CR Blog News and views on visual communications from the writers of Creative Review Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:29:56 +0000 en Blog Ads of the Year 2014 Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:17:00 +0000 Eliza Williams

Well, what a year's it's been. Here's our pick of the ten best advertising moments of 2014.


Well, what a year's it's been. Here's our pick of the ten best advertising moments of 2014.

In choosing our top ads this year, our focus has been on the work that has most captured the public's imagination, that has raised discussion and debate, and has been shared all over social media and beyond. As testament to the changing nature of advertising, several of the entries on this year's list did not come out of major agencies as a 'big idea'. Instead we saw films become massive successes due primarily to public interest and shares, and two of the biggest and most memorable brand events of the year were not even official campaigns at all.

Rather than do a top ten, we've listed our hits of 2014 in date order, with the oldest ad first. Let's get started...

The Lego Movie, Lego Ad Break, PHD/Warner Bros/ITV/Drum

In early February viewers of the ITV show Dancing on Ice were in for a surprise when one of the ad breaks featured commercials created entirely in Lego. The stunt, which was created to promote The Lego Movie, included ads for Premier Inn, BT and, all created in the little plastic bricks.


Apolosophy, Apotek Hjärtat, Åkestam Holst

2013 saw the success of British Airways' 'look up' digital poster, which featured a toddler that stood up and pointed when a real BA flight went by overhead. In late February, Swedish haircare brand Apotek Hjärtat proved that there were further impressive applications of responsive posters when an innocuous-looking ad displayed in a subway station reacted to the arrival of trains by showing the model's hair blowing in the wind.


Save The Children, Most Shocking Second A Day Video, Don't Panic

The biggest challenge that most charities face is getting audiences to empathise with their cause. This film for Save The Children was hugely successful in bringing public attention back to the crisis in Syria on the third anniversary of the conflict, by asking them to imagine what it would be like if the events were happening in London.


First Kiss, Wren, Tatia Pilieva

Within 24 hours of being posted on YouTube, the First Kiss film was viewed over 20 million times. Created by fashion company Wren, it captured 20 strangers sharing a smacker for the first time on film. Its initial success may have been down to the fact that viewers online thought it was an art film, rather than an ad, but it was a huge commercial triumph regardless, leading to a 14,000% increase in traffic to Wren's website.


#nomakeupselfie, Cancer Research UK (unofficially)

Another big charity moment came later in March when social media was gripped by the phenomenon that was the #nomakeupselfie. The public and celebrities alike queued up to post images of themselves online sans the slap before making a donation to Cancer Research UK. This event raised huge amounts of money for the cancer charity but was not an official campaign at all, having instead spread virally online. It was followed later in the year by the Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised money for a range of charities.


The Game Before The Game, Beats by Dre, R/GA

Expectation was running high in the lead up to the World Cup, with ad fans excited to see what the biggest sports brands would deliver. Yet it was actually electronics brand Beats that triumphed, with this five minute long epic that featured a range of footie megastars preparing for the tournament.



The other most memorable ad moment of the World Cup came not from an official source but instead was a reaction to the infamous Luis Suárez bite that happened during the Uruguay match against Italy. After the event, witty fans saw an opportunity in using a poster of Suárez, that formed part of an adidas campaign shot by photographer Timothy Saccenti, to create their own 'bite selfies', which they shared on social media using the hashtag #suarezing. In a year when there was much talk about 'real time marketing', this was probably not quite what adidas had in mind.


Like A Girl, Always, Leo Burnett Chicago

Feminism was suddenly seen as commercially viable in 2014 with many brands creating ads that aimed to empower women. The most striking was this film from Always, which challenged the negativity around the expression 'like a girl'. While some were left uneasy by the idea of a sanitary product brand adopting the guise of a feminist activist, with over 50 million views on YouTube alone, the film was an undeniable success.


Christmas ad, Sainsbury's, AMV BBDO

With the Christmas season in the UK now viewed as an advertising event on the scale of the Super Bowl in the US, anticipation was running high for the release of this year's crop of commercials. While John Lewis may have initially stolen the show, it was Sainsbury's' ad, which recreated the famous Christmas Day truce from the First World War, that proved the most topical, even prompting an episode of Radio 4's Moral Maze. The ad is undeniably beautiful, though its dabbling with history for commercial ends (despite Sainsbury's long-standing association with the Royal British Legion) was a source of fierce debate.

If You're Happy, Weight Watchers, Wieden + Kennedy Portland

Our final ad on the list is arguably the most traditional. A TV spot for Weight Watchers in the US, it is set to the tune of 'if you're happy' but with the lyrics adapted to reflect our complicated relationship with food. Released in late November, it is a startlingly different approach for a diet brand, with the sector usually waiting until the new year to remind us that we've all over-indulged. Instead of stories of guilt or reinvention, this spot offers a refreshingly honest approach to a major problem for many, and thus earns its place on our Ads of the Year list.

