‘Whether the word “London” is written in Helvetica or the logo has Dick Whittington in it will not have much bearing on how people actually think of, and experience, the city,’ he said, referring to plans to create an identity for London.
‘Branding is an illusion of an easy win for cities, without actually making them any better to live in,’ said Wolff.
Swathed in a guru-orange scarf and fresh back from a trip to India, a Crocs-wearing Wolff urged the audience of students and professional designers to address ‘real’ issues instead of ‘window dressing’. He proposed service design in the NHS and care for the elderly as worthy subjects for today’s designers to tackle.
‘More than the recession, the interesting thing about our times is the business crisis, because we are having to ask “what is business for and are we dealing properly with the big issues in our culture?”,’ said Wolff.
Although he opened the lecture with a caveat not to take him at his word, Wolff later opined that ‘annual reports are such bullshit, really’. Office architecture also came in for criticism for being ‘ludicrously aggressive’.
He also slammed his former branding consultancy Wolff Olins, saying ‘the group’s boldness has turned to arrogance, which has not a trace of humility in it’.
The lecture capped the Liverpool Design Symposium, which took place yesterday at Liverpool John Moores University’s Art & Design Academy.