A conversation with Maziar Raein: How did we get here?
The historical overview of design by Maziar Raein in this week’s lecture gave a very interesting insight into graphic design in the early ’80s to today’s modern practice. Maziar discuses the importance of how design in the ’80s had a huge change within the industry. The 70’s he describes was a depressing time for creatives in graphic design but the 80’s changed fundamentally with more designers collectively coming together to create new forms of designs and practices. People started to work in different ways from being that individual designer that works in their own initiative ways. These designers were unique as they would have a craft that specialise in the area of design. Designers like Alan Fletcher and Colin Forbes were great independent designers but collectively they formed Pentagram with other great designers such as Theo Crosby, Kenneth Grange, and Mervyn Kurlansky. These collectives of designers made a change in how the industry can thrive in a studio environment for great creative solutions. This was the birth of branding and working in this way developed big and better projects. Graphic Design became less knowledgable in history but more in contemporary practice.
Maziar explains we should never forget our historical knowledge in design as it is what makes us as designers today through education we have been able to inspire by the works of others to develop new techniques and methods. Maziar discusses this in his experience in the late ’80s design students started to lose this knowledge and not taken the subject seriously to keep with the fundamental of the practice. By the 90s computers came in place to change the craft of graphic design with a fast process in designing and production. This allowed graduates to have more freedom on ideas rather than focusing on the technical craft side of design. This showed a new way of how to teach graduates from the knowledge of using tools to developing a more creative and artistic approach in their education. Expression in design becomes more fluent and skills become less priority as these can be developed through the process. Maziar talks shortly about certain areas of design that affect the diversity in the industry, which gets miss placed in the context of the movement in design through the late 20th century. He points out there were some great Latin tradition modernism and women designers (Margaret Calvert) that produced amazing work but were the unsung heroes in design at the time. Maziar also explains that designers who are doing very interesting work have a greater understanding of history, which is fundamental to their practice. These are constant values within a great designer that has a strong knowledge and understanding of the practice.
I feel without the historical understanding then there’s no foundation to build upon as a designer like myself. It’s the curiosity in acknowledging the design history and practice that gives you greater power to succeed as a designer. It’s easy to find information via the internet to gain the historical past but Maziar does believe we should research our findings by going that one step further. Interview people, visit achieves, handle things, look at things, etc. Get a better insight from others that have a deeper knowledge of the information is very important. We should be curious about anything and everything in design and to freely think of new outcomes and understanding of our practice.
“It was such an important job that affected everybody”: Margaret Calvert
This interview was delightful and loved her honesty throughout her interview. She really comes across very passionate about her work and peers who she has collaborated with on many amazing projects such as the Ministry of Transport. She talks about the challenges of being a woman designer in the ’50s and ’60s at a time where men dominated the industry for design. At the time she would be suppressed by those thinking she comes across aggressive. Margret was actually putting across her opinion and point of view of her work with drive and passion in something she loves. This is a really great interesting piece to read and inspiration to those who enjoy type and love for design.
Bruno Munari modernist approach in children book are amazing pieces of work for his time. Back in 2015, a book was published to show work that communicates his visual ideas, showcase his art, and convey his creative spirit which was called Muari’s Books. He designed and illustrated books for learning and lifting the human spirit. He experimented with materials and structures and was not afraid to apply an element of surprise and wit to every page. I really enjoy the simplicity of the type and imagery in some of his work I’ve seen online and will love to explore more of his work and about himself as well.
Workshop Challenge – 3 Design Practices Task 1
Q&A Studio – Hastings
Q&A Studio is a creative agency specialising in branding and packaging design.
We create new brands, freshen up tired brands, and help growing brands grow. We give brands identities and personalities.
Q&A Studio is a small studio with a big agency mentality for branding and packaging design in the small town of Hastings. Mike Harris and Wendy Metson are the founders of Q&A studio with over 20 years of experience in the design industry working for leading UK and International Agencies.
Both designers have an accolade of many design awards that brings great recognition to their peers in the industry and acknowledging the practice of a big agency reputation for clients. Wendy also lecturers at the University of the Arts Camberwell and Goldsmith University.
Two Pens – Eastbourne
We are Two Pens, a full-service design studio producing work that engages and inspires.
We work closely with our clients to give them a personality with clarity and impact, setting them apart from their competition.
We communicate their values with confidence, clarity and style; whether it’s applied to a brand, a digital experience or in print.
Two Pens are again a small full-service design studio with many disciplines that engage and inspire others. They work with clients more locally to bring together nature within the brand’s incoherence and effective style.
