Programme | Exhibitions and demonstrations

Critical Tensions
Tenth annual St Bride Library conference, 10 & 11 November 2011

Thursday 10 November

9.30 Registration opens

10.15 Opening remarks

10.30–11.30 Jonathan Barnbrook The critical role of typefaces

What is the critical role of typefaces for the type designer? Are they a vehicle for ideology? An expression of utopia or simply a something which makes text look nicer? Jonathan Barnbrook will explain why he continues to design fonts and what exactly influences them.

Jonathan Barnbrook is a type designer, graphic designer and filmmaker. Since 1990 he has chosen to work with a mixture of cultural institutions, activist groups and charities as well as completing a steady stream of personal posters. He is also know for his collaborations with Adbusters and Damien Hirst, his work for David Bowie, his ubiquitous font designs released through Emigre and his company Virusfonts. His contribution to graphic design was recognised by a major exhibition at the Design Museum, London, in 2007. / @barnbrook

11.30–12.00 Tom Farrand Are you Good for Nothing?

Tom will describe how an idea triggered by frustration with the advertising industry has created a small, but growing community of volunteers who apply their creativity for social good. In doing so he’ll explore how this is forging a potentially different way of working and bringing a new purpose and energy for people in the creative industries.

With an ethos of doing, not just talking, he’ll challenge the audience to not just listen, but to apply their skills direct to a live project that needs ideas…

As co-founder of Good for Nothing, Tom and his partners-in-crime Tom Rowley and Dan Burgess are experimenting with more human approaches for people to create meaningful innovation. The mission is to bring together diverse groups of people from across big business and small social ventures to spark innovation with a purpose beyond just pure profit. / @tomfarrand

12.00–12.30 Tea & coffee

12.30–1.00 Phil Baines Thinking and making happen in the same place

This phrase was used as a slogan during protests against our college management at Central Saint Martins following their decision to move the printmaking workshops not to King’s Cross with the rest of the college, but to the Byam Shaw building at Archway. I’d like to use that phrase as a starting point and to touch on aspects of craft and practice in the 21st century and the role of design education more generally.

Phil Baines is a freelance graphic designer based in London, and Professor of Typography at Central Saint Martins. @sarkytype

1.00–1.30 Paul Rennie ‘Britain can make it’ (1947) – signposts to the future

The 1947 exhibition ‘Britain can make it’ was a rallying call for the economic revival of Britain after WW2. The proposed template for reconstruction and prosperity required a higher level of education across a wider range of the population. Implicit in the objects and signs of the exhibition were markers to a better world.

Dr Paul Rennie is Head of Contexts in Communication, at Central Saint Martins, London. Paul is acknowledged as a specialist in the history of poster design and in communications. @highspeedone

1.30–2.45 Lunch break

2.45–3.30 Alan Kitching The Wrington Suite: the show must go on

Settle for the reassurance of a pension or buy a huge collection of theatrical wood type? For Celia Stothard and Alan Kitching, the choice became clear on a fateful trip to a barn in deepest Somerset. Fourteen years on, Alan will discuss how The Wrington Suite brought with it not only hard work and challenges, but also a fresh and inspiring means of creative expression.

Alan Kitching RDI AGI Hon FRCA is one of the world’s foremost practitioners of letterpress typographic design and printmaking. Born 1940 in Darlington, Co. Durham, he was an apprentice compositor (1956–61) before meeting Anthony Froshaug and co-establishing the experimental printing workshop at Watford College of Technology, School of Art (1964). He worked with Froshaug until 1967, but continued to collaborate with him on student projects at the Central School of Art & Design. In 1973 Alan began his own design practice in London. In 1977 he partnered with Derek Birdsall at Omnific and started letterpress printing there in 1985. He then went on to establish The Typography Workshop in Clerkenwell (1989), and began teaching through letterpress at the Royal College of Art (1991–2006). From 1994 he worked in partnership with designer/writer Celia Stothard (later his wife). Sadly Celia passed away in December 2010 after a long and brave battle with cancer. Alan continues to exhibit and lecture across the globe, and is renowned for his expressive use of wood and metal letterforms in commissions and limited-edition prints.

