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John Gruber's Match Preview

Sense of Taste

Yesterday it was still a bit too hot here in Philadelphia. I woke up this morning, and for the first time in months, it was a bit too cold.

The leaves are still green, but when they rustle in the wind, you can hear that they're starting to dry and crinkle. The changing of the seasons always invokes feelings of nostalgia for me.

Given the proclivities of our competitors this week, I suspect nostalgia is going to play a significant role. These two are masters of branding. And, branding, at its heart, is about how you feel, rather than think.

On the one side, serving to begin the match, Scott Thomas, best known for his work as Design Director for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign -- a campaign which established one of the strongest visual identities of the last decade, and, arguably, the most distinctive in U.S. political history. On the other side, playing the even-numbered volleys, designer/illustrator Mark Weaver. Both are first-time Layer Tennis competitors, but, intriguingly, Weaver's wonderful "Make Something Cool Every Day" project strikes me as being about as close to Layer Tennis practice as one can get. (We commentators are banned, by fiat from the league commissionaer, from making analogies between Layer Tennis and "real" tennis, but if not for this ban, I'd posit that "Make Something Cool Every Day" is the LT equivalent of hitting tennis balls against a wall.)

In both of their bodies of work, I detect a profound respect for tradition. Sturdy, strong type. Evocative, emotional imagery. An uncanny sense of how color sets the tone. It strikes me not as a contest between opposites, but one between two designers with similar strengths and taste.

It's generally foolish to predict which direction a Layer Tennis match will head, but my gut says this one could wind up as the sort of match where the participants work together in a sense of collaborative competition -- building a series of volleys in a shared direction.

John Gruber writes and publishes Daring Fireball, a website ostensibly focused on Apple, tech, and design. He reminds you that wagering on Layer Tennis is discouraged, but not really.

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