Greg Quinton promised a string of pearls for his D&AD North Lecture, which took place in Manchester. Being a Creative Partner at The Partners, and a D&AD Black Pencil winner, Greg was more than qualified to share his secrets of success and also those of The Partners, who are ranked No. 1 in just about every design ranking there is. There were 10 key points of creative success which Greg discussed:
No 1. Have a totally unattainable goal
The Partners wanted to be the best agency in the world, which is an impossible task. Despite this unattainable goal, it has given the agency a focus- something to work towards.
No 2. IDEAS
No 3. Less (strategy) is more
No 4. Don’t be cool
“Are you a styles person or an ideas person?” Design problems can truly be solved through ideas and good design, not through hollow stylistic application.
No 5. Fail
“Failure is good. celebrate and enjoy the failures”
No 6. Make a difference
No 7. Love good clients
No 8. Work damn hard
No 9. Change
Seek to constantly reinvent yourself. A designer is not an artist. A designer is a conduit to solving a problem
No 10. Create the future
Do work that makes you scared and pushes you out of your comfort zone. Work with weird people who want to make weird stuff!
•on February 28th, 2011
The Brit Insurance Designs Awards, “the Oscars of the design world,” showcases the work of international designers across seven categories: architecture, fashion, furniture, graphics, interactive, product and transport. I wandered over to the Design Museum in London, to view the best of the best. These were some of the nominations which caught my eye:
Forsman & Bodenfors‘ designed Ikea’s ‘Homemade is best’ recipe book, which also won in the Award’s Graphics category. The focus on the minimalistic, even artistic arrangement of the raw ingredients makes a refreshing change to the completed culinary masterpiece.
Photo: Carl Kleiner
‘I Wonder’ by Marian Bantjes impressed me with it’s vector-based ornate gilding throughout the book.
Irma Boom: Biography in Books. This incredibly small compendium is typical of Irma’s desire to push the limits of publishing to their extreme.
‘Playing with Lego bricks and paper’, designed by Muji. This excited me incredibly- bringing both childhood joys of lego and papercraft together into one delightful package.
Tape Installation: Numen / For Use. A much smaller maquette of their tape-constructed installations was displayed at the Design Museum. The actual size of their works are large enough and sturdy enough to allow people to crawl through their suspended playhouses.
Photo: Numen / For Use
This was an interesting and beautifully animated motion piece for Coalition of the Willing, Directed and Produced by Knife Party. An engaging approach to solving the global warming issue through open-source collaboration.http://www.vimeo.com/12772935
•on November 19th, 2010
This was my first Liverpool Design Festival I’ve attended in the stunning St. George’s Hall. There were over 90 contemporary design makers showcasing their works. These were some of the ones which caught my eye:
Rebecca Gouldson’s Metal Wall pieces- beautiful etching and detail.
Hannah Lobley’s unique recycled Paper Art.
Rethinkthings, founded by Ilsa Parry (winner of BBC’s Design for Life with Phillippe Starck) and their inventive design products.
Creatives, Research, Studios
•on March 7th, 2010
Mike Dempsey, has worked as a graphic designer for over 40 years. He founded the design consultancy CDT in 1979 and has created everything from stamps to film title sequences and editorial design to visual identities. He is a writer, photographer, broadcaster, painter, blogger and studied acting at the Method Studio London. Mike has won ten D&AD Silvers and a Gold and was elected a member of Alliance Graphic International, was President of D&AD and past Master of The Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry. He left CDT at the end of 2007 to form Studio Dempsey which he describes as “an intimate space to dream and create.”
This is what he had to say:
The Graphic Artist and His Design Problems by Josef Müller Brockmann
“I want to personally promote something which I love”. One of his passions are music and it was because of this, he did work for the London Chamber Orchestra for very little money.
Mike only works with two typefaces: Akzidenz-Grotesk and Baskerville
12 words to help you grow on your journey
1. Look. If you really look, turning off your brain, then new solutions pop-up from non-obvious solutions.
2. Read. Read the copy you’re given.
3. Ideas. Ideas endure. Styles fade.
4. History. Absorb everything. The richer your experience, the richer your work will be.
5. Passion. It’s infectious. Transmit it to your clients.
7. No. Always push if at first your idea or proposal gets rejected.
8. Rules. Learn rules before you break them.
9. Words. Don’t just think visually. Words are just as fruitful.
10. Voice. Your voice is an instrument to not underestimate. Try to talk directly to your client and not through various business filters.
11. Ego. The industry is filled with it.
12. Rejection. Learn from it.
•on March 7th, 2010
After a heavily Northern influence with Monday’s talks, it was SomeOne’s turn to return things back to the capital’s heavy influence with this London-based studio who command respect, with clients such as O2, London 2012 and the Royal Opera House. Theirs was most probably the most controversial of all the talks at the conference, declaring that “Logos are dead”. I happen to agree with this statement and SomeOne’s reasons for this proclamation are listed below. What I have been unable to do, up until now, was define what logos have been replaced with. SomeOne coins it as ‘brand worlds’. No longer are logos replicated and regurgitated on every piece of corporate merchandise and stationary. A ‘brand world’ such as O2’s recognisable bubbles and colour, offer a much more immersive experience, portraying the ethos of a company in a superior manner than a singular, static image.
