Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cape Town receives World Design Capital designation for 2014

At an impressive gala dinner and convocation ceremony tonight in the City Hall in Helsinki, Helsinki handed over the designation of World Design Capital to Cape Town for 2014. Soon in Lee, President of Icsid, was joined by the Mayors of both Helsinki and Cape Town at the unveiling of the ceremonial plaque that celebrates Cape Town's designation.

Now the hard work begins in bringing design to a city that is hungry, in the words of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille, "to bridge the divides of the past". In an emotional speech, Mayor de Lille indicated with great compassion what this designation means for the city and communities of Cape Town and the region.

The ceremony followed Helsinki's one-day, Closing Summit chaired by Marco Steinberg. I had the honour to be the lead speaker for the panel session on design and growth. The Summit was attended by around 250 delegates including the Mayors of Taipei, Stockholm, Lahti and of course Helsinki.

Congratulations to Helsinki and in particular to its Director Pekka Timonen for a very successful 2012 and to the World Design Capital team for Cape Town, as they assume the title of World Design Capital - the first city to do so in the continent of Africa.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Design Action Sweden

I have been invited to speak at Design Action in Nybro/Pukeberg, Sweden tomorrow - Friday 21st September. I can only stay for a short while and I won't get to hear all of the other speakers. It's a pity as they represent an intriguing and diverse set of different points of view.

The link to the event is here: Design Action 2012
Check out the speakers here: Speakers

Use Google Translate to translate from the Swedish.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Europe's Design Leadership - Design for Growth & Prosperity

This afternon, the European Design Leadership Board set up by the European Commission under its European Design and Innovation Initiative, handed its report, 'Design for Growth and Prosperity' to Commission Vice-President Tajani in Helsinki.

The Commission's Press Release outlines the six strategic areas for policy action. They are:

- The global stage
- Europe's innovation system
- Europe's enterprises
- The public sector
- The research system
- The education system

The Report sets out in detail the Board's 21 wide-ranging recommendations within these key areas.

This much-anticipated report, (which I have had the privilege to edit with Tapio Koskinen the Director of the Secretariat of the Leadership Board and working closely with the team at the DG Enterprise of the European Commission), if taken on board by the wide range of relevant and expert stakeholders and actors intended, will have an impact in bringing a more systemic approach to policy-making for design at the European Level. It will stimulate actions and programmes across Europe to assist in embedding design as a key component of innovation success for the benefit of all of Europe's citizens.

It targets both the private and public sectors as well as governments across Europe. It focuses on the needs of SMEs and seeks to support the journey of growth for medium companies with the ambition and capacity to become successful, design-aware, large companies contributing to Europe's economy. And of course, it seeks to embed design-led innovation behaviours within the hundreds of thousands of SMEs that make up the greater proportion of Europe's GDP and where Europe's design innovation future will be determined. Design Research, design consultancy, design education and design management are all seen as key tools for user-centred, design-led innovation.

I offer my congratulations to the Commission for its foresight in setting up the European Design Leadership Board and acknowledge the role of the Design Leadership Board members in bringing the European design agenda to a next level of potential.

Whilst there is no doubt that the challenges still to be faced remain daunting and complex, there now exists for the first time, a firm policy basis upon which to grow Europe's design capacity.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

RIP Bill

To anyone who met him, Bill Moggridge always made an impression. He was the sort of man, (with a beautiful speaking voice), who always made you feel better for having met him. Reading on the BBC news webiste this morning, (from where I have copied this photograph), I see that his Associate Director at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York - where he has been Director since 2010 - says, "Beloved by the museum staff and the design community at large, Bill touched the lives of so many through his wise council, boundary-pushing ideas and cheerful camaraderie,". Good words.Thank you Bill for all that you achieved for and in design. Our world seems so much smaller without you.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

New CEO at UK Design Council / CABE

Congratulations to John Mathers on his appointment as the new CEO at the British Design Council. A design industry veteran, John brings a great deal of insight and knowledge to the post on the business of design.