And now over to you, dear readers – what do you think? Have we missed any of your favourites out? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below...

Invention is the art of working with what we have Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:39:00 +0000 Leila Johnston

A year ago Leila Johnston launched Hack Circus, an independent creative collective about ‘fantasy technology and everyday magic' that publishes a quarterly print magazine and stages a reality-bending live show mixing art, science and philosophy. Hack Circus is about experiencing things in the real world but, as she explains here, this has proved to be a surprisingly controversial stance...


Leila Johnston and 3D printer at the Hack Circus event, Access All Areas, which took place in June this year at Lighthouse Arts in Brighton. Photo: Lighthouse Arts

A year ago Leila Johnston launched Hack Circus, an independent creative collective about ‘fantasy technology and everyday magic' that publishes a quarterly print magazine and stages a reality-bending live show mixing art, science and philosophy. Hack Circus is about experiencing things in the real world but, as she explains here, this has proved to be a surprisingly controversial stance...

People often ask why I am making a physical magazine when a digital version would be more relevant these days, writes Leila Johnston. The question belies a defensive fetishisation of digital, an elevation of what amounts to information convenience food.

The artistic merit of the physical world is to do with its difficulty. For a start, printed text carries culture, it is not simply a delivery mechanism for data. Objects are expensive to our pockets and demanding on our souls; we interpret them first with our hands, and we can't immediately look to hundreds of others to divine an acceptable opinion.

We are alone in our interactions with objects, and those adapted to a highly sharable world are bound to feel uncomfortable.

Cover of issue 2 ('Reality') of Hack Circus, March 2014


Digital media, however, does not carry the same inherently artistic or emotional challenge (at least not yet) – hence its extraordinary success.

Its facture is invisible and its contents materialise on screen without history or baggage. The digital is not emotionally difficult, it doesn't remind us of anything, it doesn't compete for our physical space. Instead, it invites us to build our own world, in comforting facsimile.

Anyone attempting creative work in ‘meatspace' is up against it. Progress and innovation have become synonymous with digital such that large amounts of funding are available for creative productions that might be the first to ‘crack' the problem by using technology in their work.

But this is a culture of faith; technology is not yet there. Digitising a piece of work does not automatically improve it, and frequently hinders it.

Creative technology is in its infancy, and we are pinning all our hopes to it. Since 2012, I have completed two residencies at arts institutions and talked and written about technology and the arts for numerous organisations, and I have come to the conclusion that technology should not be centre stage.

Spread from issue 5 ('Life') of Hack Circus, December 2014


We have a movement powered by a sort of quasi-religious optimism – concerned less with what's possible now than what may be, one day.

It is there in the singularity-like implications of the digital publishing question – that magazine creators await futuristic salvation from material production, and it is there in the neo-fifties notion that a performance is only complete when some slice of it can be rendered ‘in every home'.

Hack Circus has been described as "The Fortean Times as published by Make", and while the ‘hack' part attracts a tech crowd, in spirit the project is solidly Fortean. Invention is the art of working with what we have; it's about seeing the potential in the world right in front of us, today.

The Fortean Times is marvellous – and mocked – not because it's speculative, but because it subverts the model of the world around us right now. The fantastical shines so brightly because it sticks to archetypes, those vessels of true feeling in the present moment that root us in a past and a future.


Part of Seb Lee-Delisle's interactive installation, Lunar Trails, shown at the Hack Circus Access All Areas event in Brighton. See Photo: Lighthouse Arts

Artist and photographer Sinead McDonald at the Hack Circus Access All Areas event in Brighton


Immediacy and fantasy go together. Journalism, writing, performance and design all need to transmit important ideas fast, with minimal interference, but there are three major obstacles preventing independent creatives from capitalising on the communicative power of fantasy.

The first is the digital art scene, where quick, sharp, experimental projects are now a quaint sideshow to a lengthy, academic preoccupation with speculative design. Reams of difficult supplementary material stifle pure ideas, as creatives contort their politics to fit futurist aspiration.

The second is agencyland, which has now almost entirely appropriated playfulness, because artists desperately need money and digital agencies desperately need fun. And the third is the fact that things worth doing are often difficult. People look everywhere for the reassurance of something shared, but reassurance comes from within.

Hack Circus and similar projects are not about safety, they're about taking your creative life in your own hands and experiencing the vertigo of going it alone.