This is what Simon Manchipp, Gary Holt and David Law of SomeOne had to say:
Google say don’t be evil. We say don’t be boring.
The Engineers Project Triangle:
Clients will say ‘we want a D&AD winner. We need it tomorrow and we don’t have any money.’ A client can pick any two of the items in the triangle they want in their design work. They can’t have all three.
1. Upside down processes. Try to have more time with the client at the initial stages. Usually, the client filters the brief through various administrative levels, thereby diluting the ability to ascertain what is actually required.
2. Branding is a business. Know that business and do your homework which is never wasted. Know the competitors. Know what keeps the CEO up at night.
3. Be creative everywhere. Sometimes a client won’t have money until after they start up. You can still make some sort of agreement with them with a fee, equity or exchange.
SomeOne was also involved in the set up of ‘Planetary Skin‘, which can be thought of as a nervous system, covering the entire planet and providing a research and development platform for open collaboration between the public, private, academic and NGO sectors. It will collect data from space, airborne, maritime, terrestrial and people-based sensor networks and other sources of structured and unstructured data. It will model, predict, analyse and report in a standardised usable format over an open and adaptable cloud platform that is governed as a global public-good. This has practical applications such as Cisco and NASA providing live updates, showing feeds of deforestation and melting ice caps.
Logos are dead
The public hate them
The press hate them
The staff hate them
Businesses hate them
The internet hates them
‘Brand worlds‘ are more interesting.
If you face adversity in convincing your clients about this, speak to them in business terms (the language they understand), talking about the benefits of ‘brand worlds’ eg. cheaper printing costs.
•on March 7th, 2010
David Kester was appointed Chief Executive of the Design Council in May 2003. He has refocused the organisation as the national strategic body for design, leading central government policies and regional programmes that strengthen competitiveness, drive innovation and support growth in the creative economy.
This was of particular interest to myself as I have subscribed to the Design Council’s podcasts on iTunes and have found their work and efforts to be highly informative from a business/political perspective as they seek to influence design change on a massive scale. Of particular interest to me was design change in the NHS. New hygienic chairs and commodes have been on show at the Design Museum in response to the ‘Design out bugs’ challenge which hospitals are currently facing. These chairs are easier to clean, being made of very few parts, which are easy to replace. David stated that the designers of these chairs receive payment for each chair made because they are the copyright owners. He also stated that this payment was “rightly so”. I disagree with this. I do believe that designers should be rewarded for their work, as any good Capitalist should; but when these designs have the effect of changing peoples’ lives in a massive way, even saving lives, should their designs be produced for profit? Cameron Sinclair, cofounder of Architecture for Humanity, a nonprofit organisation that helps architects apply their skills to humanitarian efforts offers innovative solutions to housing problems in all corners of the globe. What is most impressive about their work is that any architectural designs uploaded to their site is then made open-source, so that anyone has the ability to build a shelter, without the need to seek permission first, thus saving lives. If this model were transferred to all public/health sectors, in which designers were working collaboratively for the public good, and their works made open-source, what effect could this have on design ability to help save lives?
This aside, David’s talk was fuelled by his obvious passion and enthusiasm. These are some notes from his talk:
Designers are more observant than other groups.
The UK has the largest design industry in Europe.
‘poly’ – meaning many
‘tic’ – meaning blood-sucking leaches!
Biggest employers in the world are:
1. Chinese military
2. Indian rail
When design is used right from the beginning of the problem, that’s when it is used smartly.
Optimistic (we make things better)
Change by Design by Tim Brown
•on March 6th, 2010
Thoughtful are a small studio, made up of founders Chris Jeffreys, James Graham and Stuart Price, who were previously Senior Creatives at The Chase. They were the first to kick off the lectures on Monday and were undoubtedly the best prepared of any 4 Designers talk which I’ve attended. Their presentation involved interviews with design greats such as Paula Scher, Michael Wolff and Adrian Shaughnessy amongst others. They are a huge inspiration to me personally. All of their immaculately considered works contain the ‘wow’ factor and their passion for their work is infectious. It was this same passion and thinking which was transferred to their impressively fresh presentation. They stayed well away from self-appraising slide shows from their own portfolio and stuck to a highly informative talk, collecting materials and wisdom from a multiplicity of sources.
Two of the trio, Stuart and Chris, were able to come give the presentation. James made a comedy appearance via a live Skype call, which brought the house down. They kicked off their time by sharing their inspirations:
The Mill logo
Daniel Eatock’s Alarm Dance
‘Free Kick’ by David Beckham
Orange Peel- it is one of the greatest pieces of packaging!
