Week 6: Critical Research Journal

Weekly Learning Objectives

By the end of this week you should be able to:

  • Research and analyse how interdisciplinary collaboration can form exciting partnerships in graphic design;
  • Research and analyse new genres of design specialism;
  • Identify a discipline and specialist who could help you to reflect from a dynamically opposing position on a specific problem;
  • Find, manage and record your cross-disciplinary discussion in relation to the specific problem;

interdisciplinary collaboration

Coelicolor by Faber Futures

On this course I keep referring to Faber Futures, first as a local practice in Contemporary Futures and then a couple of weeks ago when we looked at mission statements. Why do I keep on coming back to it? It’s an amazing project that uses genetic and biological solutions to dye fabrics in a sustainable way.

For the project, Coelicolor, featured above, Faber Futures worked in collaboration with Professor John Ward and his synthetic biology lab at University College London’s Department of Biochemical Engineering, They discovered that unique interactions between S. coelicolor and protein fibres could yield a colourfast finish without the use of chemicals – and with significantly reduced water usage compared to current industrial dyeing methods.

Color Coded by Faber Futures

From there, Faber Futures went on to create the first DNA labelled specimen in the Forbes Pigment Collection. Working in collaboration with Michael Napolitano, a design engineer at Ginkgo Bioworks, Faber Futures “has explored emerging DNA-based data storage techniques to encode a contextual explanation of the project, the organism’s complete genome, and information about its potential applications, including textile dyeing.”

Imagination and skills

Design, I think, is all about imagination about new ways to show the world around us, real or speculative.

I would argue that all jobs are creative in their own way: creative with words, with numbers, with colours, with strategy; and all roles require that people think in novel combinations of these creativities. We can do things as we did before, but without that spark between flints in a cave, that spark of understanding of our place in the sky, we would not have progressed as a species. Everyone is creative and uses their imagination to different purposes and extents.

Sometimes, imagination isn’t enough to realise an idea. A sketch is the start and designers won’t have all the skills to being their idea to life. They reach out to other people with different skills to help them, whether on a small scale like printers to display their work, a traditional illustrator/designer pairing, or a more radical collaboration called Interdisciplinary collaborations.

Human knowledge is one huge ocean that gradually we have put up (shifting) boundaries between disciplines. It can be enough to swim around with the rest of the water in the same pond, but to make truly startling innovations, we need to jump into other ponds. Is that enough analogy?

Faber Futures could not have progressed with their projects without the collaboration of scientists who were able to contribute their expertise and knowledge to further the projects. Would the scientists have thought of these possibilities on their own? Maybe, maybe not. Would Faber Futures have been able to do this without them? Maybe, if they had retrained as in that field to great expense and time cost. The collaboration brought their skills together that would not have been as possible otherwise.

This weeks resources …

… I found it harder to engage with than other weeks but here are my thoughts.

The lecture started with a recap of Bauhaus, a school of design that allowed students to pass between and over the disciplines as they studied to create an overall experience rather than a specialism. I’m sure some people leaned to one interest or another, and being educated together in the same schools would have fostered collaborations.

Bauhaus curriculum

With Dr Ian Medway and Katie Mae Boyd, Louize Harries created a project that borrowed inspiration from apocryphal crises with a drone that rained red when the air pollution in the area breached the EU air quality limits. This was a proof of concept project, rather than a fully realised project, and has a similar aim to Anub Jain’s air-quality presentation for the UAE energy board.

The Red Rains of Change

Drones are becoming a popular way for designers to explore large 3D areas and can provide many functions. Still, drones are not ubiquitous and to navigate the legal frameworks and immense physical space with humans and other 3D objects would require a whole other set of people well versed in these subjects. For the drone-vigilante project “The Night Watchmen” by Anub Jain that tracked and monitored people around an area, it was the consideration of what kind of society would allow a piece of equipment to be used in this way? The suggestion that this is what the combination of drone and facial recognition technology could do is enough for us to decide whether we want to transform into a society that sanctions this. For Harries’ drone project, to create a fleet of drones that would rain red would be extremely difficult and unpopular with the people it rained upon. The concept was evidence to show the world we are living in now and to draw attention to the issue, a call to action to change.

