Thursday, December 03, 2009


Facing Sideways has moved. Find it at it's new home here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Re:collection is an inventory of Australian graphic design produced in a period circa 1960–1980, that has been set up by Dominic Hofstede of Melbourne design firm Hofstede.The project was borne out of frustration at the lack of Australian graphic design reference material available, specifically from the decades mentioned above. While there's not much up on the site yet, the samples that are there so far are excellent and will obviously grow, as there is a wealth of material to mine. Surely the time has come for a printed compendium as such work to be published? The above example is by Brian Sadgrove.

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Type it write Vol. 2

Adelaide design firm Voice have released a second edition of their reference guide to punctuation 'Type it write'. This edition introduces additional topics in acronyms, emphasis and italics and places more emphasis on examples. While there are many similar reference guides around, few are as concise, easy to use and specifically geared towards the designer. As an added bonus, and typical of all the work produced by Voice, it is beautifully designed as well. From professionals to students just starting out, I advice investing in your own copy of this handy reference if you're planning on setting type (or even consider purchasing a copy for your clients to save them and yourself time on cleaning up punctuation and type inconsistencies :) Voice have also updated their site with some great projects on display since I last looked. Love the work for Back label Wines.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Sector 7g Updates

I was pleasantly surprised to see that one of my favourite local design firms, sector7G, headed by Nic Eldridge, has updated the look and content of their website. It features and interesting 'side scrolling' interface that I haven't really seen in use before (but would be familiar to all you Iphone users out there) and also integrates the studio's Twitter posts into the home page and the Outpost section. The Home page collects the Tweets from sector7g's design account and is focused mainly on design and branding where as the Outpost section collects all the studio members individual Tweets and is therefore more irreverent and 'lively'. Nic says he's thinking about opening that section up to other people as well as a 'friends of sector7g' sort of thing. Future plans for the site include integrating posts from their Vimeo and Flickr accounts. It's great to see a local design firm pushing the features and use of their site beyond just a place to view their portfolio (though there's plenty of brilliant design work on design on display there as well) What I've always admired about sector7g's work is their ability to turn something that may seem stodgy and uninspiring into beautiful and effective design solutions (see their work for Assist Finance, Core Energy and Systembuilt as great examples of carrying a design vision across a broad range of applications) Take some time to have a good look through the site for some inspiration.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Designing Design: Kenya Hara

I love perusing through the images in a design annual or designer's monograph (design porn as my wife calls it) as much as I'm sure most designers do. Seeing the work being produced by extraordinary talents lights the fire to instigate your own attempts for design immortality in such a tome. After a while though, it does feel as my good wife described 'design porn' page after page of beautiful images, one upon another, with little reference point to where the work comes from and what it sought to accomplish. I find with my work these days I'm really trying to look for that substance behind an idea to really motivate me, that unique outlook that pushes me to create beyond this years fashionable typeface and colour trends. Designing Design by Kenya Hara is that rare book that has totally redefined the way I think of and approach design

Japanese designer Kenya Hara is one of the truly unique voices in the design field, the book the has created is a paramount of elegance, simplicity and superb creative force. This is a white book, a volume of information and illustration that embraces the purity of white as the matrix upon which everything blossoms and emerges.

In an introductory essay by John Maeda the author states `Kenya Hara is a complex man. He views the world through his many lenses of seeing, tasting, smelling, erasing, evaporating, and all the forms of construction and deconstruction.' And after those appropriate words this pristine book opens into the genius that is Kenya Hara. `Verbalizing design is another act of design....To understand something is not to be able to define it or describe it. Instead, taking something that we think we already know and making it unknown thrills us afresh with its reality and deepens our understanding of it.' The book contains examples of work that goes beyond what we may define as graphic design, or design in general - paper, bowls of white cabbage leaves, signs, images of Swatch watches that come down through projected air onto any surface presented, unique signage for public spaces, soft ice cream shapes, furniture, spaces, lamps, posters - any object that requires rendering is treated and discussed in concept and philosophy by a man of great wisdom as well as endless creativity. The illustrations accompanying the text are clean and as well placed on the page as any creation by Hara. This is a seemingly endless array of fascinating subjects.

More than just a treatise on design for the initiated, the book contains powerful philosophical concepts that are applicable to anyone. `The human brain likes anything that entails a great deal of information. Its extensive capacity waits eagerly to perceive the world by completely exhausting its great receptive powers. That potential power, though, remains today in a state of extreme constriction and is a source of the information stress we're all under.' Hara approaches this conundrum by dividing his book into sections that approach answers to these problems: RE-DESIGN, HAPTIC (Awakening the Senses), SENSEWARE, WHITE, MUJI (Nothing, yet Everything), VIEWING THE WORLD FROM THE TIP OF ASIA, EXFORMATION (Rivers, Resorts), and finally WHAT IS DESIGN? It's difficult to put into words, and I admit, if the previous phrases were presented to me out of context from having read the book, I would see it as just so much wank! Believe me though, if you have the slightest interest in design, this is a book worth thinking upon, to be read again and dipped into when the need for inspiration calls. Though the information may come across as complex, the writing style feels very approachable, not academic or dry.

