As a senior designer at TheTin creating a design culture that is forward thinking, innovative, and has heaps of empathy is really important. Here London provided the platform to discover new ways of generating ideas and approaching projects.The day was set up by It’s Nice That at the Royal Geographical Society and hosted inspiring talks by some exciting names in design, photography, fashion, illustration, art and animation. We headed over for a day of inspiration, creative talent, screen printing, bookbinding, innovation, food, drink and chit chat. It did not disappoint.
Here’s what we took away…
Working together over working alone
There was a real mix of creatives that work alone over those that collaborate and swear by team working.
I particularly enjoyed Photographer, Juno Calypso’s talk on how she approaches new projects and works alone in very isolated environments. She talked about her recent series shot in a US couples resort (a honeymoon hotel) and how shooting there was ‘creepy time alone’ and ‘awkward’ among guests that were all couples on a couple retreat holiday. She spoke about the awkward mornings coming down for breakfast and waiting for a waiter to serve her as they assumed a partner was on the way.
It made for a very honest, entertaining chat about how this ‘lonely’ way of working helped to set a scene for her work - it’s beautifully unnerving.
On the other hand, Jasper Janssen (graphic designer) who was up first on the day, said “creative collaboration isn’t always easy…” but “nobody makes great work alone”. And this is something I agree with. At TheTin we rely on collaboration and ensure with every project there is the opportunity to brainstorm ideas in workshops with design, strategy and development. Having this diverse insight on the problem we’re trying to solve helps us to come to quicker, more valuable solutions for our clients. In my own experience working as a junior designer in the past, I have found that isolated working ends in lower confidence. The longer you squirrel away your ideas, the less confident you are about the approach as you’ve had no validation. We all need a little encouragement.
Decoration is a crime
One of the highlights of the day was a talk by James Jarvis, an artist and visual philosopher from London. He spoke about his perspective (or retrospective) on his previous work and the illustration style he now focuses on, which is a much simpler and deliberate style.
On looking back at his early work he described it as “purely about surface, how things look”. He worked with brands like Slam City Skates, Silas and MTV where he developed his character and illustration style. Talking about his latest work, he said “drawing can be an intellectual process, rather than an aesthetic one.” and that “aesthetics come from the process”. You can see this in his drawing style where the character he is illustrating is “generic” and functional in delivering the message or thought.
He considered whether he should colour in the character but would colouring in add anything to the message? “Decoration is a crime”
There’s similarities In UI design where we are user focused and great functionality comes first. There are trends and styles that can help us decide whether to add a drop shadow or use big type, but the style of an interface should be formed by the needs of the user and come straight out of our UX process. In UI design, it’s not about decoration until an interface performs at its best. Decoration then becomes a functional requirement for the brand you’re working with. - Just so we’re clear, that’s not an order of doing things - brand forms a huge part of the UX process up front.
Fashion designer, Christopher Raeburn, gave a great chat on the background to his career and how The Wombles were a huge influence on his approach to reusing materials and making things from things that already exist. His ethos in his studio is Remade, Reduced and Recycled. But the Wobbles was not the only thing in his childhood that influenced his career.
He spoke about how his dad used to encourage him as a child to build and invent things. “My dad used to say ‘If you can draw something in the week, then we’ll build it at the weekend’” He was in the air cadets and learnt how to fly, he grew up in Kent and had a love for being prepared. All this formed an interest in re-appropriation of materials, specifically military fabrics which he uses to create sustainable outerwear made out of decommissioned parachutes. He went into say that he found out much later in his career that his grandmother used a parachute to make her own wedding dress.
Astrid Stravo also talked about provenance being a huge influence in shaping her career. She said, “These were my Legos” pointing to a picture of letterpress alphabets.
We came away inspired by some incredible work (I’ve not even mentioned the iconic George Hardie - he was brill!) and motivated by hearing ways of ideation and approaching problems. It reinforced that we’re going in the right direction and building a collaborative forward thinking design culture here at TheTin. I finished the day off with a cold Brooklyn IPA, a screen-printed tote bag full of goodies and a head full ideas.
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