This Reader Is Definitely Going To Get A Prize


One of the most exciting parts of getting “hired” for this “job” was the prospect of oodles of reader participation. We had dreams of an overflowing inbox, abject flattery only, and while for a while there some people seemed to be having some problems catching on to the new regime (lots of “design is so serious and you aren’t so you suck!!!”) we were absolutely tickled to death to find a long and thoughtful email in our morning mail. Spugbucket‘s back. And we’re feeling it.


I recently happened upon the attached item as I was out strolling amongst “the people” in my local Target. I dropped to my knees weeping, as I had finally found the ultimate synthesis of graphic design, architecture, commerce, and semiotics that I had been searching for my entire adult life. If you fail to instantly recognize the significance of this find, consider the following:

This is no mere “plan”. It is a 30-degree axonometric projection, rendered as if the roof had been torn from its anchorings. The merchandise inside has been compressed into thin, dense, red blocks that perversely distort the scale of the whole thing (is “Target” a walled city with wide boulevards between low buildings?). You might think that this is merely an abstract representation, but no!–the red slabs actually cast shadows on the clean white aisles. The outer wall and the border of the frame also cast shadows, but in the opposite direction of the interior shadows. Could there be a more powerful commentary about our disorienting consumer society?

And the departments within the store are not merely organized for sales efficiency, but carefully paired to make a grand statement about our entire culture. Consider the direct adjacency of the “pet care” and “cosmetics” departments. Could PETA have done better? Or the subversive sexual stereotype-smashing of “menswear” abutting “floral”, “pictures/frames” and “furniture”. Note also the lack of an “assistance center” anywhere near the “intimate apparel” department. Sometimes the commentary is more direct, such as the grinding functional pairing of “food service” and “restrooms”, or the grim realism of ‘health/beauty” and “pharmacy”.

The graphic design of the map itself inverts any stale traditional ideas of balance or composition. The overscaled Target logo and graphic are uncomfortably stuffed into the upper left corner of the frame, while the lower right remains serenely blank except for an enigmatic “1061” hovering near the margins. The red border with rounded corners could be mistaken for an awkward attempt at ipod-style hipness, but look at the logo—It brashly destroys the smug integrity of the boundary, forcing us to reconsider the true nature of repression and American hegemony.

In conclusion, I ask you to rejoice in this rare find, and celebrate the wellspring of creativity that is the customer service department of the Dayton-Hudson Corporation (parent company of Target).


So, uh, Spugbucket, you want to be an intern?