5 important things that happened in design this week

A Science Museum rebrand, a book on design in health and a new festival in Bristol – the news from the last seven days.

The Science Museum rebranded – and not without controversy

The Science Museum Group is arguably best known for London’s Science Museum, which is one of the UK’s most popular attractions, and sees roughly three million visitors annually.

But the group also includes the National Railway Museum in York; the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester; the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford; and Locomotion in Shildon. These four museums see another two million visitors a year collectively.

This week, the Science Museum Group revealed new branding, which looks to unify all five museums under one identity and bring the roster’s lesser known, Northern sites to the spotlight.

Science Museum’s new branding has been designed by North, and replaces the identity designed by Johnson Banks in 2010.

It includes a gradient of colours and font weights, with a logo set in new, bespoke typeface SMG Sans, created by type foundry Fontseek.

The new look was subject to online controversy when it launched, after Johnson Banks posted negative comments about the new branding on Twitter, calling it “a bit of a clunker”.

The studio has since recalled its comments, admitting that “going straight onto Twitter to [react to a change of their logo] is not to be advised”.

Sean Perkins, creative director at North, responded to the comments by saying “there’s no change without good reason” and justifying the drastic change by stating “it will bring the [Science Museum] Group together under one visual language.”

The new visual identity is currently rolling out, and will continue to be applied to all physical and digital touchpoints across five museums over the next 12 months.

The first ever Something Good design festival took place

We’re well into design festival season, with the first ever Offf London having taken place last month, and Manchester Design Festival currently in full swing. Newcastle’s Northern Design Festival is another one to look forward to, coming up in November.

An addition to the calendar is Bristol’s Something Good, which took place last week for the first time ever, and saw talks from illustrious designers and illustrators such as Morag Myerscough, Wilfrid Wood, Snask and Anthony Burrill.

The one-day conference was jam-packed with talks, while the following day saw a series of craft-focused workshops, from letter-pressing through to wood-carving and plasticine sculpture-making.

We attended the inaugural event. Read our highlights from Something Good 2017 here. For more info on the event, head here.

We delved into a new book on design and healthcare

Last month, a new London exhibition asked visitors – can graphic design save your life?

Co-curated by designer Lucienne Roberts, the show is an exploration of design’s impact on the healthcare sector, from unbranded cigarette packaging to HIV awareness posters.

Now, Roberts alongside Sarah Schrauwen and Rebecca Wright, has put together a corresponding book containing 50, key healthcare designs from the likes of Miffy illustrator Dick Bruna and former Pentagram co-founder Mervyn Kurlansky.

It is just one in a series of books from independent publisher GraphicDesign&, also co-founded by Roberts, which look to demonstrate the influence of graphics on other sectors. Previous books include those on religion, maths theories and literature.

The small, A5 book succinctly summarises each project on one page, with an image of the project on the adjacent page. Turn over, and each designer – or someone who knew them, if they are no longer alive – has been asked to answer the vast question, can graphic design save your life?

This week, we spoke to Roberts about the book, and GraphicDesign&’s “mission to show what graphic design can do”.

“We don’t talk about our work enough to the rest of the world,” she says. “This isn’t a pat-on-the-back exercise for designers – this book shows how effective graphics can be and how it can make a difference to people’s health.”

Read our interview with Roberts in full here. The book can be purchased for £17.50 from GraphicDesign&’s website.

New, “affordable” art and design studios were revealed in London’s Wembley area

The UK’s creative industries are often seen to be London-centric, and pressure has been piled on the Government in recent years to build up the creative community in other cities.

An independent report was recently published, asking the Government to do exactly this. It includes a set of recommendations, the main one being a £500 million Creative Clusters fund devoted to boosting the creative industries outside of London and the South East of England.

But some see the other side of the story too – as rent prices increase in the capital and creatives flee to other cities, arts organisation Second Floor Studios and Arts (SFSA) argues that London is experiencing a “talent drain” and could soon “lose its cultural context and part of its identity”, according to SFSA co-founder Nichole Herbert Wood.

So SFSA has worked with Brent Council to develop a new creative hub in Wembley Park, North West London.

The hub will include 26 artist and designer studios, which can be used by up to 35 “visual artists”, and will cost between £160 and £600 to rent per month.

The area aims to be a viable, “affordable” alternative to working in London’s established, more Central creative hubs such as Shoreditch and Clerkenwell, and Herbert also says SFSA hopes to bring the rent of the studios down slightly over the next few years.

The Wembley Park studio spaces are due to open in November 2017. For more information on how to apply, head to SFSA’s website.

The winners of a competition to limit plastic pollution were revealed

According to environmental charity The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, only 14% of plastic packaging worldwide is currently recyclable, and if this does not improve, there could be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050.

That’s why the charity, alongside the Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit, launched a competition earlier this year to encourage designers to think of innovative, recyclable and biodegradable packaging solutions.

This week, the winners were revealed, and collectively they will receive £765,000 in prize money to make their concepts a reality and take them to market.

The three categories were grocery shopping, sachets and coffee-to-go, with two winners chosen for each category.

Concepts include an app that allows shoppers to determine the exact quantities of groceries they need and have them delivered in reusable packaging; food packaging and sachets made from a dissolvable and edible seaweed material; and CupClub, a cyclical, reusable cup subscription service that means customers can pick up cups from check-points and deposit them at cafés and restaurants.

The six winners will share the prize money and will join a 12-month accelerator programme in 2018, offering them industry advice, feedback and access to testing laboratories.


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

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