Studio Pigment, Nea identity

Also in this week’s Design Diary, our roundup of projects, events, and general design-world-news, we bring you some lovely lettering as part of an identity for new music artist Nea, a duo of ambitious exhibitions from sound artist and recently appointed Pentagram London partner Yuri Suzuki, and the forthcoming character and cuteness-fest PictoNYC. For more along these lines (and so many others) you can follow along all day, every day on Instagram @AIGAeyeondesignFacebook, and Twitter @AIGAeyeondesign.

Samuel Turner-Cox, The Last Descender

London-based designer Samuel Turner-Cox has been busy of late, uniting—as many before him have, and surely will do in future—the worlds of graphic design and soccer. His project The Last Descender is an Instagram-based archive of found typography from football programs and fanzines dating back to as early as the late 1960s. “The archive comes solely from my dad, who was born and raised in London and has been attending matches all over the UK  since he was a child,” says Turner-Cox.

“The graphic layouts of programs over the ’70 and ’80s were beautiful; but the team names appearing in such expressive and varying letterforms is what really stands out for me and the main reason why I decided to put this archive together.” The designer is currently working his way through all the teams in the English Football League—no mean feat in itself—but he adds that in the future he’ll be showcasing the type relating to other teams throughout the UK and into Europe.

Yuri Suzuki, Turner Contemporary and Design Museum exhibitions

Sound artist and recently appointed Pentagram London partner Yuri Suzuki has a lot of plates spinning at the moment, with two ambitious projects on show. One, The Welcome Chorus, is a participatory artwork currently on display as part of Margate Now, an expansive arts program around the town of Margate in Kent, on the English South Coast (where Suzuki lives). The piece, up until January 12th of next year, brings together sound, sculpture, and AI using 12 horns, each representing a different district of Kent. These horns, sited on the terrace of the Turner Contemporary gallery, continually sing lyrics generated live by AI software. According to the folks behind Margate Now, the horns “symbolically and aesthetically… reference the origin of the word ‘Kent,’ thought to derive from the word ‘kanto,’ meaning horn or hook.”

The participatory aspect is thanks to visitors’ input: they’re invited to speak or sing into the “conductor” sculpture, and their words will be both heard immediately and stored in an archive to be spat out again as the AI’s database of sounds evolves over the piece’s lifespan. “I have been working on a lot of social and interactive projects recently, all based around speaking, listening, and composition,” says Suzuki. “I have found that music and sound are always able to transcend gender, age, culture, and locality.”

Running concurrently to the Turner Contemporary installation is Suzuki’s Sound in Mind, an exhibition at the Design Museum in London that showcases both past pieces and newer interactive works across the first floor atrium. The works on show include experimental product design and large-scale sound installations, all demonstrating how his practice broadly “explores how we navigate and connect to the surrounding world through sound, and how new technologies can be made more relatable through novel implementations of sound design,” as the Design Museum puts it. The show opened as part of this year’s London Design Festival, but will be on show until February 2nd, 2020.


Pictoplasma NYC

Brace yourselves, New York-based character design-lovers: PictoNYC, the U.S. arm of the long-running Pictoplasma conference, is rolling into town in about a month. Running on November 11th and 12th, this year’s event features artist talks from an international cast of creatives, as well as animation screenings, discussions, and more. It’s all a celebration of the beguiling and exceptionally cute world of contemporary character design and art. Now in its eighth year, this year’s event will feature illustrator Amber Vittoria, “whose work is a love song to lady lumps in all their bendy, splayed, and hairy glory,” as the Picto people put it. Illustrator and animation director Dan Woodger will also be there, as will South Korean-born cartoonist Haejin Park, whose work uses watercolor in smart, unpredictable new ways, and Brazilian artist Lucas Camargo (who works under the name UntitledArmy), and many more.  

Nea identity by Pigment

Geneva-based studio Pigment has created a bold, playful identity for Nea, an artist recently signed to the label Milkshake, an imprint of Sony Music. The project saw studio founder Gregory Page and his team create custom lettering, as well as a tape-based logo system used across applications including ad campaigns, merchandising, and apparel. The studio also created record artwork and music video titles for the first single release, Some Say.

That single was all Page had to go on when he started working on the project: he was sent a short internal promo video, where the artist explains the story behind the track. The label, according to Page, “thought it would be better not to send me visual references, only saying the artist’s logo had to be custom—more than just something in a nicely written type.”

The logo was created through initially drawing the N, E, and A of the artist’s name “in a bold and quite standard way, like a good black Helvetica,” says Page. “After that I started experimenting and deconstructing these letters,” setting himself just one limitation: that the letters be readable. The letters’ distinctive curves were born when the studio heard the first track’s use of a sample from a ’90s tune, and the team decided to bring in a more “retro vibe” as well as hinting at the more “mellow” side of the track.

The results of this phase of development were then sharpened up and made more angular, with the final outcome looking to create lettering that was both packed with energy and legible. The designers wanted it to work both as standalone lettering as well as across the tape device used as the main element of the identity. The idea behind the tape was that it could “go on everything, everywhere, as a single shot or multiply layered,” says Page. “It also conferred a natural, logical system to classify all the needed information.”

Praline, campaign for Art on the Underground

London-based studio Praline has designed a new creative campaign for Art on the Underground, which celebrates the variety of artworks displayed on London’s transport network over the past 19 years. Currently the campaign can be seen at Embankment, Charing Cross, and White City stations, and it uses specially commissioned portrait photography by Alex Ingram. The designs highlight people’s personal connections with the artworks, using a visual language Praline created that connects artwork, locations, people, and their experiences. At the heart of the creative idea was that the Art on the Underground artworks “belong to the people,” says Praline.

Art on the Underground’s commissions span painting, installation, sculpture, digital, performance, prints, and custom Tube map covers from a range of big-name artists that look to be both accessible to all transport users and bring London’s diverse communities together.

Praline says its goal was to “create a concept which could be usable for a long period of time, and adaptable to different formats, which enables the campaign to be refreshed each year and to stand out from the general TfL communication.” The studio initially explored the London Transport Museum Depot for inspiration, and the designs reference a variety of shapes, lines, and arrows used on previous TfL ephemera, keeping a connection with the transport communication. “The color palette was inspired by the vibrance of color found on original TfL tickets and screen-printed posters stretching back to the early 1900s,” says Praline. “Together this created a richness of details whilst the layout and art direction gives the campaign a contemporary edge.”