Stanley Kubrick- he has the ability of directing work being the best of every genre
United Visual Artists
Droga 5- they make you think
Oasis – their sheer self-believe and sometimes arrogance
Money box hammer
Interview with Patrick Baglee
“It’s better to be interested than interesting”
“You cannot not communicate”. Everything you do describes your work. The way you describe your ideas, the way you sit, all of this will communicate something about you to your employer.
Interview with Paula Scher
“Respect and admire the work of your entry level job… it is a place where you can really learn something. If you don’t then it’s real a waste of time.”
“Money is irrelevant very early. “
“Find a place to work that will offer you the broadest learning experience so that you can grow.”
“Be around people you can learn from.”
“Don’t assume that everything you do this point will affect the rest of your life. You can make mistakes.”
Only work with the best- even if it means you don’t get paid.
Interview with Greg Quinton
“Persistence is the thing that a lot of people don’t think of as a skill that they need to have, but as a graduate you’ve got to put yourself in the place of the people you’re talking to because they’re busy. What’s going to keep you in their mind? How are you going to keep in touch with them so that they will remember you? Because no matter how good you are, they will forget you unless you are persistent. You’ve got to earn it.”
You must earn the right to do great work. With the example Thoughtful used to pitch for Howies, they informed Howies via email that they would send them an idea every day for 365 days to get a job. Eventually they did.
Interview with Jonathan Baldwin
“Design and education is about making connections from one thing to another.”
“British Universities are the best in the world. Take an interest in everything. Go to talks and lectures. Talk to students in other departments. Never ask ‘what does this have to do with design?’ Ask how could design be involved in this?”
Interview with Michael Wolff
“Meet, collaborate and learn from people. I’m looking for people who I can learn from. I’m attracted to people who have a massive inquisitiveness.”
Interview with Adrian Shaugnessy
“Just be open-minded. Be prepared to learn. The day you graduate is the day you start all over again.”
“I’m more interested in the designer sitting in front of me than their work.”
Interview with James Corazzo
“Don’t give up. Design is a broad church and there will be a niche somewhere. If you don’t give up you will get a job in the creative industry.”
“Never never never give up” – Churchill
Interview with Michael Johnson
“I’m looking for ideas, followed by more ideas, followed by great ideas hot on their heels”
“Be prepared to do placements and internships. Have a good .pdf under 5 MB and a click-through website”
Always remember to say thank you.
•on March 6th, 2010
This was my third and final opportunity to attend the 4 Designers Conference in London. The event, held this year on 22-23 Feb, heralded one of the best collection of speakers and talks from the design world yet. Each year the line-up seems to improve and it is definitely one of the most exciting and inspiring trips of the academic year. Thank you to Patrick Baglee, founder of the annual 4 Designers Conference for constantly surpassing himself each year and for his dedication in educating and helping design students. He is one of the most genuine and nice people I have ever met in the industry and I hope that he continues to astound and inspire students for many years to come.
•on November 6th, 2009
Swathed in a guru-orange scarf and fresh back from a trip to India, a Crocs-wearing Michael Wolff urged an audience of students and professional designers to address ‘real’ issues instead of ‘window dressing’. The lecture, which in Wolff-style, was quite natural and informal, capped the Liverpool Design Symposium, which took place at John Moores University’s Art & Design Academy in Liverpool.
Although he opened the lecture with a caveat not to take him at his word, Wolff later opined that “annual reports are such bullsh*t, really.” Office architecture also came in for criticism for being “ludicrously aggressive.”
He also slammed his former branding consultancy Wolff Olins, saying “the group’s boldness has turned to arrogance, which has not a trace of humility in it.”
He proposed service design in the NHS and care for the elderly as worthy subjects for today’s designers to tackle.
“Branding a city is like attempting to eat a dinosaur”, said Michael Wolff at last night’s D&AD President’s Lecture in Liverpool.
“Whether the word ‘London’ is written in Helvetica or the logo has Dick Whittington in, it will not have much bearing on how people actually think of, and experience, the city,” he said, referring to plans to create an identity for London.
“Branding is an illusion of an easy win for cities, without actually making them any better to live in.”
“More than the recession, the interesting thing about our times is the business crisis, because we are having to ask “what is business for and are we dealing properly with the big issues in our culture?”
•on October 10th, 2009
After the great success and debate instigated from last year’s Design Symposium in Liverpool, The D&AD are again holding another one with a great line up of speakers and workshops throughout the day, with Michael Wolff headlining. Every opportunity like this is relished when it is not met with the disappointment that a Design Conference or seminar is to be held in London, so a symposium for the ‘Northerners’ in Liverpool should be a real treat. Last year’s Symposium was excellent with great talks by Matt Pyke and Bruno Maag. In fact I was excited to see myself on one of their photos on their website! (Middle of the picture above, sitting in the row behind the front). Consider my places booked.
A full line up and details can be found on their website.