In the spirit of the end of year Top 10's and despite saying I wouldn't do a Top 10, here's a Top 10 of design stuff that's happened in 2006. Except that it's a Top 15. In absolutely no order whatsoever.
1. Pearlfisher One of our direct rivals, we've pitched against them several times this year. They've been doing some good work. Crap name though.
2. WMH/Loewy In an industry of mediocrity Williams Murray Hamm have always stood out. Anyone with a bit of design business knowledge will know that they're very profitable and that they are very well run. Not many design businesses can say that. Add in their massive awards tally (they topped the effectiveness and creativity league tables this year) and they've been ripe for a sale for sometime. Loewy have been saying they want to build a design services network and this is the most high profile (and probably most important) acquisition on the road to that goal. A brilliant addition to their stable.
3. CR Blog For me Creative Review has years when it's good and years when it's bad, usually correlated with to the amount of inserts that fall out of the mag. The more inserts, the worse the issue. The newly launched CR Blog is completely different. Consistently good, no inserts. It looks good, the writing style is the right mix between blog and magazine and it's updated at a nice pace. Top marks. And it gets far more of my eyeball time the the magazine ever does.
4. Alan Fletcher Can't finish without mentioning him, of course. Enough has been said already, but this was the year we realised how much we appreciated him.
5. Design Museum The Design Museum has been under a resurgence of late. Fletcher aside, the F1 show was brilliant. When Rawsthron left many people thought it would lose it's way, instead it's continued along the same path. The 2007 exhibitions look good too.
6. Apple iPhone I keep waiting for Apple to fuck up, but it never seems to happen. 2006 has been the year of the internet iPhone rumour. It's a testament to Apple's current talents that almost everyone thinks, unquestionably, it will be brilliant.
Personally I don't think it will anything at all like these. Or even like a phone. And yes, I'll be in the queue to get one.
7. Web Typography Was 2006 the year people finally started to think about this? Let's bloody hope so.
8. User Generated Content and the effect on Graphic Design City of Sound touched on this brilliantly here and we've had lots of discussions about it in the studio. What does it mean for the world's designers when the top websites (Google, eBay, Amazon, YouTube, MySpace) all look so bloody awful? How can you design for content that's not generated by you? It can be done and it can be done well. We're right back to function over form (thank God) and only the best will succeed.
9. Lippa Pearce Lippa and Pearce are two very good designers. This year they left the hassle of their own firm and joined the relative safety of Pentagram. A decent year in anyone's book. But I question whether it's a good move for Pentagram. Do they really need two more middle aged male print designers? Probably not. They need some more people who instinctively understand digital. Digital naturals. Someone who can bring an element of wit to the web (to wit to web) that's been sorely lacking. Someone a little younger wouldn't go amiss too. That's my opinion anyway.
Another year of great work (check out the Beatles stamps), but it's the website that's impressed me this year. All design agency websites are shit so it's nice to come across one that isn't. When I first saw that the new website was designed in Flash my heart sank. But this site has proved easy to use, interesting, constantly updated and it looks lovely. I imagine Michael hates blogs but his Thought For The Week does the same sort of job nicely.
11. Ace Jet 170 Blog find of the year for me. Richard's website is a fantastic collection of design manna. All beautifully photographed. It's an amazing resource. If you haven't looked yet (why the fuck not?) then go now. One look is all it takes.
12. Macmilllian Cancer I love this stuff by Wolff Olins (Marketing's design agency of the year). It feels different and right. I suspect it isn't right and it won't last long, but I liked it.
So that's it. Noisy Decent Graphics is now closed for Christmas. We reopen sometime in January, not sure when but probably between the 2nd and the 8th. Unless I change my mind. Keep checking back listeners.
Thanks very much to everyone who listens in, and double thanks to the linkers and the commenters.
In the meantime, do me a favour and drop a comment saying what you would like to see me write more about in 2007. I'm all ears.
Have a good one. (Oh, there will be a list on New Year's Eve.)
The design agency Christmas card is probably the toughest brief there is.
We normally do pretty well. Last years was especially popular. I was going to photograph all our Christmas cards over the years but I can't be arsed. Sorry, it's the end of the year.
This is this years. Do you like it?
We worried a little bit about the un-environmentally-friendly-ness of a Christmas card but seeing as we are a design company that does a lot of print we feel it's important to showcase out talents. But this card does have an environmental twist.
In the true spirit of Reduce Reuse Recycle all the cards were printed on samples of paper we had left over in the office, hence the different colours. We simply send loads of sheets down to the printer and they printed and folded the cards for us.
Here's my favourite card of the year. It's from Mike at Reed Words.
Great isn't it? Simple, unpretentious and very clever. And it looks great on the mantelpiece.
Did you get any nicely designed Christmas cards this year?
I don't often talk about running a design consultancy, so this post is a little treat if you're into that kinda stuff.
We wrote our last cheque last week.
Over the last 3 months we've slowly been phasing out cheques and getting everyone set up so that we can pay people, suppliers and Gordon Brown's buddies by bank transfer. It's more complicated than you might think, especially if you use a Mac. Banks don't like Macs, as a rule.
