fair in Guangzhou, the largest trade fair in the world. The fair is situated within a large complex of modern buildings/halls and comprises segregated areas, designed specifically for alternative product and market types, containing masses of personal stalls and stands promoting each individual company.




It's massive, and at times can be overwhelming when trying to search for your product or supplier. Which is why when spotting unique and interesting products that make you go "wow", you know you have found a gem!

During my trip, I noticed a rather amazing chair. The product was transparent, made from plastic, had 4 legs, a seating function and a back rest. You are probably thinking, "yes, so what?", "that sounds like an average day-to-day chair", "what's so interesting about that?". I, too, thought the same questions when seeing the product for the first time..until the company salesmen flipped the chair upside down, grabbed my shoulder and raised himself up onto the chair and began to vigorously jump, forcing pressure upon chair's structure/frame.

After witnessing the mini demonstration, I was in awe over how strong, rigid and flexible the chair was and how it maintained its physical properties throughout the time of applied stresses. The demonstrator then went on to tell me that the chair had previously been driven over by a 10 ton construction machine, and STILL kept it's shape without breaking. The chair is indestructible, literally.

What makes this chair so strong and defensive, comes down to the simple choice of its material and body structure. The chair is made from injection molded poly carbonate, created from a single mold. The chair has been hollowed out, making it lightweight and easy to transport. Combining with its super-strength characteristics, this creates the perfect strength-weight ratio for a furniture piece.

This proves that you do not need an expensive and heavy material, such as metal ,to produce a chair with high strength, but by selecting an alternative material such as plastic to create the exact same intentions.

Using Infographics to display culture differences

One thing about working in china is the cultural difference. Living in china is extremely different from living in Europe, and most of that difference is influenced by the people and the culture that surrounds peoples ways of doing things.

I came across a really interesting graphic designer, Yang Liu. A Chinese girl who now lives in Germany. She has done some graphic pieces about the culture differences between China and Germany, which seem to be relevant to most of European culture in my eyes.  Although these pieces are somewhat comical, an underlying truthness is present about the way that Chinese society differs from the west.



 Yang Liu has captured the culture differences so powerfully through her images, with a strong blue vs red colour scheme. Her use of infographics is very simple - using very simple 'stick man' figures, but it really gets the message accross well

Dealing with problems


Independant VS Dependant

\
Cure for a stomach ache


Noise in a restaurant


Queuing


The Boss


Capturing memories



We also compiled our own list of culture differences between England and China, Read it here!

Or learn some more about Chinese culture with our blog about Chinese New Year or Guangdong Tea Ritual

Thanks for reading! Blog by Alice Parlett





Chinese Guan-xi and business relationships with factories in china.


Doing business in China is a completely different story to doing business in the west. It is very easy to make a simple mistake if you are not used to Chinese customs, and although many Chinese businessman will pass it off as a westerner having different customs it may be considered very rude.

For example handing your business card over in the wrong way could be considered disrespectful – in the same way it would be considered rude if your Chinese business relation was to come to your country and spit in the hall of your office (something that would be much accepted in china)
Guanxi is a term describing relationships. Sometimes it is a result of favours or building connections with people.
Guanxi involves three major things;
·       describes a personal connection between two people in which one is able to prevail upon another to perform a favor or service, or be prevailed upon.
·       used to describe a network of contacts, which an individual can call upon when something needs to be done
·         can describe a state of general understanding between two people: "he/she is aware of my wants/needs and will take them into account when deciding her/his course of future actions which concern or could concern me without any specific discussion or request".