John was UK Chief Executive of The Brand Union for ten years after which he become Chief Operating Officer for Blue Marlin Brand Design. Subsequently, he joined packaging design specialists Holmes & Marchant as MD in 2009. John is a former President of the Design Business Association in the UK.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Deep Strength"

Last night at the UK's Creative Industries Reception held at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, UK Prime Minister David Cameron talked about creativity as a "deep strength" of the UK. He referred passionately to Britain’s global successes in film, arts, dance, music, drama, literature, fashion and the cultural industries. He spoke about the achievement of the opening ceremony of the Olympics. It was very much an advocacy of creativity in the domain of culture and entertainment. The overall message was a call to international players to invest in British creativity and to invest now. The time has never been better.

That is not to say that design was not well represented last night. There were very many design industry figures enjoying the excellent English sparkling wine and the beautiful art on the walls of the Royal Academy. The star-studded design cast included Sir Jonathan Ive (who was presented to the Duchess of Cambridge) and many other leading UK design companies across the design disciplines, including Pearson Lloyd, IDEO, Priestmangoode, Thomas Heatherwick, Creative Action Design, Marc Newson, Ozwald Boateng and S-Point from Shanghai.

Creativity and Global Branding

Yesterday morning, I attended the conference session on Creativity and Global Branding which was but one part of the Global Business Summit on Creative Services held at the British Business Embassy in Lancaster House, London which has been transformed into a showcase of British Design.

The session was one of three held following a breakfast hosted by the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media & Sport and with speakers Sir Martin Sorrell, Christopher Bailey and Lord Richard Rogers.

At the brand session, Diageo and BBH told the story of the advertising campaigns which over a decade dramatically improved the market positioning and commercial success of Johnnie Walker whiskey. The brand now generates £132 per second in commercial trade worldwide. Landrover furrowed new ground with its pre-launch approach to its city-themed on-and-off line campaigns and events devised by agency The Brooklyn Brothers, which attracted new audiences to the Evoque - dramatically smashing their own targets for pre-launch orders in the process. HSBC spoke of the need to change its approach to marketing and its brand communications and Embraer Executive Jets and their agency MBA spoke of the story bringing the concept of 'intelligent luxury' into their brand positioning. Telecomms operator Airtel in India and the Brand Union told the story of repositioning and updating the brand across all points of touch in all countries - a mammoth task which has brought huge commercial benefit and brand uplift. The company's market capitalisation has grown from $16m in 1996 to $25Bn today. My favourite talk however, was the elegantly and simply delivered story of Figtree and their work in creating a global consumer brand for HTC formerly an unknown Taiwanese OEM. Simon Myers the Co-Founder and CEO of Figtree was assisted towards the end of his beautiful animated presentation slides by a video Q&A with HTC's CEO who was unable to attend the event. He brought home the message of how the concept of 'Quietly Brilliant' had helped to shift the culture of the whole organisation.

Pictured are Andy Fennell, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Diageo and Sir John Hegarty, Worldwide Creative Director, BBH.

Legible London

In addition to the 'Olympic Pink' wayfinding system, there is also considerable amount of temporary signing in the Legible London identity. Here too are a few examples:

Olympic Pedestrians

London's wayfinding and signing systems for the Olympics are overlaid on top of and alongside London's existing pedestrian information systems. The distinctive pink colouring indicating specific Olympic information, sits out clearly from the background and yet does not overwhelm it. The legibility of the font in large scale is good and the support of stewards, handouts, maps etc also adds to the efficiency of the mix through a broad approach. The use of the diagonal as a shaded area or as a signifier on vinyls and the free-standing elements also supports recognition, and where deemed necessary, double-language signing is also used. Here are some images from a wander around Picadilly, Westminster and St James's.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympic design achievement

The lighting of the Olympic cauldron last night was an extremely moving and poignant moment, even when viewing it (and photographing it) on my computer screen.

Thomas Heatherwick's idea is beautiful. It brings together a sustainable energy source, technological sophistication and the physicality of wonderfully crafted metals to deliver elemental fire.