Olivia Askaroff and Ed Hughes are the creative and design directors of Two Pens. Olivia has a unique perspective on a branding strategy for an international nursery brand and innovative product range. Ed practice has a wide knowledge of the design industry from large businesses to small start-ups creating a brand and digital experiences for clients.
Studio Makgill – Brighton
Studio Makgill is a design and branding studio that has a particular talent for stripping away the unnecessary and drawing out the essential, resulting in wonderfully clean and memorable design for a wide-ranging but select clientele.
Studio Makgill is a design and branding agency with a clear approach throughout their practice. They speak about ‘ to create beautifully simple work’ which makes me think they take a minimalist look towards design in their discipline.
The practice doesn’t share who works in the studio but the work they produce shows they have a team of designers working on big projects from Branding, Packaging Design to Exhibition & Environment Design for the local and global clientele.
It seems coming across big design agencies in rural areas of East Sussex are hard to come by, but there are many very unique creative studios in places. So I search across the coast from Hastings to Brighton to find practices that I felt related to myself in my demographic area. There are many small to medium-size practices working by the coastal towns to this day that has great access to local business and good transport links to London for bigger clientele opportunities.
Q&A Studio particular has this small studio but big agency mentality which they bring great experience and an award-winning practice to draw the attention of local and big brands in packaging design. Living in a town like Hastings, which has the benefits of renting at a lower cost than London and has great travel links into the city, with an area that’s up and coming for its creative and musical culture. Hastings has a genre of past sub-cultures and artistic community that brings vibrant and creative freedom within the coastal town, which has to offer for inspiration and innovative ideas. This is a way that Q&A Studio could see Hastings today, as an opportunity to present themselves in the creative community and bring clients in locally and globally with their experience.
Two Pens again a small studio of two designers but feel they’re are a family run business, which comes with broad expertise in many disciplines in design and brand strategy, working with start-ups and big clienteles. Their studio really suggests they want to help small start-ups to bring out the personality in their brands by creating effective designs that engage and inspires others in their community. Suggesting this will benefit for the good of the clients and themselves throughout their practice. Based in Eastbourne, Two Pens has taken the opportunity in small businesses, which their service can offer an array of design skills and ambitions for clients through brand strategy and confidence in visual communications for the community. The least I expect they’re very driven to local businesses but need to say they could potentially get bigger clients.
Studio Makgill seems like a big agency but initially a small team with an attitude towards sharing responsibilities throughout their practice. Based in Brighton with a culture of creatives, musicians, sub-cultures, and a vibrant city, which brings innovative, collaborative, atmospheric, and engaging opportunities for any practice. The studio is located in an area that creativity is embedded in the culture and have a synergy of others surrounding the studio practice. This really shows in their work and understanding of design through traditional and contemporary styles that create beautifully simple work in their execution. They are a really an established group of design professionals with a clientele of local and global brands that recognise their approach in design from Branding to Exhibition and Environment design that they specialise in their work.
Week 2: Workshop Challenge –
3 Design Production Task 2
Make Ready Studio – Hastings
MakeReady Studio is an independent studio, combining graphic design with screenprint and letterpress.
With a hands-on approach, we love to get off the computers and get inky. Using our design knowledge and creativity to push the traditional boundaries of what can be achieved.
We love to share the world of print and run workshops periodically throughout the year so that you too can get hands-on and inky.
Make Ready Studio is an independent graphic designer with a unique practice in letterpress and screen printing. A hands-on approach to design and creativity. The studio run workshops for people throughout the year to learn these traditional skills in print to push the boundaries in graphic design.
Studio Hardie – Lewes
WE ARE A PASSIONATE DESIGN AND MANUFACTURE STUDIO THAT FUSES ART, DESIGN, ENGINEERING, ARCHITECTURE, AND CRAFT.
Known for our innovation, invention, high-quality craftsmanship, and playfulness, our team is a group of expert designers and craftsmen who are used to problem-solving together and are dedicated to producing work of integrity and high quality.
We specialise in a diverse variety of unusual, high profile projects in many disciplines, including architecture, playgrounds, interior design, furniture, exhibition spaces, and public art. We like to combine natural, noble materials with new and innovative ones; mixing appropriate traditional techniques with current technology.
Sustainability and integrity of make are very important to us. We strive to find the right solution, specific to every site and client, whilst also offering something new, exciting, and different from traditional or commercial solutions.
