Week 3

Fields of Practice

It took me a little while to figure out this week’s task and it was actually Thursday before I realised exactly what I had to do!

Putting that aside, I have really enjoyed this week’s themes, in particular watching and listening to other designers talk about their work and how they came about creating it.

The first lecture I watched, asked design companies ‘How has Globalisation affected your business over time?’

I think the general feeling from the companies about Globalisation is that it’s a good thing! To have access to anyone, anywhere and at any time in the world, is exciting. Understanding and experiencing different cultures and working with people from around the world can enhance your outlook and bring new ideas to your work. As Simon Manchipp from ‘Someone’ says, “Greater collaboration, bigger ideas”.

Technology has brought us all closer together and allowed people and especially designers, to set up their own business working anywhere in the world, needing just their own laptops. However, I feel that most of the design studios interviewed believe that having meetings face to face with clients or other designers plays a very important part in building relationships.

Whether its inviting a client to your studio, travelling to meet your client or even just a phone call, that interaction and time together can make all the difference in delivering a successful project.

As Julian House and Adrian Talbot from ‘Intro’ explains, ‘The thing about engaging with people, whether it’s a meeting or a phone call, is that it’s amazing how quickly you can clear up what was never a big issue in the first place. The danger of dealing, of working online, through sending PDF via email and stuff, is that potentially very small problems can turn into what seems like a huge problem and then a meeting dispels all of that, and it just becomes a case of saying “well maybe we’ll do this”, and I think that that is a really important thing.”

Of course, if, as a designer you are working globally, there are lots of important things to consider about different countries and different cultures.

Harriet Ferguson, our own course tutor here at Falmouth but who also works at Pearlfisher Design Studio, London, as a senior designer, discusses some of these important differences in our second lecture of the week.

Some cultures can have more knowledge about certain subjects and can bring this knowledge to other cultures that might have less. For example, one project Harriet refers to, is about the Chinese product ‘Femme’ – a feminine hygiene brand for the Chinese market.

Femme

Harriet says “Now this is a very sensitive subject in China, tampons aren’t seen in the same light as in Western countries, it’s a cultural thing. So, for the client to work with a Western based agency helping them, it meant that their partner understood the potential of the category and could help them be a challenger at the forefront of change”.

Harriet also talks about how working globally allows you access to all kinds of talents that might be available to help you on a project but also how these same talents might help you get your message across to a wider or even a global audience. This is important as some colours, words and images can mean different things in different countries. They can cause offence in one and humour in another.

Global brands like Apple, McDonalds and Coca-Cola have to take all these things into consideration and as Harriet says, “Work well across the world”.

Global Brands

What I loved most about Harriet’s lecture was when she was talking about how brands today should really be. I have done quite a few branding projects in my career and I do love creating them, but I really related to the points being made by her about ‘authenticity’.

Three of my favourite brands are ‘Wimbledon’, ‘Veuve Clicquot’ and ‘Bremont’. They are authentic, they tell a story, they have a history but they are simple in design. This is what sets them apart from their competitors and of course, makes them interesting. I know as a consumer but also with my designer eye, that I trust them completely.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the future with brands and global brands. I agree with Harriet, brands do have a responsibility to the protection of our world just as much as we do as individuals. But the world will be looking to them to help with the future of our planet and they will have to change and develop accordingly – we will have to keep an eye on them!

The final piece of research this week was to watch a film on the company ‘Non Format’ owned by Jon Forss and Kjell Ekhorn. I loved watching this film because I could relate to it – in particular, when I was a student back in the 90s! This was when on a project, technology was the last thing you went to and going out there exploring and finding inspiration from the everyday things, was what you did first!

Straight after watching the film, I picked up my phone to check social media and came across an interview from the late 70s about musician, Mike Oldfield, who was recreating the theme tune to children’s tv programme, Blue Peter. I am a Mike Oldfield fan, but it was fascinating to watch how he played multiple instruments, broke each one down to different speeds, got other people involved (the film crew), placed them on top of one another and recorded them. Once all that was done, he finally mixed the sounds until he was happy with it and it sounded perfect!

