Michael Bierut already said it better than us…

December 17th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

Designers work with clients. Clients work with designers. It’s a symbiotic relationship which can be productive, surprising, infuriating, satisfying, testing… but always interesting. If we’re honest, life without clients would be a lot easier – there would be no need for compromise, no need to adhere to deadlines and the clichéd request to ‘make the logo bigger’ wouldn’t exist. These constraints and parameters are, however, the things that differentiate what we do from other creative disciplines and should be embraced. Michael Bierut knows this only too well and sums it up neatly with an all too easily forgotten point.

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Scathe We Wright*

December 13th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

Weight Watchers recently unveiled a new identity, designed by Pentagram’s Paula Scher. There are a few things we wanted to mention about the identity, which lead on to a slightly bigger, more complex point.

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Airey Force One

November 20th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

David Airey is a designer and writer based in Ireland. When he’s not looking after clients around the globe he somehow finds the time to run the brilliant design review websites Logo Design Love and Identity Designed, (bookmark them immediately if you haven’t already) as well as amassing a huge following through his prolific Twitter activity. 2009 saw the publication of his first book. Based on his original website, Logo Design Love was a runaway success and belongs on the bookshelf of any decent design studio.

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The Magic Number

November 13th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

There are millions of design agencies out there. Some have been around forever, some are eager young start ups. Some are brilliant, some are awful. Some are huge, corporate machines who employ thousands of people, some are simply one person, working from the kitchen table in their flat.

Mat Dolphin, at it’s core, is two people.

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It’s All In The Mind

October 23rd, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

Most graphic designers love the FedEx logo. Designed by Landor Associates, it’s simple, it’s clean, it’s been around since 1994 but still doesn’t look dated. The thing most designers really love about it, however, is the ‘hidden’ arrow. The little nod to progress and movement that sits in the negative space between the ‘E’ and the ‘x’. Practically everyone (designer or otherwise) knows it’s there, but being in on the worst kept secret in design does give a feeling of being in the know.

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Repeat Performance

September 24th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

Picture the scenario: You get given a great logo design brief from Client A. You take on the project and submit some ideas. One gets chosen, developed and finally delivered. The client is delighted with their new logo and your work makes a positive buzz in the design press. Everyone is happy and the project was a success.
High fives all round.

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Lost In Translation

August 7th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

“I’m not sure, I just think it needs a bit more, you know… wow”

The majority of designers reading this will have have been there, in a conversation with a client who is simply unable to articulate exactly what it is about the design that’s not quite right. And yes, it can be frustrating. Adding a bit more ‘edge’ or injecting some ‘life’ into a piece of design are fairly vague words that can be interpreted in a number of different ways, and extracting exactly what a client is trying to communicate can often result in more confusion than clarity.

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Keep it Real?

July 4th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

For a number of reasons, we look at a lot of online design portfolios. The ‘work’ sections of designers and agencies websites are daily fixtures in our browsers and conversations. We sometimes look for a bit of inspiration, we sometimes look to check out what our peers in the industry are up to, but the majority of the time we simply look because we’re really big fans of good graphic design. And there’s plenty to look at.

Most decent portfolios feature multiple images in an effort to show a broad overview of the work. More often that not, a website project will show more than one screenshot, an editorial project will show more than one spread, branding projects will show various applications of the brand in-situ. Showing these is a big part of getting across the thought process behind the work and, if nothing else, makes the portfolio that much more interesting to look at.

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U-Turn Ahead

May 30th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

With the London 2012 Olympics drawing ever closer, the much publicised visual identity is now rolling out and we’re seeing an increasing number of applications using the branding in different ways. The recent unveiling of the Olympic tickets designed by Futurebrand revealed an interesting turnaround. The prevailing consensus – most notably on the Creative Review comments board – is that the previously hated branding was now actually working quite well and a number of people, having lived with it for the last five years, have changed their minds. Anyone with a passing interest in design will surely be aware of the venom directed towards the Wolff Olins designed logo when it first emerged in 2007. This negativity came not only from designers but from the general public and, unsurprisingly, tabloids newspapers. Now, with designers leading the way, is it possible that the tide is turning and the logo, it turns out, isn’t actually that bad?

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As Little Design As Possible

May 21st, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

Dieter Rams is a legendary German industrial designer whose work has had an immeasurable impact on the design industry, and his relentless approach to pairing products down to their bare essentials has inspired designers from all fields and sectors. His work during the 60s and 70s on electronic products at Braun and his furniture designs for Vitsoe defined the purist look, with the aesthetics taking their cues solely from the functionality of the object. The list of designers and companies who have have wholeheartedly taken his philosophy on board are to numerous to mention (although it’s worth pointing out that Apple products would certainly not look the way they do we’re it not for the influence of Mr. Rams).

To mark the occasion of his recent 80th birthday, he invited his employer to publish the full transcript of his speech on ‘The Fundamentals of Design’. We love his work and the speech is as relevant now as it was when it was originally delivered in New York in December 1976, we present it here in full.

Happy birthday to one of the founding fathers of modern design, Dieter Rams.

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Standing out from the Crowd

February 15th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

The ‘£25 logo‘ article we recently wrote for Creative Review seemed to cause a nice bit of debate in the comments section of their blog. Which is what we had hoped for. We did however notice their was a bit of confusion over certain wording. Although we never mentioned ‘crowd sourcing’ or ‘spec-work’ in the piece, people leaving comments were using these terms in reference to the cheap logo service we used. We thought it was worth clearing things up a bit.

