The same thing happening twice.

Great minds think alike, or fools rarely differ. Take your pick, but nevertheless odd when it happens. On the 21st July this year I commissioned Paul Ryding to create some pencil illustrations of After the News work for our as yet unfinished website. (Sneak preview above). The email read: “i’m putting together a new website and rather than grapple with the ‘how do i show my work in a way that doesn’t look like shit, and show up my shit photography skills, and which doesn’t involve holding up a big poster with my fingers and photographing it against an arty brick wall?’ connundrum, hit upon the idea of illustrating it. so was wondering if you fancied doing this for me?..

Today, to my horror when leafing through Grafik magazine, I come across this exhibition of hand rendered ICA flyers by David Osbaldeston.

Just thought I’d say.

A Statement

A week or so ago, a small but select gathering of designers, students and guests congregated to discuss the role of awards in design industry and education. The conversation was enlightening on a number of counts, not least the assertion that while awards are, in at least four different ways, a contrived nonsense, they are nevertheless an enduring part of creative practise, particularly when it intersects with business.

My main issue with awards is that they are so deeply unimaginative, but as one contributor so rightly pointed out, rather than focussing on what’s wrong with awards, we should look for new models and new networks that can exist as an alternative to these outmoded forms of patronage and posturing – That is what I’m taking away from the discussion.

The debate was being recorded for posterity, and barring any technical problems, will be posted online at the statement site as soon as possible.

Further resources, gathered as part of the research for this debate, can be found below:

Our survey results:

http://www.statementofexistence.org/survey

Confessions of an awards juror/Nick Bell:

http://blog.eyemagazine.com/?p=34

Mad about Awards/Alissa Walker

http://www.eyemagazine.com/feature.php?id=160&fid=719

May the best design win?

http://www.gelatobaby.com/2008/10/09/eat-my-words-may-the-best-design-win/

Design Awards are so over:

http://peoplesdesignaward.cooperhewitt.org/2008/nominee/1656

D&AD seeks counsel:

http://www.creativereview.co.uk/crblog/what-would-you-like-to-ask-dad/

What next for Graphic Design and D&AD?

http://www.creativereview.co.uk/crblog/dad-and-graphic-design-what-next/

Lost the D in D&AD?

http://www.creativereview.co.uk/crblog/lost-the-d-in-dad/

Awards Madness/Jason Grant:

http://www.eyemagazine.com/feature.php?id=160&fid=717

David Crowley onD&AD, and histories:

http://www.eyemagazine.com/opinion.php?id=124&oid=306

Rick Poyner on D&AD + Design Awards:

http://www.eyemagazine.com/review.php?id=85&rid=445

Design Museum / Design of the Year

http://www.creativereview.co.uk/crblog/design-museums-designs-of-the-year-shortlist-revealed/

http://www.designmuseum.org/exhibitions/2008/designs

Parody of Parodies

A fairly lame (i.e. too obvious) parody over on the Creative Review blog eulogises, in the most verbose language, their ‘new identity’. One of the easiest aspects of branding to satirise is the flowery pseudo-scientific language (which often almost does it itself).

In addition, what we really need in the discussion of brands and branding is a deep critical analysis of ‘what?’ and ‘why?’ and what this says about the state of branding, the state of design and the relationship between. What are the social and political implications of a centrally controlled and closed identity for an organisation and the people working for it, and why would certain organisations need, or want, to speak in mono-syllabic, consistent (but consistently dull) voices.


Whether a direct reference to their own (seemingly sincere) article puffing up the Moving Brands swisscom job, is unclear. Anyway, this is what they had to say about us a few years ago.

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.

Back to Books

On the BBC website, Stephen Bayley writes in praise of the book, marking the most recent e-reader launch by Sony:

What is the most flexible, intelligent, interactive data retrieval system yet to appear?

It’s the book.

As a source of high density data storage, the book offers unparalleled ease of access. Data can be retrieved in sequence or at random. Image and text can be presented in any variation of density.

Stephen is perfectly able to write his own loquacious eulogy, however it does seem slightly similar to this which we posted a couple of months ago.

We Think, I Think

At the engage conference last week, Charles Leadbeater picked up the cluetrain thread with a thought provoking introductory talk on ‘we-think’ and the potential rise of collaboration in the arts, “not just in relation to marketing but at the more fundamental level of making and interpreting”.

Some of the day felt more like ways to indulge the individual in notionally interactive chances to make art more accessible, more like ‘i-think’ – but some really exciting projects from the likes of The People Speak and the Vocal project at collective gallery leaned towards more collectively engaging and effective ‘experiences’. A meaningful ‘we-think’, though I am reluctant to assist Leadbeater too much in this becoming a defining slogan.

You can see more of Charles Leadbeater discussing these issues here.

Hybrid Write Pt 1

We employ a regime of curiosity: our editorial process is about investigating the potential of today’s overlapping worlds of art, architecture, fashion and commerce.

Does overspill from one field into another lead to new discoveries and productive output, or is the unexpected encounter made impossible by brand strategies and commercial considerations? The idea of ‘engineering chance encounters’ is very popular today in both architecture and urban planning — if you somehow plan people’s courses so they’ll bump into each other, imaginative thoughts that would not have occurred to them otherwise can and will.

Potential seems to exist somewhere between the role of ‘knowing janitors’, unlocking doors to new ideas and experiences, as ‘deal brokers’, negotiating access and as ‘intellectual cupids’, cementing collaborations and friendships.

Somers Town

Creative Review say: “The success of the film also places Eurostar in the position of potentially being a brand that could grow to be seen as a patron of British cinema, offering funding to an industry that is always strapped for cash. This would require further investment of course, plus the even braver step of backing films that might contain no mention of trains at all.”

And on it goes…

Quite slow to post this, but thought this editorial from last months creative review was worth a mention.

This debate seems destined to continually get stuck in the ‘is/isn’t it design’ rut. An easier way round this, and one which I think many designers currently employ, is not to become too preoccupied with debating whether someone is or isn’t a designer, but debate whether the act of design is or isn’t any good. This takes the focus off the individual, or the ‘career’, which are way more difficult to pidgeon-hole, and focusses it clearly on the act of design at hand.

I’m also minded to follow Milton Glasers definition of a designer as someone who “conceives of, and sometimes executes, a plan to move from an existing condition to a preferred condition”. To be clear, he means that this decision making and problem-solving would make you a designer – whether you are a good designer, or the individual piece of design is any good, is a completely different matter.

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.”

All the Presidents (Marketing) Men

This Guardian slideshow shows the range of marketing and identity/image building work for presidential hopeful, Barak Obama. What is particularly disheartening is the transition from slide 5 to 6, where the creativity/expression/voice of any single individual is subsumed by the party’s ‘on-brand’ placard. What would be even more disheartening is if someone found a way to measure this as being more effective. As we speak, we’re still searching for an off-brand candidate.