Monday, 31 August 2009

British Design...Stamp size.

I recently recieved a letter, and it was the stamp which caught my attention. I did a bit of internet digging and found that it belonged to a collection of stamps released by the Royal Mail in January this year featuring British design classics. The stamps commemorate ten different icons of British design, giving a nostalgic and patriotic overview of Britain, both stereotypical (the bus and the mini) and innovative and fresh ( the chair and Concorde). Most of these designs originate mainly from the 1930's and 1960's, this is perhaps because a design can not become an instant classic, and these certainly stand the test of time. I love the nostalgic feel of these stamps, and it certainly makes you reflect on what classic design might consist of, and what makes it stand out. I also love the way a country can be summed up quite sucsincley in 10 images, imagine the list they started out with. It leaves my wondering how simple images could sum up other things, the area I live in, my favorite place, my friends, my life? This seems like an interesting way to look at things,10 images to create a country. I can say I have never been a stamp collector before, but these might be worth the £4.40

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

What is Glamour?

I found this video on the Guardian website, it is, I suppose research, done by Guardian photographer Christian Sinbaldi, in conjunction with Age Concern Camden. This reminded me of one of the D&AD briefs last year, about what is wealth and what is poverty, and the different ways these things could be viewed. It shares many of the same values of this Guardian project and interestingly that both projects were photographic, perhaps some things are too complex to explain away in a tangle of words. Sometimes it can be true that an image is worth a thousand words, and even though this video has an audio element to it, I feel that it is the images that are most striking. Here it strikes me that the difference between glamour and beauty, (though it could be looked on as age), has far more to do with respect. If you have respect for yourself, respect from others and respect for others then you are glamorous. If you are selfish though aesthetically pleasing you may be beautiful. Beautiful people see it in themselves where as glamorous people are seen in another’s eyes.http://http//

Rachel Goodyear

Rachel Goodyear Graduated in Fine Art from Leeds Met in 2000, since then she has become a very successful illustrator, illustrating numerous publications, such as The Drawing Book. However Goodyear’s drawings are somewhat uncomfortable to look at, challenging your perceptions of what your feel is both acceptable and normal. This ability to enable to viewer to question their own experiences is perhaps what makes her such a successful and interesting illustrator.

“Nothing is at home in these works, as if the world had been tapped lightly and everything had stumbled into unfamiliar positions” Dave Beech, review of We Will Cancel Your Membership and You Will Owe Us Nothing, Untitled Magazine, # 35, Summer 2005.

It is always good to be reminded that to catch someone’s attention it is sometimes necessary to step outside both their and your comfort zone, and to challenge beliefs that you may hold with regards to both design and the wider world.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Crawley Library

Recently Why Not Associates were commissioned with creating a piece of work to stand in Crawley Library, in collaboration with Gordon Young from Crawley Library they developed these typographic tree columns. The columns now stand at various points within the library seemingly growing up through the building. I think this is an excellent example of situation and design working together. The trees seem to be an almost too perfect instalment in the library, almost as if books are growing, already written and simply ready to be chopped down and read. I think this is a lovely sentiment, that the library, that literature is alive and growing. It gives an organic feel to what many people may feel is some rich authors job, or a stuffy old book. It also however brings the magic of books alive and one could imagine these creations growing in many of the fairy tales stood on the shelves.

The typography, is amazing, with a different font and style on each tree, like a different species. The craftsmanship is beautiful, another testament to hand rendering over computers in something such as this, stories are so personal, it is nice, even if it is not the case that the trees look hand carved. It also reminded me that typography can be used over almost any surface and to think of it on a flat piece of paper is a shame. I am always amazed at what can be created simply with typography.

Why not associated who created these are a design company with a global reach and they have created some other fantastic pieces of work. There website is well worth a look.http://http//

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Timorous Beasties

The name Timorous Beasties comes from the Robert Burns Poem ‘To a Mouse’ (Pronounced moose).
Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim'rous beastie,
O, what panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!...
This Glaswegian design studio was set up in 1990 by Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons, who met while studying textile design at the Glasgow School of Art. Since its founding Timorous Beasties has been known for its controversial and provocative work with textiles. Working from tradition textiles through to wallpaper design the work produced is always cotemporary and the company is ever expanding, this now includes a London show room.

