Created this logotype for a new blog launched today, with postings by Tim Parsons, myself and soon by other tutors on the design undergrad. courses at Camberwell College of Arts spanning 3D, Graphic Design and Illustration. The content is feeding monthly symposia, each on a Design 'Key Idea'. The first event discusses Process.


Standing There Chair

A chair recently completed, a marker for further projects with Sally. Source a chair (or other), source a fabric, source some content, establish a treatment. In this case the text was a lyric-poem written a while ago by one of our girls, Sadie.

I drew the text by hand then re-worked but not over-worked some components on-screen and transferred for Sally to stitch. She then applied the panels having already taken the chair back to the frame for a full re-upholstery with correct materials.

LinkFurniture carries a narrative always. In this case it's tattooed onto the surface. In Bright Ideas, Beautiful Minds, Jürgen Bey says,'The language of products is a language that we give them so that they can communicate with users. Sometimes they have an interpreter in the form of a written set of instructions, sometimes through tattoos on their body. It is a functional language that tells us what they can do, where they come from and what they are for'.


Make Do Type

Been working on type that functions as an extension of my hand. I draw on-and-off-screen and there is always a kind of basic geometry either way so this is a way of trying to formalise something that is a natural inclination. It's heavily limited by a 2.5mm grid and by monospacing which fosters glitches and inconsistencies in the optical spaces between characters.

Howard Kettler's Courier (in which this text is set) has beautiful innovation in the way the slab-serif-lengths vary. My grid forces something dumber to happen in the attempt to achieve even greyness. Some characters have no serif, some serifs invert; sometimes counterforms are filled. Also, through hand-drawing, wanted to allow each character to exponentially grow variants, so the form develops 'growths' that take them towards C19th ornament, late 1960s OCR, etc. But always retaining geo-awkwardness.

This is Herbert Bayer's 1959 'fonetik alfabet' a development of the 1925 Universal. Been etched on the retina since discovering it in Herbert Spencer's 1968 book, The Visible Word, a product of his RCA-based Legibility Unit. The ligatures are beautiful, especially when linked to phonemes. So the Make-Do-Modernism (virtues of constraint) of my type grew from some interest here in Bayer's slightly awkward geometries (see letter 's') and the use of just one case (although I use upper- and lower-).

There are generic solutions using a limited radius and grid and I'm conscious of many people coming to the same results on this route but maybe the idiosyncrasy comes in the mixing and mutation of variants that pull it somewhere more vernacular. These forms were lasercut from acrylic sheet last week so I could play with them. The aim is to cut them at double-size and mount to type-height (+/- 23mm) for use on letterpress.

Another inspiration is Max Bill. This is, amazingly, a lino-cut poster from 1944. I've seen one of this series in the flesh and the cut lino impression gives enriched surface-object-quality.


Cobbler's Bench

Pine hand-made cobbler's bench, as seen on Just Folk. Been thinking a lot about custom working spaces with a kind of shed ergonomic. Evolving by use, with the trace of use.

Reminiscent of Andrea Zittel's 'Living Units' (via Kettle's Yard), (first seen at the no-longer-Anthony D'Offay Gallery). Also the crate houses of an all-time-hero Allan Wexler. More on him another time.


Fokker DVII

Feel a little guilty for looking at flying-killing-machines but hard not to when it's the Fokker DVII (seen at RAF Hendon). The quasi-harlequin pattern is perhaps inspired by exfoliating Sycamore bark. The beautiful white stencilling is early DIN type I think, although will have to check. It has the DIN formalism but also has an ornamental attitude to the mix of small caps, pictographic arrows, curved baselines.

Here's another image, courtesy of USAF Museum. My friend and ex-studio-mate Harrisson took a trip to the DIN archive in Berlin with Open Source Publishing. See the photos here.

But I liked especially this cover of 'Das Ist Norm'. Just read through H's entry and it appears DIN for the transport system, etc. was designed in 1932; so post-Fokker DVII. OSP are re-drawing DIN using open-source software, for the public domain (for whom it was intended).

Here's another stencilling example from the under-wing-wheel-well of a Messerschmidt Bf109. Rounded stems/terminals, nice open 'c', very nice Eszett.

Umetaro Azechi

First encountered Umetaro Azechi's woodcuts at the British Museum. Stopped me in my tracks. His themes were consistent; mountain men and animals, landscapes. But within this, in a way like Giorgio Morandi, he found everything he needed to say. Then it's just about the language and economy; especially the way he solves the junction between forehead and nose or the abstraction of the body.

This image is distilled to a greater degree, with no doubt that the figure is one and the same as his habitat. The landscapes hold more variety and invention in their composition, even though some are very small.


Boot-shaped-boots, shoe-shaped-shoes

Happened upon these boots by William Lennon of Derbyshire. Quite hard to find boot-shaped-boots and shoe-shaped-shoes. They are for 'tug-of-war' apparently.

Men at Work

Following on from the Modulex Men posted below, here's more men at work. This, of course, features the UNIVAC Type 1540 Command Magnetic Tape Unit circa. 1966. This comes from a memoir-site of Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station, which was involved in the Apollo space programme.

Thoughts turn to 'Sleeper'. There is a scene I tried to find where Woody is working with a tape-spool-super-computer. He is distraced by an attractive girl, leans coquettishly on the machine and it runs out of control. Cue flashing lights, unravelling tape. Anyway, couldn't find it but this clip is very funny. The thread for me here is people outscaled by big lumps of technology, or something like that. But the technology looks like it doesn't know what it's for. And a mid-C20th conception of the future. Been drawing a MIR space station simulator for similar reasons.