Regeneration Game

Not pulling its punches, with sideswipes at New Labours ‘criminal folly’ and a sardonic eye for every vanity of a modern architecture and politics in thrall to the ‘brand’, Jonathan Meades ‘on the brandwagon’ provided a really useful (and thoroughly enjoyable) watch prior to a discussion on the ‘regeneration’ of the East End of Glasgow in connection to the Commonwealth Games. Thanks to the excellent YouTube channel meadesshrine, you can watch this, and many other Meades programmes, in their entirety. With a great sound-track and withering bon-mots (“Are we looking at a monument to Frank Gehry’s limitless self-regard?”) it’s worth watching in relation to what’s going on in Glasgow, (thinking about the new transport museum in the context of ‘sight-bites’ and ‘three dimensional logo(s)’), the V&A landing on Dundee’s waterfront, and the following post (coming sometime soon) about the new Stedelijk.

Identity Disorder

From Shell to BP, the questions over brand, corporate identity and ownership continue.

Civic Cities, Public and Private

Civic City (Part2) is a very interesting looking symposium on Neoliberalism and Urban Policy. It takes as its primary case study the city of Marsaille, and takes a cross-disciplinary look at how Graphic Design is implicated in the visual representation of Urban Issues. Closer to home is this conference in Leeds on housing privatisation, which is linked, in part, to some of the issues raised by Malcolm Fraser in this recent Herald article.

Images: Civic City (part 1)

Note: This blog, still running on WordPress 1.5, seems to be having some technical problems with its databases. A spring-clean is forthcoming and we hope to resume normal service soon.

God Loves SUV’s

Watch CBS Videos Online

The days of “post-credible” hyper-reality are truly upon us. This link, brought to you via Curious Boym, shows worshipers at Greater Grace Temple, a Pentecostal church in Detroit, praying for a miracle for the big 3 auto brands.

What is Beyond the Buildings?

An excellent round-up from John Thackara at Doors of Perception, on the venice architecture bienalle, themed “Out There: Architecture Beyond Building”.

Scotland has it’s first prescence at this event, with a distinctly not-beyond-building pavillion entitled A Gathering Space, designed by Gareth Hoskins Architects – more can be seen here.

It’s Good to Let Go

The BBC today report on a German Fashion House which is going ‘open-source’ with it’s designs, and by association, it’s ‘brand’. Fashion designers and DIY typography is an issue that will have to wait till another day.

Brand Avenue: Be Here Now

Another great post at Brand Avenue, on the rebrand of Belfast – a remarkably reserved and non-judgemental report (so this is where I wade in) of yet another simplistic one dimensional civic rebrand, employing the highly improbable, (but oft-repeated) approach of trying to differentiate a place through the deployment of exactly the same simplistic strategy, logo and sloganeering of every other second, third, fourth city in the uk.

If you don’t believe me, read the following quote from Belfast Mayor, Tom Hartley, and try replacing the word Belfast with Leeds, Glasgow, Edinburgh etc:

“We shouldn’t forget our past as it is important in determining who we are. But this is about here and now and it is about the future, and what a future we can have if we pull together … This is not about a logo on a piece of paper. It is an opportunity for us all to embrace a new, vibrant and forward looking identity and ethos which says that Belfast has come of age. We all know how unique the city and its people are and now we have a golden opportunity to take the message that this is Belfast’s time, its moment and we want to share it with everyone. Be inspired.”

Land Rover

An interesting version of the Land Rover UK Homepage here – sort of advertising the Range Rover 08, but is it trying to say something else? It is, after all, important for consumers to have the full story.

Going Green? Got to get a Logo!

Approximate CO2 generated in designing, developing and implementing the brand marques featured above: 1.42 tonnes*


Bikes In Barcelona

This article highlights a great scheme in Barcelona and offers some interesting comments from a brand/design angle…

Beware Wet Paint

The latest technique of the council to rid the city of the ‘scourge’ of flyposting is documented above. Flyposting is about as old as the printing press itself, and when every surface of the city is covered in adverts anyway, I struggle to understand the aesthetic revulsion caused by a series of A2 posters over a shop which is boarded up anyway, whereas massive LCD video screens, scaffolding adverts, floor graphics and billboards seem to pass the aesthetic litmus test. I suspect it may have more to do with the ‘anarchy‘ of flyposting space not being paid for.

Anyway, this effort seems a little more imaginative and effective than the usual council tactic of just cleaning them off, though I like the way they painted black over Calvins eyes as well as the details on the poster, as if this somehow pacifies his evil flyposted presence. This initiative does follow on the back of a previous endeavour of sticking cancelled notices over all flyposters, a technique dropped when someone started removing them and sticking them over the council logo.

This all coincides with Glasgows attempts to win the Commonwealth Games for 2014, and a general clean up of the city centre. It might be worth reflecting on what the vibrant (flyposted) club, music and arts scene in Glasgow does for its economy and international reputation before trying to undermine it. It’d also be worth reflecting on whether this is any worse than the proposed act of civic vandelism about to be instigated in the M74 urban motorway, tenuously justified as being essential to the games bid itself, and the route to a happier healthier city.

Shaping Things

Have just finished reading Shaping Things by Bruce Sterling and it was ‘fucking brilliant’. (Bruce: you can use that quote on the back of your next re-print). Every page as catalytic and thought provoking as the next, some choice ideas about a future world of SPIMES include:

“wave a spime wand at the package, and a spime management dashboard pops up on the handheld wand screen, linked to global databases like a mobile phone. Brand that fella

“WE wranglers would like to have some coherent ideas about the demographics of everyone who interacts with spimes in any way whatsoever. We’re not that interested in pigeonholing people in demographics – what interests us most is when people transit across demographics…”

The future of the Web:
“The web is [currently] a layer of veneer over 20th century industrialism. It’s still a thin crispy layer, like landlord paint. It’s a varnish on barbarism…”