5 important things that happened in design this week

Design Week rounded up the best stories of the year, and the English National Opera rebranded – the important design news from the last seven days.

Design Week looked back at the last year

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From our favourite exhibitions to the most popular rebrand stories, we took a look back at design over the last year this week and summarised our content for you.

Head to our Best of 2016 page for all our round-ups. Or, if you’re just after one thing, here they are below:

English National Opera rebranded to get more people interested in opera

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Consultancy Rose gave the English National Opera a new look this week, as the company hopes to get more people interested in the art form.

Opera has long been seen as a high-brow and elitist form of music, says Simon Elliott, partner at Rose, and the new branding hopes to “change perceptions and target broader audiences”.

The rebrand follows an Arts Council funding cut of £5 million for the English National Opera, which came into effect in 2015 – so the organisation is hoping a fresh look will help to bring in a wider demographic of customers, boosting its popularity and sales.

The logo is a refresh of Mike Dempsey’s original logo design from 1991, redrawn in a bespoke cut of typeface FF Brown. Marketing materials have been completely overhauled, with posters focusing on the “story” behind each opera rather than the title, which is unrelatable to many non-opera-savvy consumers, says Rose.

Consultancy Substrakt has also worked on a simpler website for the brand.

Paula Scher designed a brand to reduce stigma around women’s periods

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Periods aren’t a luxury, they’re an (often unwanted) necessity – but that doesn’t stand, as far as tax is concerned.

Pentagram partner Paula Scher has designed the branding for Period Equity – a new US-based organisation looking to eliminate the sales tax which currently exists on tampons.

Other essential items such as food and toilet paper are exempt from tax in the US, but women’s menstrual products are considered ‘luxury’ and therefore are taxable. It was estimated that American consumers spent roughly $3.1bn (£2.3bn) on period pads, tampons and other products in 2015.

The branding is loud and clear about its need to reduce stigma around periods. A sans-serif black logotype using Margaret Calvert’s New Rail Alphabet typeface is speckled with red dots to confront the “uncomfortable” subject, says Scher.

Scher says she hopes Period Equity and its fresh new look will “raise awareness and undo stigma around the issue”. She also plans to change the name to ‘Equity, Period’ once it is more established, and once the tampon tax has hopefully been abolished in all US states. It was scrapped in Connecticut, Illinois and New York earlier this year.

The V&A revealed designs for its new gallery in China

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The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) revealed this week that its first gallery in China would open in Shenzhen next October.

The building will be designed by architectural practice Maki and Associates, with exhibits focusing on 20th and 21st century design from all over the world.

Objects from the V&A’s other museums will also be included, such as pieces of furniture, product and graphic design.

The museum will be part of a wider cultural organisation called Design Society, which will feature permanent exhibition spaces exploring topics such as the future of digital design. It will also include a theatre and two temporary, touring V&A exhibitions, set to go on display in 2018 and 2019.

The move into China is a way for the UK to be involved in international art and design, says acting director of the V&A Tim Reeve, and particularly to “engage more deeply with China”.

The UK announced it would still take part in the European Capital of Culture programme despite Brexit

Brussels , Belgium - March 23, 2015: The European Commission Headquarters of European Community

The UK Government launched a nationwide competition this week to select the 2023 European Capital of Culture – even though the UK may not technically be part of Europe then.

The European Capital of Culture is an initiative which designates a European city to take on the title every year, and organise cultural events which help to boost the jobs and economy of that area.

The UK was selected to host the cultural initiative prior to it voting to leave the European Union (EU) in June. It is continuing under the assumption that it will be the host, though it is not yet clear whether this will be possible after Article 50 has been triggered.

UK cities in the running for the title so far include Leeds, Dundee and Milton Keynes. Other cities could potentially still bid.

Culture secretary Karen Bradley says that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will continue to seek bids on the basis that Britain remains an “outward-looking, globally-minded and dynamic country” despite Brexit.

An EU panel will select the winning city, and the winner will be announced at the end of 2018.


Got a design story? Get in touch at sarah.dawood@centaurmedia.com.

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