Testing, testing…

December 12th, 2017   •   No Comments   

Print. Press ‘go’ and wait for delivery? Far from it… For this year’s studio book, which is the first in a planned series developed from Lydia’s commuter drawings, before any work on layout there’s been materials and format research, dummy-making and discussion with printers. Then as part of layout, more testing and mocking up to check that format and page progression works with the story. And at proof stage, test binding. Then we say “go”.

From pamphlet to case

November 8th, 2017   •   No Comments   

Designers train – for longer than clients often realise (four years, to first degree level). Then, if we’re lucky, we spend a few years in the design equivalent of Michelin-starred kitchens, having stuff thrown back at us. After that, if we’re even luckier, pretty much every project teaches us something. But there are things we want to learn too, for personal projects, to go beyond the level of knowledge needed for studio practice or in this case, both. Lydia has spent four Saturdays at London Centre for Book Arts putting herself through a succession of its bookbinding workshops. Run by bookbinders who really know their stuff, these are interesting not just for the craft skills they teach but in that they’re highly-focused. The process is the absolute opposite of largely screen-based work on multiple projects with constant digital interruption. It requires the sort of sustained concentration that modern working and social life has trained us out of. The output is the better for it. Slow design – now there’s a thought…

& another thing…

October 18th, 2017   •   No Comments   

Ampersands. They’re fascinating outliers of the alphabet. David Bowen from Bowen Craggs & Co persuaded Lydia to do a Nerd Nite* talk about them. Lydia had designed the company’s identity, which features an ampersand [you can see it here], so it was reasonable to assume that she knew a lot. But apart from the capacity to pore over ampersands for hours while working on projects, she turned out to know one thing. Which turned out to be wrong… So she’s been on a voyage of nerdery to find out everything she wished she did know.

The search has included a wonderful chat with Dave Farey, who used to cut letters for Letraset, visits to St. Bride Printing Library and London Centre for Book Arts and a virtual view from the top of Ampersand Mountain. The result has been a hurtle through a history as twisty and turny as the character itself, with a few random facts thrown in. There was a challenge too: in the days when Letraset, a system of dry transfer lettering, was used for visuals, one of the many hand skills that designers needed was the ability to cobble letters together to make other letters when they had run out of the characters they needed. Lydia’s question to Dave Farey was whether he’d ever seen anyone make an ampersand. He hadn’t – so he threw down the gauntlet to have a go.

Lydia is the first graphic designer to have spoken at Nerd Nite. Her fellow nerds on the night were Catherine Webb talking about badass female creatures and Claudia Clopath on memory.

*Nerd Nite is a evening of people talking about all sorts of interesting things, to an audience of clever people, with beer, held once a month at the Backyard Comedy Club in Bethnal Green. And it’s for charity. Be there and be square.

 

 

 

 

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.

Seen

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.