Yours Truly, Angry Mob

December 18th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

Recently, the University Of California unveiled a new logo. The general reaction in the studio was relatively muted. Clearly they’ve attempted to update their previous mark – pictured below – with a more contemporary look. The result, whilst certainly not horrendous, is also not amazing. It’s pretty inoffensive and basically ok. It would seem that others had stronger, more negative opinions about the rebrand, and weren’t afraid to let their feelings be known.

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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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Work, rest and Playboy

December 5th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

Don’t ask us how or why but recently, we stumbled upon this (obviously NSFW) online archive of Playboy back issues. The collection spans from the first ever issue all the way back in December 1953 to the present day. The early days of the magazine show some great examples of inventive and well considered editorial design. Creative, elegant and much better than most of the tat that fills newsagent’s shelves these days — Top shelf or not. We love them. So we thought we’d share some of the best we came across. Fnar.

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Write on

November 28th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

Design is one industry in particular that has embraced social media like no other. The platforms that have emerged and developed in recent years are appealing to designers and other creatives for obvious reasons.

There aren’t many faster or easier ways to share new ideas, new work or new problems that need solving than Twitter. It’s a ready made focus group, eager to give feedback. At its best, it’s helpful, convenient, quick and fun. At worst it’s… well, maybe best to not go there. The attractions of Instagram are also obvious. It’s purely visual, incredibly instant and the technology can hardly fail to make your arty snapshot of your dinner, trainers or fixed gear look suitably cool. Similarly, what better way than Tumblr is there to act as curator and inspire people with your carefully selected imagery of other peoples work?

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Jonathan Ive already said it better than us…

November 22nd, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

Approaching each and every design brief as a new challenge which therefore deserves a new solution should be standard practice for a designer. Each problem we’re asked to solve presents its own unique obstacles, questions and stumbling blocks. Using a tried and tested method you’ve used before (or, even worse, seen someone else use before), is hardly going to result in the most original final product. Being different is a necessary and important part of allowing your work to stand out from the rest. But it’s not enough to merely do something others aren’t.

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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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Ten Questions 030 – Timothy J. Reynolds

October 29th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

Here at MDHQ we’re always on the look out for new stuff to inspire us. When we find something we think might inspire others we shove it out to twitter and spread the love to one and all. Recently we came across the work of Timothy J. Reynolds and were instantly captivated by his style and work. Timothy is an exhibit designer and illustrator based in Milwaukee, WI. Born and raised in the south and originally from Winston-Salem, he picked up the random nickname Turnis when he was a kid and it just stuck. He went to school for architecture, worked in a design firm or two, and then his quit his job and sold everything he owned and left. Wow!

We got in touch with Timothy to ask him if he’d be interested in getting involved with our Ten Questions series. He said YES, so check out his replies…

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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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Adrian Shaughnessy already said it better than us…

October 4th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

We’ve spoken in the past about the importance of the message. The purpose of graphic design, in our minds, should be to communicate a distinct message to the right audience in the most appropriate way possible. We recently came across the following quote by Adrian Shaughnessy who, in his usual succinct and intelligent way, uses a simple and easy to understand analogy to completely hit the nail on the head. The substance taking precedent over the style is something we feel is hugely important and easily forgotten in today’s fast moving and trend-driven design world.

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Justified Magazine

October 1st, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

Almost a year ago to the day we received an email from an enthusiastic second year Graphic Design student at Bournemouth university. On any given day we get inundated with emails from students, people looking for work placements and chancers, but we always try and reply to everyone. This day in 2011 was no different. We’re still a little bemused when we hear from people who like what we do and contact us about the prospect of working for us. Us? Really? But in line with our If You Give Love, You Get Love™ mantra, we feel it’s only fair to reply and help out if we can.

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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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Ten Questions 029 – Magnus Voll Mathiassen

August 15th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

From his home in Norway, Magnus Voll Mathiassen produces some stunning design and illustration work for a wide range of clients. It’s difficult to describe his style, as he brings a completely new and different approach to each project. In 2009 he parted ways with Grandpeople, the studio he co-founded, and set up shop under his own name. Since then his work has effortlessly crossed the boundaries from hard-edged graphic illustrations to experimental typography treatments to loosely sketched drawing styles to abstract, organic watercolour. Always different and always brilliant, he has collaborated with the likes of Nike, Intel, Microsoft, Sony, Varoom Magazine and Adidas as well as a number of personal projects and exhibitions.

We got in touch with Magnus to ask him if he’d be interested in getting involved with our Ten Questions series. He swiftly obliged and here’s what he had to say…

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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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It’s Nothing Personal

July 25th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

One of the things we find ourselves saying to clients time and time again is ‘we’re not artists’.

Obviously the difference is quite clear in certain ways (nobody has asked us to paint their portrait or create an installation for them… yet), but there are times when the boundaries between the two disciplines become blurred.

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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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Ideas for Sale

June 13th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

There are plenty of things you don’t get taught at school or university. Students leave their graphic design education with a huge amount of knowledge and expertise still to discover. This isn’t a massive revelation, it’s true of many professions and simply a fact that young designers have to deal with; your education can’t teach you everything you need to know about the big bad reality of working as a graphic designer.

This isn’t a dig at the education system. There’s a huge amount that a good design course can teach you. Maybe you’re a bit of a whizz kid. Your ideas are brilliant and original. Your typography is top notch. Your mac skills are second to none. You’re well on your way to becoming the next big name and international acclaim is just around the corner. However, there’s one thing they never mention; no matter how great you are creatively, if you’re not a good salesperson, you’re going to have a hard time.

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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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Waiting for Lightning

May 17th, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

Earlier this year, we wrote a blog post regarding some of our thoughts on inspiration. Sprungseven left a considered and well written response in the comments section, using a quote from the brilliant Bob Gill:

“Don’t look for inspiration in design books. Don’t sit at your computer, waiting for lightning to strike. If the job is for a dry cleaner, go to a dry cleaner. And stay there until you have something that you honestly think is interesting to say about dry cleaning.”

The sentiment is spot on and one we wholeheartedly agree with. If inspiration for designers comes from the same sources (a finite handful of popular websites and design books), its only a matter of time before things begin to look similar. Without wanting to cover old ground, we concur.

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