January 2011

Selections of Australian influences and references found in 2010…

Australia Day is the celebration of white settlement in Australia in 1788. For the majority of citizens, this is a day celebrated with cheer, bbqs, reflection and a day off work.

In recent times citizens have also focused upon finding course to appreciate the plight of Australia’s first people – the Australian Aboriginal nation. Today our thoughts go to these communities and nations, and their ongoing assistance, awareness and longevity.

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An ongoing odyessy of Australian creativity

The process of understanding how a community produces its design is a topic we are constantly in touch with – as we feel it helps us develop our process and evolve the work that we make.

In terms of design we have been reflecting upon the notion of being Australian designers and producing work for an Australian market. There are several factors that make Australian work what it is. At the centre of Australian design output are the people (the majority have some formal training in design, design production or the arts), who make the work, of which we have split into several loose categories.

The first group are the designers and artists that work in and around the common cliches – animals, landscape, lifestyle, the beach and our iconic products. Their work is popular with an international audience, and is often associated with travel, tourism and representing Australian culture in a general or basic sense.

Another group of Australian designers are the people who take their referencing from distant shores – a very colonial thing to be. Design writer Rick Poynor made an observation, to loosely paraphase : few Australian designers seem produce work that appears to be uniquely Australian, more over much of the work that is produce by many prominent Australian studios is a hybrid of influences and style from Europe, Japan or North America. Poynor mentioned that there is also a proliferation of Australian designers adopting a international style, or expression. (See Poynor’s publication – Designing Pornotopia: Travels in Visual Culture (9781568986074): Rick Poynor, or the Australian edition of Eye Magazine).

Further to Poynor’s commentary, we feel that the International design style is not restricted to corporate projects. Fashion based projects; be it luxury to alternative, surf culture, youth culture, music culture; be it mainstream, or edgy, all seem to share similar aesthetics, dress codes and communication approaches from around the world. This idea was confirmed to us recently at conferences in Berlin, Amsterdam, Beijing, London and Hong Kong – more or less designers in these distant seemed to share looks, clothing brands, glasses, gadgets, bikes why wouldn’t the design work they make be familiar too. There are exceptions, many of the designers from New York that we met in 2005, seemed to have an anti design stream of consciousness going on – brands are in background, a mix of colour, little black, they also seem to have a unique design approach – a modern bookish to bookish on acid approach.

Another group of Australian designers whom gets little mention, or recognition, yet their work is the most prominent in the community are the jobbing designers – the people who make sales and information based packaging, catalogues, brochures, flyers, point for sale, signing, etc. Jobbing designers are charged with making work without the fanfare of industry panels, awards and style makers. Jobbing work often touches upon contemporary aesthetics, colours, image making, content, yet has a softer, market friendly touch. This vast body of work is generally produced by in-house art departments of large companies, government agencies, print production houses, to a freelancers spare bedroom.

We also are obliged to acknowledge designers similar to ourselves. Designers who are making their own style, or bespoke project work that bumps in between the prominent approaches, as fore mentioned. At it’s extreme the work can be highly experimental and art like, or like ours that offers a unique output, driven by a collaboration with client.

The final group of designers, are an enormous group of designers. These designers are not designers in the formal education sense, they are simply making their own work, regardless of it being aesthetically right, wrong or indifferent. Unlike formally trained designers and artists, this group of designers are armed with how-to-guides, graphic software, or an art worker, and are driven to pick up the tools, and make the logos, stationery, signs, brochures, and apparel. Like jobbing designers many untrained designers are making the majority of the design work in the community.

In varying degrees we draw upon all of the designers in the community to make work, deliver ideas and assist clients to achieve commercial goals. The creative work that people make is an endless inspiration to us, and you can find these influences in the work we make.

To celebrate the multi-culture of design producers in Australia, we have put together a selection of random iphone images captured in the last year. Andrew is constantly documenting the world he encounters. These images are outputs and references, which often informs our approach to making our slice of Australian design. The diversity of work we make is a mash of varying and contrasting influences and topics which include: beauty, raw, ugly, funny, practical, intelligent, irreverence, functional, lean, artful… to start with.

The images are without captions, in no order… be the first three to correctly email us – which image involves a funeral home, for a special Pip and Co prize. Enjoy!

Happy Australia Day!

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