Timorous Beasties has defined itself by its style. Once being described as “William Morris on acid”. This is perhaps due to the deceptive nature of the designs, on first glance you would be excused for thinking nothing more of them than an early 19th century design. However on closer inspection a contemporary and somewhat horrific vision of Glasgow is depicted, including, of course crack addicts and prostitutes. This contemporary style also incorporates social and political issues. These designs make a statement about who you are when they are decoratively hanging for your wall, and therefore have a very personal and emotive feel. The fabrics are also hand printed on a variety of different materials, giving a richer quality to the work, in my opinion and something hand made always seems of more quality than something churned out by a machine. I really like this textile design company, staying true to their Scottish ruits from their name down to the incredible designs they produce. This apparently is evident to others as the latest endeavour for this team was to create the brochure for the Edinburgh festival, which can be viewed at

Awful Books

This is a Blog started by librarians in order to encourage other libraries to weed out such out dated and often useless possibly offensive books. An admirable cause, educating populations with up to date literature. However I find this blog far more about cultural shifts, what was acceptable and no longer is. The graphics are also really interesting paired with the comical titles, it is an amusing reminder about how much design and culture has evolved.http://http// I urge you to view this blog an pick your best title. Mine is ' Problems of Death', surley as the blog points out, the main and most obvious problem with death is that you are dead.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Call on me?

Recently, with the media telling me I am either a fat slob or an obsessive fitness freak to the point of an eating disorder. I decided I, probably falling in the middle, had better pick a team. I weighed up my options and picked B, the fitness freak. Well, perhaps freak is a tad extreme. This resulted in me going to step aerobics twice a week at my local lesuire centre.

It struck me last night, as I stood lunging and watching the collection of other exasperated women, all stood in front of a huge mirror- what I can only assume to be some sort of sick joke. The symmetry however, was inspiring. Not wanting to be the only odd bobbing head was even motivational. I am not suprised this inspired the idelogical images of exersise featured in such videos as Eric Prydz 'Call on me'.

This however, was not my reality. I had been duped by the media. Sold the advertisers ideal. Something as a designer . I should be more aware of.

Monday, 10 August 2009

The Princess Bride

The 1987 Princess Bride directed by Ron Reiner, staring Cady Elwes, Mandy Patinkin and Chirs Sarandon is truly a feel good film. The plot is simple and deliberately clique. It begins with a Grandfather reading to his grandson, the book…’The Princess Bride’. A tale of love and adventure where our damsel in distress, Buttercup is kidnapped and forced to marry the villain Prince Humperdink. There is only one hope for out Buttercup. Westley, her childhood love, who Buttercup assumes dead, captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts.

A twist comes however a predictable one, when Westley returns under the guise of the Dread Pirate Roberts. As Westley begins his quest to save his one true love he meets a brilliant swords man and a giant. These characters we could not be without in any fairytale. As presumed these foes become companions and the trio form a firm friendship.

Clearly not a modern film, the special effects are poor, quick sand and fire breathing rats being my particular favourite. However I feel this adds to its charm, a film where the effects are secondary to the witty writing and loveable characters. The Princess Bride is clique to the point of satire and evokes a sense of humour while still giving the fuzzy feeling that every fairy tale should. This extends so far as the protagonists riding away, yes, into the sunset on white horses. The characters are humorous and developed well, with added catch phrases “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

You must watch this watch this film with a pinch of salt, expect the standard fairy tale scenarios and, of course a happy ending. But this is the beauty of the film, it would be wonderful if life was actually like this, and with so many harsh gritty films out there now, intended to shock and appal. It is truly a pleasure to relax into this happy world, though watch for the deeper levels of humour. "He's not completley dead, only mostly dead. And we can save someone who is only mostly dead".

Thursday, 6 August 2009


Three of the same socks, one packet. You have to loose to two to have an odd one…Genius. For someone who often wears odd socks this seems like an excellent idea. And if you are the type of secretly rebellious person who likes to wear odd socks to feel a personal victory over the conventions of society. Well there’s an option for you too… but two packs and match the odd ones…you win again. And the marketing is brilliant…
3 socks for when you lose one
3 socks for the price of two
3 socks last longer than two
This is brilliant, so logical…how can you argue?

