06 of 12


Taking the scenic route

One of my shortcomings is that I often go with the first idea I get. The first good one that seems worth developing anyway. Oftentimes, this is the one I end up using as well.

At least if I don’t hit some obstacle along the way and have to start over from the beginning again.

As I want to end up with the best outcome for every project I work on I really need to do better than that.

I admit that the motorway to Liverpool didn’t really qualify as scenic, but it was something different compared to the norm. Perhaps this is analogous to what I should do – something other than what I always do.

The work flow in any and every design project I do follows a familiar route. Breaking out of my self imposed boundaries is not going to be an easy task but if the results are worthwhile I must at least try to change something. At some point – perhaps not all the time as what I’ve done so far does work quite well. But could work better.

After a search on the web I ended up with a dizzying array of flowcharts and infographics that made me quite literally dizzy, I looked at how some of the graphic and web designers I see doing great work go about making the right decisions.

I learned a lot from the Brighton based firm Clearleft as they have a number of case studies on their website. Here is a link: https://clearleft.com

One takeaway is that they involve their clients in the design process when this is possible (and in some cases end users as well).

In the case of the feasibility study for the design and technology of self-service kiosks for Suffolk Libraries they use a week-long combination of feasibility study and design sprint, which uncovered issues they had to work around.

Working on the The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s fully responsive website they used a different method:

Beginning with planning a pilot scheme, performing extensive user research including public workshops with residents and council experts.

Creating an innovative information architecture design, a browser-based prototype for usability testing, and finishing off with giving training in responsive web design.

A different approach when needed – not stuck in one mode of operating.

Now I have at least some thoughts that hopefully will help me move forward in this respect. Instead of heading straight for the computer I will:

  • Research my audience
  • Get to understand who I am designing for
  • Check out the competition
  • Make sure I understand the media I design for
  • If possible have others looking at your designs
  • Choose the right tools, technology, and methods to produce the work

And I will remember to take the time to try more than one option as well!



05 of 12


Liverpool – a visit

A few hours to visit galleries and attempt to take in as much as possible leaves me with too many impressions to take in at once!

The highlight of the day was the time spent at the Bluecoat Gallery, on School Lane in the city centre.

The gallery “uses its spaces to showcase talent across all creative disciplines including visual art, music, literature, dance and live art and is a hub for new talent, providing studio spaces for artists within a unique creative community”. That’s what they say on their web site anyway. http://www.thebluecoat.org.uk

There are resident artists here, as well as creative businesses and retailers – which makes it more than just a gallery.

It is housed in a historic building, which has been refurbished and re-opened in 2008, and Bluecoat celebrates it’s 300 year anniversary.

The exhibits are varied and interesting, so selecting only a few to mention isn’t easy.


The wall of poster art caught my eye, and since I like poster design I thought I’d mention it. Posters and other printed ephemera are plentiful and displayed in more places than on this wall.

Below is Adam Dant’s “The Dissolution of Call Centres”, from 2009. Ink and gold leaf on paper. Courtesy of the Artist and Hales London New York.

the-dissolution-of-callcentresAt first glance this is a quite traditional scene – until you start looking at the details, that is (see insert).

Mayhem is hidden beneath the rays of gold! Pretty much my preconceived idea of what call centres are in real life!

Marcassin 1, by John Monks (2009-2010), oil on canvas, is another work that I really liked.


Gritty and vivid – makes you wonder what had happened here.

As for the other galleries I visited, I must confess to remaining unimpressed.

Perhaps I’m just a difficult customer…

04 of 12

Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv


One of the exhibits for the Ellis Island Museum that I find poignant in today’s political climate in the USA…

This is one of the design firms I follow. They have been around for a very long time – since 1958 in fact.

Their web site gives a taste of their simple and clear style.

Classic branding, print and motion graphics, exhibitions and what they refer to as “art in architecture”.

They have designed a multitude of awards for their work. Here are some of them listed.

Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar, partner and designer Sagi Haviv, and principal designer Mackey Saturday, are they driving forces behind what they do – and a host of others who are employed by the agency.

Their methodology is collaborative, and the principals are still involved in every project they take on.

So, what is it I like about their work?

The identities they have designed over the years have for the most part a clarity and simplicity that I find makes them memorable – which is of course what a brand should be.

Graphics for print and web are more varied and ranges from naive and playful, to more “adult” in terms of design language. Always somehow right.

Art in architecture is on a different scale altogether. Bringing a personal touch, unique to each of the projects.

Exhibitions is another are they excel in. Mostly projects of a more stark and serious nature. Thoughtful design that never steps over the mark.

Motion graphics – again more than something that just looks great, there is some thought behind the outcomes.

Having the longevity and experience counts for a lot. And they are still producing great work.

What’s there not to like!?