We trundled over to Conway Hall in Holborn on Saturday for Interesting 2008, a conference kind of thing organised by the lovely Russell Davies.
This is the second year for the conference, and it's a loose gathering of people who are interested in seeing short talks by interesting people. It's all very lo-fi and collaborative (they even let you play with the logo - that's our remix of it up above), and as a result it's about a hundred times better than a normal conference. If you're familiar with the Pecha Kucha events, then it's a bit like that, but with less exacting time restraints.
The audience is fusion of geeks and designers, so it's getting a stack of coverage on the blogs. You can get a full run-down of the event on Roo Reynolds' site, which also has lots of links to other blog coverage, as well as various bits on Flickr.
We made our way over to the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith last night for what has to be the most shambolic talk we've ever been to. (And we've been to a typography talk by Erik Spiekermann where none of the fonts on his PDF presentation loaded up. Actually... that was worse. But it's a close run thing.)
The talk, by David Carson, was supposed to be about his new book, but he hasn't quite finished it, so instead the talk was a pretty standard retrospective of his work.
Carson came across pretty much as you'd expect: laid-back and amiable. But he also came across as if he'd never presented before, which just isn't the case, and felt a tad disingenuous. He operated his Mac as if it were an alien device - he was unsure of any key commands, or how to create a spread PDF rather than single pages, and acted as if using the slideshow function was some magical mystery. He's been working on computers for a fair while now - can he really be so unfamiliar with them? Or is it just part of the Carson persona?
Either way, he assured us that he wasn't really a computer kind of guy, and that the meat of his presentation would be on two carousels of slides.
Unfortunately, neither of those worked. They cluttered and stammered their way through his selection of slides, jamming, repeating, freezing, and in the end actually spitting his work out onto the floor. Everyone's a critic, eh?
It meant that things went slowly, with the talk clocking in at two and a half hours; for a fair percentage of the audience, this was just too much, and there was a steady flow of people out of the auditorium as the talk wound on and on.
The content of his talk was a few bits and bobs of new stuff, and a stack of the old stuff, as well as a smattering of found graphics and personal photographs. He showed his recent work for Bark (shown above), which was quieter than his old work, and perhaps better for it.
He also showed the various presentations (six so far, and counting) he's done for the upcoming identity for the Salvador Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida. Get this: in each presentation he'd show the clients up to thirty different variations of a logo. Staggering.
All in all we didn't dislike the talk as much as some of the audience, and there were some bits we gleaned in amongst the chaos:
Magazines are good as they give you room to experiment in public
When you're using a freelancer, your job is to hire someone good, then get out of the way and let them get on with it
Be open to accidents, but just because something is an accident, don't assume it's good
Carson's dad was a test pilot, and it used to be a career with a 58% mortality rate
Anyway, as we mentioned up top, Carson is in the process of putting together his new book, The Rules of Grafik (sic) Design, and he'd like you to drop him an email. He'd like to know what your personal rules are for graphic design - not the ones you learned at college, but the ones you've created for yourself during your work as a designer.
Um, perhaps we might suggest: Make sure your presentation equipment works?
First up we checked out the MA Communication Design show at the Mall Galleries, and then the BA Graphic Design exhibition at the Bargehouse (just behind the OXO Tower on the Southbank).
Both shows were really professional, and had some great bits of work, including Yukinori Motoya's Japanese Icons series, pictured above. The BA show extends across three floors of the Bargehouse, which is a simply fantastic space.
Check out Alistair's pick of his favourites from each show over on this Flickr set. There are some weblinks with each image, though only a few of the students have got their stuff together on them so far.
The folks over at Adbusters are asking just that question, with the One Flag brief, inviting designers to submit designs for a flag to embody the idea of global citizenship - essentially, a flag for planet Earth.
The competition deadline is 1 December 2008, so you've got plenty of time to think really, really hard about this one. You can even enter in groups. The judging panel is a pretty top notch bunch: Jonathan Barnbrook, Michael Bierut, Vince Frost, Steven Heller, Kalle Lasn, Rick Poynor and Dmitri Siegel; and the winning entry will actually go into production.
It's always felt a bit like book cover design sits toward the back of the class when it comes to the attention it gets from the design industry. But recently books have been stepping back into the limelight, thanks to a few really stunning bits of design, such as this science fiction series from Gollancz.
The weighty tome Fully Booked from Gestalten taps into this revived interest in book design. Edited by Robert Klanten and Matthias Hübner, the book is divided into two sections, one dealing with book covers (and we get to show off here, as it includes the Great Ideas series we contributed to), the other with artists' books. The two sections start at either end of the book, so you have to turn it upside down to switch from one section to the other. Ironically, we're not totally convinced by this bit of design (we keep opening the wrong section of the book), but the contents are really wonderful (if a bit light on background information), and provide a great showcase of where book design is at right now.
They're from Steven Hill's rather spectacular online collection of movie title screens. He's compiled a catalogue of over five thousand different titles, and they're a brilliant record of typographic stylings through the years. Definitely worth a browse.
One of the great things about being a designer is getting to work with fantastically talented people, be they illustrators, photographers, printers, or heck, even clients.
We recently got the chance to work on a book cover with one of our favourite illustrators, the magnificently talented Tom Gauld.
The book is the paperback version of the international bestseller Wikinomics. It's an in-depth analysis of the ways people and companies are using the web to collaborate in dazzling and revolutionary ways, and is really worth a read.
We gave Tom a thumbnail sketch of an idea for the cover, where lots of people group together to make up the title of the book, and asked him to make it better.
We're dead chuffed with the results.
The godfather of grunge graphics and dirty type, David Carson, hits London in a couple of weeks to showcase his new book, The Rules of Graphic Design. He's going to be talking at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith on Wednesday 18 June at 6pm, and tickets are £25 (£15 for concessions).
In the mid-nineties, David Carson was the very definition of graphic design, with The End of Print from 1995 and 2nd Sight from 1997; so it'll be interesting to see what he's been up to for the past decade.
The image above is a screengrab of his desktop, from the Quark promo site ilovedesign (which explains the absence of Adobe icons in Carson's dock...).
We've been getting a stack of hits from an image posted on ffffound, but it links our front page rather than to the specific post that features the image. So if you have come here from ffffound, and you're looking for the beardy guy floating in mid-air just, you'll find him just here.