This week we were provided with two lectures; Lecture 1 asked practitioners to reflect on their experiences of globalisation, how it has impacted their practice and businesses over time. Each practitioner had their own unique examples of globalisation within their business, however, a running theme of globalisation facilitating better connectivity and communication was evident. Simon Manchipp of SomeOne illustrated globalisation within design as working on a much bigger canvas; I really resonate with this way of thinking, and believe that globalisation allows designers across the globe to collaborate, bringing unique cultural experiences to the table, and ultimately facilitating more exciting design.
In terms of day-to-day activities, Tom Finn of Regular Practice noted that when you cannot meet in person, meetings over Skype / Zoom typically involve a pre-planned list of questions, and allow for all parties to walk away with a clear understanding of what each other wants, without the need for time-wasting back and forth emailing and phone calls.
The lecture showed me how globalisation has impacted global design as a whole, which is what I initially thought when I read this week’s topic, but also made me consider the impact in practitioner’s own offices. Whilst designers may be oceans apart, globalisation and digital connectivity has allowed them to work together as if they were sharing a desk, arguably increasing productivity, too.
In Lecture 2, Harriet Ferguson, one of our tutors on the programme, spoke about her work at Pearlfisher. She described how Pearlfisher started 25 years ago in London, adding a New York studio in 2005, followed by studios in San Francisco and Copenhagen in 2016. These studios are used as bases to work with clients from even further afield. Resources and ideas are shared between all four bases.
The lecture looked at collaboration, inspiration and the future of design. Her discussion of visual cultures particularly piqued my interest. Harriet noted that if we are looking at a source of inspiration, so are our competitors, which can lead to repetitiveness and bland design.
With my background in Marketing, I was fascinated to learn from Harriet’s lecture that the vintage-inspired branding and illustrations splashed across Hendrick’s Gin bottles are not as representative of the company’s heritage as I thought. As a consumer, I attributed the illustrations to Hendrick’s heritage, and felt both surprised and a little deceived to learn from Harriet that the company did not even start making gin until 1999. The design aesthetic here is extremely appealing to me, but is ultimately inauthentic, and learning this has slightly altered my perception of the brand as a whole. This is the power of design, it is much more than simply visuals; it tells a story, conveys a message, and sparks a thought-process for its viewer.
This week’s resources included the film, Drawn Here (and There), by Non Format, exploring the role of the graphic designer within a global context. Founded by Jon Forss and Kjell Ekhorn in 2000, Non-Format originally worked alongside one another in London, before Jon relocated to the USA, and Kjell later relocating to Norway. They have clients all over the world, and do the majority of their work via email and Skype. Jon says that he does not believe that their geographical locations negatively impact their work, and they collaborate just as well as they did when they worked beside one another.
I found it really interesting how Non-Format’s working day spans 17 hours with the time differences between the USA and Norway considered. Jon talks of how in his timezone, Kjell starts working at 1am, and they have a 3 hour overlap period where they are both at work. Previously at their London practice, Jon describes how their studio would lie dormant after they had both left for the day, whereas now he will start working and Kjell has made progress on a project whilst Jon has been asleep.
Globalisation has facilitated this, and Non-Format’s practice is a great example of true collaboration. Having bases on either side of the Atlantic has allowed them to almost become a 24-hour operation. With reference to Jon’s point about their London studio lying dormant overnight, is it not true that by being geographically much further apart, Non-Format are more productive? To me it would seem so; that globalisation can be a huge benefit to businesses and ought to be celebrated.
Looking at Non-Format’s design practice, I was fascinated to learn about their techniques, particularly in regard to typography design. The pair worked on Wire Magazine, using a different type treatment for each month’s issue. Their techniques for type design involved using stickers, barcodes, thread, and even blowing ink through straws, ultimately combining these elements with typography, transforming the style entirely and making type the illustrative element.
The concept of globalisation has made me consider the strengths and weaknesses of the digital world we live in today. On the one hand, digital advancements allow us to collaborate just as effectively as if all partners were together in one office space. On the contrary, whilst digital design tools develop continuously, adding new features constantly – traditional, offline methods still hold tremendous value in creating something unique and exciting.
