Thursday, 31 December 2009

Monday, 28 December 2009

Unexpected Rio . .

Do you know . . . .

How to ask questions
How to listen
How to frame and carry out inquiry and research
How to interpret information and develop critical insights
How to present
How to make mistakes
How to bravely walk away from good ideas
How to design effective communication
How to visualize invisible concepts
How to find relevance in obscure detail
How to use design software
How to facilitate creative change
How to link business capacity with social interests
How to develop and manage projects
How to lead and allow others to lead
How to enjoy the fruits of one’s labour

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Typographic illustration.

Illustration by Sarah J Coleman,

Find more great illustration here

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Massimo said in 1991, and it's still true . . .

Here's to the future.

And the last ten dirty years are here

Massimo Vignelli

The stendig calendar was designed in 1966 and is a classic. it has graced the walls of architects and designers the world over for more than 40 years.

Dimensions: 4x3 feet.

More Massimo

Massimo Vignelli’s Perpetual Wall Calendar (1980) will never be out of date. Made of heavyweight paperboard, this calendar can be used month after month, year after year. The large, bold numbers are easy to read – evidence of Vignelli’s genius with typography – and the white-on-black design makes a simple and clean graphic.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.

“The Bather of Valpincon”

The Louvre Museum is a bit big and intimidating, I've been there many times for days at a time.
When you have a few moments to spare, sometimes it is just possible to see one thing . . . . and yesterday, that one thing was this . . . . another touchstone, and enough to keep me going 'till the next time.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Charles de Gaulle Airport

It's been a few years since I used Charles De Gaulle airport, but one of the nicest things about it, is the startling modernity and purity of the Frutiger typeface.

Beautifully weighted and spaced, clear and modern, it stands out in a sea of dated concrete.

The signage system is unexpected in the way it uses colour . . . . turquoise, cobalt, navy, touches of orange and yellow, it's a homage to the Swiss style, and a work of art.

But, it is the ever reliable, perfect Frutiger that draws your eye, specially designed by Adrian Frutiger for the airport when it was built in 1968, and still a bit of a gem.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Roland Barthes meets Cheryl Richmond

Roland Barthes, in his essay 'The Third meaning' approaches a third order of meaning, a communication beyond words, something that is meaning giving, but it cannot be quantified, an obtuse meaning which is significant, generates a visceral response, and elevates the work to the truly meaninful and sublime.

The first order of meaning is the obvious. The second order is symbolic, and the third meaning is not wholly divorced from them. It is difficult to name because, as Barthes states " The third meaning, or obtuse meaning is a signifier without a signified".

So, in relation to the Kaleidoscope banknotes:

First meaning; obvious, RBS logo, though this is not as obvious as it could be, due to the interesting and complex use within the visual treatment, it is not the first thing we see, we are in my opinion taken directly to the third meaning.

Second meaning; symbolic, identifiable symbolism, kaleidoscope, snowflake . . . intruiging, but
there is still a communication beyond that.

Third meaning; obtuse/significant. No tangible signifiers are there . . . . but, they are there . . . optimism, multiculturalism, inclusion, diversity, a far reaching influence, and more . . . all the things a modern nation and a bank trying to re-build itself need to say . . . with no words involved whatsoever.

Whether you meant it or not, it is a striking example of this communication/ semiotics theory.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Kate Moross

"If you would like to pop any thing in to post to me - I love mail swaps and will be happy to exchange goodies".

As said by Kate Moross on the front page of her website . . . . I think she's getting a diary . . .

Make something cool every day . . . .

And Mark Weaver, the very best at that is here

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Ahhh . . . . George

Biddy Mason, time and place

Find the path of stars here

Sheila Levrant De Bretteville

Find out more about Sheila Levrant De Bretteville here

What would happen if . . . . .

Bruce Mau met the Boyle Family?

Bob and Roberta Smith

Find out more about Bob and Roberta here

The Boyle Family . . . Art that is true at the time.

Tidal Series, the same spot on Camber sands represented over seven days 1969.

