Review of the year

The past 12 months have seen game-changing events which could easily have swamped the world of design – not least the profound and continuing impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review – but our industry continues to thrive and look forward to new challenges


This year showed digital to be a continually diversifying and evolving sector which stubbornly refuses to define itself.

Some of the most physically interactive work was still found in exhibition design. Kin Design has worked on the Manchester Museum of Science & Industry’s newly curated Revolution Gallery to help visitors interact with exhibits through new technology.

Installations include a series of iPads which communicate with the Baby (1948) – one of the first modern computers – to calculate binary results. Visitors use barcode cards to interact with each exhibit in the space, building up a digital scrapbook, accessible online after they leave.

Jason Bruges Studio continued to make interventions into architectural spaces – the latest, still in development, is a permanent light installation which wraps around the new W London Hotel. Prompted by cameras taking panoramic time-lapse photographs from the roof, data on changes in daylight and natural light feeds a veil of 600 lights which shrouds the building and shows the changing environmental context.

Television looked forward to You View – the free-to-air Internet-connected TV service – which launches next year. Digital designers are set to play an important role in development and Method has already overhauled Channel Five’s digital platforms in anticipation.

Broadcast in general is still an important area for the sector and the BBC saw through the implementation of Research Studios’ new visual language for BBC Online.

App briefs became more prevalent as the uptake of iPhones increased, the introduction of similar Android platform phones took hold and the iPad was introduced.

orling Kindersley’s Travel Guide to Paris iPad app, by Cogapp, was particularly slick – the first in a series of city guides by the publisher.

One of the longest running digital consultancies said goodbye to its founding directors Daljit Singh and Andy Chambers this year, but looks forward to going back to its interaction roots with new creative director Henry Brook at the helm.


Some well-worn household names received makeovers this year, including Jammie Dodgers by Robot Food, The Archers by Fallon, the Science Museum by Johnson Banks and Playplax by Webb & Webb. These colourful identities contrast strongly with the illustration-led, recession-era monochrome identities given to trendy new start-ups in 2010.

Connor Goddard gave frozen yoghurt company Cultured Cow a logo to portray ’integrity, wit and intelligence’. The Team created an illustration-based monochrome logo for Lily Allen’s fashion venture Lucy in Disguise and Moshi Moshi record company’s new imprint Tender Age features typography and illustrations by design student Manda Wilks.

Mainstream and challenger brands have both done well, but 2010 has also been kind to not-for-profit organisations, from Anthony Nolan’s identity by Johnson Banks, to homelessness charity St George’s Crypt’s outstanding graphics by B&W Studio.

Every year needs a branding disaster story, and this year Gap shouldered the burden, scrapping its brand new logo after negative feedback about the Laird & Partners-designed identity.

Logo-baiting has become a popular sport since its invention in 1997, when British Airways unveiled its new ethnic tail art branding by Newell and Sorrell. But this year has been a good one for air industry rebrands, with Johnson Banks and Circus creating a new livery for Virgin Atlantic and 10 Associates rebranding Leeds Bradford Airport’s premier lounges, among other projects.

Branding for those little white flying sticks that are bad for the planet might be thriving, but cigarette branding could soon be stubbed out if Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s proposal to standardise packaging becomes official policy.

But then again, who needs logos? Someone’s Simon Manchipp laid his neck on the line in February when he argued that the logo is dead and designers should develop ’brand worlds’, which can be instantly recognised even without a logo.

_Movers and shakers

Neville Brody won his share of the headlines in 2010, after being appointed head of the Royal College of Art’s Department of Communication Art and Design (a post to be taken up in January 2011), shortlisted for the Prince Philip Designers Prize and named a member of the D&AD executive committee. Brody also launched the Anti Design Festival, a non-commercial alternative to the London Design Festival.

The year was also significant for Sir James Dyson, who authored a report for the Conservative Party outlining ways to encourage British industry in March before stepping down as Dyson chairman to focus on inventing and engineering. He has subsequently agreed to succeed Sir Terence Conran as Provost of the Royal College of Art.

In June, Seymour Powell’s Dick Powell took over as D&AD chairman following Anthony Simonds-Gooding’s departure after 17 years with the organisation. In September, Simon ’Sanky’ Sankarayya became D&AD president, promising to provide the ’glue’ between advertising and design.

Designersblock also appointed a new chairman in David Worthington, and in October, The Alloy’s Gus Desbarats was elected chairman of British Design Innovation.

