What I Learned from the Arnell Design Brief
OK, I am officially never going to worry again — ever — that the presentations I write are too high-concept or academic. Thanks to my esteemed colleague Lee, I had a chance to behold the joy that is the Peter Arnell “Breathtaking” Design Brief for the Pepsi rebranding. (Check it out here.) This feels ever so slightly…high-concept and academic.
I’m inspired to try a new torture test — would any presentation I write hold up to ridicule if exposed online? It’s fine to be smart and provocative (and yes, sometimes strategic explication requires sophisticated diagramming and fancy-pants words), but a person can go too far.
All that said, I am a big admirer of much of Peter Arnell’s work. He is among many other things the man who gave us the iconic DKNY billboard that graced the Soho landscape for nearly two decades (see below). I was an assistant in Donna Karan’s office at that time (now there’s fodder for blog posts) and truly loved my work. I was 24 with my first Big City Job, working in the epicenter of this crazy company just beginning to explode with growth, serving a woman who can credibly be called one of the design geniuses of our time — and this billboard made me burst with pride every time I saw it.
It never felt like advertising. It was like Donna and Peter’s love letter to the city. For that alone I’d forgive Arnell the Pepsi/Golden Ratio/Mona Lisa silliness.