All of this ingenuity, skill and direction was brought together in one short, operatic moment of light, movement, music, sound and fire. (Listen again to the soprano singing very beautifully). Thomas and his team delivered a poignant symbol, particularly for all of us who live without strife at this time, of nations coming together in peace.

The whole ceremony has been an uplifting reminder of how superb performance and direction, can move us far beyond celebrity and entertainment, (despite commentators' wretched urge to speak descriptive inanities as soon as there is a silence or a meaningful moment that would by far be best left to speak for itself).

Congratulations to British designer Thomas Heatherwick and his team for that particular moment of inspiration among many.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

RIP. Tom Gloesener 1976-2012

It was during my time as Vice President and President of BEDA, from 2005 to 2009, that I was first introduced to Design Luxembourg's representative Tom Gloesener. He was elected to the Board at only 29 or 30 years of age, (BEDA photo taken on his re-election to the new Board in March 2007).

Although I knew that Tom has been fighting cancer with enormous optimism and bravery for some time now, I was deeply saddened yesterday to hear of his unexpectedly sudden death at the age of 36.

Truly passionate about design, Tom was a dedicated member of the BEDA Board committed to raising the standards of professional design practice and design procurement across Europe – in particular, working towards the elimination of free pitching. We benefited greatly both from his expertise as one of Luxembourg's leading graphic designers and his wisdom as President, (for four years), of Design Luxembourg. His counsel was calm and insightful.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to work as a consultant with Tom, his close friend and business partner Silvano Vidale, (with whom he set up Vidale Gloesener in Luxembourg in 2000), and their senior designer and strategist Heike Fries. We worked together on a number of key projects for clients including Rothschilds Bank and the identities of newly formed energy companies Enovos and Creos, (which emerged out of a complex merger process). More recently in January, we worked together on a major tender process as part of a large consortium, pitching for work in the Middle East.

Through working with Tom and his team, I have gained a deeper understanding of the role of simple ideas, beautiful typography and infinitely well executed graphic design in shaping identities and building brands – in making communication meaningful.

But much more than this, I am happy to say we became goood friends and although we were not able to see each other very often, (thanks to the English Channel), I had the privilege to benefit enormously from his generous, warm and open spirit. He was great fun to be with. It is such a shock to have suddenly lost him.

My heart goes out to to Silvano, Heike and the team as well as to his partner, family and friends. He is sorely missed. I can only be grateful that I had the chance to know him, even if only for a short while.

RIP 17 July 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

Real Munich

I arrived in Munich yesterday afternoon one stop short of Central Station. I have always loved the unmistakeable, stentorian authority of the rail control towers in Germany. They have strength and gravitas. They speak with a somewhat unforgiving voice that sits half-way between an elegant air traffic control tower, (that stretches upwards to meet the trains in the sky), and the relentless weight of a thousand trains, permanently grounded to their earthly tracks. Perhaps a solar tree could add a more human touch....

Solar Tree

Building a sense of place through introducing a contemporary intervention is a sensitive task. Ross Lovegroves solar tree, truly enhances a public square bringing a beautiful and contemporary structural form with a high technological content into a heritage setting. Designed by Ross Lovegrove and manufactured by Artemide, the Solar Tree has been installed in St John’s Square, Clerkenwell, London. The 6m tall, sinuous form evokes the call of nature whilst integrating ‘extremely high technological content’ resulting from innovative research conducted by Artemide. The 10 ‘branches’ contain photovoltaic cells that collect solar energy during the day, with four of them equipped with LED lights for the dark. The sculptured surround at the base of the sculpture also forms a convenient seat for passers-by. The Solar Tree will be situated in St John's Square from May through to September.

Monday, March 12, 2012

New BEDA Board 2012-2014

At its General Assembly hosted by Cité du design in Saint-Étienne on Friday 09th March, the BEDA Members elected the new Board for the term 2012 to 2014. Nine new members were elected from a list of twelve candidates.

