Several months ago we called Brendan McKnight – the new editor of desktop magazine, with the idea of the studio guest editing an issue of desktop magazine. Two days later Brendan called us back and offered the 25th Anniversary issue.
In contemporary times print publishing is under increasing pressure to fund publication production as readership and advertising dollars fragments and spread thin across print, digital and sponsorship media. The budget for bringing such a specialised category together every month is a case of working with shoe strings, sows ear, making, improvising, being in tune with and utilising opportunity as it happens.
In mid March the project started with a three hour meeting where we explored ideas and mapped of what could be end up being editorial pieces. We were convinced that this issue would be better served the reader by creating a snap shot of 2011 rather dipping into the past. The content plan we developed explored aspects of contemporary design and creativity today, illustrated through the stories and ideas of a range a designers in all stages, places and moments of the their careers – genders, ages, arty practices to commercial studios, educators to students. We wanted to explore the bigger stories of design practice, rather than showcase the latest hot looking job or designer.
During the months that passed some narratives remained the same, while others were realised on the run – which is typical of the process of the how our studio produces work; some projects are worked out in the briefing meeting and some ideas are in the processor for weeks, months.
The idea of the issue being a time capsule of ink and paper came to Andrew on the train ride home on the day of the half day workshop. A late night message left on Brendan’s voice mail raving – time capsules and the shifting notion of the physical capsule object, eventually ended up with an idea that was present yet absent.
In terms of people mix we did our best to present a diverse group of people. We contrasted the world famous with the emerging, art based designers with highly successful commercial operators, designers who make images compared with designers who make forms, designers born in Australia and abroad, designers who are work in studios, in education, business owners, working abroad, employees to being in between jobs, women and men who across a range of age groups from as many corners of Australia as we could muster – Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney to Hobart.
The project brought with it many great side projects, an extraordinary piece of student research, an exhibition of printed matter, an investigation of love projects, a company that works with time, an essay asking if the brand is dead? A snap shot of six designers and their head spaces circa 2011, a 20 years pursuit of alternative type design and insights from designers explore a favourite project to an object devised to create a instant and lasting impression, and impressions on Australian design.
The cover was shot by Lynton Crabb in Andrew’s front yard on a crisp winter’s morning. Out of the hole floats a plume or cluster of idea bubbles leaking for our freshly buried capsule – which was illustrated by Andrew. The streaking type on cover is in silver anniversary grey, we chose the font Chicago because of it being one of the first system fonts used by early Macintosh computers. Chicago is also an awkward, ugly font that needs a regular airing. The bubbles creeping into the masthead breaks the style rules of Desktop’s masthead and Lou from Desktop add a special spot uv layer of the mast head type and bubble to give the cover extra zing. The text on the cover Andrew wrote as holding text. The guys at Desktop liked it enough to leave it word for word. The work Frenemy is a real word and is a recent addition to the Oxford English Dictionary.
The lift out poster was pulled together over a weekend. The 180 images featured are mostly taken by Andrew on his iPhone over the last few years. The captions were written late into a Saturday night, while watching ABC TV’s music programme called Rage – the guest programmer was French producer and DJ Martin Solveig – highlight clips were PRINCE – Purple Rain and SUPERGRASS – Pumping On Your Stereo. We wanted to make a poster that may offer some insights, rather than show off our creative prowess. The poster is a stream of top of mind thoughts in relation to ideas, observations, creative practice and life grabs – it’s a chart of inspirations and shout outs. Flat copies of the poster are available from the studio.
The edition has already enjoyed reviews in Broadsheet, The Design Files and a range of blogs and forums however the best feedback of this effort came from an internal email by Niche media’s MD – Paul Lidgerwood:
From: Paul Lidgerwood
Date: 24 August 2011 9:49:36 AM AEST
To: all niche
Subject: I finally get it!
One extraordinary issue, being the September Anniversary Issue, has finally got my incredibly slow mind around what Desktop is all about. I can now see how it inspires, how it teaches, how it improves and nourishes, how it flows and why if I was designer I would pour over it cover to cover. I can also finally see why if I was a business trying to connect with designers Desktop would be top of my schedule.
The epiphany was this issue and my hat is well and truly doffed to the collective brilliance of all involved-Brenden, Ali, Lou, Danielle and Studio Pip and Co. Well done guys you have made sense of the muddle – keep it up!
As mentioned in the printed object it was a privilege to work with a Brendan and Louise at Desktop on this issue, numerous hours are devoted every month when plans, editors, writers, photographers and production teams meet and are shaped by detailed editing, review and art direction.
We dedicate this project to everyone that contributed to the project : Lynton, Holly, Lisa, Warren, Garry, Jason, Anita, Amanda, Graeme, Sam, Melanie, Dan, Anthony, David P, David L, Mimmo, Kate, Brita, Alex, Sarah, Sam, Pip, Will, Henry and Toward – who’s generosity and time makes this publication a priceless hunk of ink on paper.
If you want to understand the potential for a graphic designer to take their works to new places this issue propositions the designer as writers, inventors, researchers, analysts, event organisers, crafts people, curators, entrepreneurs, travelers, networkers, publishers, image makers to editors. We hope that you enjoy this edition, we hope that the bigger stories of design practise come to the fore and inspire readers to explore ideas, vision and thinking outside of the normal pursuits of being a creative designer.
This edition is a standard run, so get in quick as their will be no reprints.
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