2000: Design Diary

Adinkra Green

The year 2000 saw the second design change of this web. I stayed within the templates I set up for myself back in 1998. This implies that I still have the home page button as the sole means of navigating the site: I still hang on to the hub-and-spokes design (although I am seriously considering adding a Macromedia Flash-based navigation bar at the top of selected pages). I still have the “ribbon” running down the left of pages containing extensive prose. My home page can still be mistaken for a splash screen as I only have three buttons leading to the three sub-areas of the site: space people, space time and space visitors.

It is clear that I continue to rebel against the idea that web pages should be packed with as much crap as possible in a newspaper-column format. I do admit that this “busy” format gives the viewer a sense that a lot is going on and they better get to clicking before this world passes them by. I am not trying to run an Internet-based news service so I fail to understand why this design keeps going strong outside of the world of professional marketing and corporate advertising.

View The 2000 Logo And Background

The Logo and the Background Image. I wanted to get back to basics with this design. I was getting disappointed with my lack of progress with 3D design software and just retreated from the challenge altogether. However, I did not want to abandon the ideal of using meaningful, pre-Columbian African imagery. The genius of the Asante people of what is now called Ghana and the Gyaman people of what is now called Cote’ d’Ivoire came into play with their 2D systems of spiritual symbols. What was really exciting to me is that many of these symbols come with proverbs that are quite poetic. The intended meaning of the symbol (akyinkyin) with the logo text “kinté space” on the home page is inspired by its proverb:

You have many parts to play
See the young leaves wave and break not
In the raging storm and rain
Flexible, adroit and free
Avoid the hermit crab’s shelter
Or the shell fish on the beach
Seek exposure, get involved
So you can accept
And be
Ripe experience for young minds

Perhaps this is a shortcoming but this graphic had to dominate the page. I suppose it is a bit too large (permitting the assumption that the home page just a splash screen, without a navigation interface) but I was quite carried away with the design and am still carried away with it.

The tiled background image looks like shirt buttons (even though these designs were created in world without such shirt buttons). I was willing to risk having this design dismissed as an homage to occidental tailors since the proverb behind this symbol (nkuruma kese) is so moving:

Fertility is an okoro fruit
With a thousand seeds
But hides them all in a dull exterior
‘Til mature and dry for sowing

The use of bright green is meant to represent innocence, renewal and vitality—more Ghanaian symbolism. As well, I also could not help biting off of the metallic colors of the exquisite corpse that is Wired magazine. Simultaneously, I am reminded of the “Imperial Green” of China (but I am no expert of Emperor Chin and his dynasty).

View A Sample 2000 Introductory Page

The Horizontal Rule and the “Home Icon.” Clearly, the Home button is the symbol of the okoro fruit. So it seems the message is that home is fertile “with a thousand seeds.” Another message playfully deals with the “shirt button” issue mentioned above when we might say, “Hey! The home button looks like a shirt button!”

The last Adinkra symbol in this design is used for the horizontal rule: we have three of matemasie:

We keep our treasures safe in banks.
We bank with memory.

And, literally, the content that is the treasure of the kinté space is stored in digital memory banks. This is quite straight forward.

View A Sample Prose Page

I found this design cycle very refreshing and satisfying. I am told Adinkra means saying goodbye, the use of these symbols is fitting in my escape from the difficulties with 3D artwork. I am certain that this is not goodbye forever.