Hello, and welcome to this week’s Design Diary, a collection of five projects from across the world that have impressed us this week.
This weekend, millions of people across the country showed up for the Women’s March in its second year running. It was also the one year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, which he duly celebrated by speaking at an anti-abortion rally in D.C. Others chose to acknowledge it differently: Wolff Olins marked the anniversary by asking 10 artists to design a bandana in support of a non-profit of their choosing. Charities include Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, She Should Run, and more.
Wolff Olins enlisted the help of Print All Over Me, which created the prints. The campaign, officially named #bandtogether, features the work of Jing Wei, Crissy Fetcher, Will Bryant, Amrita Marino, and more. Available for purchase at PAOM—and to peep down below.
The Book of Palms—not to be confused with the Book of Psalms, a different thing entirely—is a series of books that “initiates dialogue around art, design and culture by the agency of palm trees.” Yes, palm trees—those willowy tropical monocots you thought were only there to provide you shade. Turns out they also provide inspiration for a book series that focuses around a specific, palm-laden region and is created in collaboration with artists, entrepreneurs, designers, illustrators, and photographers from around the globe.
Sunny graphics and cool-down interviews and essays populate the series’ second volume. It’s all connected by a focus on nature.
Last year we wrote about London-based Fieldwork Facility, “a studio that takes on design projects concerned with both communications and experiences, with a particular focus on making work with a social impact.” This year, the studio was in touch with some new work, and we were intrigued by an unusual client: Mark Spencer, forensic botanist.
That’s an actual real job title, and according to Fieldwork Facility’s project page, he consults with both police departments and forensic services, evidently on cases where plant-based evidence can unlock crimes.
You may not be surprised to learn that Forensic Botany is a limited field, with exactly two others in the UK competing with Spencer. “Having a considered identity would make Mark disruptive by default,” writes Fieldwork Facility. “The challenge was to make sure this disruption doesn’t come across as a distraction and to avoid any territories that were insensitive to the gravity of Mark’s work.” They came up with a skeletal leaf that resembles an observing eye as the logo, and copy that alludes to both halves of his chosen profession. Full results below.
On Co.Design this week, writer Katharine Schwab asks just that question and comes up with Are.na, a site created by a group of artists and designers “intent on creating a space that they could use to incubate ideas over time.” With no advertising, no tracking, and no algorithms dictating what you see, ethical design and healthy consumption are among the guiding principles of Are.na (full disclosure, I edit Are.na’s blog). Visually, argues Schwab, that ethos manifests itself in the site’s design: a serene space for gathering research, connecting ideas, and encouraging slower, deeper engagement than quick clicks and toss-away “likes.”
As the site’s designer, Chris Sherron, puts it in the article, “I think a lot of current social networks don’t put enough trust in the user to think for themselves and in a way they overdo it in terms of the style, the colors, the language… designers and artists who are the early adopters of the internet and the ones that set the trends–they’re seeing this and thinking, it doesn’t feel quite right. We want to make sure that we’re not taking people’s intelligence for granted.”
The Barbican is working with The Smalls in London to put on 12 new short films directed by emerging filmmakers. The videos reflect the themes explored in the exhibition The Art of Change, and “demonstrate a diversity of perspectives on social change.” The very first of the series—to be rolled out on the first Friday of every month—is the hand-painted Square Face, a short by the Swedish animation director Amanda Eliasson. It’s her interpretation of the theme of ‘Censorship.’
“Censorship is a difficult subject because on one hand it’s put in place to protect vulnerable people, and on the other hand it’s restricting the spirit of free expression,” says the artist. “My biggest concern about censorship, as an artist, is the governmental violation of the free speech. I got the idea of this film, Square Face, when a social media post I made; searching for a ‘riot grrrl’ band, was taken down. The takedown was just absurd to me and I wanted to play on that absurdness in my film and censor everyday-words to make it impossible for the main characters to communicate.” More here.