Contemporary Practice – Week 12: New Steps

Week 12 Lecture & Resources

Thoughts on Resources & Lecture

Listening to this week’s lecture, I was interested to hear about Simon Manchipp from SomeOne‘s holistic approach to rebranding a football club. He talked about how they identified the strength of the existing club symbol and using this as a basis for taking the brand forward.

In my experience, with rebranding, the knee-jerk response is often to completely scrap the existing logo or brand identity, without giving consideration to the fact that sometimes there is merit in what’s already there. I believe it definitely is possible to refresh a brand by retaining core elements of the original design – obviously this depends on the identity in question, but there is often room for improvement in a design, without the need to start from an absolutely blank canvas.

Pavilion Cinema, Galashiels: Pre-2019 logo.

One example of this is a client I worked with in Galashiels, the local independently-owned cinema, on a rebrand project. Because the Pavilion Cinema had a large etched glass panel with a design on it that also featured as an element of their original logo, and was an iconic part of the building, well-known in the town, the client – understandably – wanted to retain this.

Pavilion Cinema, Galashiels: Updated logo, introduced in 2019.

The solution was to redraw the logo, to make the graphic elements more geometric, include the word “cinema” in the logo, and to bring the brand identity up to date by using a more modern typeface with clean, sans serif lettering. I also produced a colour palette to give them flexibility with their updated branding. The brand was gradually rolled out across various media – from the cinema’s website, through to weekly film listings, printed and digital marketing materials and staff uniforms.

Simon Manchipp also talked about working closely with the client, as well as the loyal fanbase, to develop the brand, helping them to use storytelling and create experiences which engage casual spectators, with the aim of converting them into fans. I can see how this could be a really effective approach. I would definitely say that involving the client in the rebranding process, as well as the staff working at the cinema, really was key to the success of the Pavilion Cinema project. We also worked with them to create a story around the cinema, which had around 100 years of history to draw from, and clearly has a loyal following in Galashiels too, judging by some of the fond memories recounted by members of the public.

Centenary logo, created for the Pavilion Cinema in Galashiels.

Research

Hyper-Reality

I thought this film, entitled Hyper-Reality, created by Critical Designer and Film-maker Keiichi Matsuda, presented by Walker Art Centre as part of their Designs for Different Futures exhibition, was very thought-provoking and could be seen as a somewhat dystopian vision of a potential future, shows a world where immersive Augmented Reality has become the norm.

The film presents a future where life itself has become one complex, multi-layered, interactive experience, like a giant video game – where the virtual has blended with the physical and are inextricably intertwined. This effect is enhanced by the fact it’s shot from the protagonist’s point of view, so you have a real sense of immersion while watching it. While technology opens up an incredible world of possibilities, this provides a cautionary tale, warning of the potential dangers of media and tech oversaturation: do not let technology dictate your life, or how you understand the world around you.


Forensic Architecture

Beirut port explosion video footage. Image via Forensic Architecture.

Forensic Architecture act on behalf of survivors, using innovative research techniques, a multi-disciplinary team and their knowledge of architecture to investigate human rights violations or environmental issues.

I had not come across the term, or concept of Forensic Architecture, before this week, but watching their video explaining the detailed and multi-faceted analysis of the catastrophic Beirut port explosion in Lebanon on the 4th of August 2020 was really eye-opening. The way they have examined and pieced together a vast amount of data, such as video footage, photography, documentation and eyewitness accounts, to extrapolate information and ultimately surmised that, based on the warehouse contents, it housed an enormous makeshift bomb, awaiting detonation. The conclusion? They saw it as an act of gross negligence by the state.


Workshop Challenge

A slogan t-shirt by Katharine Hamnett. Image via katharinehamnett.com

For this week’s workshop challenge, I took a different approach from previous weeks. I was inspired by the iconic protest t-shirts created by Fashion Designer Katharine Hamnett – I love their simplicity and clean design, which allows the bold political message of the text printed on them to be the clear focus. This point was proven when she met the UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984 and the iconic anti-nuclear slogan on her t-shirt, “58% don’t want Pershing” became front-page news.

