Tell us about your story. What are major milestones in your design journey that have led you to where you are now?
Initially I was really into art, animation & video production. I wanted to be abstract, experimental – not restricted by guidelines, briefs & parameters. It was only when I took BA Communication Design during University that I realised working within the constrictions of a brief was where my creativity could serve a purpose. I recognised that I could use my creativity to solve problems & think outside the box. It was at this point that I decided to explore the potential of a career in design & from there, was lucky enough to intern at some established studios around Brighton.
I was an enthusiastic 20-year-old bouncing around these studios like a kid in a candy shop, inspired by the creatives that filled them. I knew this was the future I wanted but I also knew I had to start at the bottom. Four years spent in the design department of a commercial property firm was the foundation I needed before I finally plucked up the courage to pursue studio life. This was the second major milestone for me. I said goodbye to my comfortable job & spent some time freelancing & travelling before eventually, finding a home at Fable&Co.
What does design mean to you?
There’s a great book called “A Smile in The Mind” & it captures perfectly what design means to me. Design shouldn’t just look great, it should be clever, witty, pose questions, make you look twice & evoke emotion. At the very crux of it, design should solve a problem & serve a bigger purpose.
I ask “why” to everything. I imagine myself in the mind of the designer who created the bike on the street to the phone in my hand. Why does it look like this? Why does it do that? What was the problem the designer was trying to solve? All my decisions are design-led & not just in the aesthetic sense.
What are the influences that have made you the designer you are today?
When I was at University I gained valuable insight into the design world. I remember we went to the Design Museum Wim Crowell exhibition, which was just really eye opening. Discovering him along with Massimo Vignelli & Joseph Müller-Brockmann – greats who have laid the foundations for design, along with pioneering designers such as Michael Bierut, Neville Brody & Paula Scher who still lead the way today shaped my design thinking & visual approach.
In complete contrast to the abstract art I was creating beforehand, I got obsessed with typography, grid structures & this strict Swiss design style. I followed the works of an agency called Experimental Jetset, I saw Neville Brody speak, I watched the Helvetica documentary by Gary Hustwit – seeing these masters at work just made me want to delve deeper & constantly learn.
You’ve been with Fable&Co. for four years now. What is it that makes you & Fable&Co. the perfect fit?
From University until now it’s always been about solving problems for me, not just about creating a logo or a business card. That’s the thing we do extremely well here – it’s always about the ‘why’. “Why are we doing this?”, “What is the purpose?”, “Does the client need X or do they actually need Y?”.
When you can really put your finger on what the problem is & tap into the solution not only can you create something beautiful, you can be clever. You can make people smile, think about something differently, interact with something, or pose a bigger question. Then you really create something that lives forever, which is what we’re always trying to achieve with our clients.
What have you never designed before that you would love to design in the future?
I’ve always said that I would love to design an Airline. I absolutely love the Lufthansa style guide, which I have at home. From the napkins, to the badges, the seats & the planes themselves – everything is stunning. I’d love to design an identity on this scale, where we know what all the deliverables are & it’s just about creating a system that works faultlessly. It would be absolutely beautiful to see it come to life & then fly on that plane.
More creatively, I really love experiences, like museums & galleries. These identities always feel exciting because they have constantly changing exhibitions, which means there’s always different art on show. It’s great because they look different every time whilst also remaining consistent in themselves.
I just love how understated they are. The Barbican brand identity is one of my favourite examples. It does exactly what it should do, sitting quietly in the background & letting the work speak. It’s there saying “here I am to host you”, but never distracting from what’s important – the art.
What are your goals for the coming year?
This year I really want to push the boundaries of my technical capabilities. I think learning new software & bringing more skills into the studio will push our work to the next level. As a designer you really have to continuously adapt, because the technology we work with is always evolving. It’s about moving with the times to stay at the top of our game.
I also want to read more, listen to more podcasts, go to more lectures & attend more meetups, while also being the best father I can be to my new daughter which we welcomed into the world at the end of 2019. Not only do I think it’s important to be in tune with what’s going on in the industry, but I think soaking up knowledge from outside my design world is important. Even if I come across some information that isn’t relevant to my field, later down the line it usually becomes useful in some way.
What are the trends we should expect from 2020?
As written in the DesignWeek 2020 trend report, “People want meaningful experiences & the truth from brands”. I totally agree with this. We’re in an age now where it’s hard to gain the trust of an audience. Brands & agencies need to really focus in on what they’re saying & how they’re saying it. Interactions & experiences need to feel authentic & genuine, if they don’t, people will see straight through it.
Design-wise, I think variable fonts will also play a big part – the way the digital landscape is, designers need to be able to call on a diverse & flexible typeface that can work well across digital & print touchpoints. This technology will also reduce the number of files we need to work with & allow us to increase the loading speed of our designs for web. These may seem like small wins, but studios are always looking for ways to be more efficient.