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January 5, 2013 - No Comments!

2013 Calender

Most years I get given a calender for the upcoming year by my family for Christmas. With this year the first time for as long as I can remember when that hasn't happened I decided to make my own using photographs from the previous 12 months. Fortunately last year was pretty good, with loads of great shots/memories to choose from - I now just have to plan some equally cool stuff so that I don't get too depressed in 2013 looking back on last years trips.

 

[Download Calender]

December 21, 2012 - 1 comment.

The Young Apprentice Final

Now in its third series, Sir Alan Sugars hunt for a Young Apprentice takes a group of “aspiring moguls which have been selected for their academic flair and burning passion for business” and tests them against each other in a series of tasks.

For their final task, the remaining competitors found themselves in Manchester needing to create a completely new sports brand from scratch. As it was the final all the original contestants came back to help and assist those still left in the competition, and we were asked to help the teams develop and design the core assets for their new brands.

I got the task of looking after one the teams, and this is my experience.

Filming happened over a sunny day at the beginning of August and my team, lead by feisty Maria had opted to go for a cycling brand as they felt that cycling wasn’t deemed very “cool” especially within the 18-30 market. At the beginning of the day before we started shooting, we were very clearly briefed that in no way were we allowed to offer them any advice or guidance and that we were just there to facilitate their ideas. Personally, I would say I don’t think cycling has ever been cooler especially within that age group, there are some great cycle clothing brands out there like Rapha and smaller outfits such as Milltag, style icon Bradley Wiggins had just become the first British man to win the Tour De France the week before, and later that day he was set to win Olympic gold (for the fourth time) in the men’s time trial.

Baring their main strategy maybe not being bang on as far as I was concerned, there is room in the market for a new brand and the way they went about the task when they were with me was quite impressive. They had some decent ideas and concepts and had a good grasp of what they wanted from the session.

It was quite a long day, I arrived at work early having set up the area we recorded in the day before. The contestants were due to arrive at about 10:30 and film outside the building before coming in, being briefed by me and having a couple of hours to brainstorm and design a brand marque and tagline.

Each team got the use of a logo book to help with the brainstorming ideas, a pantone swatch book and a selection of pads, pens and other stationary items.

After initially briefing the contestants to camera, the first half of the filming was pretty quiet for me whilst they brainstormed ideas amongst each other and made some phone calls like they do via speakerphone, which was pretty funny to watch live. Once they had decided on their idea, it was then my job to visualize their sketches help them select colours and typefaces. As none of them had any real knowledge of colours or type, they spent a long time getting hung up the tiny details and arguing over very similar shades of green in the pantone book we had provided! This wasted time later on made it tricky for me when we got word from the printer of minimum stroke width in the design.

They had called their company “CYC”, as in cyc-ling, and wanted the logo to form a bicycle wheel with the second ‘C’ being flipped. I designed quite a delicate wheel with fine spokes emerging from the ‘Y’ which formed the axle in the centre of the wheel, but as I said above, the last minute print spec called for 50% of the spokes to be removed and thickened up considerably which made the final design look a little unrefined and chunkier than I would have liked. However given the time available (about 30 minutes), with a team of indecisive youngsters sitting on my shoulder and a camera crew filming the whole process I’m not sure I could have done much more.

Once the deadline was reached, work stopped and the final design was then fired off to a printer, who was with the other half of the team, and they were going to print the designs onto all the collateral required for their final presentation. The next step was to design a flyer and brand manifesto, before Nick was briefed on animating the logo, which would be used on a digital six sheet and in the final presentation, whilst then Alex artworked all the final files.

It was a pretty full on morning, a great incite into the making of the program and as a fan of the program it was just great to take part. The whole filming process was pretty fun, and by the end of it I was used to having a camera in my face. Fortunately it wasn’t focused on me too often, despite that I have been cringing at thought of watching myself back with every new episode of the series!

It has been pretty tough to keep it a secret since the beginning of August, especially meeting the legend that is Nick Hewer!

If you missed the final, it’s available to watch again on iplayer (for a limited period):
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b016kgww

 

November 13, 2012 - No Comments!

TBWA Building type

During the summer, in downtime we redecorated the agency. Initially the design department and swiftly followed by all the other departments in the agency once they saw what we had achieved.

There where massive clear outs and tidying sessions and St Paul's has been transformed into an even more inspiring workplace. The transformation was finally completed a week ago with the installation of some wall vinyls placed around the building. I designed a couple of pieces, an organic and flowing welcome as you enter the front door and typographic treatment of a famous pangram in the studio.