Workshop Challenge 1
This week’s workshop challenges asked us to consider different types of design, examine how they are categorised, and look at design which breaks the rules of a practice style. For the first part of the workshop challenges, we were asked to look at the D&AD Award categories, and consider the entries within each. My synopsis is included below.
Workshop Challenge 2: Design Terminology
The second part of the workshop challenge asked us to list 10 different types of graphic design practice today, for me, this includes;
- Editorial design
- Book design
- Web design
- UI design
- Spatial design
- Game design
- Type design
We were then to choose a piece of design that breaks definitions of design practice and come up with a name to describe this area of work, accompanying this with a paragraph describing the practice.
In-Game Promotional Design
When considering design that breaks the definition of design practice, I considered brands who have used design to enter a new space not typically associated with their company or even industry. This led me to Animal Crossing, Nintendo’s much-loved simulation game series. The latest instalment, New Horizons, became an instant and huge hit as players stayed home during the pandemic racking up hundreds of hours curating their virtual islands.
Social strategist at Laundry Service, Moshe Isaacian, said “Animal Crossing is a great place for brands to be because it’s where people are finding the time to escape reality during these tough times” (The Drum, 2020). The game has wide appeal, and advertising within the Animal Crossing world is entirely opt-in, allowing users to engage with brands if they choose via QR codes and downloadable content (PR Week, 2020). This space is unique, breaking the definitions of traditional advertising, marketing or product-placement strategies. It is free for brands to join in, a contrast to titles such as Fortnite, which have actively pursued advertisers for in-game special events, however Nintendo have remained true to their ethics and not monetised Animal Crossing in this way (The Drum, 2020). The unofficial nature of brand activations in Animal Crossing means it is much harder to pull off, and great consideration needs to be paid to how to bring a concept to life in-game, that will make users want to opt-in to the content (Business Insider, 2020).
Brands to launch downloadable clothing items and patterns include Valentino, Marc Jacobs, and Cath Kidston. Whereas fast-food brands KFC and Chuck E. Cheese created spaces much like their in-store experiences that players can visit in-game.
The design of branded content requires brands to use Animal Crossing’s own design tools, translating their branding to a new space. This practice allows companies from all industries to contribute designs and add to the in-game experience. This design type bridges marketing, advertising, with a new take on game, product and spatial design. The opt-in nature separates this practice from traditional advertising, which can often crowd digital spaces, allowing brands to create exciting and authentic content that players want to engage with.
When tasked with presenting our ideas and synopsis in an editorial style, I immediately knew I wanted to keep a section relating to the D&AD Awards relatively on-brand. Looking at other students’ work on the Ideas Wall I saw a lot of yellow, yet no two layouts were the same. Despite using similar colours, students’ unique styles shone through. I opted to separate Task 1 and Task 2 to a page each for clarity, but then felt I could achieve a better flowing layout by placing my 10 Categories of Graphic Design on Page 1.
At this stage I am still finding presenting my designs on the Ideas Wall to be slightly daunting. However, my mind was quickly put to rest by the students in our cohort, who offered great constructive feedback and reassured me on my concerns with the design, as I have aimed to do for theirs. Lizzie’s suggestion to resize the Page 2 Title really helped balance out my layout. I also experimented with the design in line with Katy’s comments, and made some small changes to text positioning. Ultimately I felt that the white space in the middle of the page looked best. My final editorial layout is included below.
Business Insider. 2020. Brands are hiring Animal Crossing players to help them sneak into the digital world, launch products, and create custom in-game experiences. [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com/brands-are-hiring-pro-animal-crossing-players-advertise-in-game-2020-9?r=US&IR=T [Accessed 07/10/20]
The Drum. 2020. Animal Crossing is emerging as a media channel for brands in lockdown. [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.thedrum.com/news/2020/04/21/animal-crossing-emerging-media-channel-brands-lockdown [Accessed 07/10/20].
PR Week. 2020. How Animal Crossing became a PG paradise for brands. [Online]. Available at: https://www.prweek.com/article/1683357/animal-crossing-became-pg-paradise-brands [Accessed 07/10/20]