What’s in the name of our company. Part five: Designing the mascot

Continued from the previous post on the topic.

Fitting an image to fit the perception

Once all the number crunching was done and we were certain that “rukuku” would be our brand, we set to design the image. We needed to marry the ideal etalon brand qualities with those perceived to be attached to the word “rukuku”.  We soon realized that the main challenge was to come up with an interactive solution that was also easy.  Looking at the list of perceived brand traits in the previous post, it becomes apparent that we also needed to link some very contradicting traits: male and female, aggressive and cute, facetious and serious, etc. This was becoming really fun!

Our mighty design and programming team is exceptionally strong. Our graphic design work is led by a world-class illustrator, graphics designer and book author Oleg Tischenkov (you should definitely buy his fun interactive book for iPad). Here’s how the process went:

First sketches

Hm… this sort of looks like an owl with teeth; owl is a bird, but a weird one, and it is generally considered smart. Good idea. Where’s the interactivity we need?

This origami idea is brilliant! It is as interactive as it gets: anyone can make our logo themselves and interact with it. Plus, origami is Asian, it can be both puzzle and art, and it is fun, and can be easy!  This is an ideal solution.

That’s the direction we should go—origami owls. Let’s see what is there in the world of origami owls. Google search reveals hundreds of paper owls, and we like three of them. The idea is to use one of these designs as a basis for our own design:

All of them look adorable. The next challenge is to choose the one that is ideal for us. The perception histogram for the ideal emphasized easiness, so that’s what we decide to test, and for a couple of days we folded dozens of owls.

The one with long horns (“mimizuku” in Japanese) by Hideo Homatsu is absolutely stunning:

Let’s try to fold one:

This takes some persistence and skill, but we do not give up:

Finally, we make a bunch of those mimizuku’s, and the results are disappointing. While Hideo Homatsu’s is a brilliantly designed origami owl, it is not easy one. Reject!

Next in line is Fumiaki Shingu’s design:

This is much easier—a good candidate for modification.

What did we like in the difficult one? It was a mimizuku, i.e. the horned owl, and the horns gave it a mildly aggressive look. We liked its three dimensional eyes and the symmetry of the design. However, Fumiaku Shingu’s owl is definitely facetious, cute and just lovable. Let’s play with it futher and give it the qualities we liked in the mimizuku:

We discover that with a profound change to the design the owl can be put on its feet. Great! We love more interactivity—the Rukuku Owl can be placed on a desk or a bookshelf as a decorative object. Three dimensional blister eyes are great, but the owl is almost too cute. We need to make it a horned owl. The solution is simple: make small cuts in the folded edges above the eyes and unfold the horns. Done:

Now we need folding instructions for the Rukuku Owl. They have to be easy, but not too easy. We go through several versions of the folding instructions, use our friends as test subjects, and settle on the one below:

Finally, we were completely happy, and our super smart lawyers filed for copyright protection. Done.

Stay tuned! Tomorrow’s post will be about our approach to user interface design.

The world would be a better place if Prof. Nassim Taleb could teach Antifragility on Rukuku

I am a big fan of Nassim Taleb‘s books, in fact I have read and re-read all of his books, and the reference section from the Black Swan has become my shopping list so that I can get yet more insight into what Dr. Taleb has been exploring.

When I first envisioned the mechanism that is in the core of Rukuku.com’s class editing engine, I did not know that I essentially cooked up a system based on a fractal.  I dug into the math of permutations and combinations, and this then led to the discovery that I was dealing with a fractal.  Long story short, it was Nassim Taleb who spurred my interest in Benoit Mandelbrot’s research. We still do not know how the Rukuku fractal will develop when Rukuku opens its doors to the public, but the interface of the class editing tool is truly amazing:  it is intuitive, simple and versatile at the same time.

My dream is that one day Prof. Nassim Taleb could author and teach something in the lines of “Antifragility 101″ or “Non-Gaussian Finance zn+1 = zn2 + c” on Rukuku.com.

We will definitely invite him to use Rukuku, but for now we can just continue to learn in passive “observatory” mode, i.e. watch a video. Here’s his lecture on Antifragility filmed at his and my alma mater in 2011.

And stay tuned for Part 2 of the “What’s in the name of our company”—the post is coming out in 24 hours as announced.