As you can tell, I can't recommend this book highly enough. If you are the type of person interested in astute observation, finding the beauty in simple solutions to complex problems, looking beyond surface decoration, or just like to have really cool looking design books on your shelf, this is an indispensable addition to any design book collection.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

It was only a matter of time.....

Apple demands Woolworths drops new(ish) logo.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

On Software Gone By....

Is it particularly sad of me to sometimes pine for obsolete software? I've been doing some tidying up in my designated home studio space and store-all of stuff, sorting through dog eared C4 envelopes and battered archive boxes, in the process rediscovering the 'fruits' of 20 odd years of design work. Like most of our ilk, I'm somewhat of a pack-rat, I've hoarded just about every piece of design I've contributed anything to, now matter how embarrassing (and believe me, there's been plenty of 'the embarrassing'). with me it's been a case of, if I put the effort into producing it, then there should be some evidence that it was produced. This attention to keeping every piece of work will no doubt prove to be an invaluable resource when the time come for my inevitable retrospective exhibition and/or biography to be produced, but I digress.

Besides the often cringe-worthy assessment of the ghosts of design work past, I can't help but reflect upon the tools that went into producing said pieces. I come of age as a designer in the first dawnings of the huge switch over from rubber cement and bromides to the early Apple Mac and associated design programs. My first introduction to the new medium came through a program called Ready Set Go! I I can't remember if the exclamation mark was included). Basic, to say the least, even at the time I remember reading with envy about a program called Quark Xpress-the mystical 'do all' program for professional designers, not second year design students. Ready Set Go! and myself. We were both out of our depths at the time it seemed, but on reflection it seems as though it's very limitations often led me to some interesting runarounds in search of that sort after perfect result. I'm sure it also stopped me from going overboard with the 'freedoms' that today's programs allow the professional and would-be designer. Ready Set Go! wasn't going to let you fake anything.

It would be difficult for young designers to appreciate the revelation that came from using something like Ready Set Go! and then discovering Aldus Freehand. With Freehand, suddenly all things seemed possible and (more easily) achievable. Until you've spent hours using french curves and a technical or ruling pen(!) to draw up a logo and then another few hours bromiding it to the right size and pasting it down with rubber cement o board with a tracing cover-leaf with printers instructions scrawled on it, can you appreciate the 'magic' of this drawing program. To me, never has a design program been so perfectly named - now you had a tool that gave you a 'free-hand' to design and draw shapes to your hearts content, easily and intuitively. In my mind it was (and still does) seem so much more an expressive tool than the often bogged down in the technical Adobe Illustrator. There has not been an update to Freehand since 2005 when Adobe acquired Macromedia, but a quick search around the internets will uncover a plethora of well known designers who still strongly stick by it's use.
Only a couple of years ago a local printer told me of a designer who was still using a very early version of Freehand, a version that did not allow multiple pages in a single document. A 100+ page annual report would be duly delivered as 100+ separate Freehand files, each a page of the report, as you can imagine, not an ideal delivery solution.

Even though it has been years since I've last used it, it's ghost lingers on in my daily disdain of Illustrator, a program I will go to some lengths to avoid using if possible - a program that seems to sneer at me and say, 'so you want to be all intuitive and creative do you? Not on my watch! Let me show you how many drop menus you need to go through to get to that, and don't even think about trying to paste something inside an object!'

I'm sure I still have a copy of Freehand on some dusty CD somewhere, sharing kilobytes with my copy of Wolfenstein and Disk Doubler. If I came across it I don't think I'd have the heart to throw it out. Like my early amateur design work, it doesn't serve much purpose other than to remind myself of where I have been to get myself here, but isn't that the point of any treasured memento? Don't get me started, unless you want to hear about my first Apple LC with 4meg of RAM and a 40mb hard drive that I would never fill up!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Royal Adelaide Show Posters

With all due respect to the creators of these posters and all their photo-shoppery brilliance, as someone who is slightly coulrophobic (fears clowns) and has to pass by and see these hanging on bus shelters every morning, they scare the hell out of me. The first one in particular reminds me of the film clip for Aphex Twins 'Come To Daddy', and don't start me on the too human eyes, following you everywhere. So I guess the message is, 'Have fun at the show kid and welcome to hell!

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