 Guanxi has a major influence on the management of businesses based in China



We know how important it is to maintain a close relationship with our suppliers and we make sure to maintain regular contact by using suppliers that are local so we can meet with them

Last week I travelled to one of our factories to meet with one of our suppliers again to discuss in person our requirements for QC.
One of the main issues with our product being mass manufactured was the tightness of the lid fitment on a metal case. The fitment was very tight, which made it very difficult to be removed. This is a point that is almost impossible to discuss over email, or even on a skype call, as it is such a matter that must be tested. After testing a batch of cases I had a meeting with the factory boss about the tight fitments. We then agreed the tolerance for the tightness by testing and comparing how hard it is to open and close.
It is so important to make the effort to visit factories about issues because not only can you have a more clear understanding of each other but you can also discuss points about the product with the product right infront of you.
Having a bit of knowledge about basic Chinese business etiquette before mixing with Chinese suppliers is a definite necessity for building up guanxi.



Unique Baby Bottle

When it comes to children’s products, safety is a key factor that must be taken into account and numerous product design features must be carefully considered to provide an item that is fully functional whilst maintaining a safe and child-friendly character.




There are many products on the market these days with a purpose to provide the user/child with “ease-of-use” and form of assistance to their daily lifestyle. This could include walking apparatus, eating equipment, toiletry items and educational products. Most of the items we see succeed well in their primary intention, which is to assist and provide an “easy-to-use” experience, however many of the products fall not only in the choices of material used but in terms of size, meaning a higher consumption of raw materials needed to make the product when not needed, impacting the environment, and technically unsafe for the child. It all adds up, and safety is a must.

Today I came across the Ba Baby Bottle Holder- a smart contraption, aimed at children aged 0-3, with a sleek and abstract aesthetic.  



When you first see the Ba Baby Bottle Holder, your initial thoughts revolve around the product’s visual elements. The bottle holder has a strikingly distinct design when first sighted, with a spherical body containing multiple symmetrical cut-outs, creating a sort of distorted honey-comb aesthetic. Whilst creating a eye-pleasing visual, the multiple cut-outs provide the user/child with a form of handling assistance as the bottle holder can be “grabbed” from all angles due to the variety of handles within the frame of the body. In effect, this encourages to child to use the product him/herself, rather than the parent needing to feed them. Furthermore, this promotes early self-teaching. Not only does this offer the child ease of use and user friendly design, the product uses a vast reduction of material use, making it more environmentally friendly and helping to fall within the eco-friendly category.


The product is made entirely from food-safe silicone, making the products extremely easily to clean which is a vital factor for a child’s product in terms of safety and hygiene. Another positive factor about the use of silicone is that the material has a very soft and friendly feel when touched, creating a pleasant experience for the user as sharp edges and corners are non- existent- only smooth curves and rounded edges. The natural texture of silicone has a rubbery surface, which when touched, forms a frictional feel. This provides the child with a further handling support as the rubbery feel provides a grip. This texture is maintained even when in contact with water, so spillages/leaks and dribbles will not affect the handling experience. Another great thing about the Ba Baby Bottle Holder is that it can accommodate the majority of bottles due to its ergonomic fitting shape. Even if bottles are too big, the silicone can stretch slightly to fit. 

Chinese Poster Design

There is a poster near to our office which which has an interesting style. The poster represents old chinese propoganda posters.

The man depicted in this picture is a soldier named Lei Feng. He is a particularly famous soldier in China who was a big follower of Mao and died very young. He became famous after dying, when his diary was published – displaying all the good deeds that he had done. 
To this day he remains a heroic character – one of earnest and devotion.

The poster is encouraging us to ‘help each other’ (such as the way that Lei Feng would)

This poster is aimed at Zhuhai citizens and encouraging the culture of the city to be one of thoughtfulness.

The poster style of this dates back to old style propaganda campaigns, many used in the time of Mao. The poster that the image Lei Feng has been taken from is a poster from 1990

Mao is depicted here as the sun – an interesting way of representing him, almost comparing to the power and strength that the sun has to bring light and energy to the people and crops.
The font used here is also an old-style calligraphy style.

The old style effects and characters used here seem to be reminding the modern day citizens in the hustle and bustle to remember old values about helping each other.