A nose for print

April 23rd, 2018   •   No Comments   

The first thing we do with a delivery of file copies is unwrap it and smell…

Fresh ink on paper is a lovely thing (and the best bit about receiving file copies of litho printed work). And it reminds us that design for print is about so much more than layout on a screen. The size of a print item, how it opens, turns or unfolds, its heft or lightness, its texture, the colour of the material, how it’s constructed, how it’s printed… from sensory to behavioural, all of these things are part of how a printed item communicates.

These are file copies of The Clothworker, the latest redesign in a programme of work for City livery company The Clothworkers’ Company.

It’s nice when that happens

March 21st, 2018   •   No Comments   

There’s the stuff you design – and the stuff that happens all by itself but you like it anyway. This set of resources for Shared Assets is saddle-stitched (stapled) so there’s no spine. But stacked, the infographics at the bound edge make a continuing pattern. That’s gone into our visual vault to play with another time…

Studio snowday

March 4th, 2018   •   No Comments   

Snow. At the studio, we’d been looking out of the window, watching how snowflakes behave. But designers can’t hold back from making things and eventually, Lydia had to get out and play. With cookie cutters. So, we give you snowbabies and snow type.

The bits at the edges

February 16th, 2018   •   No Comments   

There’s much to enjoy, to play with and to be inspired by in things that have nothing to do with finished design. Leftovers. Workings. The bits at the edges. These are colour and registration bars at the edge of a magazine proof. We love the incidental type overlap. After all, we once based an entire visual identity on shapes that we’d taken out of a graphic and put to the side…

Five days of looking: Amsterdam

January 3rd, 2018   •   No Comments   

Design minds need feeding. So after the pre-Christmas rush at the studio, it’s been good to look out and look up on a trip to Amsterdam. It started with a desire to revisit the Rijksmuseum post refurb. But there was much else to see: pigments at Rembrandt’s house, a reminder of the playfulness of the Stedelijk, the Festival of Light installations along the canals, the ‘Book Palace’, Amsterdam’s enormous new city library, the remarkable Amsterdam School architecture and design at Het Schip and much else between. More photos on flickr. Drawings from the trip are on Instagram.

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).