Tag Archives: design

London Design and Anti Design Festivals 2010…

LDF at V&A

Last Friday I had a chance to visit London Design Festival and after last year’s good timing and awesome events my expectations were rather high. And truthfully, this time was different: horrible weather, bad ankle resulting in limping, and not many great inspirational moments.

I don’t wish to go on about everything I saw, but to pick out some of the memorable bits (you can also check more photos on my Flickr page):

A dark room with cabinets displaying objects, all pure white. Next to the cabinets, stories related to the objects building a saga of a fictional mixed background family. (I Cling to Virtue at V&A)

Miniature design doll house, magical, it can hold your gaze for hours.

The printed guide had no maps! You can stuff pages with advertising but not bother with a map. Pffft.

Stumbling through a door way into Anti Design Festival headquarters, and managing to get a free ticket to the afternoon talk Renewal & Strategy to Destroy and Rebuild featuring designer celebrities and their pals and some interesting artists.

“There’s  no such thing as grown ups, we’re just winging it because we have to.”
– Gerald Laing

Adrian Shaugnessy getting excited about magical Wales and praising young designers’ will to do social design projects instead of clamoring to be the next Neville Brody…

Shaugnessy’s realistic insights – we all need to make a living but it’s not an excuse to do something different either.

Peter Kennard’s vivid reminders of the simple power of image. His Cafe of Equivalents is a truly inspiring project: it made people rethink the value of money and the value of their earnings, and provided a space for discussion. A project worth looking up.

“The middle is not a great place to be” – Stuart Semple on the danger of the homogeneous middle

Barnbrook’s shifty nature not being allowed to talk about his work – felt like he was talking to students – again.

Brody being ripped into with criticism about “all talk no action plan” by a gentleman, watching Brody slither around responses.

Anti Design Festival space showing work by maestros and students alike, side by side on the walls without captions – interesting.

Hel Yes! Design and food from Helsinki

Hel Yes! warehouse converted into a hangout/ café/ restaurant/ discussion space, Finnish brunch to warm my soul, free coffee, use of wood branches to create tables connecting us back into nature.

Ok Do! talk Borderlands highlighting increased collaboration with co-creators and resource providers. “Friendship as an important catalyst for collaboration” – still resonates strongly within me, like a warm fuzzy feeling that tells me there is truth in those words.

Spotting parallels and common themes that have been popping up in recent workshops and events I have attended:

  • the need to embrace and explore collaboration and co-creation
  • engaging with society and the citizens living in it – inclusive design
  • the title “designer” losing its gravity and significance: we fall under different roles more and more
  • embracing technology to create future possibilities for participation, freedom of speech, debate, co-creation and strengthening networks for knowledge sharing

That’s it folks, tried to keep this short and hopefully shared some interesting observations. Please do share comments and thoughts.

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Do I have to paint you a picture?

In February I was asked to design the programme for Do I have to paint you a picture?, an international Polaroid exhibition and symposium. The brainchild of photographer Sam Perry, the exhibition and symposium had a good timing now that theoriginal Polaroid film is no longer being manufactured.*

This was one of those projects I can honestly say I enjoyed working on very much. Our meetings took place in a relaxed but productive atmosphere at an arts centre café/bar, usually over a coffee or a glass of wine. We had great conversations about the meaning of Polaroid and its unfortunate demise – and this shared interest formed the foundation for a good client-designer relationship. I actually saw myself as more of a consultant, advisor and collaborator in this project, which made the project run smoothly and the client feel more at ease. The more I work on freelance projects directly with a client, the I more I realise the importance of really listening to your client.

It was fantastic to take part in the symposium, listen to some inspiring talks by Polaroid photographer artists, researchers and journalists, and feel the shared connection in the space. Mark Arkless, a Welsh photographer with a passion for Polaroid, mentioned how the slowly disappearing Polaroid film stock has forced many photographers slow down and think through their process a bit more – the opposite of the effects of digital photography. He also talked about the preciousness and physical nature of Polaroids and how for him the colour variations of the classic SX-70 film express the Welsh concept of hiraeth, a kind of a deep longing for home. A real sense of ownership, care and curiosity was present both in the words of the speakers and the questions of the audience.

