Editor’s blog

It’s interesting to hear Neville Brody motivation’s for the Anti Design Festival he and his team are planning for London in September.

An important part of this for him, however, is tackling topics like disappointment and failure that have become grossly unpopular in an age where achievement and slick presentation is everything, but which are essential to realising creative potential.

‘Disappointment will be a major theme,’ he says. ‘We’ll be embracing disappointment.’ He’s even prepared for the festival not to work – though with class acts like Stefan Sagmeister, type star Jonathan Barnbrook and illustrators Ian Wright and Harry Malt contributing and Daniel Charny running workshops, it’s bound to yield something of great merit in the eyes of mere mortals such as myself.

In saying that it’s about ideas, rather than polish, Brody is harking back to the pre-Thatcher era before design became a business and Photoshop and the like could make even the roughest sketch look finished. Experimentation was more acceptable then, he maintains, and if something didn’t work – ie you hit failure – you just moved on.

Brody’s ideas will have a resonance with many a creative soul struggling in an age when success is the only acceptable course. We hear it too from product designers bemoaning the decline in research and development within client companies that can lead to as many happy accidents that take the designers into previously-unthought-of directions as it does failures.

Lizzie Mary Cullen s visualisation of the entrance to the Necropolis Railway in Westminster Bridge Road  London
Lizzie Mary Cullen’s visualisation of the entrance to the Necropolis Railway in Westminster Bridge Road, London

Elements of the ADF might tap into another ‘mood’ we’ve been detecting in design for some time – the return of hand-making and basic craft skills in areas like graphics and illustration, which we’re told, is hitting the art world as well. Designers and illustrators including  Anthony Burrill and Lizzie Mary Cullen have pursued this route and the huge popularity of the print element at Somerset House’s Pick Me Up show earlier in the year bore testament to the desire to get in there and get your hands dirty, rather than rely on the homogeneity more often afforded by the computer screen.

Anthony Burrill
Anthony Burrill’s piece for The Art of Conversation exhibition

It’s a great time for Brody to be calling a slight halt to what has become conventional thinking about design and drawing together a host of folk who have long shared his thoughts and practices. It is also good to see designers of all disciplines mixing media to make their creative concepts real.

Design is a commercial endeavor, but maybe we as a community were starting to forget the ideas and experimentation side that can lead to delight and inspiration beyond expectations rather than working solely within the confines of the client’s brief.

Hide Comments (4)Show Comments (4)
  • Roger Fuller November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The words of the late-lamented Alan Fletcher come to mind – “Design is not a thing you do. It’s a way of life”

  • Javier Garcia November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    At our agency, as with many other small studios, we have started a Lab concept where we allow our designers and developers the time to try and test ideas outside client briefs. It allows us to ‘fail’ in many occasion but in doing so learn at every step.

    I think Brody is bang on the money and has really sensed the mood of the industry. If we don’t keep searching and finding new avenues our industry will suffer the fate of many a forgotten trade. Ideas are what makes us unique, and fresh, not the knowledge of the tools we use and how we use them.

  • Belle Piec November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    This is a fantastic idea, let’s hope that it does not get lost in ‘anti-slick’ design pretension either!

  • Bernadette Fannon November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    We all see but never look x

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