3.30–4.00 Tea & coffee

4.00–4.30 Gerry Leonidas The emergence of meta-typography

Look at the most interesting, innovative design these days, and it is likely to involve typographic decisions very much like those taught to traditional typographers. Read online, and many designers for interactive media are working to re-discover typographic principles simply because their pages work better after they’ve done so. At the same time, there’s no shortage of people to remind you that ‘they knew about this all along’, just as they, mostly, avoided engaging with the new professional communities. A spate of recent developments have brought typography centre stage in screen-based design, and there is enough commentary and discussion to indicate that this is not a passing phase. But where is typographic education in all this? How do we teach the new designers to navigate typography on paper, on demand, and on screen with equal confidence? What are the core skills for the next generation of professionals? And who will teach them, and equip them with the skills to keep learning and innovating? This is a good time to rethink typographic education to make it explicitly relevant, and therefore indispensable, to all areas of design. Nothing new, of course: just explained differently.

Gerry Leonidas is a Senior Lecturer in Typography at the University of Reading. He spends most of his time talking and writing about typeface and document design at a range of levels. His work has a heavy bias towards taught postgraduate teaching, postgraduate supervision, course development, and enterprise / knowledge transfer projects. His consultancy focuses on publication and typeface design with particular expertise in Greek typography. He is frequently invited to speak on typography, typeface design, and typographic education, and review the work of others. Since 2001 he has been the Programme Director for MA Typeface Design at Reading. The course is considered a reference for practice-based teaching in an academic environment, and, through the output of its students and graduates, is contributing considerably to the transformation of a domain of practice into a field of study. He is currently taking a new MA programme through the final stages of certification. / @gerryleonidas

4.30–5.00 Timo Arnall (BERG)

A growing and significant amount of design work takes place in systems, software and electronics. But these technologies are increasingly abstracted and black-boxed, so how can designers engage with these things meaningfully? How might we be involved in developing, critiquing and reflecting upon complex, opaque and invisible technologies? Over the last four years BERG have produced a series of films exploring and explaining emerging technologies, building models and materials for understanding and invention.

Timo Arnall is creative director at the design studio BERG in London and a research fellow at the Oslo School of Architecture & Design. Timo has been making films, designing digital products, and researching emerging technologies for 15 years. / @berglondon

5.00–5.30 Plenary moderated by Emily King

Emily is a London-based design historian who concentrates on writing and curating. Her books include Robert Brownjohn: sex and typography (2005) and C/ID: Visual identity and branding for the arts (2006), and in 2003 she edited the Peter Saville monograph Designed by Peter Saville. She has curated a number of exhibitions, among them a career retrospective of the British graphic designer Alan Fletcher for London’s Design Museum, the interdisciplinary exhibition ‘Wouldn’t it be nice: wishful thinking in art and design’ for the Centre d’Art Contemporain in Geneva and ‘Quick, quick, slow’ an exhibition about the relationship between graphic design and time for the Museu Berardo in Lisbon. She is currently curating an exhibition for the Lisbon design biennale ‘Experimenta’ and writing a book about the Parisian design team M/M. Emily King contributes to an eclectic selection of international magazines including Frieze, The Gentlewoman and Apartamento.

Friday 11 November

9.00 Registration opens

10.00–11.00 Vaughan Oliver Visual Pressures (30 years in 60 minutes)

The lecture is an overview of Oliver’s 30 year career in graphic design focusing on design for music and fashion, branding and publishing. It will cover his role as art director and designer, considering the collaborative nature of his work.

Vaughan Oliver has 30 years’ experience as a graphic designer, art director and consultant. He is one of the most influential practitioners of his generation and enjoys a global reputation. Whilst specialising in work for the music industry, Oliver’s unique approach to design has attracted clients from a broader field, including design for V&A Publishing, Penguin, L’Oreal, Microsoft, Sony Playstation, BBC, Harrods, John Galliano, Young Vic Theatre and most recently a music packaging commission for film director David Lynch. A highly successful retrospective of Oliver’s work in Nantes, France in 1992, led to further shows in Paris, Tokyo, Osaka, Los Angeles, the UK and Athens. His work has been collected for the Victoria and Albert Museum archives and is on permanent exhibition in their 20th Century Gallery.

In recent years Oliver has taught and lectured in both the UK and US at Kingston University, Central Saint Martins, UCA, Surrey and RISD, Providence. This year he was awarded an Honorary MA at UCA, Surrey and a Visiting Professorship from University of Greenwich.

