Latin American design
Chosen by Sarah Temple, The School of Graphic Design, The London College
of Communication, The University of the Arts, London
It is always so interesting when we get applications from international students from countries that have not tended to apply to the University of Arts, London before. In the last few years we have been lucky enough to attract students from Brazil, Mexico and Argentina and suddenly it seems that we have lots of very talented Latin American students in our design studios. What a relief to see such original design work which has developed outside the ‘European tradition’ but does not come from the Far East.
I have, of course, been aware for some time of the exciting design community in Latin America. Brilliant individuals such as Eduardo Muroz Bachs from Cuba (sadly no longer with us), Gringo Cardia from Rio with his hand-drawn typography, Alejandro Magallanes from Mexico City with his outstanding posters in mixed media and the beautiful vivid work by Pablo Rovalo, also from Mexico (who now runs Research Studios in Barcelona) – this work seems to stimulate the senses in a more direct manner than most European design.
What interests me most is the number of women who are doing such dynamic work and the originality of the work itself: the design voice from this continent is fresh, deeply individual and very contemporary. Women such as Anella Armas from Venezuela, Ruth Klotzel from São Paulo, Sara Luna in Mexico City and Belen Mena in Equador greatly excite me and cause me to wonder why women designers in the UK are not coming forward with such exuberance.
The Useful Simple Trust
Chosen by Sophie Thomas, thomas.matthews
The Useful Simple Trust is a newly-formed employee benefit trust which our studio is part of. It operates through pioneering design projects, as innovators in design education, and via activities in sustainability and communication. Put simply, the Trust offers an alternative to profit-focused, socially unaware business models and opens the door to the new and the good.
In many trust organisations the prime benefit is financial, but ust is unusual in its trail blazing ethos aimed at the wider benefit of everyone that it designs work for. The benefit to employees is defined first as a stimulating work environment, achieved through activities that meet with the Trust’s purpose (all profits go back in to the Trust itself). The ust is a carefully designed organisation, drawing its inspiration from considerations of excellence and justice, as well as fields like fractal mechanics and bio-mimicry.
What’s so exciting for us is that it actively encourages innovation in the respective fields of the member companies and cross collaboration with new and exciting consequences. It also offers stability, companionship and opportunity. Put it another way – who knows what a graphic designer will come up with having had breakfast with an engineer and lunch with a textile designer?
Currently there are 45 beneficiaries, seven trustees and four companies which are involved in the ust – thomas.matthews, ThinkUp, Expedition Engineering and MustRD. The Trust is open to any other businesses who match the ethos and aims, and anyone can put foward
Chosen by Will Gompertz, BBC arts editor
Several architects are now working on the problem of creating quick, environmentally friendly prefabricated housing. We’re moving from a generation who gave little thought as to the built environment and accepted housing that was neither pleasant to look at, nor to live in or around, to a new century where there’s a real desire for housing that’s affordable, flexible and places community at the heart of its thinking. For architects and the public it’s an enticing prospect.
New digital music formats
Chosen by Fred Deakin, Lemon Jelly/Airside
Beyond the humble MP3, the music industry is hoping to add value to downloads (and fight piracy) via a host of new digital music formats that package extra content in with tracks.
Last year, Apple released its iTunes lp format offering album artwork and bundles of multimedia elements such as videos, Twitter feeds and blog updates – as well as the music. The four major record labels are developing a similar format called CMX (Connected Media Experience) along the same principals, including artwork, video and mobile products. The latest addition is MusicDNA, launched in January, which will, again, link users through to an array of additional content. But will consumers – and designers – value these new developments?
“Like many others I’ve been wrestling with the problem of what groundbreaking music packaging looks like in a digital age,” says Deakin. “It’s obvious that both musicians and designers need something more to play with than an image 12 pixels square and a line of default type: my main concern is that the people who should be creating and steering these new formats are the aforementioned musicians and designers, who will have a deeper understanding of what will best deliver their creations and please their audiences. Instead, I suspect the music business will deliver a format that is designed to maximise profit and create monopoly, just as the CD format and MP3 format have done previously. Looking at the range of iPhone apps from major labels, they seem to exist mainly to push advertising for product, tours and merchandise and make little or no attempt to enhance the experience of listening to music itself. My fear is that cmx and Music DNA will do the same.”
Chosen by Meirion Pritchard, art director, Wallpaper*
As the science behind the making of artificial (cultured) diamonds becomes more and more sophisticated, it will be possible – the theory goes – to build anything in diamond, it’s just a matter of aligning the carbon molecules in a certain way. So, potentially, we could have a super-strong building or design material produced from carbon. Imagine cities made of diamond – nice!
2012 Olympics branding
Chosen by Takuya Kawagoi, director,
Sony Design Centre Europe
“I am excited to see how the London Olympics branding will be executed. I have followed its progress from its controversial launch and watched with interest the progress as it has evolved over time. I am very much looking forward to seeing its implementation across London.”
The audience of the future
Chosen by Daniel Bonner, chief creative officer, AKQA
This is Jacob. He is ten. He is my nephew. He does not know what the word ‘digital’ means because he never knew a world without it. He is the audience of the future. To him, digital is not big or clever or new. He is completely at home in a world where the internet, set top boxes, the mobile phone and peer to peer gaming are just ‘how it is’. He told me apps and stuff are cool because they are helpful. He unwrapped, opened up and intuitively mastered the Wii without reading one single word of the instruction manual. In the future he will happily talk not click. He will share, create, edit, debate, configure and play without any boundaries other than those that he chooses. His expectations will be high. To get his attention we will have to aim even higher.