Mike Oldfield - Blue Peter

When it comes to music, Mike Oldfield has no boundaries. He has learnt multiple skills and can find inspiration from all over the world collaborating with other musicians and other types of musical disciplines ranging from Irish and country through to classical and pop.

It was quite timely to come across Mike’s video after watching the ‘Non Format’ film, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the similarities between the two.

In the ‘Non Format’ film, Jon talked about how experimental they had been when they first started out together and then working on ‘The Wire’ magazine. Producing a lot of graphics by hand and using what basic technology they had, to create even complex pieces of artwork. Using stitching on packaging, throwing dirt on a scanner, blowing ink through a straw, using typography as images and directing photo shoots, making mistakes along the way but turning some of these mistakes in to “happy accident’s.”

I did a project in college which was a brochure for the RSPB and used some of the same techniques to create the images. I went out and found bits of wood, metal, feathers – things that I thought a bird would pick up to build a nest and scanned them all in! It was a lot of fun and the best bit was that I wasn’t entirely sure how it was going to turn out and what it might look like on screen. It’s a shame that I don’t do more of this in my current work.

RSPB - Student Work

Jon (Non Format) has now moved to the U.S and Kjell to Norway but they continue to work together despite the time difference, almost using the time difference as an advantage – so that they are continually working over most hours in the day. In some areas they suggest that being apart has worked better for them – they get the time to create their work without the other looking over their shoulder.

They have created really exciting work over their career and produced some amazing typefaces, which would have been considered ground-breaking at the time. Playing around and experimenting with whatever was possible – not being limited by any design boundaries.

Just before lockdown I went to visit an exhibition by photographer Tim Walker at the V&A Museum. It was one of the best exhibitions I have been to in a while, purely because as I walked around I felt I was part of Tim Walkers creative, imaginative world! Having done photo shoots for British Vogue, Italian and America editions, he has also created short films and books.

He also spent extensive time exploring the V&A museum, meeting many of the curators and conservators sourcing inspiration. When I view Tim photo’s, there is a sense that he has absolutely no boundaries when it comes to his ideas and he can set up photo shoots wherever his imagination takes him. The final images are unusual, but they are extremely exciting and fascinating.

Tim Walker - Wonderful Things

I feel the biggest boundaries for designers and in particular myself, is time and money. Technology has advanced so much that we can get whatever we want, whenever we want it and I believe that some clients approach a project with this same mentality. It doesn’t mean that I can’t produce good work but I do think that I might look for easier, quicker solutions. A question I should ask myself is, what truly amazing work could I produce, if I didn’t have these boundaries?

Review of the D&AD Awards

When thinking of a new category for design, the first thing that came to mind was some stamps that I bought a couple of years ago.

In 2016 The Royal Mail issued a set of 6 interactive Agatha Christie themed stamps, revealing the answers to classic Christie murder mysteries and to commemorate her birthday.

Agatha Christie Royal Mail Stamps

Each of the stamps is based on a separate novel by Agatha Christie, the best-selling novelist of all time.

I’ve had a small interest in stamp design over the years, but what I like most about these, were that they had hidden, scientific, elements to them. Studio Sutherl& founder and designer, Jim Sutherl&, says “visual illusions have been combined with print techniques to give hidden clues.”

To fully appreciate the stamps, you need a magnifying glass to read the very small text and you need a UV light to activate the ‘heat sensitive ink’ to reveal further clues. I absolutely love them and the fact that you have to interactive with them adds to the whole design experience.

I haven’t seen this kind of thing much throughout design but feel that it could be done a lot more.

So, when thinking about giving a name to a new type of category for design, I thought maybe “Forensic Design” could work for something like the stamps. Meaning “Examining objects (in this case, design) for hidden clues, and to provide further information”. Perhaps “Inquisitive Design” might work better but either way, a new category for hidden meaning or interactivity within design could be quite exciting!

Finally, for this week, my 10 preferred different types of graphic design practice today are, Book Design, Branding, Digital Design, Identity Design, Information Design, Packaging, Typography, Signage, Advertising & Poster Design and Magazine Design.

My D&AD synopsis and editorial piece is as follows…

Graphic Design
References