Thursday, 24 September 2015

Thinking About (design) Thinking

Shoe tower
Designers with souls!

So begins the new term at West Kent College and this week and my colleague and I have been introducing the new students to aspects of design thinking. We’re keen to stress the importance of thinking and approaches to the design process, trying to reiterate that using a computer as the exclusive means of problem solving is not what design is about. Yes, Google is great and so is Photoshop but so are our brains along with our ability to communicate and it’s these that need exercising as much learning how to make slick designs on a Mac.

We want to demonstrate—or rather have the students demonstrate to themselves—that planning and discussion are essential in design and for them to appreciate the importance of remaining open and receptive to new ideas and to be able to develop the means to explore approaches to thinking and the range of possibilities that such thinking can yield.

This little group activity requires the building of the tallest and most elegant tower of shoes possible. In doing so the participants discuss, build, take down, rebuild, and essentially explore possibilities. It sounds and looks a bit quirky but if it helps students consider that design is about possibilities, communication, interaction and collaboration then maybe they will rapidly appreciate that this unusual activity serves a very meaningful purpose.

And the winner is…

 

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Graphic Design Show 2015 West Kent College (University of Kent)

Another great year for our HE Graphic Design & Illustration students at West Kent College (University of Kent). Well done to all. Here a a few of the works exhibited along with a brochure put together by yours truly.

Brochure Graphics Spread
Click to view document (if using a Flash incompatible device click the PDF version below)

West Kent College offers a range of creative Higher Education courses including Graphic Design validated by the University of Kent (West Kent College):
http://westkent.ac.uk/university-courses-in-kent/he-art-and-design.html
http://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/additional/#!k-college

Images from clockwise:
Hayley Eldridge, Hayley Eldridge, Fred Sirman, Hayley Eldridge, Matt Wyles, Dave Sexton.

 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The Crystal: A model for sustainability (and exhibition design?)

The Cystal 2

Well, this is something of a hidden gem.  I’m not alone in saying I’d never heard of The Crystal. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to says they’ve not heard of it, even those teaching design in London! Having been there I left impressed and feel like spreading the word particularly given that The Crystal is the “World’s largest exhibition dedicated to urban sustainability.”

Having been tipped off by a student who stumbled across it, my teaching colleague and I decided to organise a visit. This striking building in London’s Royal Victoria Dock in east London contains a permanent exhibition about sustainable development. It is owned and operated by Siemens and is an exemplar of sustainability in architecture. The Crystal “is one of the world’s greenest buildings” and it emits an impressive 65% less carbon dioxide than other comparable office buildings and consumes 50% less energy. But as well as being of interest as a model of sustainability part of our reason to visit The Crystal was to see how had been it is designed as an exhibition space and how it was presented in terms of display graphics. The same student who told us about the building mentioned that the exhibition graphics were good and he was right. Typographically the building contained a real mixture of design that the materials and surfaces must have provided the graphic designers with as much pleasure as they did challenges. (These can be seen below.)

The most important thing was that I took something with me when I left. This was both a mixture of hope and a slight dread for the futures of the coming generations. The exhibition was a great way to drive home the importance for planning and anticipation as well as an acute need to reflect upon our needs and our behaviours.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Lettering Workshop with Sean de Burca

Sean_de_Burca_Artwork

Sean de Burca is a former design student of West Kent College (University of Kent) who completed his graphic design degree with us several years ago. Since then Sean has established himself as a designer with a niche angle. As well as being an accomplished musician, producing the artwork for his own albums, Sean is gaining popularity as a designer with other musicians who are appear to want designs with a personal, more organic look rather than a slick, digital feel.

Sean’s work is meticulously crafted and our students had the pleasure of watching Sean deliver a talk and demonstration, during which the students emulated his approach. As someone who is familiar with a number of lettering techniques I can’t recall seeing an approach like this. The process that Sean has created and honed is one that allows him to work at an impressive speed given its intricacies.

Using this tried and tested method of creating lettering guides Sean then builds up his lettering in pencil adding any embellishments as required, and once satisfied with the drawing this is then taken into Illustrator for digital drawing and refining. Lastly the designs are further worked on within Photoshop where he can try a variety of treatments to obtain the right feel for the musician and their music.

It’s always fascinating to observe the subtle nuances of different lettering artists and once the students got to grips with Sean’s method of creating the lettering guides they soon became immersed in creating their own letters. As well as being interesting, some of the students are already considering how they might utilise this technique in their projects.

Sean’s artwork can be seen here.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Typeface Design

Tim typeface design

Recently I was asked by the Interactive Design Institute (IDI) to put together a series of short pieces concerning typography and typeface design. Rather than the series being a ‘how to’, it focuses on aspects for the beginner to consider. These include looking at how established designers approach design; the terminology; seeking inspiration, as well as a brief overview of some of the technologies that are available along with notable texts and resources.

The series can be read here.