Yesterday saw the last day of the GF Smith Papers exhibition 'Beauty in the Making' at Victoria House basement in Bloomsbury. The idea was to show some insight into the everyday processes in the printing and paper industries. There were several talks throughout the week and the exhibition provided demonstrations and the opportunity to try out the hand presses and envelope-making. It was surprising to find out that all GF Smith envelopes are crafted by hand (some workers making up to 35 envelopes per hour), something I took for granted as being done by a machine. The whole design and layout of the exhibition fit in with the new minimal look of the GF Smith branding, and the goody-bag received at the end included all the recent promo pieces and a gorgeous Colorplan notebook with coptic binding. We love paper! www.gfsmith.com/editorial
Last Friday we headed to the Cotswolds and back to my hometown to see Stefan Sagmeister at the Cheltenham Design Festival. Cheltenham has a rich history of festivals with The Jazz, Literature and Gold Cup, however, this was the CDF's first year. The Festival was held over three days in the fantastic Parabola Arts Centre and there were some great speakers. Few of these were as hotly anticipated as the Austrian-born Designer Stefan Sagmeister.
Creative Review's Patrick Burgoyne joined Stefan on stage and it quickly became apparent that there would be no work shown on screen or any other visual aides. This didn't matter in the slightest, the hour long talk was honest, insightful, amusing and inspiring. Alongside the many antidotes that he had accumulated from a remarkable career, three things really stood out for me.
TIP 1. Having recently formed Bread our ears pricked up when he expressed his thoughts on starting your own company. He explained his reasons for keeping his company small, the main one being that, in his opinion, small agencies produce better work and a provide a more personal and desirable service to the client. He conceded that there were some things that larger companies could offer clients (such as a research/marketing dept) that smaller agencies might struggle to, but these things mainly serve to satisfy corporate bosses and rarely improve the actual design work. This excerpt from his website reflects his opinions on a small studio and his main reasons for hiring staff;
You often refer that one of the best decisions you had made, was keeping your firm small (i.e., normally you have two other employees besides yourself). This makes the selection of talented individuals very personal to you. What are your main selection points when hiring?
1. A sweet personality. Matthias and I are spending more time in here than me and my girlfriend do in a typical week, so the fact that we get along well is important. 2. Good work. Hopefully not the same kind of work as I did before (I know how to do that, I don't need another version of me in the studio), but somebody who complements what I do (and loves to do the things that I don't know how to do, like most of the computer work).
He also stated that he didn't go into to design to be a manager and this would inevitably have been the result if he had decided to grow his business further. On the whole he was strongly in favour of the idea and as long as you work on the basic principle of 'having more money coming in than going out' you'll be fine!
TIP 2. The next interesting point was his thoughts on the importance of self-initiated work. He is just in the process of producing a feature length film (The Happy Film) and when questioned whether his intention was to use the film as a self-promotional tool to get paid work he honestly remarked 'I couldn't give a shit whether the film gets me other work, that is not my intention at all.' He believes that if you put love into something then people will respect that and the outcome will reflect that. It is clear that money isn't what drives him, which is refreshing.
TIP 3. The final thing that really stood out was his opinion on pitching. He basically doesn't pitch. You might think 'that's easy for him but not something that is realistic or attainable for most designers or design agencies', however he put forward a strong argument (using the three projects around the ground zero site as supporting case studies) and explained why it's becoming more in the US for people to refuse to pitch. Some of the other reasons are posted by Patrick Burgoyne on the CR blog today. All in all, a really great talk. We met him afterwards and he was a really nice guy too, we even got a pic (see below).
After the talk I showed the others around Cheltenham and took them to some typically picturesque Cotswold-y places such as Winchcombe and Upper and Lower Slaughter. We also visited the Pitville Pump Room and looked in on a carboot sale. I think that Owen in particular was in need of a bit of a rural education, once remarking 'Oh look a sheep'... it was a horse.
Behind the scenes video showing the 3 day process to making the giant ball of wool for the soon to be released Monkstone Knitwear video.
In the spirit of a wet bank holiday weekend, we took a trip to National Trust museum – the Red House in South London. Strangely placed in residential Bexleyheath, less than 10 minutes' walk from the shopping mall, it appears as if plucked from some picturesque English meadow. It was the home to textile designer, craftsman, artist, writer and socialist William Morris, leader of the english Arts and Crafts movement.
Many of his patterns and designs still look contemporary, we loved the experimental yellow polka-dot ceiling above a windowseat, and some of the enormous furniture – one piece had seating, shelving and a bunkbed on top.
Worth checking out...
The penultimate day of filming began with a bit of a shock, getting up at 5.30am to do a time lapse of the sun coming up over Monkstone beach. It was amazing but tiring... Thankfully our host Anna greeted us with hot mugs of strong tea when we got back to the farm. Then it was back outside to the farm to start filming the animals. Not a bad start to the week...
We were asked by Monkstone Knitwear to produce a video to show off their brand new collection, so we visited their studio based at Trevayn Farm in South Wales. We packed up our increasingly small car with a selection of props, wool, glue, and suitcases. After a 6 hour drive we arrived on the beautiful Welsh coast line and were greeted by some friendly sheep! Check back tomorrow to see more of what we got up to in Wales...
Last night we made our way to Pick Me Up @ Somerset House. We had tickets to see Peepshow Collective give a talk but managed to rush round the exhibition beforehand. There was certainly some fantastic work on show and despite noticing a lot of the same people that had been in the show last year, such as Print club and YCN, there were some new faces that more than held their own. People of Print were one such studio that had some delightful screen-printed work. They also have a nice ethos and are involved in some really great projects.
I loved seeing the creation of temporary studios and was fascinated by the Gocco printers, mini Letterpresses (see the charming print by studio mothership pictured ) and workshops that run throughout the exhibition.
My criticism of the show lies not with the artists, illustrators and designers but with the curators. I found that the amount of work on show was overwhelming. There was just too much to take in and as a result my brain began to hurt and any highlights were lost in a blur of geometric shapes and fluorescent ink.
As for the talk, well it was dissappointing to say the least. I've been an admirer of their work for a while and they all seemed like nice guys but I'm slightly annoyed that it's one hour of my life that I'll never get back, nevermind...
Samsung asked us to create a series of postcards to represent 'Love' for the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note. The timeframe was just one day, but luckily it turned out to be one of the first gorgeous warm days of spring. We decided to get out of the studio and take a trip along the canal to play in the park. The more we looked, the more cute messages seemed to appear – in the tree blossom, in the graffiti and even on the tow path. We also made some love tokens of our own as we began to get that warm fuzzy feeling.
We'll post the final prints up for you very soon... Spring has sprung!
We were commissioned by Carhartt to create a series of large-scale, branded POS sculptures to appear in-store, to represent their workwear ranges. We created the piece in recycled wood to express the hard-wearing and authentic nature of the Carhartt brand. The POS pieces replaced the models in a series of photoshoots, framed within various everyday urban and natural environments, to create a set of posters with an ingenuous, candid feel.
More images to come...