Referring to a different project of Jain’s, she has stated that because the world seems to be moving too fast and we are experiencing a disconnect with our future. For the air-quality presentation to the UAE energy board, she wanted to bring the reality of poor quality air into a concrete example.. Most of us know that using more cars and unsustainable energy sources will result in poor air quality, but how many of us truly understand this? Jain created flasks of air simulated to match potential airs in the future. By breathing in the noxious air, a bridge was built between the disconnect of the future and now.

Change in air quality, after and before lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic

Side note: since the pandemic of Covid-19, lockdowns across the world have drastically reduced traffic in cities and meant that people can experience the effect that poor vs good air quality can have. Mountains can be seen from cities that hadn’t seen the ranges for generations, the air felt cleaner to breathe. I hope that it serves as a starting point from which we can start discussions and change our actions.

To be honest, I didn’t connect with the rest of the projects and videos,. I tried! There must be many more examples of projects and maybe they will come through in my workshop challenge. What did strike me, though, is the necessity of collaborations between designers and any other discipline to spark an idea of a new future, to challenge the knowledge and the skills to bring it to life.


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Week 5: Critical Research Journal

Weekly Learning Objectives

By the end of this week you should be able to:

  • Research and analyse the different ways in which graphic designers produce work collaboratively;
  • Research and analyse the essential components of collaborative practice;
  • Design, write and deliver an editorial piece illustrating a collaborative project that has led to an exemplary and historically significant piece of work (300 words plus imagery).

Collaboration comes in many forms

Migrant Journal by Offshore Studio

It was nice to revisit the Migrant Journal by Christoph Miller of Offshore: the glistening metallic inks and the swooping arrow that forms the G. This is what I would term more of a traditional collaboration, and I’ll explain what I mean by an untraditional one further down!

Usually, in publishing or any project, the content is followed by the design in the schedule, the what comes before the how. Migrant Journal messes with this timeline and the content, the words, are conceived simultaneously with the design. I would anticipate that in a publication so rich and full of infographics that its both a necessity and product of editorial/design collaboration. It helps, I think, that each issue has one theme tying it together to give razor sharp focus to the contributors.

Migrant Journal by Offshore Studio

The team behind Migrant Journal worked remotely in different countries none of them held passports for, and before C-19 struck. This only emphasises that collaboration is possible to matter what obstacles are in our way.

In a similar vein, Danielle Pender and Shaz Madani of Riposte magazine are a collaboration of designer and editorial, how and what. Print seems to be the chosen medium of collaborations of this type – it forces the creator to produce work in a slower way.

Anna Lomax and Jess Bonham are collaborations, but they do not differ in disciplines, rather fundamental approaches to graphic design. Their yin and yang of maximalism and minimalism, high culture and everyday life seems to balance out well, tempered by years of working next to each other at art school. I’m inclined to wonder at the chances that brought the right two people together that could work together with opposites without it imploding! Solid.

Liv Siddal for the Rough Trade magazine, collaborates with one main designer, Bruce Usher, but to keep up with the hectic publishing schedule has regular contributors. This collaboration works on trust, in that she has to trust that her contributors will supply suitable material each month, for example the bands with disposable cameras on tour. I like this form of collaboration because it has a solid base with her and her designer, and has a structure of contributors yet still has freedom.

Now onto the non-traditional types! The previous examples are where collaboration occurs before the point of official publication, The next practitioners, on the other hand, have collaborated differently.

Power at Battersea Power Station: Morag Myerscough

Morag Myerscough creates her concepts with a partner, Luke Morgan, but her most consistent collaborators are her audience. Whilst she was designing the dining rooms in the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, she and the poet Lemn Sissay created visual workshops. The children could participate in the workshops and from there she created a typeface to display their poems and their favourite word DAZZLE. Although the bright colours match her signature, the content was drawn from the children so that they could see themselves reflected in the space they were staying in.

In another hospital setting, she presented her bold designs to the nurses of the children’s ward that were met with initial reticence. When she sent up models of how the rooms would look, the nurses showed their patients who reacted positively and from that she gained their trust. She took their idea of a blue room for some patients, and with their support the project was a mistake. She continues to collaborate with them by listening to feedback and suggestions from the patients and their families.

Morag Myerscough: The Club Under My House

In the project Club Under My House, Myerscough collaborated with the community and South London Gallery to create a space in which children from the building above could come together to make art. From workshops where children and teenagers drew patterns that were featured on the walls, she learnt that they wanted a space they could dance, sing and perform. Hence, the name of the project.