Conran launched digital consultancy Conran Singh in October, led by Digit co-founder Daljit Singh, after he and fellow co-founder Andy Chambers left Digit in March.

In November Simon Pendry became creative director of Blue Marlin’s London office following 11 years as senior design director at Jones Knowles Ritchie. Also in November, Simon Bailey rejoined Interbrand as European chief executive after a six-year period at The Brand Union.

The final part of the year saw Identica’s parent company Cossette Group announce that it was to be renamed Esprit de Corps as part of a global restructure, which saw the Cossette name reserved solely for a communications agency in Canada and EdC become the parent company of former Cossette Group companies.

_Comprehensive Spending Review

Wednesday 20 October was the day Chancellor George Osborne unveiled the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, the details and impact of which are still sinking in for the design industry and the country as a whole.

Osborne unveiled £81bn of cuts, to be made in the coming years, with both the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport facing cuts of around 25 per cent to their resource budgets and 40 per cent to their administration budgets.

The Design Council was one of the first casualties of the Government cuts. Even before the CSR was unveiled, the Cabinet Office announced plans to strip the Design Council of its status as a non-departmental Government body, but allow it to retain its status as a charity.

Cuts also mean the fate of the Central Office of Information is hanging in the balance. COI head of creative services Fanny Sigler took voluntary redundancy in November, in a process which saw the COI reduce headcount by 40 per cent.

In the capital, both Design for London and the London Development Agency face the axe. The results of this are already filtering down, with designer-maker group Hidden Art saying it will be forced to fold next month if it cannot make up a shortfall in funding after the LDA withdrew its grant.

With students taking to the streets to protest at cuts in the higher education budget, fears are growing that design courses – sitting outside the protected circle of science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects – will be hit even harder by the 40 per cent cuts. The interior architecture course at the University of Wales, Cardiff, is already set to close.

Neville Brody, in a bid to redress the lack of funds coming to the creative industries, has announced plans for an ’Alternative Arts Council’, which would channel corporate cash into UK arts initiatives to plug the gap left by cuts to Arts Council England.

_Overseas opportunities

While many consultancies have been working with overseas clients for decades, this year has seen an increasing number choosing to expand their presence beyond the shores of Blighty.

Despite the effects of the recession, 2010 has seen designers opening offices as far afield as Singapore, India and Mexico, to gain a better insight into local markets.

In March, Conran & Partners opened an office in Delhi to serve India’s hospitality and residential design markets.

May saw Figtree announce its intentions to open a Hong Kong outpost to service Asia in September.

Also that month, Elmwood opened a Singapore outpost, joining fellow UK groups Lloyd Northover Yeang and Holmes & Marchant (both subsidiaries of Media Square) and Design Bridge, as well as a host of networked groups.

This October saw Interbrand expand its Indian presence by opening an office in Mumbai. Dalziel & Pow also opened an outpost here.

Fitch joined them in India that month, announcing it is to open a new office in Delhi, alongside its existing Indian outpost in Mumbai.

Last month, Lambie-Nairn expanded its South American presence, announcing it is set to open an office in Mexico City, following openings in Colombia in July and Argentina in October.

Closer to home in Europe, Lambie-Nairn opened a Madrid office in April this year, while AKQA opened a Berlin office back in January.

_Sporting events

Designers are putting people firmly at the heart of branding and design for major sporting events – from this year’s Fifa World Cup (with identity design by South African consultancy Switch) to the London 2012 Olympics.

Jack Morton Worldwide’s opening and closing ceremonies for this summer’s football World Cup attempted to reintroduce South Africa to the world by focusing on the fans and people of Africa rather than the pomp of the World Cup and Fifa.

Likewise, Radiant’s broadcast graphics for the tournament’s global coverage focused on the nation’s citizens. The consultancy also claims to have managed for the first time to convince Fifa to allow it to overlay patterns on the closely guarded image of the Jules Rimet trophy.

The World Cup had a profound ripple effect on design in South Africa, with the country considering its public space, infrastructure, transport and identity as a result of the tournament. The organisers of the 2012 Olympics are hoping the games will have a similar effect on the urban realm and retail design in east London, with Olympic Park commissions by United Visual Artists, Jason Bruges Studio, Martin Richman and Anish Kapoor being revealed this year, and the Westfield Stratford site coming along.

This year, the people of Britain got their controversial look-in on the design of a set of Olympic 50p coins, and were introduced to their Olympic and Paralympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville, designed by Iris and featuring nameplates that reference taxi headlights.