What is interesting about the Boyle Family is how they choose what to include in each of the series. Each section of work consists of a square of ground which is cast on the spot of a particular location. The way they decide upon a spot is fascinating, they would display a map of the world on a wall and visitors would then be blindfolded and be asked to throw a dart at the map. Wherever the dart landed is where they would undertake their next piece of artwork.
They attempt to present a slice of reality as they found it at the moment of selection, and as the world is always changing, so their work will never be a permanent and accurate representation of the world in which we live…but it was true at the time. . . . . no words, yet supergraphics nonetheless.

Find out more here

Second Year.

My second year typography class will soon have all their typographic 2010 diaries published, and up for sale on LULU. Some are up already, and the rest will be there in the coming week.
If you are looking for a diary, and would like something original, I will be posting more info about them here soon, and we will be having a little exhibition when we have all the published copies back. Useful, original and delightful . . . well done guys, I'm kinda proud of you . . .

Lots of lovely things to read about typography.

Find them here

Jonothan Hoefler&Tobias Frere-Jones

Loving Tungsten, find it here


This is an interesting blog, I particularly like the Neutra Face video on the first page.

MacUser typography issue designed by Research Studios 2001.
From Graphic Design for the 21st Century by Charlotte & Peter Fiell.

Tord Boontje

I shall be buying this as a Christmas present to myself . . .
Get it here

And find out more about the inspiring Tord here

What does Neville Brody do now?

Find out here
and here


This has always been one of my favourite places, The Rothko room at Tate Modern.
It used to be in Tate Britain, and when a student in London, I used to sit in it .. . . . a lot.

The paintings seep into your soul, their power brings out different feelings in the viewer, according to your mood . . . but the experience is always special, it's kind of like Supergraphics without any type or words, a communication which relies totally on mood.
There is a lot going on in that room, but you are always singled out for attention by each canvas.

Read more here

Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg 1925-2008.

Once in New York, I visited a friend who moved art for a living. He was really busy that day, and said I should come with him to pick up a painting, so we could talk in the van.
The painting was one by Robert Rauschenberg, and we turned up at his studio to get it.
His work has influenced me greatly, he has been one of the most important figures in my education and life, needless to say, those few unexpected moments in his studio remain one of the highlights.

Caspar David Friedrich

Now I'm not one for German Romanticism, god forbid . . give me a great big slab of modern painting any day, Rauschenberg in particular, but the two paintings above have always been a kind of touchstone for me. The first . . The Abbey in the Oakwood was painted in Dresden in 1810, and in many ways visually predicts the terrible fate of that city in World War 2. Look at photographs after the bombing and see what I mean, I include one here above, but there are many more.
The second, The Monk by the Sea, is just simple and calming, and offers a certain solace to all who see it.

Find them in the National gallery in Berlin.

Derrida and Deconstruction

Find it here

A good piece of writing. . .

Find it here

There is much to discuss around this topic, especially if you have just been immersed in
identity projects, hope you have time to comment . . .

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Bruce again . . .

If you youtube Bruce Mau, you will find lots of interesting videos, some silly, some nuggets of joy and enlightenment . . .


Words in Freedom

Find out more about Futurism here


"Come to the edge," he said. They said, "We are afraid." "Come to the edge," he said. They come. He pushed them and they flew.

Guillaume Appolinaire, french poet, symbolist, futurist.

Why Bruce Mau?

I think the reason I have started with Bruce is because, he is a graphic designer, he utilises an interdisciplinary approach, and he looks beyond boundaries to global solutions, which are responsible and sustainable.

Designers care

This is not always a good thing, and can, in fact, be annoying. Designers obsess so much about their work that it’s a wonder they ever let any finished project out the door. And they’re just as tough on everyone else’s work. As I discovered, if you let designers read what you’ve written about them in advance, they will try to finesse every word. They can’t help but notice all the imperfections in the world around them, even when they ought to have other things on their minds. (Once, when Michael Graves was in the midst of a medical crisis, he reportedly said from his hospital gurney, “I don’t want to die here—it’s too ugly!”)

But if it’s true that designers sometimes care about things that don’t matter, it’s also true they care about things that do: sustainability, homeless shelters, better hospital rooms, better voting ballots, mortgages that can be understood, prisons that actually might be livable, social services that actually might work. Designers are tackling all of these challenges and more, and they’re not doing it for the money—because the money is in making the next iPhone. They’re doing it, I think, because they can’t help noticing that things around them are more imperfect than ever these days. And because they can’t stop themselves from stupidly asking, “Why?” and “What if?”