I could go on about Myerscough amazing projects, however I think that key to her work is her engagement with the communities she creates in and her listening to people informs her work so that it becomes their work too.

Hato and Kellenberger White also have fascinating projects… I haven’t forgotten them but they have sparked ideas that I will go on to reference in later weeks…

Building Blocks of collaboration


A learned, and/or implicit, trust that the people involved have the successful completion of the project as their focus

A Sweet Spot of numbers

Sometimes a project needs greater numbers of people to weigh in to make sure that it is well received, at the same time too many people can cloud the water. I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule of numbers, just experience and numbers!


How the collaborators communicate and how openly they do so can make a break a project

Understanding of practice

Does everyone understand where the other collaborators are coming from, and who the project is really for? Will it work for the intended audience? Are the collaborators the best place to fulfil these roles?

Common Goals

but also skills that complement each others


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Week 4: Critical Research Journal

Weekly Learning Objectives

By the end of this week you should be able to:

  • Research and analyse client / practitioner relationships and the service they provide;
  • Research and analyse the format and structure of a business plan;
  • Write, communicate and deliver a 3,000 word business plan (speculative and personal);


What a scary week. No, seriously. The resource that had the most effect on me was Chris Do’s “The Client is not Your Enemy” video because it broke down how to be a good designer in business.

The reminder that the client is not their to build my own portfolio is definitely a useful tip, as although I don’t think I’ve been guilty in the past, I have felt dismayed when a client has moved away from an idea that I think would showcase my skills to fill a portfolio hole.

Coming in as a designer can give the client a fresh perspective, but to educate their customers on what they will want is insulting, as the client, funnily enough, knows their audience. It’s important to understand the clients’ objective and from their draw a clearly defined goal to work towards.

One pitfall is that of hearing what you want from the client, and that can be avoided by starting as broad as possible and asking questions to filter out possibilities down to the best path, ensuring the face the same direction as the client.

A tool to help narrowing down the possibilities is to ask why three times. I’m definitely going to do that, as I hit a tough point in the business plan.

In a Linkedin Learning course, I found some more useful tips.

What problem am I looking to solve?
Typography is a specialist skill that needs care to ensure that the design of the type does not adversely affect how people absorb the content.

What is my product?
Typesetting books and printed products

SWOT Analysis


How will I reach my market?
Direct with business card and website, and social media posts on Instagram, Twitter and The Dots

Business Plan

There are many different ways to structure a business plan, but they all need to communicate the business idea to a client, investor or an outside party. The common parts seem to be:

  • Executive Summary: an overview, succinct description of the business that shows what the document contains
  • Details of people involved
  • Services provided
  • Market Segmentation
  • Clients, and examples
  • Marketing strategy
  • Start-up Costs
  • Financials

I did have an original business plan, which you can see here, but I am going to work it into a community based project.


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Week 6: Critical Reflective Journal

To start off this week, I went on a mission to the local library to see what they had on the local area. Here is what I picked up:


I know that Vestry House Museum, a former workhouse in the area, holds a vast archive of local history, and so I have made an appointment to go there next Saturday (it was too late to go yesterday).

Looking through the books that I picked up, I found some interesting information that could go on to form the basis of my article:

  • GDE720Week6
    • 1991 was the year I was born
    • Just kidding – I think I’ll focus on other topics
  • The Bremner car, built in Walthamstow, has been acknowledged to be the first motor car, ever!
  • The Lea Valley, in which Walthamstow is situated, links all the way up to Hertfordshire and is an essential waterway for transport and cargo, and water supply to London. The New River constructed to bring water from Hertfordshire to Islington in London and is sloped at a descent of a few inches per mile to flow water into the capital
  • Sir Alliott Verdon-Roe tested his Avrplane, a triplane, on the Walthamstow Marshes in 1909

Today, I went on a “structured wander” around the area. My first place to visit was  The Mills”, a community centre by St James Street. They have a space for children, sports activities, a lending library, and an exhibition by local artists.

They have a sewing group on Thursdays that I might start to attend so that I can get to know more people in the area.


I picked up a copy of the local paper, the Walthamstow Echo, whose front page covers the maternity cover for the MP Stella Creasey. The area is very artistic, and murals can be seen everywhere, here are some I saw today:

And look at the purple silver sparkly house!