Due to our designs being totally bespoke and because of the spectrum of expertise needed for our wide range of projects, our approach is organic and collaborative. We work with graphic designers, architects, engineers, promotion companies, and production companies, as well as a large range of freelance specialists.
Studio Hardie is a collection of problem solvers but comes from a vernacular craft background in which they acquire new current problems. They base themselves on old traditional craft skills in woodwork and keep away from the sort of digital tools. They approach their practice through organic, sustainable and ethical ways in creating things through craft. Studio Hardie also designs and realises all the main build projects in each season of the Channel 4 series George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.
Pureprint Group – Uckfield
We are a world-class print and marketing services business, employing over 400 colleagues across three sites, 24-hours a day.
From our people-first ethos to our commitment to sustainability, we’re focused on breaking barriers with market innovation, collaborative partnerships, and working efficiently, unbounded by geographical or technological walls.
We have invested over £20 million in the last five years in the latest machines and software so that our customers can enjoy all of the advantages that the latest technology has to offer.
Our main production facilities cover 220,000 square feet of purpose-built space in East Sussex and Newcastle. In East Sussex, we have our dedicated digital factory with six HP Indigo digital presses and our specialist litho factory with three high spec Heidelberg B1 presses, as well as print finishing, storage, fulfillment, and mailing facilities. In Newcastle, we have our large format printing factory including screen printing, state of the art digital presses with robot automation, fulfillment, and storage.
Our software engineers work across all of our sites building marketing technology solutions from retail software to print-on-demand workflows. Our experienced customer service, pre-press, and creative teams are committed to making sure that you get the outstanding results that you want from your project.
Pureprint Group is a large print product that works on a local and global scale in delivering print work through the technological processes in print. Sustainability is key to their business ethos locally and internationally to take ownership of the lifecycle of their products. They have a great understanding of the industry as they work with leading brands to create beautifully printed material either small or large. Their love for print brings great precision in their response and delivering their service for many clients.
These production companies I found in the area of East Sussex have a great understanding of new and traditional techniques in their own craft and I chose these as they have an impact of history and modern practices to their skill sets.
Make Ready Studio has such a unique printing method in today’s contemporary practice as many things in print are now digitalised and the tradition of letterpress and screenprint is very little to be found. A place like this comes across very rarely which has a great knowledge of traditional printmaking and bookbinding techniques from an independent graphic designer in today’s practice. They also run workshops that bring people in the community together to express their creativity through print.
Studio Hardie is a collection of the individual craftsmen with innovative, inventive, playful, and traditional expertise that loves problem-solving. Their work is ethical and sustainable in crafting unique art, design, engineering, architecture, and craft-like projects, which themselves find it hard to explain what they exactly do. They have a love for traditional techniques with using craft tools for physically making things by using old knowledge of craftsmanship into pushing new ways to create new forms. This is why they’re ambitious in keeping the craft alive through their projects, which they get to collaborate and work together to create new and interesting ideas. I really do enjoy the great craftsmanship that Studio Hardie brings as the work is so diverse but endless possibilities in using their skills to their strengths.
Pureprint Group is probably one of the leading print production companies leading the industry through sustainability. I chose these because of the contrast between these and Make Ready Studio which demonstrates the past and present of print techniques. With my interest in print I really enjoy the traditional ways, but with the technology today we’re able to create a print in a faster effective way and mass produces in a higher quantity that can be scaled on a level you could imagine from publications to large format printing. Pureprint is really on terms with the global community through print delivering up and down the UK and internationally which they’re highly recognized for their work.
List four key evolutionary design steps that contributed to the identity of the modern-day design culture of your city/country.
My further research into finding key design movements in my area of Sussex is that the county has a rich culture of art and design. Sussex is known for a place of inspiration and retreat for many recognised artists that have produced amazing work. The county consists of 9 extraordinary art spaces, stretching from Chichester in the west to Hastings in the East.
Modernism flows fluently throughout the area as there are many iconic architectural structures built in the period of Art Deco that really shapes the coastline with unbelievable designs that influence others. The De La Warr Pavilion located in Bexhill-On-Sea is a magnificent building that is the icon of Sussex by the coast. It is a public building today showcasing many events in music, theatre, comedy, and contemporary arts.
Sussex has been a fantastic retreat for artists such as Salvador Dalí, Duncan Grant, Eric Gill, John Piper, Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, and many others. There have been amazing works of art that had been created at this time when an artist wanted to abandon the metropolis for the county hills. Works such as Venus and Adonis by Duncan Grant and the sofa shaped to replicate the lips of Mae West, designed in collaboration with Edward James and Salvador Dalí which defined Sussex Modernism.