Leila Johnston is a writer, curator and artist and the founder of the creative collective, Hack Circus. A residency at Lighthouse Arts in Brighton enabled her to develop the project over summer 2014 – it has now evolved into a live show (with events on themes such as Time Travel and First Contact), as well as a magazine. Issue five is published this month – see Johnston's website is

New designs from Double Standards, MoMa, MuirMcNeil, Mucho & more Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:32:00 +0000 Rachael Steven

Our latest pick of new designs includes a signage and wayfinding system for Berlin's Museum of Decorative Arts, a striking set of posters from MuirMcNeil, colourful branding for Barcelona juice company Mother – and some fun festive projects from Pentagram and Love...


Our latest pick of new designs includes a signage and wayfinding system for Berlin's Museum of Decorative Arts, a striking set of posters from MuirMcNeil, colourful branding for Barcelona juice company Mother – and some inventive festive projects from Pentagram and Love...

Double Standards Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin

Designed in 1996 by Rolf Gutbrod, Berlin's Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) is the oldest of its kind in Germany, housing industrial design and textiles as well as furniture, fashion and arts and crafts. The building was recently refurbished by architectural studio Kuehn Malvezzi and reopened in November with a simplified white foyer.

Design agency Double Standards has also created a new signage and wayfinding system, using red overhead signs to guide visitors through the space. Large scale lettering is used on the central stairwell and at the entrance to gallery spaces, while a path of red stripes at ground level lead to the main entrance and exit:

Double Standards also worked on new exhibition rooms for the museum's fashion and design collections, including a display in the building's basement of Bauhaus and contemporary product designs, and Berlin's first permanent fashion exhibition. The new graphics add a welcome dose of colour and work well within the refurbished foyer, designed to accentuate the central staircase.


On Display: 50 Posters Designed for the Hayward Gallery

Since it opened in 1968, the Hayward Gallery at London’s Southbank Centre has hosted exhibitions by some of the world's leading contemporary artists, from Martin Creed to Dada and Dieter Rot. New book On Display presents 50 posters made to promote exhibitions at the Hayward, and features some brilliant work by Richard Hollis, Neville Brody, Theo Crosby, Roger Huggett and more.

Introduced with an essay by Catherine Flood, curator of posters and prints at the V&A museum, the book features posters for a diverse set of shows exploring Art in Revolution and Soviet art post World War One as well as Vorticism, Surrealism and Yugoslav Sculpture. Posters are printed on A3 tear out sheets and appear alongside text by writer Hettie Judah, explaining both the poster and show.

The book is priced at £30 and you can order copies from the South Bank Centre's website.

Spread showing Wim Crouwel and Arlette Brouwers/Total Designs poster for Ellsworth Kelly: Painting and Sculpture 1966‐79, 1980

Doubletake: Collective Memory & Current Art, 1992. Artwork: Robert Gober, Two Spread Legs, 1991 (detail)
©Robert Gober, courtesy of Matthew Marks Gallery

Dieter Rot: Graphics + Books, 1973

Art in Revolution: Soviet Art and Design after 1917 (1971). Poster design: Edward Wright/Shenval
Artwork: Liubov Popova, Production Clothing for Actor no. 7 in Fernand Crommelynck’s The Magnanimous Cuckold

Dada and Surrealism Reviewed, 1978, designed by Edward Wright


New type from MuirMcNeil

Inspired by the idea of the dot as the basis for all contemporary visual communications, type design studio MuirMcNeil has produced a striking series of geometric typefaces and silkscreen posters.

The set includes four new designs: TwoPoint, a monospaced geometric system based on early dot matrix and LED display lettering; ThreePoint, a set of three-dimensional display faces designed in four viewpoints, described as a dot-based development of MuirMcNeil’s 2013 Panopticon system; FourPoint and TenPoint.

Two Point poster and detail

Describing the project, MuirMcNeil says: "Almost all contemporary media are assembled from tiny static points in increasing volume and at increasingly microscopic sizes... Dots cluster tightly together in massive formations, hiding in plain sight to create spectacular illusions of images, words, objects, motion and sound.

"[The] new typographic projects are attempts to harness the dot by amplifying it at the same time as diminishing it to the lowest possible pitch; to the tipping point where it can no longer act as a carrier for any message except to communicate its own isolation. Referencing the earliest, crudest implementations of these binary forms in pixels, dot matrix letters and LED displays, the project acknowledges the historic parallel interface of technology and communication design since the early twentieth century; in particular, seminal work undertaken in the 1970s and 80s."

Posters measure 70x100 cm and are printed in black and white, and both prints and typefaces are available to buy from the studio's website.