11.00–11.30 Derek Yates A new approach to vocational learning

Popular perception draws a distinction between vocational and academic learning, between the practitioner and the educator, between industry and education. This view says that the sort of research that enables innovation and new ways of thinking is distinct from activity that improves employability. The term ‘vocational’ is thought to imply a short-term fix, associated with passive thinkers and technicians only able to work under instruction. A more contemporary approach sees creative thinking, innovation and employability as intrinsically linked. According to Sir George Cox, former Chair of the Design Council, ‘Creativity – the base for innovation – has never been more important. For business, it holds the key not just to success, but to survival.’

Derek calls for a re-evaluation of the relationship between creative education and the employers it serves in order to instigate research that has resonance outside the academic environment. In this talk he will investigate the potential of partnerships with the creative industries that encourage an exchange of ideas that has genuine benefits for both parties.

During the late eighties and early nineties Derek Yates was a featured artist in the Thames & Hudson book Design after dark by Cynthia Rose. Since then he has developed a career in Further and Higher Education that has been orientated toward vocational learning. Most recently he has been at the forefront of innovation in the development of work related and work-based learning at Camberwell College of Arts. Here he has brokered partnerships with commercial agencies such as Wieden & Kennedy, Moving Brands, Bibliothèque and Kin, cultural institutions like the V&A and respected journals such as Eye. Derek’s interest in learning that reaches outside the walls of Academia led to his involvement in the development of the award winning education platform ‘onedotzero_cascade’, as a co-creator with Sophie Walter. He continues to work with ‘onedotzero’ and has used what he has learnt from this partnership to instigate initiatives at Camberwell that explore cross disciplinary practice, creative collaboration and the development of contemporary employability skills. /

11.30–12.00 Tea & coffee

12.00–12.30 Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright GraphicDesign&: Inward / Outward

Graphic design is accessible to everyone. It has a role in all things, all of the time. We all engage with it and we are all affected by it. However, despite its central role in how we inform, entertain, manipulate and provoke, this outward looking practice is bizarrely covert with much of the cultural criticism that focuses on graphic design aimed at – and read by – graphic designers alone, excluding wider audiences.

Established by Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright, GraphicDesign& seeks to address these tensions and redress the balance. GraphicDesign& makes the interconnectedness of graphic design with the wider world explicit by making partnerships between graphic design and a myriad of other subjects, in order to publish books and host events that demonstrate why design matters.

Yet this enterprise and ambition to shift the balance between the inward facing and outward looking nature of graphic design has exposed new tensions, which push and pull in different directions and that GraphicDesign& will explore here: between graphic design and other disciplines, between designers and non-designers, between idealism and pragmatism, and between what we know graphic design to be and what we believe it is capable of.

GraphicDesign& founders Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright are an unusual combination. A pessimist and an optimist; a practitioner and design educator; one rooted in typography, the other in image-making…

Lucienne Roberts is a graphic designer who allies a commitment to accessible, engaging graphic design with a socially aware agenda. Her studio LucienneRoberts+, specialises in design for the voluntary, charity, and arts sectors. She was a signatory of the First Things First 2000 manifesto, which called for greater design responsibility; has taught widely, most recently at Yale and ESAD, Porto and is external examiner of BA Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. LucienneRoberts+ design projects include: exhibition design for the British Council, Kensington Palace, Petrie Museum and Wellcome Collection; identities for David Miliband’s leadership campaign and AVA Academia; and book design for the Design Museum, Triangle Arts Trust and Panos London. Lucienne has written for Eye and Grafik and her books include The designer and the grid (Rotovision, 2002) and Good: an introduction to ethics in graphic design (AVA Academia, 2006).

Rebecca Wright is academic director of Communication Design and course director of BA Graphic Design and BA Graphic Design + Photography at Kingston University, courses that are increasingly concerned with questioning how visual communication affects and influences the way we live. She is committed to the development of design education and stimulating this debate. A design educator and writer for 13 years, Rebecca has lectured, spoken at events and acted as consultant at academic institutions in the UK and abroad, most recently in Berlin, Cape Town and Treviso. Her writing on design and design education has been published in books and journals. Rebecca is chair and speaker for an ambitious annual art and design education programme at Institute of Education, London where other speakers have included Bridget Riley, Antony Gormley, Cornelia Parker and Grayson Perry.