I agree with many who say Polaroids work best when they document everyday moments. The unexpected blurs, colour shifts and hues almost mimic the way our memory works – it’s not quite sharp in places and the tone of memories can change over time. For me it’s the size and weight of a Polaroid that makes the physical snapshot of a moment so much more precious – it becomes an object of desire.

*This does not mean the end of instant film – Fuji manufacture a peel-apart type film, and then there are the amazing people behind The Impossible Project who managed to salvage the last Polaroid production plant and who finally have succeeded in producing their own new instant film.

From there to here – update of recent activity

Rewind & Fastforward:

  • Last post in January – good vibes for the year
  • Go to to West Wales for research week on a film
  • Come back from West Wales & commence storyboard drawing (ideas stage)
  • In February, continue drawing for storyboards & characters (starting to lose bits of paper with sketches on)
  • Design the programme for Time Zero Polaroid photography symposium (it turned out very lovely – more on that soon)
  • Do a lot of dancing and busting some groovy moves, and then, at the height of contact improv dancing (it sounded like a good idea), injure my knee in five different ways
  • Get cabin fever after two days of immobilisation (patience building exercise can never hurt?)
  • Continue drawing a lot
  • In March, get back to walking again and realising I have a huge list of stuff to share here.

So, here we are. Lots of interesting little bits to come, here’s a snippet from December. After out improv gig at Chapter, which I mentioned in a previous post, me and the genius of Mr Nic Finch did some improv drawing.

Me and Nic Finch doing improvised drawing

Getting closer... what will become of the story?

Laura drawing lots of fishys.

I’d love to do this more, just unplanned, raw drawing out of the blue (well, the blue of the mind). Here’s the final drawing:

The final drawing

I love Nic’s animal collective! My style is more rough and ready, with pyramid-shaped fish, a crumbling tower with a crazy jazz cats blasting out notes enjoyed by deer, and two fairytale characters having tea. Oh, and Mr Moon with mushrooms growing out of his chin.

And also, I designed a poster for the event with an otter in it. Can’t go wrong.

Poster for Your appointment will be yesterday

Mix and match notebooks

Notebooks

Here are some fruits of the labour from a Saturday afternoon. On one of my usual wanders around the charity shops I started admiring the old hardbacks on the shelf, especially their texture and illustrations. Touching them gave me a real sense of ownership that had left its mark on the pages. I wanted to get these books but not just so that they can sit still on a shelf with their counterparts – they deserved more than that.

I started thinking about how I struggle to keep a notebook. I have several notebooks but none of them are quite… well, mine. And this is why a lot of them get lost or forgotten on table corners in my flat, only half-used. I thought these hardback books would actually be perfect to use for note/sketch book covers as they are sturdy and also because they would be customisable. This is something I’ve found lacking in notebooks too. So I gathered a pile of different types of paper into different combinations, trimmed them, added a couple of rubber bands and voilà! My own personalised notebook.

Notebook detail

I can take out or add pages when I want to without ripping anything and even replace all of the pages if I feel like it. Now I’m actually using the book much more and feel slightly compelled to sketch on its pages. I suppose it was just about making my own creative space in the form of a book to enable creative manifestations.

Them clever designers… snapshot of London Design Festival 09

Last weekend I checked out a selection of events and exhibitions on offer at the London Design Festival.

I like festivals: you are guaranteed to have a selection of visual snippets, tasty (or not so tasty) morsels. I find it rejuvenating to wander around the smaller exhibits, seeing the work of independent and up and coming designers who often have great ideas to show. And all the unexpected discoveries to be made on the way – that’s my kind of day out and about.

My colleagues from Stills went to 100% Design on Thursday, so I decided I would plan to see “all the other stuff” over the weekend. On Friday I started my trek at the Viaduct showroom in Clerkenwell. Their New Modernists exhibition struck a chord with me as I’ve always had a soft spot for simple, clean and clever design.

Lazy Bastard by Bertjan Pot

Lazy Bastard by Bertjan Pot

Now this chair is such a brilliant concept – the name and the product go hand in hand perfectly, and it needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated! It’s like a bean bag with a bit more structure, the adapting cushion making it a pleasure to sink into.

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