I'm going to create a proper portfolio page for it all, but I'm still working on a colour version of the pangram statement, but in the meantime here are a couple of snaps.

 

Here are some more shots of the entire agency.

November 8, 2012 - 1 comment.

Re-branding Tesco

Along with most of the people at TBWA\Manchester, my summer was consumed pitching for Tesco. We were up against the great and the good of advertising, beating off competition including JWT, VCCP, McCann Erickson, SapientNitro and WCRS, before finally losing out to W+K..

Now that Wieden & Kennedy's work is starting to see the light of day, I thought I'd share the little case study I put together on the evolution of the Tesco marque, and its possible future evolution. Please bear in mind this was a single afternoons work, and it is nowhere near as comprehensive as the brilliant microsoft rebrand done by Andrew Kim. This is meant as more of an evolution in the style of recent high profile rebrands like Starbucks.

Please click on the images below to enlarge.

As you can see from the page above Tesco's branding early on was quite inconsistent, particularly with the advert from 1924 displaying 'Tesco' in 3 different faces and styles. On the image below from 1946, you can still see serious inconsistancies, with both serifs and sans being used in branding.


A branch of Tesco built inside the Hoover Building in Perivale, London (now a listed building)

As you can see on the above image, since the Tesco has gradually refined the logo over, moving from a slab-serif, with the most recent incarnation from 1996 becoming almost a sans-serif.

However, with Tesco's rapid expansion into many other areas and sectors, the various sub-brands lack a visual consistency and cohesion.

The blue stripes, which are reminiscent of the stripes on a butchers apron, made their debut in the 1980s on Tesco press ads, devised by Lowe Howard-Spink. It was so effective that over time, the bars appeared in other areas until they became a permanent element of the Tesco logo. But they are used differently by different parts of the business which I feel is confusing.

Exploring the best way to make that next refinement of the logo can be seen over the next few images.

Should the number of stripes be reduced, or the size of them modified? Looking at the options below, moving to a completely sans typeface seems like a step too far. Getting the level of compression in x-height right, is also a tricky so as with not enough compression it doesn't look like Tesco, and too much and the logotype just looks squashed. Until actually having a look at it, I hadn't fully appreciated just how squashed it actually is.



In the end, we would recommend to lose the bars completely, as they don't actually represent anything. Black as a colour is then completely lost from the logo, with "every little helps" taking on the Tesco brand blue and thus aligning it closer to the master brand. Further to this "Every little helps" has been upweighted, with extra emphasis being placed on "helps", as this was one the core aspects of the pitch strategy.

Below you can see how this would be applied on an individual basis and across the various sub-brands, with each sector taking a slightly different colour.

 As I said at the beginning, this was only a quick brand overview and would have been great to get to delve deeper into the details and across the huge range of sub-brands. On a another note its interesting to see W+K's take on "every little helps" in their current ads, and how it wasn't too far away from our own.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLPxDZtNMJ0

www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CPs_BnFbqM

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesco
telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/9188573/Every-little-hurts-Tescos-new-budget-brand-lacks-snob-value.html
logos.wikia.com/wiki/Tesco
prweek.com/uk/news/58019/BELOW-THE-LINE-Tesco-checks-its-corporate-branding

August 22, 2012 - No Comments!

Generative drawing fun

I came across revoid.be/codebrush/ a generative drawing experiement earlier today, and got a little bit hooked over lunch.

Its pretty simple, there are 4 different brushes and several colour options. Drawing is quite intuitive, the faster you move your cursor the larger the brush stroke. It does take a little working out, but after a while you can drawing with an idea of the outcome, although at first glance it looks entirely random.

And at the end, you can watch your drawing redraw itself.

Looking into it a bit more know whilst writing this, and seeing as its done in html5/css3  and javascript I see it works on mobile devices and supports multi touch as well, although I've not tried it on my iphone.

Gwen Vanhee has done a great job and its well worth a little play.  Here is what I came up with:

December 20, 2011 - 1 comment.

Lego Production Factory in Billund, Denmark

1239 Lego Production Factory in Billund, Denmark

Minifigure heads on the Lego production line in Billund, Denmark, where two million Lego pieces are made every hour. This machine, one of several similar ones in the factory, can paint different expressions on each side of the heads.

2117 Lego Production Factory in Billund, Denmark

The Billund factory’s ‘Cathedral’ warehouse, which is ‘manned’ by eight robots and 15 automatic cranes.

