Week 3: Critical Reflective Journal

Critical Reflective Journal

a) Reflection on the lectures and reference material should be submitted onto the ideas wall and evidenced on your blog.

b) Reflection on your work and on fellow student’s work should be submitted onto the ideas wall and evidenced on your blog

c) List 10 different types of practice today. You will be exploring the terminology and language that we use in the area of graphic design:

  • Upload your lists to the ideas wall with a link to your blog with further reflection and examples of practice linked to your list.
  • Choose a piece of design that breaks definitions of design practice and write a paragraph describing this practice.
  • Come up with a new term that describes this area of work.
  • Upload this design and your new terminology and paragraph onto the ideas wall and your blog for group forum and discussion.

 

 

c) List 10 different types of practice today. You will be exploring the terminology and language that we use in the area of graphic design:

  • Upload your lists to the ideas wall with a link to your blog with further reflection and examples of practice linked to your list.

Please click here to see my blog post for this challenge.

 

c) List 10 different types of practice today. You will be exploring the terminology and language that we use in the area of graphic design:

  • Choose a piece of design that breaks definitions of design practice and write a paragraph describing this practice.

Please click here to see my blog post for this challenge.

 

c) List 10 different types of practice today. You will be exploring the terminology and language that we use in the area of graphic design:

  • Come up with a new term that describes this area of work.

Please click here to see my blog post for this challenge.

 

a) Reflection on the lectures and reference material should be submitted onto the ideas wall and evidenced on your blog.

Video: The Effect of Globalisation on Design

I like how this video returns to the creatives that we saw in Week 1 of this course so that we are introduced to their practice little by little and get to experience thoroughly, rather than piecemeal from many different creatives.

Each practice explored the idea in different ways and provided interesting points about the globalisation of design (and well, everything). Some of what was said immediately resonated with me and other parts gave me food for thought. What was striking was all the creatives recognised how communication technology, such as email and Skype, has led to “bigger canvases” (Simon Manchipp) but that sites like Instagram and Pinterest can lead to an overwhelming amount of visual ideas being shared and replicated without context, potentially thereby losing the originality they had at the conception. Are internet sites like this a good way for creatives to share work across the world, or do they create homogeny? It’s a tension that many practices also recognise, with the typographer Taylor Spangler saying that:

“Social media tends to homogenise styles very quickly so its important to not peek and see what everyone is up to and get back to your own thing. It’s no secret that Instagram is an amazing tool to share artwork – if you’re able to push your work through all the saturation.”

– Interview with Tyler Spangler, It’s Nice That, 13 June 2019

I feel that it’s not about finding the definitive answer to “Has the globalisation of design led to a homogenisation?” but recognising the tensions and conflicting forces between near-instant communications.

Sam Winston, who needs his studio to be very quiet and separate from his outside world, has found that arranging a face-to-face meeting works well for him and he feels that travelling to meet potential clients and collaborators shows commitment to the project. He does accept that flying to San Francisco comes with an environmental cost that is hard to justify for a cup of coffee!

Continuing the thought process of how work is done globally (namely, technology), even in the same practice there are opposing ideas. In Intro, a manager prefers to face-to-face meetings, but others feel that Skype and a phone call can do as much to dispel issues at early stages rather than let them build-up. Similarly, Regular Practise feel that Skype meetings mean that you have to be succinct and to get to the point without letting bumph get in the way. That is an efficient way of working and can lead to quicker decision-making, but in my experience, the bumph and rubbish-talking can build better relationships on top of this.

No matter the method of communication, the practices featured agree that you have to use them to engage people.

A shared thought across the creatives was that working globally means that clients and creatives encounter different cultures and ways of working, leading to new challenges and approaches to bridging differences. I’ll cover this later, but it was interesting to hear from Harriet Ferguson about why a Western agency was chosen for a Chinese tampon brand. Sarah Boris agreed that globalisation has lead to more opportunities for creatives, including residencies. She shared an experience of a residency in France where she used adverts in local papers to draw in local residents and creatives to talk about her work at the residency and at home in London: she used the international platform of a residency to create local connections.

Regular Practise have found that globalisation has meant that they can lend their visual look to other locations and cultures where it might be better received for that project than a local area, giving them a greater reach to clients and audiences.