Joining the current President Deborah Dawton (DBA, UK) and Vice President Isabel Roig (Barcelona Design Centre), the full Board is as follows (in alphabetical order):

Robin Edman, SVID, (Sweden)
Severin Filek, former BEDA President, Design Austria, (Austria)
Ilona Gurjanova, Estonian Association of Designers, (Estonia)
Salla Heinänen, Ornamo, (Finland)
Kitty De Jong, BNO, (Netherlands)
Christina Melander, Danish Design Centre, (Denmark)
Michal Stefanowski, SPFP, Association of Industrial Designers, (Poland)
Szonja Szesztai, Hungarian Design Council, (Hungary)
Ingrid Vandenhoudt, Secretary, Design Flanders, (Belgium)

Following the election, I had the opportunity to run a workshop session for the development of strategy thinking as a contribution to the work of the European Design Leadership Board which will be reporting in June 2012.

Congratulations to the new Board Members.

How to Grow - Creative Industries initiative

Have a look at the new and rapidly expanding website for small and creative enterprises wishing to grow in Europe. During the last week of February they ran the 'Know How Programme' - a series of streamed lectures and interactive sessions for the Creative Industries. I had the chance to give one of the webcasts and I believe these will be appearing online in due course.

The site is also a portal for the Creative Industries in Europe and you can find useful information on the recently launched Creative Industries Alliance. The link allows you to access information on European programmes for the creative industries as well as on the Policy Learning Platform.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

National Design Centre for France

Eric BESSON announces the launch of a design action plan and the creation of a National Design Centre.

This news sent to me yesterday by Moira Moreira of APCI following the announcement by the French Economy Minister at the closing day of the APCI conference back on 9th January.

Quoting from the information provided,

"The creation of a National Design Centre, much like its English, Danish or Korean equivalents, would make for a lever leading to exemplary design policies as well as a French design promotion tool.

Created from the APCI in liaison with all design players, it will aim to assert the strategic role of design in the economy, improve the competitiveness of French companies thanks to the introduction of design in their strategy and enable design professions to develop.

The Ministry of Industry will support this project’s launch with 1 million euros worth of funding."

Congratulations to Anne Marie Boutin and the whole team at APCI on making this important step happen for the integration of design strategy at the national level for France.

This is is good news for design in Europe.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Doing a webcast at 3pm CET

I have been invited by EDC in the Netherlands to give a webcast at 3pm today on the web platform I am going to talk about the design policy journey in Europe, on changing design practice and on design learning for all.

This morning has been important with the launch of the European Creative Industries Alliance and the announcement of four new programmes for design funded by the European Commission.

An exciting time for design in Europe.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Vorsprung durch Branding

Not on his forearm. Not on his back. But on the back of his hand below the line of his shirt cuff.

This taxi driver in Graz was happy for me to photograph his hand and he proudly told me that he owns an Audi. I wasn't so sure about that as he didn't clarify which model.

The word 'brand' comes originally from the hot branding irons that burned the owner's mark onto the hide of a cow. So, in this case, who is claiming ownership of whom?

I didn't get to see his left hand...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Prof Gerhard Heufler, FH Joanneum Graz

Met yesterday with Professor Gerhard Heufler, Founder and Leader of the Industrial Design Course at the Fachhochschule Joanneum in Graz. It has a strong focus on transportation and I was there to learn about the accomplishments of the course and of his graduates - many of whom are now working internationally with key automotive manufacturers such as Audi, VW and BMW.

The course was established in 1995 by Gerhard and Gerald Kiska of Kiska design.

The focus on forward-looking design language and form integrated with a deep knowledge of three-dimensional, non-virtual model-making, (clay etc.) - as well as CAD of course - brings a level of quality that is very impressive. The integrated Bachelors and Masters programme is innovative and brings benefits to the level of quality that can be achieved. The workshops are impressive,(5-axis machine is on order), and the reach of top-notch placements in industry all adds to the quality.

I first came across the FH-J's work as jury member for CREATECH in Vienna back in 2009 and it has been great to see the work at first hand.

