Observations. Ideas. Passing thoughts. Likes and gripes. The following blog is something of a random visual and written notebook brought to you by totalcontent. We’ll be covering a wide range of topics, from words and writing, to typography and technology, graphics and popular culture, music and lyrics… and much more besides. Hope it tickles your fancy and feel free to have your say.
pack to the future.
I was judging ‘Writing for Design’ at D&AD earlier in the week (more of that later when the results are made public). As part of the entertainment laid on the night before, us judgy-types were invited along to the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising
in Notting Hill. If you’re in the environs with a half hour to spare, and you’re in the mood for a whiff of nostalgia, it’s certainly worth a quick browse.
Tucked away in a corner mews, MoBPaA is home to a regiment of glass cabinets housing countless pieces of old packaging carefully arranged in date order. Being of a certain age, the 1970s and 1980s stuff had most resonance. I found it refreshingly direct, without the trills and swirls of the older stuff, or the show-off 3D rendering and glitzy metallic foils of today’s computer-fuelled graphics. The no-nonsense bright orange 70s Crunchie packaging with its punchy sans type was a particular favourite.
What was really curious, however, was seeing these everyday, disposable objects treated with such awe and reverence. We can’t deny that the Curly Wurly wrapper or Branston Pickle jar represents a small part of our heritage, but it’s only a small step away from regarding supermarkets as contemporary art galleries. That Andy Warhol was on to something.
having the last word.
Yesterday in the Swedenborg Hall, Holborn, a thorny debate raged long into the night. It was the latest 26
event ‘Words and Design – The Best of Enemies’, and around 80 people showed up to hear design luminaries Malcolm Garrett
, Jonathan Barnbrook
and Simon Esterson
discuss how the visual and the verbal joust and jostle, and how they might become better friends in the future. The questions were ably put by Patrick Burgoyne
, editor of Creative Review, and there was healthy contribution from the floor.
I’d organised the do, and roped my old mates into doing it. Considering the event was rather ‘organic’, and no-one quite knew what to expect, the conversation was remarkably free flowing, touching on everything from building closer relationships, to the old advertising model, to standards in education. Catching up informally at the Old Crown afterwards was a real pleasure too. Many thanks to everyone involved.
ticking all the boxes.
Big thumbs up (or should that be tick?) for big Mark Farrow
’s latest collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys
. Mark has been designing PSB’s sleeves for over 20 years to a consistently wonderful standard. His great talent is that he always knows when to stop. The irresistible cover artwork for ‘Yes’ reflects the pop sensibility of the new CD, and was influenced by the Gerhard Richter 4900
exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, which featured panels of brightly coloured squares. The central tick image is made up of eleven differently coloured squares, one for each track on the album.
Now the burning question is, would this have been better without the title and artist top left, or would that just have been gratuitous?
top of the crops.
, fellow board director and founder of 26, has a new book out. It’s called ‘Twenty-six Ways of Looking at a BlackBerry: How to Let Writing Release the Creativity of Your Brand’
, and explores different approaches to business writing.
Basically, John has taken a piece of generic corporate writing – the ‘base text’, and rewritten it in 26 different ways, each following a particular constraint. For example, as a fairy story; without using the letter ‘e’; written in the style of Dickens; as a letter to a friend; as a six word story; as a sonnet. It’s surprising just how revealing this exercise can be.
There’s also an engaging themed web site to promote the book, where John has asked 26 of the UK’s leading commercial writers to write in the tone of voice of a fruit. I chose banana
, for its obvious comic potential, and created a laid back, West Indian tone of voice. You can see my efforts, and check out the other fruity offerings here
marking a milestone.
Thursday was Podge
, the annual lunch for movers and shakers of the design industry, organised by Phil Jones
, the man with the fattest address book in London. But this was no ordinary Podge… the whole shebang had been put together to celebrate Lynda Relph-Knight
’s 20 years at the helm of Design Week. Deep in the bowels of the Arts Club in Piccadilly, I was delighted to find myself on the top table, next to Sir John Sorrell
and opposite one of my big heroes, Sir Peter Blake
. And fittingly enough, the place had been decked out as a homage to Sgt Pepper, inspired by the line ‘It was twenty years ago today’.
As usual, Podge was a chance to catch up with friends old and new, to do a welcome spot of networking, and enjoy a couple of drinks in top company. For me the moment of the day was talking to Nick Bell
, now visiting professor of graphic design at Royal College of Art, who reminded me of a comment I’d made in an article about him many years ago. “You said my sock drawer was probably immaculate… and the thing is, you were right.”
As a Design Week columnist, I’d been asked to write a small tribute to Lynda, which was printed on the Podge menu. Here’s what it said…
“Feisty, friendly, formidable… but enough about me. Over the past 20 years, Lynda has become part of our lives, supporting us (always), cajoling us (where necessary), telling it like it is. She’s never less than honest in her opinions, and has our best interests at heart, collectively and individually. What’s more, she’s a great friend and drinking companion. We’re all lucky to have Lynda around.”