Week 11: Critical Reflective Journal

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Museum of Branding

This course is nudging me to go to lots of places that I have always meant to go, and the Brands Museum in Notting Hill is one of them. They have a Memory Tunnel of everyday objects from 1850s Britain to the present day, from coronations to food and household to toys to publications. The teenies era is horrifying: so much One Direction and Minions!

I couldn’t take pictures, but it was good inspiration for this week’s project. In one room they displayed household products such as Fairy and how the packaging designs have changed, sometimes slowly, sometimes radically, over time.

Lecture on Symbolism and Symbiotics by Martin Hoskin

The point that first hit me was that communication is the message received, not the message sent. How many times have I accidentally offended someone by what I said and how I said it, even though the intention was quite different? How many politicians and/or “celebrities” have had to redefine or retract social media posts because they hit the wrong tone or wrong timing and got criticised (more likely: brutalised on Twitter).  Hoskin means it much more as a brand communicating with its consumers, of which there have been many blunders over the recent years, but sometimes thinking of personal examples really drives home how important this point is. He points out that George Bernard Shaw said that “the biggest error in communication is assuming it has taken place”. Again, very true!

We are bound by language and that it has an agreed set of rules that are common between us, however, the rules can differ from community to community and errors can still creep in.

Hoskin said that part of looking at communication is that we have to question what is the intention of the sender? What is being shared, what is the psychological image to signal intent? He uses the example of the swastika as how context has changed. Coca-cola and St Austell Brewery both used the swastika prior to the 1930s to symbolise the purity of the strength of the brands. It wasn’t until the National Socialist German Workers’ Party also adopted it to mean the same concept, and therefore discriminate against and kill millions of people, that the swastika was seen as bad. Swastikas are still used by people of far-right, nationalist, racist leanings in graffiti (cowards).

 

Case Studies

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Olympics

Regular Practice presented examples for this week’s assignment, and it was fascinating to see the design history of the Olympics logo and what it meant for each country. The Olympic logo of five interlocking rings gives designers the room to flex and show the identity of each country. Over the years, the logos have fitted into three categories:

  • Systematic: designed around a system
    • Mexico 1968: the identity by Lance Wyman took inspiration from Mayan ceramics with spiral patterns that grew into a typeface and 3D wayfinding
    • Munich 1972: designed by Otil Aicler, the identity was based on shading a grid of half-square triangles to create type and signs for each sport.
  • Emblematic: figurative example to convey an idea
    • Tokyo 1964: the designers Katsumi and Kamekura used their logo on red circle depicting the red rising sun of the Japanese flag. Such a shape is instantly recognisable as belonging to Japan. Branding materials also included gradients over the circle to add interest and contrast.
    • Beijing 2008: Took inspiration from Chinese stamps and calligraphy, distilling the features such as red ink and torn edges into a unique logo
  • Abstracted: Using an abstract system not immediately connected to the city
    • London 2012: From what I can see, Wolff Olins took a lot of intersecting lines and filled in spaces to create an abstract 2012. Maybe it’s the British way to take the mick out of it? I feel the abstract nature was to not feature any particular icon of Britishness and came out representing no-one? In contrast, the London 1908 Games featured posters of the sports and activities participating as the Games were not widely known and the designers had to introduce the audience to the concept of what the Olympics were.

In conclusion: the variables remain the same between each design, but the global and national context in which the logos are designed is constantly changing.

Breaking News 2.0 by Patrick Thomas

An installation design to confuse and bombard the viewer with lots of information both visual and auditory, whilst encouraging them to critically engage with the content displayed and question, where is the news coming from? Viewers could tweet their own news that would be displayed on a feed in the room, but how reliable was it?

Breaking News 1.0 took place in a shopfront in Liverpool, and passersby were asked to contribute on pieces of paper, which Thomas felt contributed to the project being very authentic and a true reflection of what the viewers were thinking.

Resources

It’s Nice That Graduates of 2019, and other inspirational work this week!

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I spent some time looking at the selected graduates for this year’s It’s Nice That Graduates for some inspiration. They are all phenomenal, and two really stuck out to me: Suzy Chan and David Massara; because of their layout and typography skills. Also this week I came across this image by Yasmin Crawford.

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I also saw an article on Elya Foreyla, a graphic designer aiming to tackle the stigma around Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Her project “comes decorated with bold illustrations and a playful colour scheme, demonstrating the designer’s ability to delve into her research and tackle important issues with intention.” (It’s Nice That, Elya Forelya).

 

 

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