Obama...a joke?

Posters of Obama with the jokers face (form Batman), in particular Heath Ledgers latest creepiest version have recently been plastered around Los Angeles and other parts of America. Using street art as their medium the widely unknown ‘artists’ have chosen to attack Barrack Obama. This is a wise use of the medium and directly conflicts with the street art by Shepard Fairey which was widely popular during Obama’s election campaign. This, no matter what the agenda of the people who created this, is a striking image. This is because of the juxtaposing images places directly on top of each other. Firstly Obama, whose images, mainly due to his election campaign represent something strong, powerful, reliable and safe. Secondly, the joker’s face, associated with menace, chaos and fear. By superimposing one on top of another we are asked to question each image, for what we really know of it, in this case Obama. Though this image does not seem strong enough to combat the iconic status that Fairey’s image has propelled Obama to, and the general public of America still on the whole idolise their new president.

The guardian, accuses this image of being racist, minstrel like, though in reverse. And though I can see the connection in the visual styles I feel this is more of a political attack, through a cleverly used medium, though perhaps with a rather crude image.

Monday, 3 August 2009

The Suits

Very recently I have become a member of the working world (I’m currently on a months work placement). On the way to work I have noticed that I have become one of the faceless masses, driving or walking to work. Shirts and ties and smartness, everybody avoiding eye contact, seemingly robotic. This, I admit intimidated me greatly for a couple of days, all these suits, people who must be powerful and important and far more knowledgeable than me. Though this changed on my third day as I gradually noticed the more endearing and human qualities of ‘the suits’, firstly, they all carry a packed lunch. Whether in bags or briefcases or in a plastic bag which barley hides the distinctive shape of a Tupperware box (these people are my favourite,) they openly show what the rest of us are hiding. That we made our lunches, and that we planned our day around the food we shall eat, sometimes we get excited. Sometimes if it’s Friday, we will bring a treat. The basic human need for food reminded me of the human in all the suits, maybe I do not have the knowledge yet, or perhaps never will. But the slim sign that everyone takes in their Tupperware, their banana and a sandwich, whatever. It gives me hope.

Pepsi RAW

Pepsi has recently launched the latest of its products Pepsi RAW. Named so as Pepsi claims it to be “natural born cola”, a concept which is alien to me as I can’t wrap my head around cola being natural, is the whole point of it not to be artificial, to be sweet, to be fizzy and to be fun. Not to be natural, water is natural, water is boring. Pepsi is neither natural nor boring. Though a “sparkling cola drink with natural plane extracts” edges towards a more mature market, a business man at his desk, not the usual teen playing football. Pepsi is perhaps venturing into this market with the RAW range being its first new product in 10 years. The advertising is certainly aimed at a more mature audience with distinct sexual undertones, a obvious link to the ‘raw’ and ‘natural’ key themes of the product.

The packaging harks back to a simpler time for cola, a sleek glass bottle, a simple logo. It is classic and elegant; the six packs come in almost brown paper. I really like this packaging, it is touchable it is wholesome, I wanted to buy it. Even though, dare I say it, my preference for Coca Cola.

Do you believe in unicorns?

An article in the Guardian recently caught my imagination, though it was about Britain’s first atheist camp, the religious or non religious nature did not concern me. I was far more interested in how children were encouraged to think about the possibilities of the world. They were asked to prove that a unicorn didn’t exist, though given the conditions that you couldn’t see hear touch or smell these creatures and that they don’t leave any trace behind them… Not surprisingly no one has managed to disprove the existence of these mythical creatures.

Some people argue that the “meaning” behind unicorns which were woven into 15th Century tapestries has been lost. But I say does that matter? The eternal reinvention by imagination means that unicorns could be one of a million things, but this is surely the excitement. Some people like to live in the present, in the realms of what they can see and touch.

“Is it not enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom?” – The God Delusion

Interestingly enough another atheist source, but I say no, its not enough. Every body can see the garden, many can appreciate how beautiful it is but few can believe that there are fairies at the bottom. This imagination is what makes the world exciting, it what makes us strive to prove that unicorns exist.