Lucienne and Rebecca co-wrote Design diaries: creative process in graphic design (Laurence King, 2010). / @gdand

12.30–1.00 Zoë Bather

Zoë Bather looks back at the last six years of working with Studio8 and considers some of the balances they’ve tried to strike – developing a specialism versus not being pigeonholed; big fee earners versus pro bono; creating a brand versus working with someone else’s; design led versus content led – giving us an insight into some of the challenges they have encountered as a small studio.

Zoë Bather studied graphic design at Kingston University and upon graduating joined internationally acclaimed Frost Design, where she worked on a broad range of projects for a variety of clients including the Crafts Council, Chris Boot Publishing and the Serpentine Gallery. In 2004 Zoë was appointed Creative Director of Frost Design (London) and, with fellow Creative Director Matt Willey, took charge of the studio and its projects. In 2005, Zoë co-founded Studio8 Design with Matt Willey, where she continues to work across multiple disciplines, from magazines, books, and annual reports, to promotional campaigns, exhibition graphics, and corporate identities, gaining several awards. Recent clients include Brian Cox for HarperCollins, Central School of Speech & Drama, and a Polar Explorer. Zoë has sat on judging panels for D&AD, Design Week and Creative Review, is part of the Typographic Circle committee, and has guest lectured at LCC, Kingston University, the University of Lincoln, and Elisava Barcelona. / @studio8designuk

1.00–1.30 Educational plenary moderated by Phil Baines

1.30–2.45 Lunch break

2.45–3.30 Marina Willer and Ije Nwokorie

Marina and Ije will discuss how they work together, as a creative and a strategist respectively, in order to shape the agency and instigate the kind of creative thinking which helps organisations to make an impact. They will refer to some of Wolff Olins’ best work but will focus on what goes on behind the scenes and the tensions inherent in their collaborative approach.

Designer and film maker Marina Willer is the leading creative director at Wolff Olins. Originally from Brazil, she has been living and working in London for 15 years. She is best known for designing the Tate logo and brand identity. Amongst her film projects, she made ‘Exposed’ and ‘Inside out’ to introduce Richard Rogers’ exhibition in the Pompidou Centre and Design Museum.

Ije was trained in architecture at Columbia University. As md of Wolff Olins he leads, facilitates, and delivers strategy and innovation for big corporations. His passion lies in interpreting business problems as creative challenges and facilitating groups to do something new, exciting and meaningful. Most recently Ije has worked with Mercedes-Benz, PepsiCo, Carrefour, and Skype. / @marinawiller

3.30–4.00 Tea & coffee

4.00–4.30 Amelia Gregory Bringing a magazine to life: tales from the frontline of print and online production

Amelia Gregory will be talking about the critical tensions between print and online, photography and illustration, mainstream media and blogging, traditional promotion and social media.

Amelia Gregory is publisher, editor and art director of Amelia’s Magazine, an online arts magazine that focuses on emerging art, illustration, design, fashion, photography, music and the environment. Having trained in printed textile design for fashion she entered the world of styling, working at magazines such as The Face, Sleaze Nation, I-D and The Guardian. She then moved into photography before starting Amelia’s Magazine in 2004. For ten biannual issues it was in print before moving entirely online in 2008, where it now gathers 65,000 readers a month. Amelia has published two books on illustration, Amelia’s anthology of illustration and Amelia’s compendium of fashion illustration. She also lectures widely on art direction, eco design, PR and social networking in the UK and internationally. At the moment Amelia is busy designing her second range of cards for Roger La Borde. / @ameliagregory

4.30–5.00 Steven Watson Is anybody there? The importance of authorship in independent magazines

At their best, magazines are clubs that welcome their readers in and build identity around a shared worldview; at their worst, they’re commercial vehicles that use their words and pictures to fill the space between adverts. Any successful magazine must both engage with and sell to its readership, and in this presentation Steven Watson argues that the key to walking that fine line is personality. Drawing on examples from medieval castles to mid-90s FHM, he shows how authorship can create the impression of personality, helping to build the sort of readership that gives independent magazines a fighting chance in difficult times.

Steven Watson is the founder of Stack, the subscription service that sends a selection of independent magazines direct to readers all over the world. He also runs the popular Printout! independent magazine nights with magCulture’s Jeremy Leslie, and in August the two collaborated to make a magazine in 48 hours at London’s Southbank Centre. He is head of customer publishing at The Church of London, helping to make award-winning magazines and communications for corporate clients including Google, PlayStation and Volkswagen. / @stackmagazines

5.00–5.30 Plenary moderated by Phil Baines