Look who's talking – Experimental typography, bands, brands and jelly beans

The medium of a talk seems to have been challenged in recent years. What used to be an event in which a silent audience nodded along (or sometimes nodded off) to a speaker showcasing a lifetime of design perfection is now changing, crossing that invisible line between audience and speaker. Last week, we popped along to two of our favourite monthly talk series which often go head-to-head on the last Wednesday and Thursday many months of the year.

Letterform Live gets experimental

Letterform Live is a series of talks put together by Grafik, in partnership with Monotype and ISTD and hosted by Protein Studios. This sort of high level collaboration leads to a rather colourful and engaging environment before and after the talks. The tickets are £12 with some free drinks provided. The attendees range from working designers, academics and those outside of the design industry leading to some lively discussions and possible future collaborations. The format involves 5 speakers talking for 10 minutes, each loosely based around a favoured letterform, and then a Q&A taking place at the end. With this flexibility in format, the speakers are able to present their own take on the subject, leading to interesting results. Some recent themes have included: Bowie, fashion, brutal and cycling.

(left) Tom Hingston and Jonathan Barnbrook (right) speak about working with Bowie at April's Letterform Live

(left) Tom Hingston and Jonathan Barnbrook (right) speak about working with Bowie at April's Letterform Live

Last week's event, which was themed 'Experimental', included speakers Malou Verlomme of Monotype; Paul McNeil, a senior lecturer at LCC;  Elisabeth and David of The Counterpress; Peter Cronkrak of Luxury of Protest and Sarah Hyndman of TypeTasting. The talks included a concise history of experimentation in typography by Verlomme and The Counterpress, and interesting examples of looking at experimental type and forms of communication together by McNeil. Cronkrak then transported us into the future with a look at how our brain visualises data and what this actually looks like. Mind blown. The evening ended nicely with some great typographic experiments and findings by Sarah Hyndman. Hyndman pointed out that even the sound of names as well as the shapes of letterforms could affect they way people perceive things such as taste and the perceived value of brands. Topping it off with a jellybean experiment was a great way to get us involved.

(Left) Typographic experiments by Sarah Hyndman (middle) Paul McNeil's slides (right) the Counterpress

(Left) Typographic experiments by Sarah Hyndman (middle) Paul McNeil's slides (right) the Counterpress

The Typographic Circle says yes

(Left) Stamp visuals by Royal Mail. (Right) Snask

(Left) Stamp visuals by Royal Mail. (Right) Snask

Typocircle talks are run by The Typographic Circle membership organisation. The tickets are £16 for non-members and £10 for members. If you are fast enough, you can grab yourself a free drink as well. In the earlier years, the speakers were mainly British graphic design, branding and illustration industry leaders. In recent years, they have also invited exceptional theatre designers, companies such as Royal Mail, and last week the Rock n Roll Swedish design agency Snask.

Malmo Festival by Snask. Image by Snask.

Malmo Festival by Snask. Image by Snask.

Last week's 'Say Yes' talk was like no other. Set in the nightclub Cargo, where other talks involve a quiet click, click, click through slides,  Snask played loud, musical interludes between each segment. Their rocky songs were peppered with expletives and contained some unique advice to designers such as 'Don't mix rock n roll with professional.' Our favourite piece of work was the Malmo Festival typographic identity, but their stories of throwing after-parties for student interviews dressed in period costume made us chuckle too. The evening ended with a full gig and some networking amongst creatives.

Across town: Hidden Women of Design get visible

HWOD pic by Lorna Allan

Last Wednesday saw the second in a series of three talks organised by Lorna Allan of Hidden Women of Design. It is free to attend and talks are held at the very cool Peckham Pelican venue. The structure of the talks consist of three speakers with 20 slides in 20 minutes like a Pecha Kucha followed by a Q&A. So far, Speakers have included: Sian Cook of WD+RU, Spike Spondike of Dalton Maag, Jocelyn Bailey of Uscreates and the final talk next week will include Emily Wood of REG Design and CSM and Dr Cathy Gale. These talks showcase some of the many, great women designers living and working in London. 

From last week's talks.

From last week's talks.

Upcoming talks

July

Hidden Women of Design's (HWOD) final talk of this series is next week, Wednesday 13 July from 7pm at Peckham Pelican. For more information follow @HWODesign on Twitter

Glug Presents: Do you need a Penis to be a Creative Director? Thursday, 14 July from 18:30 at The Trampery, £14.50. For more information go to Glug Events. Featuring Nadiya Powell of Sunshine, Jo Hodges of LCC and Kath Tudball, Design Director of The Partners amongst others.