Final design outcome for this week’s workshop task.

I chose to take something that’s ubiquitous in graphic design, the Lorem Ipsum placeholder text. Typically this piece of classical Latin literature is used to typeset a piece of two-dimensional printed work. I wanted to turn this idea on its head by instead making the words “lorem ipsum” the design itself, and put them in a different context from where they are usually seen by applying them to a piece of clothing. I used bold, graphic text so that the words are the main feature of the dress design, instead of a more traditional printed fabric pattern.

Earlier version of the dress design.

I experimented with two styles of typeface to give a sense of contrast and visual interest, so that the words become the pattern. Placement of the text itself on the design was important too, as I wanted to create a slightly off-kilter asymmetric effect and also to show the words wrapping around the body.

An earlier version of the dress design.
Sketch of initial idea.

Reflection on the week

I found this week’s topic extremely interesting and felt it would definitely be a subject worth researching in greater depth, as there are so many avenues to explore! It was notable that on the Ideas Wall, there were a few trends that seemed to crop up – Augmented Reality being one, and sustainability was another. I think both of these will be continually developing in the future, with sustainability being a really important consideration going forward. As designers, I feel it’s our responsibility to create designs that can enhance the world we inhabit, whilst being conscious of the impact of what we create – and how we create it, what materials we use, and so on – will ultimately have on that world.

Reflecting on the workshop challenge for this week, I would certainly describe it as just that – a challenge! It definitely took me some time to come up with a viable idea for the assignment that I thought had merit. I also wanted to somehow bring together the not-entirely unrelated worlds of graphic design and fashion, and hope I have managed to achieve this. If I had more time, I would like to push the idea further and continue to develop this design – I think it would be really interesting to even try physically printing it on a real fabric dress.


References

Jain, Anab. 2017. Why we need to imagine different futures. Ted Talk [online]. Available at https://www.ted.com/talks/anab_jain_why_we_need_to_imagine_different_futures [accessed 8 December 2020]

Dunne, A. Raby, F., 2013. Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming. Cambridge, MA: MIT.

Walker Art Center. 2020. Designs for Different Futures. Walker Art Center [online]. Available at https://walkerart.org/calendar/2020/designs-for-different-futures [accessed 9 December 2020]

Walker Art Center. 2020. Films for Different Futures. Walker Art Center [online]. Available at https://walkerart.org/magazine/films-for-different-futures [accessed 9 December 2020]

Keiichi Matsuda. 2016. Hyper-Reality. Available at http://hyper-reality.co/ [accessed 9 December 2020]

Keiichi Matsuda. 2013. Hyper-Reality: A New Vision of the Future. Kickstarter [online]. Available at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/723600195/hyper-reality-a-new-vision-of-the-future [accessed 9th December 2020]

Forensic Architecture. 2020. The Beirut Port Explosion. Available at https://forensic-architecture.org/investigation/beirut-port-explosion [accessed 8 December 2020]

Forensic Architecture. Agency. Available at https://forensic-architecture.org/about/agency [accessed 8 December 2020]

Katharine Hamnett. About Katharine Hamnett. Available at https://katharinehamnett.com/gbp/biography [accessed 9 December 2020]

Katharine Hamnett. Slogan T-Shirt. Available at https://katharinehamnett.com/gbp/women/activist-t-shirt-woman [accessed 9 December 2020]

Hamnett, Katharine. 2018. The protest T-shirts you see today tend to be a bit namby-pamby. The Guardian [online]. Available at
https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2018/mar/08/katharine-hamnett-the-protest-t-shirts-you-see-today-tend-to-be-a-bit-namby-pamby [accessed 10 December 2020]

Graphic Google. 2019. Free Modern Girl Dress Mockup PSD. Available at http://graphicgoogle.com/free-modern-girl-dress-mockup-psd/ [accessed 10 December 2020]