IMO Graphic design rarely makes it into the public realm. Designers pour over it endlessly (for a good illustration - and a good read - check out ben terrett's excellent blog), but it can seem a little, well, proscriptive. So it's probably just as well they don't want us to have opinions. Arguably, if they're doing their job well, us design proles shouldn't even think about it. Good design should wash over us like a cool Reithian sea on a balmy moral day. Or so the saying goes.
Well I'm not so sure. I'll put my hand up to an unhealthy, un-designer interest in graphic design, but it's not (specifically) my job. That's what we pay designers for. But I did notice, and continue to notice Matt Dent's new coins.
I noticed quite so much that by the close of 2008, I had already collected all six shiny coins to arrange on an as yet undesignated bit of card.
A twenty-something designer somewhere in the UK, Matt has catapulted himself onto the well presented roof of graphic design by winning the Royal Mint's competition to design the new coins.
I love them. Beautifully simple, and above all engaging. I guess we'd now say 'interactive.' I bet people all over the UK will be sitting at cafe tables, pub bars, waiting for friends, lovers or fellow adulterers, and will - just for a moment - lose themselves in Britain's currency in a way never before known. If we ever join the single currency, it should only be with the proviso that Matt gets to design a new set of coins.
And it's not just me. Matt's just been handed the coveted yellow pencil, and even more coveted most-adpeople-would-murder-their-grannie-for (they're just like that) black pencil by D&AD. (thanks for the picture btw)
So Matt, for making design real and for all of us, well done.
Courtesy of hammersmith and fulham news who ran a competition to win this old tube sign from the Hammersmith and City line station. It's now called Shepherd's Bush Market, so the old signs were sent to the transport museum. Except this one. The only down side is appearing behind it in gameshow pose for the local press. ('smile dan. you look like someone's stolen your dog')
I've spent a good few years in the Bush. Had some wicked times. Met the wife. So to preserve it in sign form seems a fitting way to end my time here.
Apart from the fact that the current climate seems to suit their brand, Howies are nothing like Gordon Brown. They now have a range called hand me down. The idea is a noble one; consume less as a consumer by buying better designed stuff.
This got me thinking about consuming in general. I guess the most offending product is the mobile phone. Every year we get a new one. There's a paradox here with a lot of people who are early adopters (which very often means new hardware and thus more consumption) as these are often the same people pushing for more sustainable world.
I wonder if that paradox can be sustainable. I hope so. For a long time I've thought that the future will be a hybrid of very new and very old technology; keeping what works and ditching what doesn't. My ipod is great. It works. Yes please, I'll keep it. Flying to Scotland? quite apart from carbon emissions, it's rubbish. It takes hours of waiting in interminable airports punctuated by the waiting room that is a small passenger jet. Ditch it. I'll take the overnight train. At the same time, I'm growing vegetables, and fixing old clothes. I may even buy a pig. One day.
Anyway. The Howies thing reminded me I've got loads of stuff that was used before. The reason I've got it is that it is well designed. And as a bonus, whenever I use it, I enjoy it much more knowing it's served people before me. I can't explain why, but it's definitely a better experience than using something that i know will be outdated within a year (linked, somehow, to the patina obsession). Here're some examples:
These are Em's grandma's spoons. Like most grandmas, she was a great cook. She was a prolific cook. I'm not quite so prolific but am pleased to keep wearing down the top corners.
Two stools at our breakfast bar. And a plant. More Grannie related items
Ercol bentwood dining table.
my favourite. My great Uncle's stacking system. (well, the top 3 bits.)
Would you just look at that. That is a proper volume knob. A couple more down the other end for bass and treble, and some great big long buttons in the middle to select the function. They clunk. between them and the volume is a lit dial with little arms that tell you the output of the music as it's being pushed through the amp. I actually sit and watch it.
If something pisses me off about modern design it's that buttons got smaller. Look at the piddly buttons on the CD player. One little click does the job then they resume their position. Rubbish. And I wonder how long it's going to be till we cast out touch screen technology. (Maybe there's another case for a hybrid way forward - touch screen with real, chunky, pushable buttons.)
So well done Howies. Who's going to be next? Maybe Innocent veg pots served in clay?