From Aiga

All about Bruce . .

Find out here
Find a few thoughts here

Was Cameron once Bruce?

Living in an Urban World: how do designers and architects collaborate?

Living in an Urban World How do designers and architects collaborate? Architects and graphic designers have long records of working together. Many large architectural firms offer environmental graphic design services through their own in-house design teams. Some firms, such as Pentagram, or Ideo, are actually confederations of integrated design disciplines. Clearly, as one examines professional practices, it is evident that boundaries between professional territories are slowly dissolving, mutating and being reinvented. If technology is the great instigator behind this design revolution, then the city itself is the arena where this is all being played out. The city is the stage for human interaction, cultural production and the communication of meaning. New definitions for the delivery of design services need to be understood in the context of the urban environment. Commenting on the synergy between designed architectural form and the vernacular urban environment, architect Robert Venturi proclaimed with customary bravado in a June 2000 interview: “Remember, it’s not about Space any more, it’s about Communication. A bas [down with] Space and Structure of then; viva Symbolism and Iconography of now!” This challenge to the architectural profession reads as an open invitation to forge new alliances with other design professionals. And that is precisely what is happening. So, where in our urban environment can we find some new examples of this kind of collaboration? On a recent trip to Seattle, I visited the newly constructed Seattle Public Library, by architect Rem Koolhaas with graphic designer, Bruce Mau. Something new is in the air: and it is not simply the effect of celebrity architecture, spun off from the mother of building-magnets, Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum at Bilbao. One senses something more profound, more rousing: this building—both from the outside and within—is making a rhetorical statement about the public sphere. As a public library, and particularly one that it is situated in civic-minded Seattle, this building seems to be truly public. Twenty minutes before the doors opened one morning, there were line-ups of all sorts of people—tourists, children, parents, professionals and people that might otherwise have spent their day sitting on a sidewalk outside of a McDonald’s. How does the building exert this pull? Sited on a steep slope, the building envelope, which is sheathed uniformly in a diagonal mesh of steel, unfolds like origami in surprising geometries, as it adapts to the topography. Inside, the building seems to speak. Koolhaas’ ideas about the 21st century library are evident in the formal elements; Mau gives them a bold flourish. The discrete library functions are evident as distinct tableaux, floor plates that float in the open atrium. Mau identifies each with supergraphics in futura bold, embedded in the architectural finishes. With terms like “living room,” and “mixing chamber,” we are seeing the evidence of a fruitful collaboration between architect and communicator. The terms themselves telegraph a reconceptualized approach as to how one might use the library. The oversized words take on a prominent role in the visual environment: they seem to juxtapose text with image, in a kind of synergy between equals. One of the generative ideas of the building is the “book spiral.” This is where the books are actually stored, the stacks above the open floor plates of browsing and telecommunicating. A neon yellow escalator, lettered with “book spiral” and “reading room,” takes you up. Once you alight from the escalator and start your exploration, you realize that you are participating in the “spiral.” The floors are inclined, ramping like a parking garage. You feel as if you participating not only in the steep site of the building, but in a central idea of the library, book warehousing. You are literally propelled through this image: the dense cluster of books that unloops in a continuous ramp. The call numbers are arrayed on the floor in Mau’s specially designed rubber mats. But a curious things happens on the way down. You get lost. The building, so open and verbal on the way in, now falls silent and cryptic. It fails to communicate an exit strategy. Little improvised flyers, explaining how to exit, are tacked to the walls and attest to the wayfinding puzzle. If anything, this seems to underscore the close collaboration of architect and graphic designer. Finding one’s way in an environment depends on legible spatial form, reinforced by language. We constantly negotiate between these two perceptual domains as we seek our destinations in increasingly complex urban environments. Koolhaas’ and Mau’s collaboration through the earliest stages of the design process is evident throughout the building—until this moment. It is not clear why this is so. Is it because there is an “up” escalator, but no “down” escalator? – a strategy borrowed from the world of retail—or is it a failure of signage? How will this problem—so clearly acknowledged by the flyers—be finally solved? When I pose these questions to Josh Ramus, project architect from Rem Koolhaas’ OMA New York office, he tells me that the design team took a wait-and-see approach to study how people actually navigate from “scale to scale” within the library. The design team has been