June 2008

Design and craftsmanship from 1956

Working in graphic design and communication is a fantastic opportunity to see and experience many aspects of the community and society. At its best there are ways, means and ideas from diverse and disparate corners.

In the course of an identity project for a new venue planned at the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron we came across this wonderful sample of glass etching from the Melbourne 1956 Olympic period — done by hand. This rubbing is of a piece of back coloured glass etching, approximately 420mm wide by 580mm high from a redundant door panel of glass found in a storeroom at the club. The work was coloured in burgundy, gold and white.

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Stephen — an ingredient for design…

The studio has developed another promotion for a paper by Spicers Paper called Stephen. Stephen is new improved and new new new. A new range of colours — whites specifically, now has 50% recycled content, FSC certified and it is the prefect ingredient for any print communications.

The studio developed a recipe book of sorts, developing writing, image making and collaborating. Ten print colours, five different paper grades of Stephen later and printing by Gunn & Taylor a 40 page book is coming to a Studio near you soon.

Visit Spicers Paper for details

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Go Basil…

This post is for the oldies out there that remember watching Basil Brush. He was thoroughly annoying, yet in retrospect he is so cute to look at — a little like Mr Squiggle. From the Batch collection.

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Beyond the Good Weekend…

Andrew from the studio is featured in a small piece in this week‘s Fairfax publication — Good Weekend (21 June 2008) magazine, for the design and technology issue. Andrew spent the weekend laying low.

There are countless designed objects one could think of — Andrew‘s bicycle, as a design, was a contender. Yet in this instance it seemed silly for a graphic designer to not site a piece of graphic design in this piece. As the film the studio made in 2002 “What is graphic design?“ attests: it appears that the population outside of the graphic design profession, over 20 million Australians, have little idea what graphic designers do. With such a high circulation this piece is an excellence opportunity to speak to an audience that knows little of the ins and outs of graphic design — people like Andrew‘s mum, who are convinced that “graphic design could be logos, possibly brochures or something, colouring in maybe even architecture“.

The Channel Seven logo was designed by Ken Cato in 1998/1999. Cato stated that the original sculpture was intended to be executed with the full spectrum of colours (it‘s serendipitous that paint ran out after the prevailing red). Though this symbol is not a favourite of Andrew‘s (his favourite is Cobi symbol for the Barcelona Olympics by Mariscal), the execution as a commercial sculpture exceeds expectations.

Permanent signs are high cost items to design, engineer, seek council approvals, insure, construct, install, light and finish. Petrol service station totem signs (that stand on any roadside) can cost between $AU50K — for a simple structure, and up to $200K+ for the large totem structures found at highways stops.

The Channel 7 sculpture at Docklands had an estimated budget of $250K. Big ticket design projects, such as this structure, often come with a range stakeholders contributing to the approval process, which often compromise the integrity of the designed outcome. As a result of this process many large signs end up being quite cheesie, unremarkable constructions, basic engineering — rarely an artful sculpture.

The Docklands structure is over ten metres high, some three stories, and around a metre thick. The funds here have been spent achieving its grand scale, quality construction and engineering. Tonnes of steel have be shaped to defy gravity, as if a ‘giant super being‘ has come along lodged a giant red metal bar in the earth, bent it like a ribbon in the middle. The Channel 7 sign has the scale and feel of Denton Corker Marshall‘s (DCM) gateway on the Tullamarine Freeway in Moreland — yet it is an object designed purely for commercial and marketing purposes. That said, the line between artful and commercial is often blurred in our culture — the DCM Melbourne gateway is a public structure that more or less markets the city of Melbourne too.

In the article Andrew also refers to the adage often used between client and designer — to make the logo bigger. Often a designer will develop a poster, an advertisment, or sign with the client‘s logo and or sponsors logos in an elegant proportion as compared to the other elements (the format of the space, the image, headline, body text). It is not unusual for the client to go against the designer‘s recommendation, and compromise the layout. It is typical for a client to instruct — the design is approved, on the basis that the logo, or logos are made bigger.

Many contemporary arts and cultural posters and publications are tagged or signed off with a sea of brand marks and logos fighting for attention. In its extreme the battling brands supercede the messages and images. These confusing outcomes make it difficult for the viewer to discern the promotion‘s intent from the sponsorship. In our recent past, many arts posters and some commercial posters up to the the 1980s were good enough to decorate the walls of workspaces and house holds — an 1970s and 1980s kitchen wasn’t not complete until it‘s walls had a block mounted art gallery poster form London, New York, or the New South Wales Art Gallery. Posters it seems were good enough to steal.

Some twenty years later the brands have grown in presence on the contemporary poster space and yet the contemporary posters themselves have diminished from private and public spaces as a form of permanent decoration. Part of the studio‘s work is focused upon developing outcomes with clients that: exceed the needs of the brief; and are items that customers, or the public, want to keep or even steal to make part of their lives and spaces.

Making the logo bigger has caused many meltdowns between clients and designers over the years. At Andrew‘s previous design business, Nelmes Smith Ashton (NSA), Graeme his former partner would intentionally leave logos off work, until their absence came to the client‘s attention. Sometimes work would be printed without logos. On other ocassions, like a major marketing brochure ironically for Channel 7, it was not until the printers proof did the client realise their logo was missing from the entire brochure. Graeme was prepared to fight to the end, and major meltdown thus occur until the logo was instated on the front cover. Channel 7 never worked with Graeme and NSA again.

At Studio Pip and Co we have had our share of making the logo bigger moments. We do out best to accommodate clients, without compromising the communication. We generally see that logo is a sign off or an endorsement — rather than a headline or key message, unless it is a brand ad.

When the 80s rock spoof song — exclaiming — make the logo bigger! was circulated via email in the last 12 months, we couldn‘t help sending this clip onto our clients for comment. For a recent double page ad and publication for pro-bono client, the Australian Graphic Design Association, we took the instruction to make the logo bigger to the next level — with layouts that housed AGDA‘s logo the entire width of the final layout. That is why Cato‘s three story logo is so appealing to Andrew‘s irreverant nature and the perfect signoff for the Good weekend piece. Thanks again to Deborah Cooke for thinking of us in this instance.

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Virtual Pearl

Pearl Restaurant and Bar engaged the studio to develop its website. The brief was open at the start, it could be a sexy flash site, it could be html, it could be both, or something else. The more that the client and studio investigated the many restaurant sites on line, it became clear that the site for Pearl had to allow the restaurant to build on it’s community. Therefore there was a need to provide interesting destination rich with quality content often, for customers and followers of Pearl to loose themselves in.

We propositioned the client with the process of generating content with customised web log based software. The ease of staff delivering content to the internet, won over their desire for seductive moving graphics and digital effects. Visit pearlrestaurant here and move about its splashy tabloid like interface and visit often — the guys at Pearl are passionate about generating their own brand of stories, ideas and insights often. This web solution allows all manner of content to flow.

Thank you to Andrew and Geoff at Pearl and Lee at Irrepressible Wonton again— wonderful process.

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