beer x KOZY


It’s getting cold out, so we gather for something warming: beer, gloves and Buckfast. Inspired by the amazing knitted hats of Lake&Loch, we team up with them to invent KOZY: a glove/beer koozie hybrid that doesn’t take itself too seriously. We take in the knits, wash it down with a raspberry Belgium pale, and the O Street fam announces they’re opening a satellite studio in the USA. It’s a warm and fuzzy affair, indeed.

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We Got a Lyn


O Street is very, very pleased to officially announce the addition of Lyn Cunningham to our team. Lyn is an experienced designer who brings an expansive breadth of material and digital knowledge, as well as a sharp eye and clean graphic sensibility.

At O Street, Lyn will be designing, managing projects, and putting out fires. Her beautiful work at Suisse and her own company, Matinée, speaks for itself:

Lyn adores dogs and has the coolest car you’ve ever seen. We can’t wait to see what we create alongside her.

Graphic Design Festival Scotland Live 2-Day Brief


Graphic Design Festival Scotland is an annual festival that seeks to elevate the global stature of design and its reach in Scotland. Four years in, it’s working. O Street were delighted to again be invited as mentors for the fest’s live 2-day brief. This year’s challenge, posed by It’s Nice That and Eye Magazine, was deceptively simple:

True to real-world pressures, students partaking in the live brief are thrown into the fires of intense brainstorming, conceptualising and prototyping. Each of the ten mentor studios choose a champion to present their design to the festival (they also win an internship with their mentors).

We began our process by introducing the youngsters to O Street’s process: fresh air and unusual inspiration. In other words: we won’t be caught dead scrolling through Pinterest. Our team hit the streets of Glasgow city centre and snapped photos of anything that looked interesting. Within half an hour we’d not only cleared our heads and gotten some exercise but also catalogued a collection of amazing street photography.

Feeling fresh, we dove into a round of Crazy Eights: coming up with at least eight ideas responses to the brief in just a few minutes. This allowed the team to really stretch their creativity and get a few things down on paper. With a minimum of eight, there’s bound to be some duds destined for the bin — which makes the good ideas stand out.

It was then time to interrogate the brief: what was the problem we were being asked to provide a solution for? What was a public domain; public space, the internet, social media, royalty free intellectual property, information, knowledge? We also dug deep into the meaning of what the brief was seeking—to make people FEEL BETTER ABOUT THEMSELVES—and decided it wasn’t enough to make people smile.

After some motivation and heavy discussions involving self-worth, socioeconomics, etymology, design theory, and good old-fashioned feelings, our team re-approached their ideas and settled on what they’d be designing. O Street’s one rule: everyone had to MAKE something. The response to the brief could not be, “I have an idea for a campaign/app…”

We were floored by the quality of work done by our group; everyone adequately answered the brief and made some lovely graphics to boot. Here are a couple standouts:

Dundee students Paddy and Stu created Still You, a guerrilla campaign reminding people that even if their day’s gone off the rails, they’re still their fantastic selves.

Moritz Schottmüller and Shuaitong Zong of HFG Karlsruhe in Germany took a wildly different approach: their public domain was language, and they sought to create a universal good to insert into languages worldwide. While they didn’t quite find a solution (yet), their research led down some amazing graphic rabbit holes and became a project in itself.

Molly Davies of the Glasgow School of Art devised a sophisticated visual identity around a simple theme: morse code. She sought to bring comfort to those in distress by making use of old telephone boxes.

O Street’s whole group came to play, but we had to choose one to show the entire festival. We selected Paddy and Stu’s project Still You, as we felt it most directly responded to the brief, and had a sound visual identity to boot. They also came through on our one rule, to MAKE something and put into the world (in just a day!)

The GDFS live 2-day brief isn’t just useful for the participants, but for the mentors, too. We were able to hone this design process by guiding our group:
— Take a walk, and take in unusual inspiration
— Chuck down loads of ideas
— Take pains to truly understand the brief
— Trim down the ideas and execute

TopForm top tips


GDFS seeks to elevate design in Scotland with an internationally relevant festival. The 2018 fest kicked off with TopForm, a day of talks from industry leaders.

There’s a lot we could say about the breadth of amazing insight from this day. We’ll keep it simple and treat you to one takeaway of ours from each legend that took the stage:

Stop getting angry about typefaces

Image © Kevin Lake

For a few years, Rob Lowe has been making some of the most visually interesting and provoking visual communication in London. A modern day First Things First crusader, he bemoaned industry infighting and frivolity, instead asking: why do we have so many different brands of toothpaste? Isn’t there a better way?