AA logo's flight through the years

I saw these in transit in JFK from the American Airlines terminal to the Delta terminal to get back to London. The only trouble was that when moving through the terminal, because American Airlines is so obsesive about not diluting its overwhleming brand presence in the new Terminal with competitor names, finding the route to the Delta terminal was very tedious and irritatingly un-signed. No presence of the Delta mark or name - at least certainly not obviously. I had to ask three times to get directions to the monorail. Made two wrong turns and found myself on a large flat mezzanine at one point. Not so good American. JFK sort out the wayfinding between terminals from within the terminals (the signing at the exit and entry nodes is quite reasonable).

International Design Alliance Montreal

I had the privilege at the end of January to facilitate a strategy thinking workshop with the three Executive Boards of the world design organisations Icograda, IFI and Icsid. We spent a half-day in Montreal thinking together and working through key strategies for the future regarding the ongoing development of the IDA Congress.

The next Congress is to be held in Istanbul in 2013 and looking beyond that to the years to come, there are many areas where innovation and development can occur in ways that would not be possible if the organisations were not working together. It was very exciting to hear the flow of ideas emerging over the day from across the three discipline domains.

It is because of this multi-disciplinary working in building an expanded view of design in today's world - without losing relevance to the individual disciplines - that I believe the potential of the IDA Congress is significant. Following on from the first IDA Congress in Taipei in October - Design at the Edges - the three organisations, their Executive Boards and their Secretariats are exploring exciting and innovative ways of continuing the on-going development of the IDA Congress as a positioning and influencing force for good for design in business, industry and society.

It was great to have the chance to work with the lead organisation IFI and their President Shashi Caan to shape and deliver a valuable experience for the IDA team.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bird's eye view

I was on top of the Rockefeller Centre yesterday with Mike Rawlinson looking at the scope of the wayfinding work he is leading for the city. The views from the top were truly beautiful and I was moved by the presence of the Empire State Building. It is silently and powerfully majestic.

Although a little hidden from view on the observation deck, the Art Deco Chrysler building also stands out as very graceful and beautiful. It was the world's tallest building for only 11 months before being superceded by the Empire State Building in 1931.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Who says a grid is easy?

As a first timer moving around New York it is not so simple as it seems. There are hidden rules (East of Fifth and West of Fifth - go figure); I have yet still to find a paper map of the subway (never mind of the city itself) and the orientation East West takes a little getting used to. Finding the subway is also tricky as its visibility on-street is limited to the stranger's eye and once you are down there there is not a lot of assistance for connecting across the public transportation network.

But there are some stunning mindmarks as well. Who can mistake the skyline of Manhatten or the futuristic Chrysler building at night. It is just a fantatstic city. And compared to London, unexpectedly friendly.

Later today, I get to meet Karin Loglisci an old friend from MetaDesign days in London and guess what? Mike Rawlinson, Harriet Hand, and Dave Gillam from CityId. I wonder what they are all doing here? I get the distinct impression that wayfinding in New York is about to get world class.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Big Apple

I am meeting with Pentagram Partner Luke Hayman in New York for lunch today. We met for the first time last year in Barcelona on the 'Leading to Barcelona' programme. This was an inward investment initiative of Barcelona City Council bringing together about ten design people from around the world to come and expereince the design city.

This is my first time to the big Apple, which, given how much travelling I do, seems rather amazing. Despite rain last night, this morning is beautiful. I am staying with a friend in Broooklyn, right beside Brooklyn bridge. The sunrise this morning was stunning.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Honours for design in the UK

Congratulations to Professor Rachel Cooper and Jonathan Ive on their inclusion in the UK's New Year Honours List 2012.


2012 (MMXII) is a leap year starting on Sunday in the Gregorian calendar, and it is the current year in Oceania (to the West of the International Date Line), Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, and North America (with the exception of the western Aleutian Islands and Hawaii). It is the 2012th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 12th year of the 3rd millennium and of the 21st century, and the 3rd of the 2010s decade. (Thanks to Wikipedia)