MoMa’s Matisse Graphics

Image: Martin Seck, via

Following a blockbuster show at the Tate Modern in London this summer – the most popular in the gallery's history – Matisse's cut-outs are now on display at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Graphics for the London exhibition featured large-scale type applied to the side of the gallery and visible from across the Thames, while MoMa's IK blue and white scheme, created in-house by its graphic design and advertising department, uses bold sans type and a flexible system inspired by the constantly changing nature of Matisse's work.

Exhibition title wall. Image: Martin Seck, via

MoMA Design and Bookstore windows. Image: Martin Seck via

In an article on the identity published on MoMa's blog, art Sabine Dowek says the was to devise a system that would reflect underlying themes or narratives in Matisse’s art, rather than attempting to replicate it.

"When designing an identity for an exhibition there is a fine line we are always aware not to cross: we don’t want our design to become a copy of the artwork. We often look at underlining concepts and narratives that are the driving forces behind an exhibition. In the case of the cut-outs, this was Matisse’s art-making process and studio environment," she explains.

Image: Martin Seck, via

The identity aims to express the idea of shifting compositions and artwork in a state of flux without making any direct reference to cutting out, adds Dowek, and has been applied to both the exhibition space and a range of merchandise, now the most successful exhibition products to be sold at MoMa. You can read the article in full and see more images here.


Mother by Mucho

Mother is a new cold pressed juice shop in Barcelona selling milks and butters, smoothies and detox juices as well as snacks, cereal and ice cream. Mucho was asked to design a visual identity for the brand, and opted for a script logo and series of colourful graphic patterns.

"We wanted to express the love and care behind these fresh fruit and vegetable juices (they only last for 72 hours), while representing the technological and industrial processes (cold press is a rather new technique that requires expensive machinery)," says Mucho. "The design system uses two overprinted layers: one contains the brand, the other has the name of the product with a strong and identifiable shape used to differentiate the products."

The system has been applied to packaging, stationery and signage as well as Mother's website and has a fresh, contemporary feel.


Thompson Brand Partners

Leeds agency Thompson Brand Partners has rebranded local car park operator Town Centre Car Parks as CitiPark, creating a new identity, website and signage systems for the group.

CitiPark operates ten car parks in Leeds, Manchester and London, and with plans to open more in north and central London, MD Ben Ziff said it had outgrown its original name.

TBP was asked to develop an identity that customers around the country would instantly recognise, and devised a blue, white and grey system and new logo with bold sans type and a single chevron. The agency also designed a bespoke icon set for use in car parks, alongside a slimmer stencil typeface. It's fairly conservative but nicely executed, and a much stronger look and name for the company.

Christmas post

We've been receiving lots of Christmas cards at CR towers lately – one of our favourites so far is Gamechanger, an illustrated seven verse poem from Pentagram that pokes some gentle fun at corporate jargon. A joint project from Marina Willer and Naresh Ramchandani, it's designed to encourage creatives use less buzzwords and more plain English in 2015, and features some witty rhymes throughout.

We also liked Love's interactive Christmas game, which invites users to create a Christmas tale to share with their followers using just four words – try it out at

Where do you eat? Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:32:00 +0000 Creative Review

We have a Food issue coming out in February and we'd like your help. Give us your recommendations for interesting, exciting, cool and/or innovative places to eat out in your town


Image: from Massimo Gammacurta's Candy Alphabet

We have a Food issue coming out in February and we'd like your help. Give us your recommendations for interesting, exciting, cool and/or innovative places to eat out in your town

The February issue will look at all kinds of aspects relating to creativity and food, from dining experiences to packaging, photography, food banks, apps for farmers and more.

We'd also like to include some of our readers' favourite places to go – local gems with a creative take on eating out, either through their branding, concept, location or menu. We'll feature as many as we can fit into the issue.

We are particularly looking for UK places out of London but welcome ideas from anywhere in the world – they could be pop-ups, street food stalls and/or vans or permanent restaurants. Please leave your recommendations in the comments section below with links


OFFSET 2015 speakers announced Thu, 18 Dec 2014 09:58:00 +0000 Creative Review

Dublin creative festival OFFSET returns for a fifth year in March, with another impressive line‐up of designers, animators, illustrators, artists and creatives...


2014 titles by M&E

Dublin creative festival OFFSET returns for a fifth year in March, with another impressive line‐up of designers, animators, illustrators, artists and creatives...

Founded by Bren Byrne, Richard Seabrooke and Peter O’Dwyer in 2009, OFFSET has become one of Europe’s biggest creative conferences – over 2,500 people attended last year and past speakers include Seymour Chwast, Neville Brody and Erik Kessels as well as Richard Mosse, Tom Hingston, Jessica Walsh and Marian Bantjes (you can read a review of OFFSET 2014 in our May issue, or see daily reports here, here and here).