393 Lego Production Factory in Billund, Denmark

Minifigures are assembled on the production line.

480 Lego Production Factory in Billund, Denmark

Left: The Toy Story characters; and a virtual Buzz Lightyear – the lines in the background indicate brick size.

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Lego heads in the painting machine.

663 Lego Production Factory in Billund, Denmark

One of the 12 production ‘legs’ in the factory – the finished Lego pieces are stored in the Cathedral.

753 Lego Production Factory in Billund, Denmark

Left: A large minifigure welcomes visitors to the ‘Idea House’; and completed products on display.

(I think the photography is by Alex Howe?)
via designyoutrust.com

November 29, 2011 - No Comments!

Sexy, Simple Sony: The TR-1825 Radio

It's quite a feat of industrial design to produce something in 1970 that still looks contemporary 41 years later. Sony handily achieved that feat with their TR-1825 radio, a modernist cube that you slid open to expose the speaker on the front face while simultaneously revealing the controls up top.

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Sony Design's History page states,
"Released in 1970, when Sony had become the first Japanese company to list shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Sliding the faces on this cubic radio reveals a speaker in front and controls on top, a unique design at the time. One version of its packaging commemorates the World Expo in Osaka, held in March that year, and many expo-goers picked up the radio as a gift"

October 12, 2011 - No Comments!

A reason to go to Blackpool?

For me, the most interesting thing about the Comedy Carpet (one of the UK’s biggest ever pieces of public art which opened yesterday), is the typography and its actual production.

Collaborative artist, Gordon Young was inspired and supported in researching the content for the carpet by Blackpool-based comedy expert, Barry Band and historian and writer Graham Mccann, and on the typography and layout by graphic designer Andy Altmann of why not associates.


image: blackpool council

Production
Five years in the making: one of the most complex pieces of public art ever commissioned at first sight, the comedy carpet looks as if the text is painted, but in fact each of the 160,000+ letters has been individually cut from 30mm solid granite or cobalt blue concrete, arranged into over 300 slabs and then cast into high quality, gleaming white concrete panels. The letters range in size from a  few centimetres to over a metre so viewers can enjoy it both close up and from the  glass viewing platform in the blackpool tower eye.

The scale and incredibly complex nature of the work meant that comedy carpet team even had to set up its own bespoke studio to make the artwork. after several months of research with input from chemists and engineers the comedy carpet team devised new techniques and recipes for production including a special mix to produce the hardest and whitest of concrete and the perfect blue that won’t fade. The process of making each of the 320 slabs involved many complex stages from cutting, sorting, fettling, and laying out each of the letters, to a 3-stage casting process, curing, trimming, grinding and polishing. and that’s before it was transported to Blackpool for the installation on the headland.


gordon young selects letters for a part of the comedy carpet
image: blackpool council


image: blackpool council


image: blackpool council


image: blackpool council


section of the 'carpet' being cleaned
image: bbc


image: bbc


image: bbc

Created as part of the major regeneration of the promenade, the comedy carpet was commissioned by blackpool council, with part of a £4m grant from cabe’s seachange programme. catchphrases, jokes and songs from more than a 1000 comedians are now immortalised in concrete and granite artwork which is situated at the foot of  blackpool tower.

Artist Gordon Young has been working in the public realm for over 20 years creating pieces that mine rich seams of social history, engage communities and extend the relationships between art and architecture. at the heart of all gordon’s young’s work is language - words that entice, fascinate and on the comedy carpet, amuse.  titter ye not, just like that, oooo-er matron, nudge, nudge wink, wink, oh betty! suit you sir, yeah but no but, what’s on the stick vic? , in the comedy carpet young has created a giant 'giggle map' immortalising the UK’s favourite comedians and comic writers fromthe hey day of music hall to 21st century stand up.

August 9, 2011 - No Comments!

Whimsical products made by The.

A selection of cool, random and cleverly designed products from New York based product designers, The.

Anti-theft lunch bags
Stop those bullys at school/work nicking your sandwiches!

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Framed objects

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Walls notebook
Walls Notebook is a notebook / sketchbook that features 80 pictures of "clean" NYC walls instead of blank pages. Write, draw, paste, or doodle on these inspirational backdrops. You'll be one step closer to being the street artist you've always wanted to be … minus the jail time.

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Stacked cups
What appears to be two or three cups nestled within each other is actually only one cup.

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Speak-er

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thinkofthe.com