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WEEK 2

As I start this week’s task, I am already excited by learning what companies are in

my own city. I knew of one or two companies that had design departments but

had never thought about design agencies in my Milton Keynes.

The three agencies I have selected for this are:



Wild Things


https://www.wildthings.studio/





This agency focuses on: website design, website audits and app development, as

well as collaborating with other creative agencies.


Their brand values are listed in key points:


Integrity

Transparency

Creativity

Collaboration

Trust

Passion


The location is close to the city centre as well as the train station. With having a

direct train to London this probably is a good spot to gain the much-wanted clients

from the capital.


The offices themselves are within a building housing multiple offices. It was hard to

get past the front entrance as there was security.




Albert Design


http://www.albertdesign.co.uk/







A graphic design agency mostly dealing with marketing material such as posters

and brochures. They also have a couple of branding projects.


The company manifesto reads:


Offering a freelance based service means we can be fully flexible in our creative

approach and without the overheads of a traditional design agency, providing a

service that is very competitive on cost. We're in different locations, but work

together on all projects as Albert Design.


This is a two-person agency with offices in London and Milton Keynes.

Robert runs the MK office based near Lindford Woods next to an industrial estate.

The surprise when making the two-mile trip was to find the offices happened to be

his house. This makes a lot of sense if he is working solo, although I wonder how

having client-facing meetings work. With my former employer doing everything

they could to always make the company look bigger than they were when a client

would visit, my question would be does he meet people in the centre at a coffee

shop or does he have the confidence to meet them at his home?






Brand magic.


https://www.brand-magic.co.uk



Brand Magic focuses on logo and web design, although they also offer other services

when searching through the site.


Their brand philosophy reads as follows:


Creative Branding Expertise


As experienced branding experts with over 20 years experience, we have worked with a

range of Blue Chip companies including Roche, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and Galderma.

We now use the same principles to help local businesses to grow their brands.

We ensure your brand reflects the tone and personality of your business so that it appeals

to your target market.


Located on an industrial estate in Bletchley, it came as a little shock to find the company

lived within another company called Service Graphics.


On further research, it transpired that the companies were two separate entities. This was

a relatively small company with fewer than ten employees.


Having the print service makes a lot of sense with the other services they were offering to

their clients, and it’s pretty handy to have all your print services in the same building.

However, there was no signage for Brand Magic and after a couple of laps of the

industrial estate and double-checking the address I was able to confirm this was the right

place.




Design Production



when looking at the history of design processes and where we are now not only shows a change in what we used but also how we, as designers are used. When starting this course I never really appreciated how easy or even how hard it is to be a contemporary design professional.

When thinking that in the early days of civilisation with the composition of images, glyphs to communicate a story shows that it would be hard to imagine a world without design (Ellis). Graphic design is the successor of commercial art and the pre-curser to visual communication (Roberts 14). The term is still relatively new, first been used by William Addison in the article In his article “New Kind of Printing Calls for New Design” (printed in the Boston Evening Transcript, August 29, 1922), where he describes his role of structuring and managing images for the book Design (Ellis).

Although we can go back in our planets history, pointing out where the design was used, the industrial revolution when you see the rapid expansion of design and design processes, where printing was used beyond books and used as promotional printing such as posters. this provided an irreversible cultural shift in our culture through the new mechanical process that was traditionally done by hand (Sutcliffe). It also saw the introduction to new variations in type with san-serifs and slap-serifs becoming more prominent as an aid to visually grab attention. As the demand grew for design, the demand for more cost-effective production grew. New typesetting systems such as linotype would become more popular, forcing the traditional type foundries to concentrate on larger print materials that setting by hand would not be as cost-inefficient (Roberts 28).

The rapid growth in the need to design meant rapid advancements in technology, and by the 1950's silk-screen printing and relief printing become new methods for designers to explore, and even with costs for some techniques still been unattainable, designers innovate, using tints, halftones, line work and overprinting to create artworks.

By the 1960s the emergence of photographing typesetting processes, where the outlining print onto film to then is photographically transferred onto printing plates, surpassing older forms of printing again through being a more efficient process. Lithography, a process of creating colour images was also becoming more prevalent due to it ability to be transferred on to a range of papers as well as other materials (Roberts 29).

Photography became more accessible with the means of photography based reproduction methods and would become a move favoured mode of communication due to the machine-made aesthetic preferred over the hand-drawn aesthetic. This meant that designers would shot and art-direct as well as the appropriation of other images that they can source. It also re-classed illustration as a conceptual/art medium (Roberts 42).

Tools like Letraset emerged as new ways for the designer to create their own art as well as fanzines which both gave a new low-cost alternative to producing without having to outsource.

By the 1980s computer companies like Apple started producing programs such a MacPaint which for the first time gave designers the opportunity to not only have a wide range of typesetting tools but also the ability to experiment with imagery all in the comfort of a screen (Meggs). As we entered the 1990's programs such as adobe photoshop further enhanced design possibilities allowing for people to manipulate images at their will, will adobe creative suit developing to become the industry standard. As well as how digital age helped designers to create new works with greater ease, the emergence of e-commerce gave designers a new platform to create on.

As of 2020, we see new platforms and technologies that designers are able to use and create on. Designers, though the internet have a variety of tools at their disposal now, with stock websites like Shutterstock, where they can browse thousands of images and other assets to use in their work, to online tutorial, where they can learn new techiques or tools in a short space of time and not nesseraly pay for education to achieve these skills. With app technology as well as hard tools like 3D printers we have a whole world of tools and techniques to rely on to create the artworks we envision and will no doubt see emergences in augmented reality and other technologies moving forward.

Even though we have all these tools to create, the methods of old are becoming obsolete through the lack of demand by people. Although these process may appear crude and not cost-effective by today's standard, they also still process a charm. The little imperfections of screen print or the amateur aesthetic of a fanzine are almost forgotten because we have the ability to do it better. While I agree that cost and professionalism are important within the design, that does not mean that the charm of more traditional methods should be scraped. In fact, you could argue that a lot of commercial print now has a generic feel to it because no one strays away from the computer. The non-computerised mediums find themselves becoming more of art pieces.



Reflection


This week holds mixed emotions, I enjoyed learning about the history of design production, which was great to actually understand how people produced things in the past. I think we, today are spoilt in the fact we have so much at our fingertips. This also poses a challenge to always think of how we make design solutions and it would be good to maintain an element of craft in our work.


On the search for design practices, I was, however, disappointed that all the places I found felt somewhat generic and where companies that showcased their commercial applications. I guess outside of big cities demand is so much smaller than they cannot invest in more bespoke design services. I liked the honesty of Albert Design, keeping their cost down with a two-person outfit operating out of their house. There was something more inspiring about this compared to the other two that lived in generic office spaces which held no inspiration when looking from the outside.


Dawood, Sarah. “Abram Games: The War Designer Who Persuaded Britain with His Posters.” Design Week, 5 Apr. 2019, www.designweek.co.uk/issues/1-7-april-2019/abram-games-the-war-designer-who-persuaded-britain-with-his-propaganda-posters/. Accessed 8 Dec. 2020.

Ellis, Matt. “A Brief History of Graphic Design.” 99designs, 99designs, 25 May 2018, 99designs.co.uk/blog/design-history-movements/history-graphic-design/. Accessed 8 Dec. 2020.


Games, Naomi. Abram Games. Design Talks, University of Hertfordshire.