So as from last week, no more cheques. That's it. If you want a cheque, you can't have one. Bank transfers? No problem. Cheques? Nope.
We've done this for 4 main reasons:
1. It's easier to automate a payment than find the bloody cheque book.
I met a fascinating man at a dinner this week. He was a planner, but not that sort, more a town planner. He had loads of interesting stories and I thought I'd jot them down here. They may come in handy one day.
1. He was on the client side for the pitch for the design of the DLR.Pentagram pitched and one of their team was Phil Carter who now runs Carter Wong Tomlin.
2. Most big architects get their juniors to design the buildings and then they do those wacky sketches afterwards.
3. Until recently there were loads of different official heights for Nelson's Column. He's involved with this sort of Government thing and so recently he's corrected this and there is now one official height, although I can't remember what it is. It's on the plaque at the bottom though.
4. For the Queen's Silver Jubilee he wanted to pedestrianise Leicester Sq (which they did), Trafalgar Sq (which they've just done) and Parliament Sq (which they haven't done yet).
5. In the early 70's they wanted to make part of Piccadilly a bus lane. The Ritz complained that it would take too long for their guests to cross the road from their chauffeur driven Rolls', bearing in mind there would be 40 buses a minute "thundering" down the bus lane.
This guy proved that it would take an old dowager 30 seconds to cross the road, including enough time for a walking stick induced wobble and a man with an umbrella to appear. The buses "thundered" by every 90 seconds and therefore the Ritz lost and the bus lane was built.
6. Lots and lots of interesting stories about Ken.
I've been thinking about writing an end of year review of NDG. A 10 best posts or something. But that's so fucking vain. So instead I thought I'd give you a present. I nearly bought you some books, but it didn't seem right for a blog. So instead here's a Web 2.0 gift.
Here at Noisy Decent Graphics we are giving away a Flickr Pro account. Yes, one lucky listener will be given a special Christmas gift worth $24.95. I've been using Flickr for the last couple of months and I've really enjoyed it. There aren't enough graphic designers blogging so I'd really like to give you a Typepad blog but they don't have such a neat online gift system. So a Flickr account it is.
How do you win? Simple. In the comments below you must do one simple thing.
1) Tell me what your first photograph on Flickr will be.
Competition closes Sunday 17th December at midnight. I'll decide who wins. Noisy Decent Graphics is not a democracy.
I wasn't sure whether to talk about this, but the point of this blog is to talk about design and what it's like to be a practicing graphic designer. This post falls under that remit.
In 1998 I was young Art Director at a now defunct ad agency. We had a fairly standard artworking studio with a staff of six. The whole company had about 25 staff.
The studio manager was usually run ragged. A brilliant guy, very talented and continuously hard working. Able to pull rabbits out of a Mac. The kind of guy you want around in a crisis.
Every year that everyone could remember he'd missed his kids nativity play. And he hated himself for it. This year (1998) he'd cleared his diary, told all the agency and all the clients, and he was determined to attend his youngest son's nativity.
The morning of the play, there was some crisis (can't remember what) and, surprise, surprise, agency pressure forced him to stay late into the night and miss the play. He was seething and his wife was furious.
I was 23 at the time and a million years away from having kids, yet this affected me in quite a big way. I promised myself there and then that I would never miss my kids' nativity plays for work. Especially for a company or a client who didn't really care less about me.
I never really thought about that day afterwards. The studio manager had a breakdown the next summer. He was a director of the company.
When people talk about starting a business it can be for all sorts of reasons, money,fame,the challenge or a better way of life. I suppose you never really think about kids or starting a business until you've experienced it.
Fast forward eight years and I'm 'experiencing' both. Two of the founders at The Design Conspiracy have kids and for us the flexibility that brings is invaluable. And a thousand times more important than money, or awards or nice lunches. Even more important than my Technorati rating.
I have a friend who once told me he'd take a 50% pay cut if he could get home just one night a week to see his kids before bedtime. Mind you 50% of his salary is still pretty significant.
Today is my son's first ever nativity play and I'll be there. I guess that's what all this has been about.
Yahoo! and Reuters have joined together to use amateur images in online news reports. It's called You Witness and it looks better than the graphic above would suggest.
Like all the best ideas it's so simple it feels like it must have been done ages ago.
2006 will probably be remembered as the year User Generated Content got taken seriously and I suppose You Witness is a good indication of UGC's maturity. Flickr (owned by Yahoo!) is the biggest and the best online photo site and Reuters is the most respected news wire service. That's a powerful mash up.
So that was the day that was. Interesting wasn't it? Yes? No?
That was a typical day for me in so much as nothing typical happened, which is typical. I suppose my day can be very varied because as a Company Director as well as a designer I get to / have to do lots of other things as well as designing. I'm certainly not desk bound.
When I started this I wasn't trying to prove anything I just wanted to see a true day in my working life. However exciting, however mundane. These Day In The Life Things are almost always hackneyed, unfunny, devoid of all humility and down right made up. That wasn't. That was 13th December 2006.
If you're from Blue Peter and you're reading this in 2050, I've grouped the whole story under a category called Day In The Life. Category, I know, that's what we used to call them in 2006.