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2011 Round-up

December 22nd, 2011 by Mat Dolphin

2011. It’s been busy, it’s been stupidly quick and most importantly, it’s been good. Along with the constant stresses and pressures that go along with doing what we do, this year has been a decidedly positive one here at Dolphin Heights. We thought a good way to round off the year was to take a quick look back at what we’ve been up to in the last 12 months. What’s been keeping us busy in and out of work, where we’ve been, what we’ve been doing and who we’ve been doing it with.

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Guest Post – Bernadette Jiwa » Why Are Designers Hiding?

November 1st, 2011 by Mat Dolphin

When we meet clients for the first time they’re often quite surprised to find out how long we’ve been established and how many people actually work here. It happens all the time, and even comes from other agencies within the industry too. “Really???” is a common reaction. People’s perception of Mat Dolphin is based on a number of factors. Our creative work, the brands we’ve been fortunate to work with, the exposure we’ve had, our twitter presence, this very blog etc. all go together to paint a picture, and one that is apparently bigger and louder than we are. So why don’t we just be more open about it all? The vast majority of design agencies these days share what they want to be heard or seen. Like well oiled PR companies, they carefully control what the world finds out about them. But that’s kind of missing the point. What makes agencies unique is the people that work there. Designers constantly encourage brands to be open and honest, yet hide behind the typical designer ‘cool wall’.

We’ve been talking about this topic for a while, but the original train of thought came from Bernadette Jiwa ‘brand and business catalyst and verbal designer’ who we regularly chat with on Twitter. She questioned why we at MDHQ portray ourselves in the way we do and it got us thinking. We were going to write a blog post about it but thought who better to write a post than Bernadette herself.

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Glug Life

October 26th, 2011 by Mat Dolphin

Glug London is an event for people from the creative industries to come together, have a few drinks and hear talks from some of the most creative designers and studios around. Each event has seen a steady growth with bigger names talking, bigger venues selling out and more people scrambling to get tickets. Needless to say, they’ve been busy. With this in mind, we thought it was time to catch up with founders Ian Hambleton and Nick Clement to have a chat about the event and see what they’ve got in the pipeline.

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Ten Questions 021 – John Dowling

September 20th, 2011 by Mat Dolphin

In 1991, after being told by his tutors at Chelsea College of Art and Design that he ‘wasn’t good enough’ to become an artist, John Dowling realised he needed a change of direction. When someone encouraged him to pursue Graphic Design, he went for it although does admit to not knowing exactly what it was at the time. In the years since then he’s learnt in no uncertain terms what it means to be a graphic designer and has honed his skills at some of the most prestigious agencies around.

Starting his employment at the now defunct Area (a studio established by two former designers from Peter Saville Associates) John went on to stints at the almighty Pentagram, SEA and Frost before setting up Dowling Duncan alongside his former Pentagram colleague Rob Duncan. They’ve used their wealth of experience to produce a great body of work for clients such as AIGA, Apple, The British Museum, Google, John Lewis, Microsoft, The Serpentine GalleryThis list goes on.

John kindly agreed to get involved with our regular Ten Questions series. Here’s what he had to say…

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Gone with the Wind

August 23rd, 2011 by Mat Dolphin

A couple of months ago we took a trip to the Pentagram offices in Needham Road, West London to attend a talk by designer, Pentgram partner, author and all round nice-guy Angus Hyland. The talk focused on symbols and was organised in conjunction with the publication of Symbol, the recent book by Hyland and Steve Bateman. The talk was utterly brilliant and the book is equally so. Highly recommended.

Whilst I could write at length about the talk itself and the points Hyland raised, there was one thing he said that particularly stuck out for me. When talking about the more unusual, quirky and perhaps even awkward logo designs from years gone by Hyland said…

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Only Two?

August 4th, 2011 by Mat Dolphin

Whilst we do lots of different things here at Mat Dolphin, our main focus is graphic design. We design graphics. The stuff that sits on a computer screen and showcases what a person or company is offering. Or stuff that is printed onto a business card and introduces who that person is and what they do. Some of the stuff we design has to communicate a great deal within a very limited space or format. Some of the stuff we do has to communicate a great deal without actually saying too much. Often we have to work with strict, client-imposed constraints and occasionally we have complete carte blanche (which can often be the more difficult way to work).

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Ten Questions – 017 Michael Johnson

June 9th, 2011 by Mat Dolphin

Seeing the logo you designed emblazoned down the side of a 747? The commemorative stamps you designed becoming collectors items? Garnering every award going whilst picking up a host of new clients along the way? These are the kind of things most designers would eat their own MacBook to have acheived. Johnson Banks are an agency that has ticked the above, and much more, off their to-do list. Virgin Atlantic, The Royal Mail, The BFI, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Yell.com, More Th>n and countless other companies, government organisations, universities and charities have been queueing up for re-brands and design work from them. At the helm of the operation is Michael Johnson. Amazing designer, guitar obsessive, brilliant writer, regular contributor to Creative Review & Design Week and very down to earth, nice guy.

His excellent Thought For The Week Blog is also a must read for anyone with a passing interest in what happens behind the scenes in one of the UKs most respected agencies. Michael kindly agreed to take time out answer our Ten Questions.

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Five Things 013

May 6th, 2011 by Mat Dolphin

It’s Friday, it’s sunny and it’s time once again to let you know about Five Things we’ve seen this week which we like. Encompassing a number of areas including advertising, design, second hand shops, passport stamps, jelly and toys, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

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The Republic Return

April 27th, 2011 by Mat Dolphin

Last night we traveled to The Parfitt Gallery to attend the opening of ‘The Designers Republic Come Home To Croydon‘ – a solo exhibition of work by Ian Anderson shown in his childhood home town. The founder of the legendary Sheffield based studio was showing various pieces of work curated from the last 25 years.

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