‘Where Are You, And Why Design?’ was the question posed, and the theme of Week 1. Without design in mind, I could answer quite simply, probably in little over a couple of sentences. To me, a question or problem can be answered or resolved through design. Responding through design allows for further meaning, as deep as the designer desires, including subtle nods to sub-themes and implied beliefs.
Practitioner Case Studies
The course materials for Week 1 included five practitioner case studies; an inside look at five studios unique ways of working, and an insight into what design means to each. Whilst each case study was packed with valuable insights, a few points struck a chord with me and made me truly appreciate how broad and varied design is. The differences between each designer’s practices can be vast, from solo designers such as Sarah Boris to co-operatives such as Intro Design.
Adrian Talbot, Creative Partner at Intro Design likened their practice to “a collective of one-man-bands”. Describing how each creative partner has their own style and clients. This highlighted the importance of having a specialism, and in a practice such as Intro, creative partners with different specialisms allows them to cover much more ground and cater to a much wider variety of clients. Later on in the case study, Adrian commented that ‘you can always become better, but you cannot become a designer if you are not inherently a designer’. By this, I believe he means that a designer’s creative eye is as valuable as technical skill. He says ‘you can always become better’, by improving your skills in Illustrator, InDesign, etc. However, your creative vision is what makes you inherently a designer.
Another case study focused on Sarah Boris’ practice, a London-based designer who grew up and previously worked in the USA and France. I found her work to be incredibly inspiring, in particular her project, Graphic Theatre; a solo exhibition held in a theatre space in France. For the exhibition she designed two posters, similar in style, the first depicting the sea’s waves, representing the coastal city of Le Havre. The bold and bright colours in contrast to an area often described as grey and industrial. The second poster reworked her original design into a theatre curtain in response to the exhibition space. I found it interesting how Sarah identified ‘flexibility’ to be the most important thing to her in design. The work she showed in the case study showed great flexibility, and was a fantastic example of how altering colour, rotation, etc, can offer a completely new meaning to the original design.
SomeOne’s Simon Manchipp, is one of four partners. In his case study, Simon raised a particularly interesting point, that at points in his practice he believes he has been too keen, and tried too hard to get ahead of the curve within the industry, and interestingly, that he believes this to often be a negative. Simon describes how SomeOne has previously suffered because of their innovation, which has left clients unsure and hesitant to proceed. Upon further reflection, I began to understand this more from a business point of view. With brand new techniques, there is less evidence of how consumers will react, it is a much bigger business risk. Even truly exceptional design could be a risk not worth taking in business.
Regular Practice also discuss their mistakes with regards to the business elements of their practice. They are a design duo, made up of Tom Finn and Kristoffer Soelling, who formed their studio after meeting in postgraduate study. Tom says that their practice has changed as they have recognised their previous mistakes, which predominantly relate to the business side of their practice. This resonated with me, as this is an element of practice I am not particularly confident in, but I hope that my study will help me in this respect.
Workshop Challenge: Who? What? Where? Why?
The task this week was to create a quadriptych that illustrates ourselves. To visually convey who we are, what it is that we do, where we are based and what this means to us, and why we are drawn to design; what does it mean to us? Before I could even start making sense of all the ideas flooding into my head, I knew I would enjoy this challenge. I’m not particularly good at, nor fond of, talking about myself, or writing for that matter. My vision was to use the quadriptych format to create a sleek visual representation of myself, and let my design do all the talking!
I’m a Glaswegian who moved to the South of England with my family as a child. My name, Aileen, was almost unheard of at my new school, and as an introvert I was often too shy to correct whichever mispronunciation of my name I got that day. As I’ve gotten a wee bit older, I’ve grown in confidence and become proud of who I am, name and all! I love ice skating, cold brew coffees, the colour pink, and setting myself up in a cafe to pour over a good book.
I’m a recent graduate, leaving the University of Winchester with a 1st Class in Marketing in 2019. Here I discovered my love of branding, and chose to specialise in visual identities wherever possible. A pivotal project for me was at university; the creation of a set of mock brand guidelines, refreshing a brand of our choice, for me this was The Body Shop. Founder Anita Roddick was a human rights activist and environmental campaigner, and I elected to have The Body Shop’s visual identity take a leaf out of Anita’s, with vibrancy and nods to nature throughout. After university I started at my current workplace, designing posters, publications, websites and more within the aviation industry, and have been able to create innovative pieces within the perimeters of the existing brand guidelines. I love that some visual elements have existed throughout the organisation’s history, whilst others have adapted and transformed with the times.
I am currently based in Brighton (Hove, to be exact!), and this is a move I am extremely proud of. I believe my move to Brighton to be a pivotal point in my life. Glasgow was where I had last felt at home, I adored the vibrancy of the city and its friendly air. My experience of Brighton has been extremely similar, it is a thriving city full of creatives. Here, I am able to find inspiration at every turn, and I believe that to have had an extremely positive impact not only on my work, but on my general outlook in life.
Design to me is largely about problem-solving and creating a visual solution to a question, illustrating a message or an identity. When I was at school, we were always warned that careers within the creative industries were few and far between, and poorly compensated. However, no other subject area gave me that same feeling as design. Studying Graphic Design at GCSE was my ‘A-ha!’ moment, sitting down at my computer and being able to think up and create something beautiful made me determined to work in this field.
My initial sketch sets out my intentions to combine typography with digital imagery and photography. My ‘Who’ square identifies me as Aileen, whilst poking a wee bit of fun at some of the sometimes silly variations of my name I’ve received. This is an important part of ‘Who’ I am; I am an individual who is not afraid to laugh at myself, and who seeks to make light of the situation. In the ‘What’ section I include a mock up of my pivotal project, whilst in ‘Where’ I depict a stick of Brighton Rock, a piece of local iconography, whilst using type to highlight my own feelings towards my surroundings. In ‘Why?’ I sought to include a photograph of fireworks, representing the ‘A-ha!’ feeling I described feeling about design.
As I pulled together the four elements for my first version, I decided to use colour to include further nods to my personality in response to ‘Who?’ – I love the colour pink, and decided to make it the main colour within my design. When I considered which image to use for ‘Why?’ I immediately thought of my photography from the Glasgow Green fireworks display. I colourpicked a pink shade from the image and used this within ‘Who?’ and ‘Where?’. As I assembled my quadriptych, I decided to alter its layout, swapping the bottom segments – ‘Where?’ and ‘Why?’. My reasoning for this was that I believed the diagonal co-ordination of photography and block colour to be more visually pleasing.
I further developed my quadriptych by adding white space between each image and a border around the outside. Framing the images in this way creates a much cleaner look, I believe. I also added some tagline text to bring the entire piece together. I took inspiration from minimalist movie posters (below). Whilst simplistic, this design style is modern and effective.