July 2008

Simple, honest and to the point

When one reviews our work, it seems most of our projects are a split of work for fees and work in kind. It may seem a crazy principle, yet we think that doing the best job can is about putting in a little extra. A job done with care seem to market themselves and bring attention to the studio. The odd not for profit project taken on by the studio enjoys a whole lot care invested in the outcome, and it is very satisfying to witness a simple project make a real difference.

A local child centre is feeling the pinch — an essential renovation, new child care centre up the road, and over ten families left the centre. We are tasked to help the centre to attract a glutch of new community minded and in tune families, and quick. We reviewed the centre and developed their point of difference with a communication programme that touches on public relations, low cost handbills, and poster campaign. We developed the call to action — Free Range Children Wanted. A simple line that taps into the whole values associated with quality food production, which had been twisted to speak to an emerging breed of parent. Within days of this poster of the being erected, the centre have had many new parents walk from the street  and instead of having many vacancies and waiting list has been formed.

This poster brings together the playful copy line with playful illustrated treatment. Our chicken children were developed by our current intern Sarah Pickering from Switzerland.

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For Caulfield types

The advent of shopping destinations and households having ready access to cars has seen the decline of local shopping precincts. Derby Road, Caulfield East is one of the many roads in Melbourne that have seen busier days. There are signs that this deserted shopping strip was once a vibrant place. Many shop fronts are now empty, and buildings that once were banks and hardware stores are now occupied by services — accountants, lawyers and architects — that typically use office space rather than street frontage to display products, produce and wares. One of the surviving stores in this precinct is the newsagent with a fine sample of signwriting on its northern wall. The type with its leaf like flourishes, smells of Art Nouveau styling which possibly dates the work around early 1900s. Yet the seven digit telephone number does bring into question whether this piece has enjoyed a little loving restoration. If there is a type nerd lurking out there that can fill in the gaps, a comment or two is beckoning.

For the design students at studying at Monash it is a five minute walk away. See location here

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This is Sydney, Melbourne

Having grown up in Sydney, there is the Sydney that brochures want you to know and there is the Sydney one misses. The harbour, the bridge, the Opera House seem to transfix and when one mentions to friends from Melbourne visiting Sydney to — hire a car, or catch a bus to Palm Beach or Pittwater, — pardon — typically follows a glazed over expression that says — nice idea that seems too far away.

Pictured is too far away (an hour and 1/2 from the city centre), a weekend at Currawong and a view of Pittwater from friend and photographer Karl Schwerdtfeger. While one was chasing children at Daydreamers play centre in Windsor, Melbourne, Karl finishes a homemade fruit salad for breakfast with a stroll. While one took his children to a part of Sydney that is more like paradise, the other shuffles around a ratty play centre with average expensive coffee.

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Defined by the market

The Melbourne Design Market is an idea developed by the studio in 2005, which was brought to life by the crew at the National Design Centre. The studio has had a stall at the market for several years and it is an invaluable chance to meet the people that ultimately use our work. It is also a chance for us to see what people are responding too — how they relate to the images we make, do they appreciate the messages woven into the objects. Do people willingly buy the materials on offer, or is there a period of contemplation before purchase.

It is a wonder standing on the other side of the counter. Visitors like interacting with our work and it is curious watching people investigate the pieces, make the decision to find their money, or put it back and walk away. No amount of highly considered design thinking will help the merchandise‘s appeal, and no amount of convincing will make a transaction happen. The success of the designed objects is measured by one simple reality — what is left at pack up time at 5pm and what isn‘t. This insight is invaluable, as it is overwhelming comparing what you think people would like and what they actually buy — often we guess right as often as we guess wrong.

Many designs we prepare for our cards, badges and publications follow a broad criteria — people respond common visual clichés — like pets, symbols and familiar situations or objects; people respond to colour and contrast; people respond to familiar gags or issues; and people respond to useful information or ideas. Then we develop work that simply looks what we think is appealing.

We highly recommend that every graphic designer develop a product, or two, and then take it to market. It is sobering to see where one‘s vision for design converges with the design‘s ability to capture a following or an audience.

Thanks to the crew at Studio Round who were such great company over the day, and the many people who came to visit our stall and interacted with our work. See you next time.

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More bubble trouble…

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