This year’s event takes place at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre from March 6 8 and speakers announced so far include Annie Atkins, lead designer on the Grand Budapest Hotel (who we interviewed on the blog back in March) Veronica Ditting, art director of The Gentlewoman, Matt Willey, CR's designer of the year for 2014, and Why Not Associates’ Andy Altman.

Hey Studio, Calligraffiti artist Niels Shoe Meulman, Pentagram’s Emily Oberman and Angus Hyland, Ian Anderson of The Designers Republic and Forsman & Bodenfors will also be giving talks and as with previous years, there are plenty of Irish and Dublin‐based names too, from Atkins to photographer Matthew Thompson, art director and Wolff Olins designer Sue Murphy, illustrator Steve Doogan, animation studio Cartoon Salon and designer and musician Peter Maybury.

Student tickets cost €112 and early bird standard tickets, available until February 20, cost €175 for individuals or €145 for groups of six or more. Standard tickets after February 20 are priced at €225 or €187.50 for groups.

To buy a ticket, or for more info, see, or follow @weloveoffset for regular updates.

Fiera: issue 1 Wed, 17 Dec 2014 16:35:00 +0000 Rachael Steven

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, blogger Katie Treggiden and Jeremy Leslie have launched the first issue of Fiera; a biannual publication showcasing new talent at international design fairs.


Following a successful Kickstarter campaign this summer, blogger Katie Treggiden and Jeremy Leslie have launched the first issue of Fiera; a biannual publication showcasing new talent at international design fairs.

Fiera aims to help readers find emerging designers and share the stories behind products and projects featured at leading product and furniture fairs. Each issue includes a ’Kaleidoscope’ section, made up of photographs from featured fairs arranged by colour, as well as creative writing, interviews with designers and articles revealing their processes, techniques and inspiration.

The inaugural issue covers London Design Festival, Designblok in Prague, the Lodz Design Festival in Poland and the Biennale Interiur in Kortrijk, Belgium, and includes interviews with new design studio Otago, Markus Friedrich Staab, Caroline Olsson and homeware brand Tiipoli.

There’s also a look at curator Daniel Charny’s Brave Fixed World exhibition celebrating the repair movement, images from Joseph Grima’s installation, SQM, which guided viewers through a derelict building, exploring the evolving identity of the home, and a series of step–by–step guides in which designers explain the making of products from ceramics to jewellery.

The magazine ends with an opinion section, in which various writers and designers reflect on design fairs, the role of design and current trends: in issue 1, Treggiden and Tom Llloyd discuss whether design has to do or say something, Elle Decoration founder Agnieszka Jacobson outlines the thinking behind Polish design school School of Form, which teaches various design disciplines alongside humanities, and It’s Nice That’s Liv Siddall discusses why she struggles to get excited about design fairs.

In her editor’s letter, Treggiden, who founded design blog Confessions of a Design Geek, says she had the idea for Fiera while on the way home from London Design Festival last year.

"There’s plenty of coverage of design fairs on blogs and social media. It’s dynamic, it’s immediate and it’s over as quickly as the fairs themselves," she writes. "We go home, we sleep it off then we all go back to life as normal. There should be a magazine, I thought ... a print magazine that collects it all up and makes sense of it somehow. That provides a lasting record of the world of design at a moment in time."

While Fiera features some great images of luxury products, creative director Leslie says "it isn’t about big glossy photographs of aspirational items" - rather, it aims to provide a guidebook for people unable to attend fairs in person. "It's about information and record, a biannual that should feel collectible. The smaller format suited that," he says.

"The issue is wrapped in a front cover and endpapers that emphasise the transitory nature of the fairs – the big no1 on the cover is from outside one of the fairs – [and] the overall design reflects my interest in using the basic elements of layout design to create character and personality, rather then adding decoration for decoration's sake.

"We wanted a clean, modern feel but I hope the end result isn't a cold modernism. It's based on a flexible set of parts that adapt for each of the sections, with page numbers and running heads slipping in and out as needed and column heights varying as suits. The small format allows the use of white space, without it seeming gratuitous or wasteful," he adds.

Leslie says the magazine also aims to provide a good factual overview of fairs, while also portraying  the emotional side of design – an approach he says is reflected in its signature sections, Kaleidoscope and One Hundred Words, a collaboration with writers group 26, where each writer was asked to write 100 words or less responding to a piece of design at LDF instead of describing it (texts were then illustrated by Assa Ariyoshi).

While fairs such as LDF and Designblok feature some fantastic and inspiring work, it's often difficult to spot or find out much about emerging talent, and it's easy to miss promising projects when there are hundreds or thousands on show. Fiera provides a carefully curated guide to some of the year's best designs, as well as their makers and making, and is the perfect mix of visual inspiration, analysis and reflection.