Near my house, the railway bridge has been painted with William Morris-esque patterns by the local primary school, as well as some amazing yarn bombing on the bollards. There’s a soldier, a snowman, a Tardis. I’m not sure if they are associated with the primary school, but they definitely brighten up the area!

Next up was the Pump House Museum. Originally a pump house, obviously, for Thames Water and Sewage, it has been listed and converted into a museum displaying fire brigade history, transport history and local inventions.

The first duplicator for offices was developed in Walthamstow, saving typists hours of time copying documents.


Next up was a walk around the Wetlands. I wanted to go to the Copper Mill Pump House on the Wetlands but it was closed thanks to the storms over the weekend.

Since the development of the water treatment works and the local ordnances to prevent industry polluting the rivers, the Wetlands have been established as a centre to protect and regenerate the wildlife in the area. Look how clean the water is! You can also fish here.

The Wetlands gave me a great view over London…


With the water treatment plant in the foreground, you can see the economic hubs in the background, Isle of Dogs (Canary Wharf) to the left and the City on the right.

I didn’t realise how close Alexandra Palace was either.


This part of London is very suburban, with most buildings being residential or low-rise industrial. So, where tall buildings are developed they are very visible. They are mostly residential blocks built next to the transport stations: Walthamstow, Blackhorse Road and Tottenhale, see the images below:


Following the transport link, the borough is trying to encourage people to cycle more, building Quiet Cycle routes and measuring their usage:


From the research I have done so far, the common themes I have seen are arts and craft and transport, both through the centuries. Why is this? More research will reveal…

Links to follow up:

When and How to Use Ethnographic Research





Week 4: Critical Research Journal

The message from the lecture this week was that as dry as data can seem, we should always approach it as if it is serving an agenda. Data can be added to, subtracted from and cast through a prism, whether social, political or economical. As cynical as this outlook can seem, I think it is smart to approach data with scepticism until its biases can be understood.

An example stands out to me from BA English: the commonly called “Peasant’s Revolt” of 1381 was nothing of the sort. It was orchestrated by small landowners of the countryside to destroy tax records stored within London, helping their subjects who had unfair taxes raised against them in by church and state. The group that came to London to rectify this burned the records of church and state (and maybe the buildings they were contained in) so the records were destroyed and the institutions could not tell who had paid and who had not. The taxes could not be demanded again without further protests and uprisings. Londoners saw the opportunity of disorder to destroy the city indiscriminately, and so the authorities cast the uprisings as the work of poor people from outside London who came to cause trouble, thus vilifying them for centuries to come. Six hundred and thirty years later, when I was learning about the revolts of 1381, people of North London rose up to make a stand about the killing of Mark Duggan by police. UK-wide, the cause was co-opted to cause mayhem and looting.

It is from the biases in data, the gaps, that we can draw our conclusions and use them for storytelling.

The lecture made reference to the Domesday Book, the first record of a country-wide census to ascertain where resources lay and taxes could be levied. Now, the modern census is used to collect data from citizens so that the governments, local and state, can understand its populations. While theoretically a great idea, sometimes the data is not treated as neutrally as it should. For the US Census, there is concern about how the information is going to be used from minority groups, given Trump’s bigoted policies. Advocacy groups don’t want people to become invisible as it could skew the help they receive.

The Washington Post fact-checked Trump’s State of Union address – as he has been known to massage or outright fabricate superlative facts during his presidency. The position of POTUS conveys a certain level of authority and therefore people believe him: because he is in that position, why should they not?

Who’s truth and how is that truth judged?







Week 2: Critical Reflective Journal

This week’s lecture was fascinating!


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Week 2: Critical Research Journal

Ambrose, G (2014) ‘Design Genius. The Ways and Workings of Creative Thinkers’, London, Bloomsbury.

What is the need? (Show forms and ask why they are hard)





tick boxes

Walker Art Centre (2011) Graphic Design: Now in Production.


Similar projects

The back story
Communities have traditionally been defined by geographical borders, but the way we identify community is ever changing. There is a whole host of different types of communities out there. These generally fit under five different headings: interest, action,
place, practice and circumstance.

What’s the challenge?
Language is often strongly engrained in the nature of a community from the language we speak to how and where we communicate. How could this translate across to typography becoming an identifier for community as well? Create a typography-led integrated graphic design campaign that:
• uses type to celebrate a community of your choice (maybe your own?) and showcase what makes it unique
• explores communities beyond the usual expectations. Such as online communities,
those with shared interests, groups trying to bring about change or even communities
brought together by circumstance. It’s up to you.

