Sunday, 24 February 2008

work by Peter Paul Piech

posters by David King

posters by Alan Kitching & Jonathon Barnbrook

No Shop designed by Thomas Matthews for Friends of the Earth

another Adbusters spoof ad

work by Adbusters & Designers Republic

a lecture created by Derek Yates that forms part of the Design Contexts programme on the FDA in Design Practice at Camberwell

design contexts: 05 Ethics} lecture notes

At the beginning of the 1960’s the British economy was booming. Consumer goods such as TVs, washing machines, fridges, record players and cars, were transforming everyday life in the wealthier European nations and changing consumer expectations forever. Graphic design, too, had emerged from the austerity of the post-war years. Young designers were vigorous and optimistic. They organised meetings, debates and exhibitions promoting the value of design. Professional associations were started and many leading figures, still active today, began their careers at this time.

Ken Garland
Ken Garland studied design at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London in the early 1950s, and for six years was art editor of Design magazine, official mouthpiece of the Council of Industrial Design. In 1962, he set up his own company, Ken Garland & Associates (a "do-it-for-love consultancy," as he once put it), and the same year began a fruitful association with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He was a committed campaigner against the bomb, and his "Aldermaston to London Easter 62" poster, with its huge, marching CND symbol, is a classic piece of protest graphics from the period. Always outspoken, in person and in print, he was an active member of the socialist Labour Party.

First Things First
On 29 November 1963, during a crowded meeting of the Society of Industrial Artists at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts, Garland penned an historic statement about the state of the design industry. At the end he asked the chairman whether he could read it out.
There was prolonged applause and many people volunteered their signatures there and then.
Four hundred copies of First Things First were published in January 1964. On 24 January, the manifesto was published in its entirety in the Guardian newspaper with the backing of Anthony Wedgewood Benn. That evening, as a result of the Guardian article, Garland was invited on to a BBC TV news program to read out a section of First Things First and discuss the manifesto. It was subsequently reprinted in Design, the SIA Journal (which built an issue round it), the Royal College of Art magazine, Ark, and the yearbook Modern Publicity 1964/65, where it was also translated into French and German.

First Things First 1964, a manifesto
We, the undersigned, are graphic designers, photographers and students who have been brought up in a world in which the techniques and apparatus of advertising have persistently been presented to us as the most lucrative, effective and desirable means of using our talents. We have been bombarded with publications devoted to this belief, applauding the work of those who have flogged their skill and imagination to sell such things as: cat food, stomach powders, detergent, hair restorer, striped toothpaste, aftershave lotion, beforeshave lotion, slimming diets, fattening diets, deodorants, fizzy water, cigarettes, roll-ons, pull-ons and slip-ons.
By far the greatest effort of those working in the advertising industry are wasted on these trivial purposes, which contribute little or nothing to our national prosperity. In common with an increasing number of the general public, we have reached a saturation point at which the high pitched scream of consumer selling is no more than sheer noise. We think that there are other things more worth using our skill and experience on. There are signs for streets and buildings, books and periodicals, catalogues, instructional manuals, industrial photography, educational aids, films, television features, scientific and industrial publications and all the other media through which we promote our trade, our education, our culture and our greater awareness of the world.

We do not advocate the abolition of high pressure consumer advertising: this is not feasible. Nor do we want to take any of the fun out of life. But we are proposing a reversal of priorities in favour of the more useful and more lasting forms of communication. We hope that our society will tire of gimmick merchants, status salesmen and hidden persuaders, and that the prior call on our skills will be for worthwhile purposes. With this in mind we propose to share our experience and opinions, and to make them available to colleagues, students and others who may beinterested.

Edward Wright, Geoffrey White, William Slack, Caroline Rawlence, Ian McLaren Sam Lambert, Ivor Kamlish, Gerald Jones, Bernard Higton, Brian Grimbly, John Garner, Ken Garland, Anthony Froshaug, Robin Fior, Germano Facetti, Ivan Dodd, Harriet Crowder, Anthony Clift, Gerry Cinamon, Robert Chapman, Ray Carpenter, Ken Briggs

The critical distinction drawn by the manifesto was between: design as communication (giving people necessary information) and design as persuasion (trying to get them to buy things).