You can order a copy, priced at £20, from

CR January issue: Feat. FKA twigs Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:31:00 +0000 Creative Review

"I don't want to be a pop star, I just love making things." An interview with the multitalented FKA twigs is the lead feature in our January Music special issue


"I don't want to be a pop star, I just love making things." An interview with the multitalented FKA twigs is the lead feature in our January Music special issue

Our new issue marks the beginning of an extension of our editorial coverage which we will be rolling out over the coming year. During the summer we carried out some major audience research which, thankfully, tied in with some of our own thinking about how to make CR more relevant, more valuable and, we hope, more interesting.

There are creative directors and creative (or design) departments in all sorts of organisations today, from broadcasters to banks, healthcare providers to sports teams. We want to link that creative community up, becoming a platform for celebrating creativity in all its forms and examining the value it brings.

For each issue of the magazine, we will be looking at a distinct sector and asking the question: "how is creativity changing this world?". Each issue will investigate key trends, highlight key innovations and individuals and discuss the impact of new thinking, new technology and new approaches. So alongside pieces on designers or creatives, you will find interviews with chefs or architects, dancers, scriptwriters and composers. We will continue to speak to people running design studios and ad agencies, but we will add to that people running theatre groups, or broadcasters, hospitals or universities – wherever creativity is making a difference.

That doesn't mean that we will be abandoning our heartland of visual communications, more that we are reflecting the fact that inspiration now comes from multiple sources, silos are breaking down and that the studio/agency world does not have a monopoly on creativity. We will still be writing about visual communication, but we will add other forms of creativity to the mix.

We start with music. Future issues will look at food and drink, health, entertainment, education and a host of other sectors where creativity is making its mark.


We caught up with twigs as she embarks on a directing career through Academy and talked to her about what it means to be a young artist in the music industry today


Our regular columnists also pick up on the music theme: Daniel Benneworth-Gray wonders whether it is ever acceptable to treat album sleeves as art while Michael Evamy delves into the design history of one of the UK's most important labels: 2 Tone. Plus, Nick Asbury looks at the revival of the jingle and meets one of the masters of the genre.


In the age of the digital download, what is the role of the physical object in music packaging? asks Tim Milne.



Could brand guidelines be extended to include music too?



Why and how band Wild Beasts created a graphic novel using gifs



Rachael Steven talks to Jack Featherstone and Hans Lo about how the graphics and live visuals for Simian Mobile Disco's Whorl are derived from the music itself


And Rachael also talks to Warp about how design and great A&R have been at the heart of the label's success


Antonia Wilson meets Bestival creative director Josie da Bank


Film composer Jim Williams talks to Mark Sinclair about the role of music in telling the dark tales of director Ben Wheatley



Alasdair Scott compares the UI/UX of leading streaming devices and services


Rachael Steven reports on the explosion of innovation around live gigs

And, finally, in our Crit section, Rick Poynor reviews a welcome new history of Californian graphic design


The best way to get this and every issue of CR is to subscribe, which you can do here. We are currently running a special Christmas Challenge: share your unique 20% discount code (which you can get here) and you could win £1000. The code gives 20% off all Creative Review subscriptions (UK and overseas) until the end of the year. It can be used by as many people as you like, so everyone you share it with can also benefit. You don't have to be an existing subscriber - it's open to everyone.

We will be totting up all the times that a particular code was used to buy a subscription. At the end of December, the code that was used for the most new subscriptions will win its owner £1000. More details here

A new look for London Luton Airport Tue, 16 Dec 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Rachael Steven

Ico Design has launched a new brand identity for London Luton Airport which aims to reposition it as one of Londons leading airports and improve its public image ahead of a £100 million redevelopment programme.


Ico Design has launched a new brand identity for Luton Airport which aims to reposition it as one of London's leading airports and improve its public image ahead of a £100 million redevelopment programme.

The new identity has so far been applied to walkways and an exhibition space at Luton and will be rolled out across signage, wayfinding, interiors and communications. The airport was recently granted planning permission to carry out a series of developments that will increase its capacity from 12 to 18 million passengers a year by 2026.

The new identity is based around a flexible, modular marque which can be arranged horizontally, vertically or diagonally and filled with block colours, graphic patterns or photography. Ico has also devised a cheerful colour palette inspired by the sky at different times of day and night and worked with Gijon-based studio Atipo on a custom typeface and icon set, shown below.

Vivek Bhatia, creative director at Ico, says the identity and planned design changes aim to present Luton as a more efficient and 'passenger‐focussed' airport. "The essence is 'simplicity with a smile' - bringing delight to passengers by making their journey, easy, enjoyable with unexpected pleasant experiences," he says.

