August 2009

Hit me, Hit me, Hit me, please

One should find better things to write, or listen, or moan on endlessly about other than graphic communication and its folly.

We could muse over a wonderful piece of architecture using timber and glass in the middle of land locked site in London, or the joys of some type design from some boys from Brighton UK born around 1985, or the idea of an uplifting landscape that may offer some utopic moment amid a busy day.

Then there is Ian Dury and the Blockheads and their masterpiece “Hit me with your rhythm stick”. After ten back to back replays – one thinks that what makes this tune hum, or jump off the record player? Is it the tune’s chattering, hap hazard and chaotic piano line, the frantic bass along with lead guitar and screaming double sax elixir, bathed in the drone of what is Dury’s quite unremarkable voice? No of course not, it is the third verse you idiot.

Sleeve design by Barney Bubbles

Sleeve design by Barney Bubbles

It seems no coincidence that one of graphic design’s most enduring lights – Barny Bubbles also happened to create a tasty record sleeve to complement a tune with matching allure. There is a design project of some variation hidden in its 3 minutes and 40 seconds somewhere, maybe in honour of the punk era’s forgotten souls – Bubbles certainly found something to design about. Just make sure your ears are well protect in-between irrational bursts of speaker volume.

Pink, green, black and white forms are amassed into another one of bubble’s famous puzzles. The green form is possibly a plan or print revealing the meaning of the random black white shapes. On the other hand, with a little imagination, the black and white shape look like a block head character welding a rhythm stick. Like Dury, Bubble’s approach to graphics is a unique expression that blurred art and commercial graphics. The crude reproduction tools available in 1978, as compared to today’s technologies, had little effect upon the end product, one would argue that Bubbles made it work to the piece’s advantage.

Vale Ian and Barney.

Happy Birthday Marco – fantastic.

Read more about Barney and Ian here

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(take us a-way) in Pearl Café brown bags, posters and…

Vego take-a-way poster

Vego take a-way poster

Seafood take-a-way poster

Seafood take a-way poster

Meat lovers take away poster

Meat lovers take a-way poster

Chicken in a take a way bag poster

Chicken in a take a-way mode poster

Folded menu

Folded menu



A black and white project with an open brief for Pearl Café in Melbourne – Mr Gunn just said – it’s has to be one colour; has to be about vego, chicken, seafood and meat; it’s about a new take a-way menu; and it has to look fun. Posters, window decal and menu’s and a little imagination followed. We loved the posters.

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And then the clouds fell from the sky…





The studio’s ongoing process of finding and making images takes us to many spaces. Somewhere between Melbourne and Canberra on the open road, the weather set in and the clouds fell to the earth.


Rick Poynor investigates design thinking vs critical thinking

The designer is…the artist of today, not because he is a genius but because he works in such a way as to re-establish contact between art and the public, because he has the humility and ability to respond to whatever demand is made of him by the society in which he lives, because he knows his job, and the ways and means of solving each problem of design. And finally because he responds to the human needs of his time, and helps people to solve certain problems without stylistic preconceptions or false notions of artistic dignity derived form the schism of the arts.

Bruno Munari, Design as Art (1966)

Last Wednesday Rick Poynor presented to a Melbourne audience of designers and educators his most recent thoughts and observations of contemporary design. Poyner unlike many design presenters is a writer and observer. Poyner’s distance from the making of the work allows him to explore and observe design practice and its practitioners with a unique knowledge, clarity, a critical eye and objectivity.

After seven years Poynor brought to the Melbourne audience an evocative topic that explores design practice in an around the title of ‘Design thinking or Critical thinking’.

In short form, Poyner pitched the idea that design and designers are at a cross road of threats and possibility. The threat of the traditional design process driven and shaped by wheels of commerce – with its scepticism towards designers and the visual. A picture was formed of business commentators (such as Businessweek’s Bruce Nussbaum) and emerging business academic streams (such as institutions like Stanford University’s D School and its course stream – design thinking), shaping marketing and communication in the future via business channels. On the other side Poynor invites designers to engage with commerce, clients and the public by exploring methods of practice shaped around employing varying modes of the process of critical thinking. Critical thinking is a process where designer and design practices invest in themselves, so to speak, and develop new works and practices in communication design.

It was a presentation that created more questions rather than answers. One felt Poynor’s message was a ‘call to action’, rather than a typical comfy feel good moment of designer to designer presenting design.

We invite designers to read on, read more and invite a process that involves design practices executing work along side with a stream of non client based work that investigates and explores the development of ideas, process and outcomes.

Thank you Rick for putting together a convincing presentation, opening up a worthy debate and reconnecting us with exciting and meaningful design thinkers like Jan Van Toorn and Bruno Munari

Read Fast Company’s A Plea for More Critical Thinking in Design, Please by John Barratt

Read Businessweek’s design and innovation blog by Bruce Nussbaum

Read Design Observer’s Down with Innovation by Michael Bierut

Read Down with Innovation by Rick Poynor

Read a review by Peter Bilak for Eye Magazine, Jan van Toorn – Critical practice by Rick Poynor

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48 invitation, poster for the 2009 AGDA events line up.





With Brian Eno in Australia for the past months, one has been digging back into the music archive to enjoy the sounds and sights of what seems to be a less precious time in creativity. In 1972 the world didn’t have a raft of Masters or PhD academic courses to explore and rationalise process and spurts of human productivity. People made ideas and with enough practice, spirit or naivety made these ideas real – or that is what I think.

Roxy Music’s debut album – Roxy music, is a mash of the two Brians, the noisy Brian and the hopeless romantic Brian fresh out of the box with some ideas on their minds. The third track on Roxy Music – If there where something, a Marantz PMS 7000 portable music player and a daily 5km walk are unashamedly the prime influences of this image and graphic presentation. The rest was just allowed to happen until it felt right, and the deadline made it necessary.

48 this year sold out again, unashamedly.

Happy birthday Alan.

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