Playing with our food

September 8th, 2017   •   No Comments   

Playtime! Well, yes and no… there’s strategy behind the fun in this pro bono ideas shoot for east London community garden Abbey Gardens. The main event of the year is all about food so with people at the heart of community gardening and events key in inviting new people in to the space, we’ve turned the garden’s wooden event cutlery into a family of characters using edible and decorative plants. In a volunteer comms two-hander, these images have been passed to graphic designer Cath French to turn into publicity for the garden’s chilli festival. More on the garden here.

From Å to Ø – design adventures in Aarhus

August 15th, 2017   •   No Comments   

Aarhus (once Århus) in Denmark: it’s one of 2017’s European Capitals of Culture and Lydia has been exploring this friendly, compact city on her week off. There’s lots to see – Lydia is particularly overexcited about Olafur Eliasson’s Your Rainbow Panorama walkway atop the vast ARoS art museum, the Moesgaard Museum built into a hill with its walkable, sculptural roof and the Arne Jacobsen designed town hall. There are the colourful restored frescoes in the cathedral, the greenhouses at the botanical garden, the Venus Envy collage exhibition at the Kvindemuseet and the excellent look at national identity through posters at the poster museum. But walking cities also leaves a trip open for happening on stuff that isn’t on an app or listing… from information staff at the impressive DOKK1 library and community centre, a walking route to and from Ø Haven, a dockland urban garden project in front of The Iceberg housing development (Ø is both an abbreviation for east and a one-letter word meaning island – which, as it’s an island-shaped letter, is very typographically-satisfying), led to another meanwhile space project, Dome of Visions and an event where Lydia picked up a green map of Aarhus. That led to a wander around the Godsbanen creative site and a tiny community growing plot in the middle of a park. Here’s to discovery!

More pictures here and drawings in Lydia’s Instagram feed (scroll down for Aarhus drawings).

Creative workout

July 28th, 2017   •   No Comments   

Our best ideas start with a conversation – throwaway comments over a cup of tea (and in this case, a plate of Tunnock’s teacakes), chatting around what clients have been doing and what they’d like to communicate. Then there’s the conversation we have with ourselves: the tryings-out on paper, the ‘what if’s, the little scraps of folded paper and the experiments. It’s nice to find the thumbnail sketches after a project is finished. There’s the progression from spark of an idea to thought-through basis for design, via everything we test and discard along the way. More on our map for Shared Assets here.

Taking a walk for a line

June 23rd, 2017   •   No Comments   

It’s a busy time of year at the studio – but London is also alive with creative fairs and degree shows. So it’s important to make time to be inspired, catch up with friends and colleagues who are teaching and publishing, make connections and at Ravensbourne, where Lydia has done some sessional tutoring on its graphics Foundation, follow up on students’ work. Pictured clockwise from top left: the lovely Round Chapel in Clapton, host to ELCAF (East London Comic Arts Fair); the Epsom graphic design degree show off Brick Lane, a mirrored communication piece by one of the Ravensbourne Foundation students and type grown in petri dishes at the Ravensbourne BA graphics show.

Ink on paper

May 17th, 2017   •   No Comments   

At one end, design is all about finding the right visual language for a story; at the other it’s staying with a project until the delivery is done. In print, how the end product feels is a big part of how it communicates. An organisation with heritage and craft at its heart needs heft, texture and a format that’s more book than document. In production, that takes care – from dummy to samples to proof to print. We breathe out when the job’s done. More on our annual review for The Clothworkers’ Company and The Clothworkers’ Foundation here.


April 24th, 2017   •   No Comments   

Screens are marvellous but getting out and looking at things is as important for building knowledge, getting some inspiration and stocking up the inner image library. So, striding out and about in April, we have:

A very large T in Dungeness (a navigation aid, some research revealed)
The extraordinary Two Temple Place, visited for the Sussex Modernists exhibition
The view from the Tate Modern Switch House after the launch of Sarah Hyndman’s book How to Draw Type and Influence People
A tile in a listed east London pie ‘n’ mash shop turned Chinese restaurant
A rosemary beetle, marvelled-at through a clip-on phone macro lens
A last view of a soon-to-be-demolished crane in Rotherhithe

Next up – well, who knows? Random wanderings are a joy and with the studio move to Haggerston, there’s a whole new creative neighbourhood to explore…



On paper

March 31st, 2017   •   No Comments   

Notebooks are a lovely thing. Even if the handwriting in them might as well be Klingon when it comes to transcribing notes if it’s left too late, writing them can be done while listening and the odd drawn thought can join the words. And writing ideas on paper slows the process down usefully: if an idea is there, real, on a page but not slick on a screen, it has a flexibility that helps turn it into a better idea with a little more time. So, on a Friday blogpost, here’s to slow design.

Welcome to my world

February 18th, 2017   •   No Comments   

When you’re starting out, design seems like something you ‘do’. But an update talk on my work for Foundation graphics students at Ravensbourne has shown that being a designer is a different kettle of fish altogether.

The first slide illustrates a typical studio week. Some projects, I can’t talk about because they haven’t launched yet or there’s a press embargo. Some are coming in as finished work to photograph for the website. Some are at ideas and presentation stage. There’s page planning and materials selection for print. There’s testing for web projects. There are proposals to write. Projects are scheduled for clients. There’s the colour-coded masterplan that I use to keep track of all of the studio projects. There’s production to check, in print and online. There’s advice to give on clients’ in-house projects. And there are meetings – over coffee (the coffee on the slide has eyes, made by a suitably-technical machine at a space project meeting) and, on a good day, cake.

The second slide has personal projects – exploration without the constraints of a client brief. My daily drawings on my commute are me getting my eye in, like a dancer doing class. They started as a challenge to do a drawing a day until my studio book, This is shorthand, about drawing as part of my practice, had to go to press – and they just kept going. Playing with overhead pictures of my sketchbooks gave me the idea for Stuff, a book in celebration of equipment and materials.

The third slide is just two weeks’-worth of visual exploring, at the Whitechapel gallery, the Fashion & Textile Museum, White Cube Bermondsey, and walking the canals and creative neighbourhoods of east London. Good ideas come from a well-fed mind.

Old string, new toy

February 9th, 2017   •   No Comments   

In design, playtime is a serious business. It’s where we explore, experiment and think outside the constraints of ‘doing’. That fearlessness can and should find its way back into the work. So, one woman, a macro phone lens and some string: time well spent between the official tasks of the day.

Creative adventures in Lisbon

January 1st, 2017   •   No Comments   

For us, good design practice includes getting away from a screen. It’s how we recharge our creative batteries, get inspired and discover new ways of looking at things. Lisbon is a wonderfully-rich city of design, filled with pattern on pavements and walls, alive with history and with new creative spirit. And among all the form and pattern, there’s type – on shopfronts, on packaging, on street art and on tiles. This is a snapshot; there’s (much) more on the trip’s creative adventures here.