In the autumn 

The Typocircle Talks returns on 20 October at Protein Gallery. Check the website for further details.

Letterform Live returns for a new series at the end of September. Check the website for further details.

 

Central Saint Martins BAGD: the course formerly known as graphic design?

Every year, the BA graphics degree show at Central Saint Martins (CSM) is a highlight of the degree show season. This year did not disappoint. Previously, the degree work has been grouped into the traditional silos of illustration, graphic design and advertising, yet this year we found ourselves navigating curated themes such as 'How does graphic communication (re)solve questions?'. We were encouraged by the social thinking exploration coming from the BA graphics course, and look forward to seeing how these designers develop. The following are some pieces that caught our eye when we went on the Industry event last week.

bagd guide.jpg

This year's catalogue is nicely bound, not only with some neat sewing, but also with the themes of the show: 'How does graphic communication (re)solve problems?'; 'How do we find a voice in a commercial world?'; 'How do we (re)design who we are?'; 'Is technology leading us to Utopia or dystopia?'; 'How do we (re) materialise culture?'; 'What is wrong with design/society?'; 'How is reality formed by narratives?', and 'Should design impose order or chaos?'

Annemarieke Kloosterhof explores cutting away cancer in paper form.

Annemarieke Kloosterhof explores cutting away cancer in paper form.

Amy Elms shows that sitting down with a cuppa and some face time can defeat the disconnect of today's technological world.

Amy Elms shows that sitting down with a cuppa and some face time can defeat the disconnect of today's technological world.

Joshua Smith aims to help people understand the Syrian conflict better.

Joshua Smith aims to help people understand the Syrian conflict better.

Phillipine Sohet's clever mobile workshop idea invites mindfulness in a unique way.

Phillipine Sohet's clever mobile workshop idea invites mindfulness in a unique way.

Wen Yi Tseng brings Taiwanese fairytales to the fore, whilst highlighting the international nature of the course's students.

Wen Yi Tseng brings Taiwanese fairytales to the fore, whilst highlighting the international nature of the course's students.

Georgia Cranstoun's humorously titled book showed that the exuberance and experimentation traditionally associated with CSM students are not dead.

Georgia Cranstoun's humorously titled book showed that the exuberance and experimentation traditionally associated with CSM students are not dead.

Congratulations to all of the Central Saint Martins BA Graphics graduates on their amazing degree show this year!  I look forward to seeing you out in the industry. All of the students' work can be seen on their degree show page here.

 

Bright Lights, Big City

Lumiere London produced by Artichoke lights up the city with London's biggest-ever light festival. 30 installations by artists such as Julian Opie, Sarah Blood, Lab[au] and Jacques Rival are being showcased in locations such as King's Cross, Mayfair, Piccadilly, Regent Street, and Trafalgar Square during the four day festival. We went to check it out on the opening night.

Binary Waves by Lab[au]

Binary Waves

We were blown away by this installation by Lab[au]. Not only is it beautiful, but it uses, 'infrared sensors to capture the invisible flows of information that surround us from mobile phones, radios and cars.' While we were there, the big three meter tall lights seemed to follow us back and forth

Circus of Light

Circus of Light

The circus is coming to town. Ocubo brings it unto the facade of Central Saint Martins in King's Cross. Their engaging projection combines a colourful film of jugglers, acrobats and performers with the local residents. Hundreds of people lined up to view this fun-filled virtual performance.

Identified Flying Object

Identified Flying Object

Inside Jacques Rival's giant birdcage installation, there is a single swing inviting passersby to connect with their inner child, jump on and take off. It might seem a bit precarious to be swinging to new heights in the dark, but it was also quite thrilling.

Litre of light – Mick Stephenson, Central Saint Martins, UAL and Myshelter Foundation

MyShelter Foundation's low cost, high impact lighting solution of plastic bottles filled with water with a drop of bleach can refract as much sunlight through it as a 55-watt bulb. They have brought this simple idea to communities in developing countries and now it has been converted by Mick Stephenson and CSM students into an art installation exploring the themes of sustainability, climate change and issues of poverty.

Light Graffiti

Don't have a light sabre? Well, this could be the next best thing. Floating Pictures' interactive installation let's you run wild with a smartphone torch and create lines of light and colour literally as street art.

Lumiere London is running from 14 – 17 January. It's definitely worth checking out as it's free and fun to do. For further info and locations, check out Lumiere London's website