We may not have won the 2018 or 2022 World Cups – Qatar was the surprise winner for the latter, with branding by Lambie-Nairn – but we do have the Olympics, and it will be interesting to see what next year brings in terms of finishing touches to the games.


From typography to packaging and interiors, the hand-made and hand-crafted has swept design this year – a huge trend that looks set to continue into 2011.

Whether it be the recession or boredom with the slick and digital, the hand-made, the genuine and the authentic – real or faked – reached critical mass this year.

The trend has been building for a while now, arguably starting with Innocent’s folksy style of branding and marketing more than a decade ago and extending to TV comedy programmes like The Mighty Boosh and Flight of the Conchords in the past few years, before ending up practically everywhere in 2010.

Even Neville Brody’s inaugural Anti Design Festival had a hand-made public-involvement aspect that put two fingers up to the more reverent and slick approaches of the London Design Festival and the Design Museum.

Some choice examples of the hand-crafted entering mainstream design in 2010 include:

  • Waitrose Christmas food typography by illustrator Kate Forrester
  • Canadian designer Julian Vallee’s 3D type for Maryland University in the US
  • The Artist Residence Hotel, a boutique hotel in Penzance, featuring walls painted by local artists and designers
  • Andrew Byrom’s Letter-Box-Kite font, which appeared in an ad for Standard Chartered Bank


A month-by-month guide to the design world in 2010


– Saffron Brand Consultants was appointed by the Greater London Authority to create a visual identity for the capital. London Mayor Boris Johnson said the identity project was set up as ’we need to tell international audiences what a great place London is to visit, study and work


– Design Bridge developed two prototype pint glasses as part of a Design Out Crime programme aimed at cracking the problem of glasses being used in violent assaults.


– The Design Business Association unveiled plans for a directory of DBA-registered groups.

– Sir James Dyson called for design to be included as a stem subject.

– Digit’s Andy Chambers and Daljit Singh left the consultancy they co-founded 15 years ago.


– Design opportunities were announced for the Cultural Olympiad, which will run alongside the London 2012 Olympics. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games said Olympic partners will offer most opportunities.

– Dyson announced plans to double its UK engineering team, bringing it up to 700 staff. The new employees will include designers, mechanical and acoustic engineers.


– The London Development Agency pledged continued support for the London Design Festival, but at a reduced rate – £30 000 down on the previous year.

– Method was appointed to redesign the social functions and interface of the BBC iPlayer. It was asked to ’challenge the BBC’s thinking on interaction design’.


– 20/20 unveiled plans for club-level areas at Arsenal Football Club, including Tom Dixon furnishings selected by Viaduct. New restaurant, bar and lounge spaces were introduced and a theme based around past managers Herbert Chapman and Arsène Wenger was brought in.


– Derry beat Birmingham, Norwich and Sheffield to become the UK’s first City of Culture, a year-long programme starting in 2013.

– The Government called a review of ’the future role and status’ of the Design Council to be led by Martin Temple, Design Council council member.

– Virgin Atlantic Airways unveiled a new aircraft livery and brand identity, designed by Johnson Banks and Circus.


– The British Heart Foundation announced its first design roster, led by Hat-Trick Design and including B&W Studio, NB Studio, Marc & Anna, Magpie Studio, Neon Creative, Wheatcroft & Co, Academy Design and Partners SMR.


– The London Design Festival took place in the capital. New additions included Neville Brody’s Anti Design Festival, the Audi AG-supported Outrace by Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram, and new venue The Tramshed.


– Sir David Chipperfield was named by the Royal Institute of British Architects as the winner of this year’s Royal Gold Medal.

– Following the Comprehensive Spending Review the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it is cutting core departmental and Arts Council administration costs by 50 per cent. The Design Council will lose its status as a Government-funded body and become an independent charity.


– Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to turn east London into a technology city to rival Silicon Valley.

– Mayor of London Boris Johnson unveiled Heatherwick Studio’s New Bus for London, set to launch in 2012.

– Furniture designer and creator of the polypropylene stacking chair Robin Day died, aged 95.


– Accountant Kingston Smith W1 revealed that the operating profits of the top 30 design consultancies fell by 50 per cent through 2009, with gross income 7.2 per cent down on the previous year.

– The British Heart Foundation was named Client of the Year in this year’s Design Week Benchmarks awards, with The Chase and Rose sharing the honours for the Best of Show.

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