When designing the new brand marque, Bhatia says Ico was keen to distance Luton visually from local competitors and avoid the usual reference points in airport and airline identities, which often rely on a swoosh or similar smybol to indicate flight and motion. The studio also avoided symbols inspired by local culture or geographical references and points of interest.

The concept for the branding was inspired by venues such as London's St Pancras station, the Olympic Park and Westfield shopping centre, which Ico says aren't just infrastructures but destinations in their own right. Both the identity and interiors aim to create a space to relax and be entertained in, says Ico, rather than somewhere to simply park, eat and fly, and the new terminal, designed by Pascal + Watson, will include more family-friendly seating areas and play spaces for children, as well as more colourful graphics and signage.

In the new walkways, large-scale type is used alongside graphic shapes and imagery of various destinations served by the airport, and Bhatia says Ico is building a library of original photographs for interiors, communications and advertising. Images are inspired by street photography rather than travel catalogues and polished promotional pictures, and those used in the airport so far feature locations in Israel, Poland, Spain and the Netherlands.

"The concept is ‘stories from the street' - it follows the brand values of creativity and unconventional [identified in branding workshops carried out during the rebrand process]. We sourced all the imagery by approaching European street photographers directly, through our own contacts," Bhatia.

The project is still in its early stages, but branding will eventually be applied to buses, banners and even staff uniforms, as well as a new website, and is a considerable improvement on the airport's previous identity, which was bland, dated and almost indistinguishable from some of its competitors:

The new typeface, photography and colour palette add some much needed interest to interior spaces, and the branding should help Luton establish a stronger voice, challenging perceptions of it as a poor or lesser known alternative to Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

Music Videos of the Month Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:11:00 +0000 Eliza Williams

We have treats from Panda Bear, Clark, Diagram, Tourist, and Bastille Vs. Grades to share with you this month, but to kick things off, here's Guy Pearce as you've never quite seen him before...


We have treats from Panda Bear, Clark, Diagram, Tourist, and Bastille Vs. Grades to share with you this month, but to kick things off, here's Guy Pearce as you've never quite seen him before...

Directed by Tim White, this video, which is for Pearce's song Fly All The Way, sees the actor in manic form, taking on various themes of modern life – including society's obsession with youth and beauty – through a spoof of crappy TV infomercials. Production company: Plot Media.

There's been some lovely animated promos released this month. First up is this video for Panda Bear, for new track Boys Latin. Directed by Isaiah Saxon and Sean Hellfritsch (of Encyclopedia Pictura fame), it is a beautiful journey across land and sea. Production company: Ghost Robot.

Our second animated piece comes from directing team Persistent Peril and is for the track Phantom Power by Diagram. The video tells the story of a broken-hearted man who goes into the woods to reflect on his relationship. Illustration: Garth Jones; Animation: Garth Jones, Mark Billington, Ginny Jones.

Our final animation this month is a graphics influenced piece by director Nicolas Ménard, created for Tourist's track Illuminate. Production company: Nexus.

Next up is a dark and hypnotic film from director Chris Hewitt, which provides the perfect accompaniment to the track Winter Linn by Clark. Production company: Knucklehead.

We finish this month's selection with a film for the track Torn Apart by Bastille Vs. Grades, which muses upon the nature of love. As it is directed Keith Schofield though, it is anything but schmaltzy, and is instead weird, unexpected and very funny. Production company: Caviar.

Beyond the record sleeve Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:06:00 +0000 Simon Moore

Despite the doom and gloom about the death of the record sleeve, Simon Moore says there's never been a more creatively exciting time for a designer to work in music


Despite the doom and gloom about the death of the record sleeve, Simon Moore says there's never been a more creatively exciting time for a designer to work in music

I was lucky enough to know, from a pretty early age, exactly what I wanted to do for a career. For me, this was as a result of being  told I was the worst student of music in my teacher's entire 30 year professional life, and then, days later, picking up the Mark Farrow designed Pet Shop Boys album ‘Introspective' (above). With traditional art skills only marginally superior to my musical ones, evidenced by a never-ending output of disturbingly incompetent portraits and sculptures that looked like the work of a broken sausage machine, I had long since given up on doing anything with my life that involved either of my two academic interests.

But once I got my hands on that 12" slab of geometric technicolour beauty, something clicked. Here was an object that looked incredible put out by my favourite band; music and art combining into something greater than the sum of its parts. I still remember the pop of clarity in my befuddled 13 year old brain as I realised that this was what I wanted to do with my life.


Detail from 1992 T-shirt for The Orb by TDR


Suddenly my schoolbooks became littered with hand-drawn band logos, and then, via similar synaesthetic crushes on Peter Saville/ New Order, The Designers Republic / The Orb and Tomato /Underworld, I ended up, like an incurable geek, in the Liverpool Street branch of Our Price in 1999, taking endless photos of the very first CD I'd designed sitting proudly, but with negligible aesthetic appeal, in the rack reserved for number ones.

