May 2008

Stephen goes to the UK

Last October (2007) the studio concluded it‘s work with Robert Horne UK, to assist with launching the Stephen paper range in the UK. Several pieces were produced, including this exploration piece that drawed on contributions from Paul Davis, Sara Fanelli, Jeff Fisher, Anthony Geernaert, Shara Henderson, Paul Sahre, Karl Schwerdtfeger and Jen Tyers along with writing, imaging making and design by the Studio. Each image maker selected a topic that told the story of Stephen, then let their approach to image do the talking. Thanks again all our collaborators.

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A symbol of the Australian design to come

Australian and International publishers in the pursuit of profit, seem to fall over themselves to produce the latest chef‘s version of cookery, yet are absent when it comes to publishing Australian graphic design. As a result Australia has a disturbing lack of publications that track the workings of past and contemporary graphic design.

If one is prepared to look for signs of Australian graphic design, there are many studios have taken the initiative to self fund and produce various forms of monograph. In most cases these books often serve as expensive promotional pieces, which appeal to small audiences and are a limited reference of the profession‘s output.

One suspects that this sorry state of affairs is mostly a reflection of how designers perceive themselves, and their subsequent ability to read the audience and package the information they have to offer. Typically, best selling graphic design monographs are by famous designers that: do jobs for other famous people; or write successful fiction novellas as a side project to doing award winning book jacket design. There has to be a better idea to pitch graphic design to major publishers.

Apart from the odd industry award annual, Australia scarcely has few publications that have hundreds, even thousands of work samples that are introduced, categorised, captioned and illustrated for people to review, comprehend and assess. It is no wonder that graphic design is misunderstood by the majority of Australian citizens.

In this sorry situation there are exceptions — Symbols of Australia; originated and authored by designer Mimmo Cossolino, is one of Australia‘s most important design publications. Over twenty years old, it is a reference that continues to be a great companion for anyone familiar with local brands and cultural icons. Over fifteen hundred symbols and icons are vividly documented, mostly sourced from early Australian white history, that help the reader trace cultural cues to the Australian brands of today.

What strikes one while quietly musing over this piece is how abstract, humourless, simplified and emotionless modern communication has become — even though our society is educated, operates with complex frameworks and has an ongoing programme of understanding the human condition and the life forces that it operates within.

Symbols of Australia is an amazing cultural contribution made by a remarkable and generous Australian designer. The lack of Australian design books is a call to Australian designers to redefine the design conversation and compel the readership — thank you Mimmo for leading the way.

Contact Symbols of Australia here

Read Jason Grant‘s Symbols of Australia review in Eye Magazine no.46 here

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Which party is better?

Which cinema party is better — Jacques Tati‘s Play Time, or Blake Edwards‘ The Party? It‘s close. One movie is a collection of situations unfolding, the other follows the follies of a wayward character.

Play Time‘s party is less expected and not as drawn out as the The Party. It‘s a party that also seems to be more fun, the party you would like to come across rather than being invited too. And also one could go to this party without being thrown, pushed or compelled to jump into a swimming pool.

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The Monthly

The Monthly Magazine is an independent Australian publication exploring as its cover states — politics, culture and society. The contributors are exceptional, the presentation and design is considered, elegant and generous and its format is spare and practical.

The May 2008 issue has — Australian indigenous leader Noel Pearson explores US democrat presidential candiate Obama; New Zealand‘s social revolution; there is compelling letter on the Great Barrier Reef and it‘s imminent collapse, the sixth in living history, due to global warming; and James Button writes a touching tribute to his father — John Button to start with. If a friend, library or local café has a copy its reviews, essays, letters and encounters are well worth your consideration.

Visit The Monthly here

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Thinking beyond the Wiggles

There is more to children‘s programming that the wiggles, start with Pocoyo, and Pat Sullivan‘s Felix

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