With regards to print production, Sam Winston and Regular Practise mention that projects can be truly global as often colour books are printed across the world, commonly in the Far East and Eastern Europe and each printer has its own specialities that one won’t realise until you contact each one for a quotation on a project. I agree with this – some printers are great for colour, some for price, some for speed, and some are logistical whizzes (not to be underestimated). It does irk me that Sam Winston tries to push back against the CMYK + separate text plate printing process of picture books. This process was developed in children’s picture book publishing to make a book easier to publish across multiple territories with reduced printing costs, often essential for the book to break even and for the creators to make any royalties. The process might have been developed for economic reasons, and that doesn’t take away from the effect of getting the books into more people’s hands!

One last thought from this video was something Intro brought up: before communication technology reached this point, many creatives were coming through the traditional routes of art school, placements, junior positions to mid-level positions and so on. However, technology has disrupted that by allowing anyone to create and publish their work to the world (aren’t we benefitting from this, as students of Falmouth Flexible in the UK, Germany and US?). This has amazing implications to allow graphic design to become a more diverse industry and means people from different backgrounds can bring their experiences to the world.


Video: Effect of Globalisation on Design

Harriet Ferguson of Pearlfisher, an alumna of Falmouth

Harriet began by introducing Pearlfisher with its offices in London, Copenhagen, New York and San Francisco, and saying that they work collaboratively between studios. She raises two points about globalisation: with the sites such as Pinterest and Instagram being used as inspiration tools by creatives, is it OK to look like something, and not mean it? The sites work on algorithms, so the more a post is liked and shared, the more it will show up to other people. Does being more popular make it better, and does that diminish its authenticity? On the other hand, she calls the world “a treasure trove of talent” and communication technology means that she can work across the globe with niche designers with a more specialised skill set than she feels her broader experience lends her.

She then describes examples of work that Pearlfisher have undertaken recently and I will describe a couple of these. For Taylor of Harrogate, the company worked with global artists working in different mediums to create a different graphic flavour for each range of tea whilst having an overarching brand design. For Havana Club 3, designers travelled to Havana to experience the city and its culture to breakdown their stereotypes about the region. They worked with local artists to create a brand built of hand-painted tiles, painted logos and hand-drawn lettering to bring authenticity and fun to the global market.

For me, the most interesting example was that of Femme, a newly-launched subscription tampon brand in China. Compared to the 70% of women using tampons in the west, only 2% of women report using tampons in China because of cultural beliefs, some about tampons and virginity. The culture is changing, and the brand Yoai wants to help this change, and so approached Pearlfisher, a western design agency, to design the product.

Harriet said that “western design is seen in a premium light in China” and with a higher tampon usage in the west, the location of the agency was deemed desirable by the client. The design had to resonate with Chinese women and include educational information to dispel myths, and so the agency worked with the client and Chinese-speaking designers in their company to build a brand to fit into the market, yet cause disruption to it. To date, the company has sold over one million products, which does sound a lot but I can’t find information on competing brands in that territory!

Harriet brought up authenticity, and what does it mean for consumers and therefore designers and brands? She gives the example of Hendricks Gin that despite being established in 1999 uses a kooky nineteenth-century visual to give itself a heritage that doesn’t exist. Although it annoys her, the general public doesn’t seem bothered enough to discourage them from buying. With the recent Waterstones rebranding, people responded negatively to the W being changed from an uppercase serif W to a lowercase sans serif W in an attempt to look modern. I was one of those people, I didn’t want Waterstones to become like WHSmiths and be a store of screaming offers hanging precariously from the ceiling. The heritage of the brand and the perception of a serif typeface to convey the heritage was a USP for Waterstones and after negative social media posts, the branding was changed back (minus the apostrophe).

With globalisation, Harriet acknowledged that designers have faced challenges in making brands work for many markets, given that different cultures give different connotations to colours, words and symbols. Think of all the weird names for cars that attempt not be swearwords from another language. She highlighted that Apple, McDonalds and CocaCola as brands that have achieved this by simplifying their design to simple graphic shapes and a few colours. Maybe they are the lowest common denominator of logo elements to be as inoffensive to the fewest number of people as possible?

Harriet introduced two brands that are “new and unapologetic” about their recent creation: Karma Cola. Both brands recognise that consumers would like the products they buy to give back to the community, and so Pearlfisher made this part of the branding.

“At Karma Cola, it’s essential for us to look after, and have close working relationships with the people we do business with, throughout the entire process from the start to the final product, everyone should benefit from what we’re doing.”

– Simon Coley, co-founder of Karma Cola

Pearlfisher brought this into the branding by using symbols and borrowing from art from where the business grows its pure ingredients and works with the local growers. The lettering is also hand-drawn, which seems to be a big part in consumer-perception of “authenticity’!