surprised and delighted to see how clearly the building communicates visually on a broad scale, and that people are able to move easily from domain to domain, level to level. Yet some confusion remains, he acknowledges, in a more micro-scaled context: where am I at this moment in relation to the escalator? In terms of wayfinding, he says, the decision was made early on for the scheme to stay bold, yet simple. “Basically,” he said, “architectural orienting devices are limited to the escalator and elevator. We only wanted to add one more layer beyond that.” Interestingly, this is precisely the layer that has been withheld to date, waiting in the wings as a solution should the post-occupancy evaluation call for it. And it has. What form has this “layer” taken? I contacted Bruce Mau’s studio and spoke with his project designer, Henry Cheung. According to Cheung, this secondary wayfinding system coalesced early in the design process. The primary system, he said, depends on the wordmark as landmark. Cheung refers to these wordmarked spaces as urban typologies. The constant reference point is the urban environment: for example, you navigate from an urban plaza—the reading room, or “mixing chamber” —to a more densely clustered neighbourhood—the “book spiral.” So, closely following this visual logic, Bruce Mau’s team, together with the Rem Koolhaas team, developed a secondary wayfinding system based on the imagery of street signs. This signage system, when installed, will announce itself at the front door. Speaking to both Henry Cheung and Josh Ramus, it is clear that for them at the outset, the generative project was to go back to first principles and deeply understand how one spatializes the search for information. How do you physically navigate the various layers and scales of a goal that can start as a vaguely defined pursuit? Progressively, this pursuit must get clarified and focused in order to retrieve the relevant information—the right book, the right periodical. How does this pursuit play out in concrete form? According to Ramus, studying this process was an important reason to collaborate with Bruce Mau. He says that Rem Koolhaas’ practice is distinguished by its desire for collaboration. They seek out collaborators to work with at the earliest stages of designing—Mau is now a regular, along with 2 by 4 Design. According to Ramus, Mau is a deeply trusted collaborator, able to share and elucidate Koolhaas’ vision. Cheung also testifies that Bruce Mau’s design practice is defined by the etymological meaning of “studio”: studio as a place of study. Together, the design team closely studied the issues of information retrieval in the 21st century, and posed the question this way: what are the physical domains, the spatial scales that assert themselves in between your initial quest for information, and the final retrieval, in the form of a specific number in the Dewey decimal system? As an architect, graphic designer, and educator grappling with these issues of “collaboration,” visiting the Seattle Public Library building was an exhilarating moment for me. It confirmed the fruit of this kind of collaboration. As a design educator, I have been asking this question: how should we educate the next generation of designers to achieve this level of environmental literacy—so they can understand how to even ask the right questions? How can design curriculum keep up with the new synergy between disciplines? Design faculties need to reflect this new plurality in our design universe. Courses need to be designed to help connect these dots. At the York/Sheridan Joint Program in Design, we have developed a course called “Communication in the Urban Environment.” Interestingly, when students register for it, they seem to have no idea what to expect. Is this a course about signage? about buildings? about getting around the cities amid the cacophony of language, in its many forms? It turns out that it is all of these things, yet more. The content of this course is dynamic, yet essential. For designers, the urban setting demands architectural literacy. It also demands a critical user, able to make cultural meaning of form and function. This course is a great platform and context to make critical connections. It reminds students: it’s all about collaboration.
Bruce started this, a place that creates global solutions through design.
It's all postgraduate, maybe some of you will go one day.
Bruce Mau has always been important to me . . .

He is the starting point for the agenda.

The beginning of a discourse . . .

Welcome to U-type-ia, a blog which will form the ideas behind, what will become, my atelier group for fourth year.
I have many thoughts as to what this will be, but at the moment, will simply present my ideas as a series of stimulating thoughts, inspirational work, places, people and discourse.
I will post things from time to time, and you are welcome to comment on, and discuss the material.

In fourth year, students work in groups of about eight people with an atelier leader, who will set the agenda and themes for an area of study which will lead to a major project and dissertation.
In Graphic Design we will aim at the moment to have three such groups.

I will introduce the theme I wish to explore with a series of posts, which over the next six months will become more focused.
Not everything will be in relation to the atelier, some things will be . . . just because I like them.

I hope all students on the course find something of interest here.