In the signatories' view, a disproportionate amount of designers' talents and effort was being expended on advertising trivial items, while more "useful and lasting" tasks took second place.

The British designer Jock Kinneir (not a signatory) agreed: "Designers oriented in this direction are concerned less with persuasion and more with information, less with income brackets and more with physiology, less with taste and more with efficiency, less with fashion and more with amenity. They are concerned in helping people to find their way, to understand what is required of them, to grasp new processes and to use instruments and machines more easily."

Jock Kinneir & Margaret Calvert
From the late 1950s Kinneir, along with colleague Margaret Calvert, was responsible for the new road signage system introduced throughout the UK. Kinneir and Calvert's designs for were not only practical, they exhibited a warmth and humanity lacking in signage of some other countries. The starting point for their work was a practical one. As Kinneir puts it ‘What do I want to know, trying to read a sign at speed?’ It's this clarity of thought which makes what they achieved such a remarkable contribution to modern design. The ‘Transport' sans serif font they designed is derived from Helvetica but manages to avoid feeling cold or austere and their pictograms, such as the ‘children’ warning sign, are sensitively drawn. A lot of the original work is still in use today and, indeed, the Department of Transport was able to turn to original artwork and layout instructions when it digitised the signs a few years ago. Most importantly, the work was done at a time when, in the words of author Robin Kinross, there was an ‘official will to modernise the public infrastructure,’ which led it to becoming a rare model of the role that design could play in public life.

Robin Fior & David King:
“Politically motivated designers whose careers began in the 1950s such as Ken Garland, Richard Hollis, Robin Fior and slightly later David King always stood to the side of what most graphic design was about. In the 1960’s, Fior worked alongside Ken Garland to create bold, large scale typographic posters to announce demonstrations and rallies organised by the CND and the Committee of 100 that forced these issues to the centre of public attention. King’s later anti- apartheid posters cross fertilized this hard hitting, politically driven aesthetic with a more elaborate Constructivist approach to create probably the most powerful and graphically distinctive body of protest posters ever to be produced in Britain.”
Spirit of Independence, Rick Poynor

Peter Paul Piech:
Born in 1920 in New York/USA, of Ukranian parents, married to a Welsh nurse in 1947. After an extraordinarily active life as a commercial graphic designer within advertising, he turned freelance in 1968, teaching at various art colleges including Hornsey School of Art where he was a contemporary of Richard Hollis. Eventually, he settled in Wales where he stayed until his death in 1996. He used crude woodcut image and text to create hardhitting posters concerned with the social & political issues of the day.

However, these designers represent the exception rather the rule and, although, in the years that followed ‘First Things First’, a majority of designers preferred to keep their heads down and concentrate on questions of form and craft. Therefore, lubricated by design, the juggernaut of consumerism rolled on.

“Design's love affair with form to the exclusion of almost everything else lies at the heart of the problem. In the 1990s, advertisers were quick to co-opt the supposedly "radical" graphic and typographic footwork of some of design's most celebrated and ludicrously self-regarding stars, and these designers, seeing an opportunity to reach national and global audiences, were only too happy to take advertising's dollar. Design styles lab-tested in youth magazines and obscure music videos became the stuff of sneaker, soft drink and bank ads. Advertising and design are closer today than at any point since the 1960s. For many young designers emerging from design schools in the 1990s, they now appear to be one and the same. Obsessed with how cool an ad looks, rather than with what it is really saying, or the meaning of the context in which it says it, these designers seriously seem to believe that formal innovations alone are somehow able to effect progressive change in the nature and content of the message communicated. Exactly how, no one ever manages to explain.”
Rick Poynor in the Introduction to the First Things First 2000 Manifesto