In the intervening years, the music industry has provided me with the backbone of my clients. But in that time the impact of a new digital landscape has radically reshaped not just the music industry itself, but its relationship to design. The perceived wisdom seems to be that falling revenues from sales have necessitated brutal cuts to creative budgets, resulting in lower quality work. And the obsolescence of physical product, replaced by miniscule pixelbased packshots, negates the need for subtlety or imagination in their design.

In fact, to talk to many people today you'd think that design for music has become a creative void, populated by disinterested, dead-eyed clients paying peanuts to disinterested, dead-eyed designers, churning out soulless, functional rubbish to customers who don't give a shit. It's an opinion that rankles as I believe it's incorrect and unfair. There is in fact some excellent, progressive and genuinely creative work being produced for music clients as a direct result of the requirements of this digital age, not in spite of it.

Personally, I think this general negativity is because people's attention is still very much fixed on CDs and vinyl: the physical products traditionally the centrepiece of a creative campaign which are being produced in increasingly fewer numbers. In fact, whenever design for music is mentioned these days it still tends to be centred around some lavish, short-run packaging for an unknown band or barrel-scraping rock dinosaur. And while these can be undeniably beautiful objects, they also seem a little pointless: vanity projects or anachronistic trinkets. Sort of like a Tom Dixon designed fax machine.

As my introductory ramble hopefully illustrates, the affection I hold for those decorated squares of paper and card is a strong as anyone's, but the world, and especially the music industry has moved on - whether we like it or not. Wistful pining for a defunct era is at best a waste of time and at worst counter-productive, like yearning for that ex-girlfriend who will never take you back. In short, all that's happened is the parameters have changed, and design, as a commercial enterprise, is surely all about understanding and working within parameters.

Whereas previously you could win a pitch with some nice logo designs and shoot references, the scope for a designer in this area is now broader and less formulaic. The album or single cover is no longer the sun around which everything else orbits. I now often work with labels on a central construct for their artists, something that goes beyond just some nice imagery, but runs deeper and more fundamentally. Identifying what makes each artist or campaign different, and communicating that message across a range of channels, of more equalised importance, imbuing everything with different elements from within the same visual language, not just an endless re-purposing of the same cover design.


Image: vivacoldplay


The first time I saw this in full effect was the Mylo Xyloto campaign by Tappin Gofton for Coldplay, wherein the album design was part of a wider creative strategy that had all kinds of executions, physical, digital and experiential that held together consistently throughout. It felt modern and relevant in a way the traditional "3 singles and an album" approach no longer did. Increasingly, labels and their artists are seeing themselves as brands, which is a horribly overused word, but there's a logic to it here. In our visually-saturated world, the need for an artist's live shows, public appearances, fan-engagement, products, styling, digital presence and graphics to integrate coherently is more important than ever.


Atoms for Peace Drawing Room pop-up gallery featuring Stanley Donwood's artwork for the album. The campaign also included bespoke social media artwork by Glitchr, and graffiti by INSA (see top, below and our story here).  Image: The Quietus.


Shifting the sights to think of music more as an all-encompassing experience as opposed to simply a product therefore provides more
opportunity than ever for the willing creative mind. The number of different creatives now working within music is wider than I can ever remember, with younger, fresher talent now given more of a chance to produce exciting work for passionate and open-minded clients, at the expense of more costly, established studios. There's also been a pleasing focus on clarity within design, and the need to communicate across small and large sizes has seen the use of typography, especially, come to the fore, whether that be the bespoke experimentalism of Kate Moross (Wild Beasts video below) or brutal elegance of Trevor Jackson.


On 25 February 2015, Trevor Jackson will release F O R M A T as, initially, a limited edition consisting of 12 different musical formats each containing a separate track. A collected vinyl edition and digital versions will follow shortly after, all on The Vinyl Factory. More here


Wild Beasts - Mecca from StudioMoross on Vimeo.



From time-to-time I wonder whether a new generation of designers will be inspired by music to divert their life's path as I once was, but one look at the extremely vocal responses to new artwork on social media, the number of teenagers producing versions of their favourite singers' latest design, or the high take-up of fan engagement in projects like this suggests that music and creative work are as compelling a partnership as ever for this demographic, despite most of them probably never having owned a CD, let alone a piece of vinyl, in their entire lives.

Simon Moore is founder of creative agency Baby. See our profile here


Creative Review's January 2015 issue is a Music special, featuring FKA twigs, Bestival creative director Josie da Bank, film composer Jim Williams and more