Who are we talking to?
Those within your chosen community. Those who might not know about your community but want to become a part of it. Or even those who simply have no idea that the community exists.

Things to think about
How to identify uniqueness You’ll need to do your research and be inquisitive. This isn’t about enforcing stereotypes or making assumptions. Explore a fully rounded view of what makes your community different and have a solid understanding as to why.

How to celebrate community
The community you choose should have a positive message. It mustn’t discriminate,
alienate or degrade other communities.

How to find inspiration
Your inspiration can come from anywhere; you just need to sell it. So why look at obvious sources? Consider the typography in the heritage of your community. Or maybe look at things within it that provide stimulation and symbolism?

How to avoid assumptions
Your audience may not already know the community you’ve chosen. How can you
express its essence to someone who’s never encountered it before?
The important stuff
Your campaign must include:
• at least one poster
• at least one digital element
• at least one other touchpoint.
Your touchpoints could be anything: a publication, digital experience, OOH, banners, moving image ads or other online promotions, for instance. Think beyond the obvious but think about what’s relevant to the community – and what would sell
it the best. The more innovative, the better. Show how your output is relevant to your
community alongside your execution. Whatever applications you choose, type must be the major creative expression.
What to submit and how: Read Preparing Your Entries before you get started for full format guidelines – we won’t accept work that doesn’t meet these specs.
Main (essential):
Either a presentation video (max. 2 min) OR JPEG slides (max. 8), showing your solution.
Optional (judges may view this if they wish):
Interactive work (brands websites, apps, etc); physical supporting material; if your mainpiece is JPEGs, you can also submit video (max. 1 min total); if your main piece is video, you can also submit JPEGs (max. 4).




The Journal


Week 1: Critical Reflective Journal


Phillips, P (2004) Creating the perfect design brief: how to manage design for strategic advantage (New York: Allworth Press)

  • Chapter 1: What is a design brief anyway? (Pages 1 – 15)
  • Chapter 3: Essential elements of the design brief. (Pages 28 – 48)
  • Chapter 11: An example of a design brief. (Pages 133 – 141)



Notes and images

Weird and wonderful

This week I went to a talk at the Westminster Reference Library about searching for Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the universe. Led by Peter Doel of UCL, he explained how the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), a 5000 optical fibre multi-object spectrometer mounted on the Mayall telescope, was built and how it will expand our knowledge of how the universe hangs together. On my way out, I spotted some installations by Lizzie Brewer that caught my eye because they use metal type:

There was also a labyrinth constructed out of metal type that I can’t find an online image of, so I need to go back! I thought it could represent difficulties in navigating language and speech.

Week 12: Critical Reflective Journal

Susanna Edwards in conversation with Maziar Raein

How equipped am I? Arghh! I experienced doubt in myself listening to the first part. How much do I know about the history of design to really be able to express it in a new and original way: you have to know the rules in order to break them.

Raein referred to the history of the design industry, saying that previously the tension between commercial and self-initiated work for designers used to be greater, and that created very interesting work, whereas now designers focus on brands and topics that interest them and they feel are making the world better. I wonder if this shift occurred due to the rise of individualism, and people wanting to have a more authentic connect with brands. As connections between designer and brands become more transparent on the internet, the audience expects the designer to follow the creed they design for.

The lecture moved onto craft, and what it now means. To Raein and Edwards, craft has shifted from maintaining tradition to new ways of creating depth of understanding and detail and finding novel uses for the materials around you. By doing this, you can still maintain a respect for the tradition of crafts such as letterpress, but by using it in a new way you can create a shift in understanding.

Raein suggests creating sketchbooks and personal libraries so that a designer is creating constraints on their references and forming their own frameworks. I’ve previously written about sketchbooks and how I need to start compiling one in order to “discover my own sensibilities”. From there, I will hopefully be able to start detecting the edges, as Raein describes, and others’ too.

To look into:

  • Ryan Gander: Loose Associations
  • Bishopsgate Institute
  • John Burgess: Shape of a Pocket

Case Studies

What are the potential future definitions of design practice?

Returning to our case studies! These have been an amazing part of the course because of the range of practitioners being shown and they have different responses, showing the spectrum of the industry.

