20 years ago this month Michael Landy did an Art called Break Down. He took all of his possessions, all 7,227 of them, and destroyed them, broke them down.
Lisa and I went to the show which was in the old C&A at the posh end of Oxford Street. Back in 2001 I was working for a now bust dotcom agency, at the other end of Oxford St, that did work for loads of now bust dotcoms. Happy days.
Inside the empty shop Landy set up a huge conveyor belt and took everything apart, documented it all. Apparently it all went to landfill. The show struck a chord with us for some reason and we remember it vividly and often talk about it. I can't really explain that. We don't do that with other Arts.
Because it's the anniversary there are lots of articles about it. This one in the Guardian and this one in the FT are both good.
Feels very strange now, no mention of recycling or reuse or the environment at all. Sort of anti-capitalist but without the bite. I guess the YBAs weren't really the group to critique capitalism.
In writing this I've just found out it was sponsored by Artangel. I didn't know that at the time. Artangel are national treasures responsible for a huge quantity of amazing public art projects over the last 30 years such as Rachel Whiteread’s House, Jeremy Deller's Battle of Orgreave, Ryoji Ikeda's Spectra, Fiona Banner and David Kohn's A Room For London and recently Steve McQueen's School photos.
Shall we do a post about logos for old times sake?
Here is the first logo I've seen in years that made me stop. The first one I've thought it's actually worth commenting on.
It's for a company called Nix & Kix who make health drinks. (The whole brand looks nice FWIW.) Designed by Alec Tear who has a very nice portfolio. Stuff like this. I spotted this after Sagmeister posted it on his Instagram which came across my active daily eyeballs somehow.
Anyway, let's not overcomplicate matters, this is a just a nice logo. Just enough design to make you ponder, but simple enough that you don't have to wonder what it says. First logo I've seen in 3 years that wasn't algorithmically generated and designed to only work well at the IMAX.
Can't talk about ampersands in a logo without paying homage to the definitive example of the V&A logo by Alan Fletcher. Designed in 1989 and still wonderful. Still so good.
I've never been a huge fan of Sagmeister, as you may have guessed our styles of work are vastly different. But I saw him speak once and he was incredible. A real performer. And afterwards I spoke to him with some of the GDS design team and he was warm, fun and engaging.
Remember in 1999 when everything got renamed to millennium something, Millennium Food & Wine, Millennium Pizza, Millennium Barbers and so on. I swear this shop was just called General Store a few weeks ago. I wonder if this is because the lockdown restrictions stipulate "essential" stores can stay open. Hardware stores can stay open anyway which probably covers this shop, but the term essential might just creep in and stick.
I often think the same about "key worker". There's no strict definition right now but there's some sort of understanding of what it means. How will it be used in 5 - 10 years time? Will staffing agencies be advertising for key worker jobs? Will politicians campaign for better conditions for key workers? Key worker tax relief? Remember when "hard working families" was a popular, misunderstood and overused term by politicians.
Will be it be weaponised by tech platforms and the gig economy?
Long time listeners will know that I've been doing a sketch every day 3 or 4 days for a while now.
During remote working finding interesting subject matter is hard. I like drawing buildings and people sat in meetings and I don't see any of those things any more. I've done a few views from my window and a few zooms but it's not the same.
Back in 2002 Michael Bierut started doing a pencil drawing every day and to relieve himself of "the chore of searching for a subject each morning" he drew a photo from the New York Times. Genius.
So I'm going to try that for a bit.
His drawings are of course all better than mine and it went on to be a brief set at Yale but that's another blog post.
In reference to Russell's excellent post 'Stay at home, come on air' over on the Typepad platform. Yes, I completely agree and I would like to add that it has the additional benefit of seeing people in their homes, offices and home offices which is a million times more interesting than a tv studio. It also highlights how mad all those glass tabley things look.
And once again reminds us that in certain parts of Britain there is more mock-Tudor than there ever was Tudor.
This is part of a series of conversations with the Royal Designers called RDInsights and you can see the others here.
In the summer I was interviewed by Mike Dempsey on my life and career. It's by far the longest and most personal interview I've ever done. I talk about art and design at school and why I chose this particular path. The link is here and I believe you can get it as a podcast.