First Things First 2000, a design manifesto
We, the undersigned, are graphic designers, art directors and visual communicators who have been raised in a world in which the techniques and apparatus of advertising have persistently been presented to us as the most lucrative, effective and desirable use of our talents. Many design teachers and mentors promote this belief; the market rewards it; a tide of books and publications reinforces it. Encouraged in this direction, designers then apply their skill and imagination to sell dog biscuits, designer coffee, diamonds, detergents, hair gel, cigarettes, credit cards, sneakers, butt toners, light beer and heavy-duty recreational vehicles. Commercial work has always paid the bills, but many graphic designers have now let it become, in large measure, what graphic designers do. This, in turn, is how the world perceives design. The profession's time and energy is used up manufacturing demand for things that are inessential at best.
Many of us have grown increasingly uncomfortable with this view of design. Designers who devote their efforts primarily to advertising, marketing and brand development are supporting, and implicitly endorsing, a mental environment so saturated with commercial messages that it is changing the very way citizen-consumers speak, think, feel, respond and interact. To some extent we are all helping draft a reductive and immeasurably harmful code of public discourse.
There are pursuits more worthy of our problem-solving skills. Unprecedented environmental, social and cultural crises demand our attention. Many cultural interventions, social marketing campaigns, books, magazines, exhibitions, educational tools, television programs, films, charitable causes and other information design projects urgently require our expertise and help.
We propose a reversal of priorities in favor of more useful, lasting and democratic forms of communication - a mindshift away from product marketing and toward the exploration and production of a new kind of meaning. The scope of debate is shrinking; it must expand. Consumerism is running uncontested; it must be challenged by other perspectives expressed, in part, through the visual languages and resources of design.
In 1964, 22 visual communicators signed the original call for our skills to be put to worthwhile use. With the explosive growth of global commercial culture, their message has only grown more urgent. Today, we renew their manifesto in expectation that no more decades will pass before it is taken to heart.
Jonathan Barnbrook, Nick Bell, Andrew Blauvelt, Hans Bockting, Irma Boom Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, Max Bruinsma, Siân Cook, Linda van Deursen Chris Dixon, William Drenttel, Gert Dumbar, Simon Esterson, Vince Frost, Ken Garland, Milton Glaser, Jessica Helfand, Steven Heller, Andrew Howard,Tibor Kalman, Jeffery Keedy, Zuzana Licko, Ellen Lupton, Katherine McCoy, Armand Mevis, J. Abbott Miller, Rick Poynor, Lucienne Roberts, Erik Spiekermann, Jan van Toorn, Teal Triggs, Rudy VanderLans, Bob Wilkinson
...and many more

Rudy Vanderlans, a signatory of FTF 2000 and editor of Emigre, a Sacramento based design journal, unrepentently defends the text. ‘To me, the FTF manifesto is inspirational and encouraging. It tells me there are many design professionals who have social standards that influence whom they choose to work for and what kind of work they do. The manifesto’s aim is not to hold designers culpable for the worlds social and economic problems. On the contrary it identifies designers as having real potential to help cure it’s ills and make this world a better place. ’What we are rapidly losing sight of, in the rush to add seductive stylistic value to commercial goods and services and to transform life into a brand and status obsessed shopping spree, is the idea that design as a way of thinking about systems, structures and relationships.. could have uses other than commercial promotion...........
“That it might also be an imaginative tool for solving non-commercial problems; for shaping a sustainable environment and an equitable public realm; for encouraging democratic participation and new kinds of social interaction; for expressing ideas, values and ways of feeling that originate down below amongst the ordinary people- us!- in our own neighbourhoods, from our own concerns. That its might be used in service to our collectively detirmined community needs, not just to deliver top down fashion diktats and purchasing imperatives from megacorps boardrooms... That design is not only an activity that trendy metropolitan design ‘creatives’ engage in: it’s a universal human life skill, a way of ordering, interpreting and enhancing our artefacts, images and surroundings, in which all of us should have a stake.”
‘First Things Next’ from ‘Obey the Giant’. Rick Poynor