Manchipp said that the scope of designers is becoming wider, and that we should find exciting starting points rather than getting stuck down too early in decisions as typefaces. This is something I’m really trying to take to heart because my day-to-day job is so detail-orientated, as is my mind, that to zoom out (like in Power of 10) to consider the bigger image first.

In contrast, Winston feels that design is going to focus more on what problems are we as a society going to have, and where is culture going? With the advent of two-hundred-and-eighty character tweets, images, multiple outlets for media and news, our attention is being constantly split. Should designers utilise this and create small bites of design or design projects that consciously go against this and capture more of our audience’s attention?

Regular Practice has found success in ranging across many disciplines from graphic to product design as they see design as becoming much vaguer than before. The ubiquitous use of the internet means that ideas and designs can be transmitted internationally. However, in order to stand out, design has also become more individual for each market and clients appreciate beautiful pieces of well-crafted print that are as much about the process and design as the content.

The overall message from these answers is that we need to diversify our skills, because clients expect us to be multi-talented.

What are the sectors that might change, or need to change?

Each designer answered with a different nuance, but I think it is fair to sum up the responses with the following points:

  • No matter how the design will be released to an audience, it always comes down to connecting with people
  • Through history, it is the ideas that have endured, not the mode: for example, Picasso’s Guernica
  • The expectation is that creatives have many skills and are able to apply them across different media and that they are able to collaborate with many others
  • The industry can create pockets (or silos, or categories) but it is necessary to disrupt these. In doing so, different pockets might be created, so smash those too
  • Clients sometimes listen more because they don’t know either, so treating them like human (? Intro) is essential (of course it is).

Dunne, A. Raby, F., (2013) Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming. Cambridge MA: MIT.

I wanted to look at this book, but couldn’t find a free online source, and the book costs £35 before payday.

TED (2017) Anab Jain: Why We Need to Imagine Different Futures.

What really struck me about Jain’s talk was her decision to not let the future happen her: she wants to make the future. She asks the audience how much do we push decisions to the future, both as individuals and as a society? She is being an active participant in the future by creating tools to bring aspects of possible futures to life.

The first example she used was how she and her company built drones based on how they felt there could be used in the future. For example, the Nightwatchman drone was able to fly over areas and use facial recognition to see who was there, and another was displayed information and advertising. By creating drones, they were able to experiment with how it felt to work alongside them and what it would mean for society: do we want this? Sometimes, the drones and technology went wrong, but this created and answered more questions.

The second example was an apparatus to show air quality in potential future cities so that people could breathe the future air, which was disgusting, and make decisions about the policies we want to enact for the future. A few days before I had been introduced to an AR possibility in a news app, and I thought it could be used to show people the lack of visibility in the air. This takes it to a whole new sensory level!

She’s found that facts are the starting point, but to really engage people a designer needs to create experiences that allow them to connect with the tangible outcomes of their decisions.

Connected projects

Whilst I looking into this week, I found the project called The Game: The Game. Angela Washko created a game to demonstrate the effect that tactics used by so-called pick-up-artists have on women, and how ubiquitous it is to the female experience. Many pick-up-artists use strategies based on video-game strategies, such as perseverance and ‘wearing-down’, and so to use the format as a way to highlight the problem is a stroke of genius. Ultimately, it is supposed to raise awareness of how female-identifying people are approached and targetted by people using such tactics, and how this makes people feel. Joe also pointed out the work by Frederikke Frydenlund at the RCA, which works on a similar level.

Things I want to do in the break

  • Coding and digital languages: I think it’s really important to stay on top of new technologies and languages, especially with coding being taught in schools. People not that much younger than me will have a solid foundation that I need to build up myself to remain innovative and competitive. I’ve been refreshing my CSS skills throughout this module so that I can layout this blog how I want, and once hand-in is completed I want to expand to Java to create kinetic type …
  • Kinetic type: I enjoy typography so I want to make some projects where the type moves to add another element to the project
  • Data visualisation: somewhat connected to the coding skills, and a way to expand my skillset (note to self: start here)
  • After-Effects and Premiere Pro: Get a solid base in the programmes so that I can use them in the future
  • Break things and distort images and type: because in a lot of projects that I admire, the designer has used novel ways to deconstruct and reconstruct elements.

Week 11: Critical Reflective Journal


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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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.


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


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.


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).