I recently saw this flyer on the counter at a restaurant I go to all the time:

Mystery Design

I was immediately drawn to the ornamental design, but was taken aback by the deliberate censoring of the very information the design was supposed to be communicating.

This led me to flip it over, hoping the info I needed would be on the other side:

Mystery Design

There was the info, but once again, there was something crossed out that I was unable to read.
This simultaneously intrigued and frustrated me.

At this point I realized that the show it was advertising had already happened, but I thought the flyer design was so odd, I took one home.
I eventually checked out the headlining band on myspace to find that I hate their music (sorry dudes!).

The whole experience made me ponder this concept of mystery design.
While I was frustrated that they made it difficult for me to know what I was looking at, the act of being forced to look further to find out made the design stick in my mind.
In fact, I was so intrigued that I kept the flyer, looked up the band, and made a blog post about it….even when the specific event it was advertising had long since passed.

So is this brilliant or not?
I went so much farther down the path than I would have if it were all laid out in front of me, but I kind of hated it.
What do you guys think?

p.s. If you designed this flyer, let me know and I’ll credit you. Also, please feel free to weigh in on the discussion.

p.p.s. Any of you have other examples of ads like this?

About Star St.Germain

I am a tornado disguised as a girl.

  1. Lis says:

    I am very mixed on this one… On one hand, I think it’s neat that it was so thought-provoking. On the other, I don’t think most people are that observant. Or patient. I would imagine most who found the flier would just glaze over it, assuming that since it had been crossed out it was no longer worthy of their attention.

  2. Jami says:

    I think it’s brilliant as far as GETTING someone to look at whatever it is that you want them to look at (curiosity makes us do strange things), but it HAS to be backed up by something even more spectacular to keep the people coming back after their curiosity has piqued.
    That’s my take on it anyway. It failed for that band since you said their music sucked (also, the fact that people are using only myspace instead of actually building websites for things is totally frustrating to me).

  3. thisisstar says:

    yeah… that’s kind of how I felt too, but I’m still pretty mixed on it.

    For the record, this band does have a real website instead of just a myspace…but the info isn’t labeled and it either asks you to join a mailing list, opens your mail app to e-mail them, or sends you to their myspace. Total mystery navigation. fitting.

  4. aimee says:

    I already commented on flickr but i will do so again.

    I think someone new to graphic design looked in a book, landed on stefan sagmeister circa 10 years ago, and maybe arabesque and went from there (or maybe was looking at found magazine, who knows). While the front has an interesting texture that could have been incorporated into a solid design (if we are going with the strictest sense of “design” in that this is intended to communicate something, and pulling it away from the academic art world of evoking feelings), it tells us absolutely nothing.

    The back is completely trite and overdone. The texture is nice, but it seems like design school wankerage rather than effective design.

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Mystery Design, Brilliant or Brainless?

Posted on

June 17th, 2008


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