work by Noel Douglas

Noel Douglas
Noel is an artist and designer working across a range of media. He has taught at Kingston University, London South Bank University, the Slade School of Art and the Royal College of Art as well as maintaining a freelance design studio with clients such as Mediamatic in Amsterdam, Phillips Research, SkyTV, Easy Jet The Guardian and the Stop the War Campaign. Alongside this he continues working on a range of art based projects which have included the bestselling satirical pack of playing cards 'Regime Change begins at Home' which have sold over 30,000 copies in the US, Europe and Japan. Noel writes regularly for cultural publications such as Eye and his publications include, as Editor Website Graphics Now (Thames and Hudson 1999), and as Art Director, Stop the war: the story of Britain's largest mass movement (2005) and the popular Rebel's Guides series (2006/7). His work is part of the permanent collection at the British Museum and has been featured in Adbusters magazine (Canada), Atlas magazine (USA), Art Monthly, Blueprint, Dazed and Confused, The Economist, The Guardian, Malababa (Spain), Mute, NME and Time Out.
See also: Whose Space? Resistance Graphics/ eye magazine issue 66
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work by Rathna Ramanathan

Rathna Ramanathan
Rathna runs the design studio Minus9 and over the last six years has steered the design philosophy of Tara books. This independent publisher is widely regarded as one of India's finest publishing houses and is run by a collective of writers based in Chennai, India. At Tara Books Rathna has pioneered innovative children's book design through typography and the use of unusual formats. She uses typographic elements extensively in her work, and in Anything But a Grabooberry, has used this to illustrate a book of nonsense verse. This book won a special mention in the International White Raven's Catalogue of the world's best children's books in 2000. Rathna is also a visiting lecturer at design schools in India, Malaysia and America.
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work by Lucienne Roberts

Lucienne Roberts
Author of the recent bestselling book, Good: An Introduction to Ethics in Graphic Design. After a brief period at publishers 'The Women's Press' she established the design studio Sans + Baum, her clients have ranged from arts institutions to NGOs and charities. Lucienne was a signatory of the First Things First (2000) Manifesto and has taught at Middlesex University and London College of Communicaiton. Sans + Baum projects were included in the exhibition 'Communicate: Independent Graphic Design since the 60s' held at the Barbican.
See also:
'Being Good' eye magazine issue 63/
Read me! Parts 1 and 2 eye magazine issue 37
First Things First Manifesto 2000 eye magazine issue 33

books by Rick Poynor

Rick Poynor
Rick founded Eye magazine in 1990, edited it for seven years and now contributes to the magazine by writing regular columns. He also writes about design, media and visual culture for Eye, Blueprint, Icon, Creative Review, Frieze, Domus, I.D., Metropolis, Harvard Design Magazine, Adbusters, The Guardian, Financial Times, and many other publications. Rick has also published many books including Typography Now: The Next Wave (1991), Typographica (Laurence King Publishing, 2001), and No More Rules (Yale University Press, 2003), a critical study of graphic design and postmodernism. He is the author of three essay collections, Design Without Boundaries (1998), Obey the Giant: Life in the Image World (Birkhuser, 2001 and 2007), and Designing Pornotopia: Travels in Visual Culture (Laurence King Publishing, 2006).
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work by O-SB Design

Anne Odling-Smee
Anne is a former visiting lecturer at Camberwell and author of the book ‘New Handmade Graphics’. She now runs her own design consultancy, O-SB Design whose clients include the Photographers Gallery; Royal Academy of the Arts; South Bank Centre and the Arts Council England.
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work by Ken Garland

Ken Garland
British graphic design icon and instigator of the original First Things First Manifesto in 1964, Ken is known for his outspoken views and throughout his career has sought to question the graphic designers place within a consumer led culture. He set up Ken Garland Associates in 1962 producing work for Galt Toys, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and various NGOs, charities and educational institutions. Ken's work was featured prominently in the Communicate Exhibition at the Barbican in 2005.
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