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ISM BRIEFING #3

CUTE 22


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ISM BRIEFING 3

CUTE 22 Awww! The uncontrollable laughter of a baby, a kitten playing with a ball of wool, a puppy lost in the clothes basket. Cute. The ultimate 21st Century artform, from YouTube videos watched by millions to the design of the latest laptops and smartphones. Cute can melt the hardest heart defusing our better judgement. A Catch-22, Cute is simple and sophisticated. Over the following pages Cute 22 explores 22 images and ideas around Cute. Awwwsome.

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Big Dogs Who Are

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Old Softies

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TUTUs

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Hugs

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Legwarmers,

Socks 09

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s too humble to have feet

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Pasta Typefaces

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Cupcakes

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Bicycles With a gender

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e g a t y n i g o V l o n h c e T 17

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Tiny Feet

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Best Friends Forever


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Making Shapes Then Eating Them. Biscuit Baking

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Teddy Bears with Bow Ties

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Hippos in Disguise

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Love

birds

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A French picnic with smiley cheese

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Sus 33

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shi

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Finding A Comfy Spot

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Wild Animals Too Small To Eat You 38


Holding Hands So Y

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You Don’t Get Lost

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Anything Pink Lined up In A Row

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Mini Clothes

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a blonde with an easy smile

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8 Cute Ideas Cute is the look and design form that has driven consumers at the end of the 20th Century, from the Apple Graphic User Interface, to the Angry Birds App, to the Baby/Kitten/Puppy virals that dominate YouTube. We searched the internet for the cutest number and the cutest answer came from Tamara, who chose “8� because it reminded her of two hugs. Awww!

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Cute: Double-Sided

Cute: Japan

In English, the word Cute (according to the Merriam Webster dictionary) derives from “Acute” meaning “Sharp” or “Clever”, and was first used around 1731. Cute is now mainly used in the sense of being attractive in a childlike way. So Cute means both innocent and manipulative which is exactly how the emotional power of Cute works. Find out more >

In 1992, the word “Kawaii” became the most habitually used word in Japan. Kawaii is a uniquely Japanese form of cute and is an essential part of Japanese culture and commerce. The Independent newspaper in London quotes Dr Sharon Kinsella, a lecturer in Japanese Studies at the University of Manchester in England, who catalogues the essential features of the Kawaii character in her essay ‘Cuties in Japan’ : “The essential anatomy of a cute cartoon character is small, soft, infantile, mammalian, round, without bodily appendages (arms), without bodily orifices (mouths), non-sexual, mute, insecure, helpless or bewildered.” Find out more >

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Cute: Fluffy Science

Cute: Cat Power

Cute is more than simply an opportunity for a collective “Aww”, experts argue that we are hard-wired to react to Cute characteristics because they make us respond to our young offspring. Natalie Angier writes in The New York Times, “As a species whose youngest members are so pathetically helpless they can’t lift their heads to suckle without adult supervision, human beings must be wired to respond quickly and gamely to any and all signs of infantile desire.” And it seems that scientists are discovering that Cute images stimulate the same part of the brain aroused by sex, food and psychoactive drugs such as Cocaine. Find out more >

She has no personality, she doesn’t smile, and though she has no mouth it doesn’t mean she doesn’t speak, but in 2010 The New York Times estimated the value of Hello Kitty at $5 billion. Hello Kitty was created in 1974 by designer Yuko Shimizu for the Sanrio Corporation. Hello Kitty is a Bobtail cat whose image adorns everything from purse and pen sets to Bank of America checking accounts. The fact she has no mouth means she can speak internationally. Hello Kitty is pure image. However Sanrio executives are worried that Kitty’s appeal is waning (she lost top spot as Japan’s highest grossing character back in 2002) and so in December last year Sanrio bought popular UK character series Mr Men for a new UK business Sanrio Global. Find out more >

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Cute: Gaming

Cute: Technology

It was downloaded 500 million times since launch in 2009, it’s the most downloaded game in 79 countries and over 400 virtual birds have been propelled through the air, Angry Birds takes Cute to another level, seamlessly blending Cute and Cranky. The makers Rovio have captured Cute as the dominant mood of the App age. Find out more >

Apple, who in January 2012 reported the fourth biggest net profits in US Corporate history are lauded for their software and hardware innovation but their secret weapon has been Cute. From the design of their candy coloured iMacs, to their iPods and iPhones, to their silhouette ads, Cute has ruled. But most importantly the Apple Macintosh changed our relationship with the brutal computer box through the iconography of Susan Kare. Kare designed the Trash Can, the Scissors for cutting, the Happy Mac start up icon. As Kare told Adweek about her work, “Sometimes I say this half joking, but what I learned was that cute trumps edgy.” Find out more >

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Cute: Wheels

Cute: Disarms

Noticed those 1960s-looking Fiat 500s driving round? And the light pink-ones? Or the number of Volkswagen Beetles, Minis, Kas and Smart cars? With the essential characteristics of cute – small, curved lines and big eyes (lights) – in the age of increasing oil prices these automobiles are only going to become more pervasive, as consumers look for efficiency. Find out more >

The power of Cute is that it completely disarms our cynicism and skepticism. It’s an emotional sugar-rush. So when Drew Barrymore says “Oh I love hugging. I wish I was an Octopus so I could hug 10 people at a time,” it melts away all negativity, all judgment. It’s been argued by Brian J. McVeigh, a scholar of East Asian studies at the University of Arizona that in Japan ‘cute’ softens the power relations in a culture that is quite hierarchical. But Barrymore is the true expert on Cute. The young E.T. actor was voted 3rd in a poll for E! TV on The 50 Cutest Child Stars All Grown Up, just behind Macauley Culkin and Bart, Lisa and Maggie from The Simpsons, and can has the inside track on Cute “Daisies are like sunshine to the ground.” Find out more >

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22 Free Cute Icons Click here to download

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ISM BRIEFING #3  

Cute 22, ISM Briefing #3 explores the global phenomena of Cute. In 22 images we define and express the powerful trend that’s driving adverti...

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