Throughout many decades Sussex has shape itself through many subcultural influences of today. As for society, we can show our own identity in what way we like to express ourselves. One key event that I researched was the fashion rebellion years of Mods and Rockers in the early ’60s. A riot broke out in Hastings Town on the August Bank Holiday weekend, where young youth of Mods where disturbing the peace of families on holidays. They drove mainly from London running through the town in packs stopping traffic, banging cars, chanting (“Up the Mods”), and looking for trouble. This you can say started the rebellion movement where we’ve seen many movements through many decades and today, which influence the contemporary design culture. Still today on May Day bank holiday you get the pagan festival of Jack and the Green with thousands of Bikers descending to the seafront in the very popular event every year. This still carries the values of the bikers heading south but with a more peaceful demonstration.
In the late 19th Century the Arts and Crafts Movement was very significant at the time. William Morris was a great influence at the time, which he designed the Sussex Chair. Funny enough my parents-in-law have a couple of these stylish chairs (might be originals?) and also have seen many of these in the local town. I feel this movement still has an impact on today’s culture as many people are creating their own furniture design from historic influences. People are finding it hard at times to afford the best things in life but instead, upcycling old styles to unique, crafted furniture design for themselves at a lower but stylist cost is clearly a thing of today.
Again another fascinating lecture based on the historical overview of design by Maziar Raein. This was a great introduction to how to design in the ’80s changed the way of the unique independent designers to a more collaborative approach in-studio practices. He talks about how the craft of the designer has developed over the decades to become a more creative and artistic approach. This has become a great benefit to students graduating from art college over many decades allowing students to be more expressive. Expression in design becomes more fluent and skills are less priority as these can be developed through the process. Technology has a huge part to play in today’s practice through online video tutorials that can be taught at a click of a button. You can truly acknowledge Maziar talking about the overview of design history through his experience that he’s got great knowledge from his upbringing through art college to the industry he’s taught over the decades. He explains with great enthusiasm and at times sadness where change or lack of knowledge in history has been ignored. This lecture really gave me an understanding of how design in the later 20th century had a huge change in practices that has mold the design industry of today. This is the knowledge of the ability of craft in schools to become the expression of the artistic approach for students. How hands-on tools for the designer are less relied upon as technology has been reliant equipment for a designer. This can have it’s good and bad points in the practice as we can be so engrossed with technology that we forget our creative freedom away from them.
Furthering my research in Margaret Calvert allowed me to discover the importance of her role as a designer and in design had a massive impact on the industry. She is such an inspiration to others especially women designers to be able to rise above a culture within the industry that was mostly dominated by men. Her interview with It’s Nice That really shed a light upon her career and how design made her the person she is as a designer and an individual.
The workshop challenge for this week I really was thinking about how I would get around this as I had to think about what studio or production company would be based in my town. So I had to think further afield in the county of East Sussex as there are not many in Bexhill-On-Sea. Overall I’m happy with my finds of design practices and production companies. Studio Hardie was such an interesting find as its fundamental belief in their practice was about unique craftsmanship that can push the boundaries beyond the challenges of technology. Some of the projects they’ve produce are amazing and I know it’s not graphic design but their ethos is a similar attitude as a graphic design studio. It’s about collaboration, working to people’s strengths, creatively thinking of new ideas, using traditional craft skills with the help of technology, and being playful. I am pleased with my selections and feel I’ve found a treasure trove of practices and more to help me understand my location goes beyond what actually lies in front of me. What I’m looking to do next is to reach out to these practices and wonder if I can get an opportunity to speak to them in person.
We also had to list four key evolutionary design periods that identify the modern-day design culture of our location. I already knew the south coast is heavily influenced in art history and contemporary design throughout and always been influenced by the past to today. So furthering my research it allowed me to see what periods had a significant impact and doing so it’s become a great learning curve in how Sussex was a retreat for many great artists from Salvador Dali to Henry Moore which has defined Sussex Modernism. This has given me a great influence on how a location like where I live has become a retreat for an artist like this and how that can help me as a designer. Is my location a problem for me to develop as a designer? or Can my surroundings influence me to push my boundaries as a designer? Will technology be significant to me to be in touch with others beyond my location or do I have to be somewhere that gives me a better opportunity? These are questions that are heavily influenced through my understanding this week and hopefully, I can answer those over time.