Hannah’s tips

  • Be genuine
  • Tell a story
  • Find a unique voice
  • Keep it simple
  • Think global, act local
  • What can the brand give back, to the environment, to the community, to the world?
  • Make it fun.

Drawn Here (and There): Non-format

Non-format is a long-distance practice where the founding designers started working together in London before John Forss moved to the US in 2007 and Kjell Elkorn moved to Oslo in 2009. They found that they are able to use the time difference between the two studios to more effectively use the twenty-four hour day, with a period of three hours or so to share their progress on the projects. John describes it as coming to work to find “the fairies have done all the work”!

The next portion of the lecture focussed on a chronological retrospective of their work. It shows from their earliest project a gradual development of their style (with some conscious redirections) that takes them through a 360º of design styles and skills that is continuously evolving.

In the 90s, they found ways to subvert the graphics standard of type on an image by playing around with how the elements were presented. Once they presented a headline for The Wire using a credit card type treatment because the editors had disputed a photo shoot charge, and for a LP sleeve they sewed embroidered garment labels onto a card sleeve. This design progressed to reverse embroidering the desired design, meaning that the loose threads showed and created a broken effect on the type. I can’t find an image on Google, annoyingly!

Another project shows painstaking manual work: a portrait for The Wire magazine of the interviewee using type. The type consisted of an HTML description of the type whilst the colour of each character was defined manually in Quark Express to make a portrait. Every single character. In Quark. They ran out of time on the print deadline, so the image is only half complete, with the last line now even finished, giving the impression of an inkjet printer stopped in progress. A happy accident that worked – and a job they realised could be done much more easily another way!

After experimenting with design for The Wire magazine and evolving the headline style, other brands approached them for similar type finishes, which paid the bills, but they didn’t want to be boxed into that style. They went back to basics: playing with filling in type counters for a harder feel; using the Bauhaus style to create a typeface, breaking rules to create expression; pushing a font to as bold as it could be without making it illegible; using die cuts to create an advent calendar typeface cover for Computer Arts magazine.

Forss and Ellkorn aren’t content to design a piece or style, and stick with it, even for the same client. Their longstanding work shows a presentation of an idea which they then organically play with for future iterations of the project. This helps their work feel fresh whilst drawing on their own design heritage and help brands be recognised by consumers.


Extra content absorption:

Creative Review Podcast Episode 14: Making, changing and documenting places

Hosted by CR Editors Patrick Burgoyne, Eliza Williams and Rachael Steven

How do you brand a place? The editors think that people have got used to the cliche of beautiful vistas, snaps of food and culture, and campaigns that focus on these images have a hard time standing out. They hail the “Phone a Swede” campaign run to promote Sweden as a destination, as it is an example of a global campaign being authentic as the callers were put through to a Swedish person to share their life and views of the country. Global to local.

The editors see it as essential that campaigns with the aim of promoting locations dig deep into what makes the city special and authentic by supporting local artists and entrepreneurs and adding to the value of the city for its residents. BETC founder Rémi Babinet is transforming Paris by making previously unknown suburbs desirable and thinking how the project will transform the area culturally, not just economically, which Williams feels is London’s error: too much emphasis has been placed on economic regeneration without enough regard for the cultural changes that follow.

There has been a recent change in expectation for living: previously, a house in the suburbs and travelling into the city/town for work was seen as the most desirable lifestyle, and areas like Canary Wharf were built on this single-use expectation. Now, city-centre living has become more popular, with developments being multi-use and spaces for living, working, shopping and relaxing built into the same complex. This has been a concern in Peckham, where developers have come in without considering how the local community will interact and be affected by their designs, and some locals have called it the “blandification” of Peckham and lament its “lost soul”. A few miles up the road in Canada Water, develpers have been more thoughtful in how the local community will be affected by the development and have built this into their mixed-use developments on a much larger scale.

Manchester was also considered a good example of development where the Manchester Design Manifesto has thought about how to make the city better for all its resident by creating working groups to engage local communities and designers.

I’d like to look into these projects more specifically later on, but I think I should get on with the rest of the tasks!

Creative Review Podcast Episode 23: The Future

Eliza Williams is joined by CR journalists Rachael Steven and Aimee McLaughlin

Another fascinating listen – most notable about Neil Harbisson, who installed an antenna in his head, enabling him to hear colours. He was born colour blind and creates art using the synaesthesia this creates. This is his piece painted whilst listening to Beethoven’s Für Elise:
harbissons-visualisation-005

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