01.2016; on the workbench: consultancy website/ website and blog development, book design and production/ brand communications quality monitoring/; helping: a consulting and business support team/ a counselling practitioner/ a US marketing consultancy/

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Shooting from the hip: two instinctive photographers

Seen this week: William Klein and Daido Moriyama at Tate Modern. At the time of writing, there is still plenty of opportunity to get along to what is one of the the seminal exhibitions of this winter in London. Klein and Moriyama have much in common as self-taught masters of photography. They each have an intuitive, quick-witted approach to capturing images. Throughout the exhibition I was aware of truly experimental eyes at work, full of curiosity and nerve. There is much earthiness and imperfection in these images and this is a great source of inspiration to me (as a designer who errs towards getting everything as right as it can be). I came out of the show feeling upbeat and trigger-happy and, with baby Leica to hand, opened my eyes a bit wider, loosened up and got snapping. Here are some of the results: there’s more, but I’m saving the rest for something else…

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A typeface for Japan

a font for Japan by FontAid and {S(o)TA}

In 2011 following the earthquake and tsunami that devastated areas of Japan, The Society of Typographic Aficionados {S(o)TA} launched a collaborative project, Font Aid V: Made For Japan, designed to bring together the typographic and design communities around a common goal: to raise funds that would enable practical relief efforts in the affected areas and communities.

The idea for the project was to create a font of collected glyphs generated by designers and typographers from around the globe. The result is a charming and eclectic mix of illustrations, letterforms, symbols and marks. You can take a look at the results on the Society’s website. More crucially, you can buy the font at any of these online outlets: MyFonts, Veer, Fonts.com, and Linotype. Go get it – it’s only $20.

With the help of Sogo Japan (you’ll see that there is still plenty of work to do), all proceeds from sales of this typeface are being delivered directly to organisations in Japan, such as Second Hand and AMDA International (Association of Medical Doctors of Asia). Sogo Japan works to help circumvent regular international charity channels and the inefficiencies associated with them.

By the way, the font features a glyph from my workbench: it’s the forward slash (/) and it looks like this:

forward slash for Fontaid V

There’s a new call in 2012, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, for designers to submit for a new font made entirely of asterisks. Get the details from {S(o)TA}, sharpen your 4H pencil, your wits and your Wacom stylus and have a go.

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What do you want design to do?

Make something happenSo, you plan to spend money on design.

You want a return. What are you going to measure?

Is it:

    units sold
    a great product review in Which?
    the number of leads generated
    the quality of leads generated
    a position of difference
    the geographical spread of followers added
    your picture on the cover of Intelligent Life
    your mother understanding why what you do matters
    an industry award
    a change in society
    the beauty of the finished thing
    a hike up in your social media influence
    points gained in your market position
    credibility in the media world
    the admiration (or fear) of your rivals?

Or something more important?

Assuming you want your design to work, your designer needs to know the answer.

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Legislate, Educate, Design. And wear a helmet.

Olympic gold offers a global window of broadcasting opportunity to anyone who happens to win it. Today, following his London 2012 victory, the masterful Bradley Wiggins took full advantage of his position as cycling superhero to brief all ears on the need to make the wearing of helmets compulsory for road cyclists.

It’s a worthwhile call – just yesterday, a young cyclist was killed in London in an horrific collision with an official Olympic Games bus: you couldn’t find a more cogent or tragic illustration to plead the cause.

There are wider issues to deal with, though. There has been extensive research that suggests cyclists wearing proper gear and protective clothing are perceived by motorists to be capable of taking care of themselves in the arena of the road – thus they are viewed as being less worthy of consideration. A position of mutual aggression is imagined, resulting in behaviour by drivers that includes tailgating and close overtaking, offering minimal margin for error and a greater likelihood of potentially lethal contact.

The converse side of this is to suggest (as many riders do) that, in wearing ordinary daywear without a helmet, cyclists do themselves a favour because they are acknowledged as being human, vulnerable and more likely to be given a wide berth by drivers.

I write as someone who walks, cycles and drives a car, has driven motorcycles, vans and small trucks. The best experience? Cycling, no question. I want to see more people doing it and that means stripping away the mental barriers and prejudices.

The helmet argument will drone on, but there needs to be a broader attack on the problem. Legislation, education and design might each play a part.

Legislate in favour of the most vulnerable

The safety features in cars and trucks today protect drivers not just from collision damage but also from the visceral experience of what it is to move fast on the road in a heavy, lethal vehicle. For that reason, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, in that order, need to be granted status that guarantees rights before motorists. For the motoring lobby to allow that to happen, of course cyclists must be seen to be regulated by road laws too. Should there be licensing and testing for road cycling? It has to be talked about. In any event, any government initiative that recognised the self-powered over the motorised would be a step in the right direction. The French took a lead in this area; parts of the US are engaging it; mainland western Europe get the issue: in the UK we just keep shovelling it under the carpet.

Educate drivers better

Becoming a driver is far too easy at the moment. There is so little appreciation of the vulnerability of self-powered road users, a situation that could be improved by making active cycling a compulsory part of the learn-to-drive experience. Empathy is a great motivator and it costs so little. With developments in gaming and VR simulation, better understanding of the dynamics of accident situations could help to embed experiences that would lessen the likelihood of them happening in reality. Pay for it by balancing the projected reduction in A&E (and intensive care) commitment.

Redesign the street surface

The design of cycling lanes in the UK has failed. Motorists just don’t believe the lanes are not for them to use. There is no policing (maybe it’s just not policeable, though they seem to manage it with bus lanes). So what can be done to shift perceptions and keep them shifted?

Design aggression out and humanity in

The look of cycling gear could be directed toward a less macho aesthetic – does sportiness have to echo The Dark Knight? I bet mod-man Wiggo has a view on this. I wonder if style icons like Sherlock Holmes (a deerstalker concealing a technical helmet, anybody? Go on, Nike, I dare you) might shift the perception of your average petrolhead? A lighter touch of sorts is needed. Perhaps pick up where the World Naked Bike Ride left off? Maybe not, in our current summer. Stay safe out there.


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