Harry Pearce
Keep your eyes open and tell stories

Image: Pentagram

Pentagram partner and design legend Pearce could have spent his time on stage breezing through his greatest hits. Instead, he focussed on the work that was really important to him: evocative, not-for-profit adventures that spanned everything from foiling fox hunters as a boy to working with Witness to empower citizens.

Studio Dumbar
Design is a process

Image: Studio Dumbar

The studio that most famously branded the Dutch National Police treated us to a visual onslaught of their history and process. For Dumbar, it’s all about the journey: experiment, experiment, experiment.

Wolff Olins
Know what makes a brand

Wolff Olins fancy themselves radical designers. That’s debatable, but they ARE no doubt radical businesspeople, and the design industry is undoubtably better off for it. The masters of brand strategy provided insight into their thinking, including how they break down Brand Purpose: Offer, Presence, Capabilities, and Culture.

Be a family—break bread together and thrive

Image: Spin

Spin have recently left their slick studio behind for a homely abode with a shed in the garden. It was inspiring to those of us who share the practice. To fuel their rigorous work life, they cook each other meals and also share a big breakfast every Thursday morning. We’re joining you on that one.

Look at color in-situ

This entertaining start to the day was full of great tidbits (how old are the swatches in your studio—are they faded and inaccurate?). One that especially stuck with us is the point that you must ask your client how they’re viewing color when proofing designs. If the end user will encounter the work under florescent lighting, then be sure to experience it under the same conditions!

There was also a presence from sponsors, including Windmill Printing who showed off a host of amazing print techniques (including our menus for BrewDog).

TopForm was a serious start to an amazing week of GDFS. O Street will be mentoring the live 2-day brief — see you there!

There’s Something About Mary


One of the weightiest decisions in designing currency is deciding whose face will be passed over coffee counters and lost in couch cushions for the next thirty-odd years. The minds behind the most recent bill in Scotland can rest easy knowing they made an amazing choice for the people of Scotland—by putting it in their hands.

Photo: specialty printer De La Rue

The new £10 from Royal Bank of Scotland sees the country’s currency headlining women two notes in a row (the £5 starred Nan Shepherd). Mary Somerville, born in Jedburgh and a proud Scot, was one of the most significant characters in 19th century science.

A gifted mathematician and astronomer, Somerville overcame adversity to pursue a career in science. She was partly responsible for the discovery of Neptune, and was a prolific writer—ruminating on subjects in an accessible manner, she opened up scientific discovery to the masses.

She didn’t earn her spot on the ten pound not without a fight — also shortlisted were Thomas Telford and James Clerk Maxwell — though she smashed them in an online poll. Just like with the content of the currency series as a whole, it was the Scottish people who made the call.

Somerville’s equation explored at

One of Somerville’s contributions to science is highlighted (literally) on the £10. Her diagram for calculating the distance of the Earth from the Sun is illuminated under UV light.

There is also a quote from Somerville on the note. Her rumination on sound and light as seen in the waves of a river are an example of her profound popular science writing.

Learn more about the features of the Royal Bank £10 at Will the ladies continue to rule the day as Scotland’s currency rolls out? Watch this space to see who graces the £20…

Designing for Trust in an AI-First World


At one of our recent studio Vision Days© at O Street we talked about how each of us yearned to keep up with the ebbs and flows of our industry, partly by attending events and training sessions. We divvied it up between us to cover a spectrum of design knowledge.

Now at this stage I should have opted for colour theory or typography, but no, I chirped up and said UX design, setting myself up for a world of hurt. I’m joking—sort of—but really am interested in how this particular design specialism has started to become more and more important in our digital world.


That UX? It’s tough stuff! I attended my first event on the subject at London’s Google HQ this week (if you are gonna get info best go for the top ey!?). The Google UX team hosted a small session to kick of London Design Week regarding ‘Trust in an AI-first world’.

Trust and computers has been an issue for a while. Years ago it was trust in an e-commerce world: would users put their credit card details on a website? Even without clever AI systems big brands had the ability to make quite intrusive forays into our personal lives—remember the story from 2012 about US retail brand Target finding out about a young teenager’s pregnancy before her own father?

Now that the true value of the data that can be gleaned from our digital footprint is being realised, things have gone up a level. We have: more immersive computer experiences; more powerful AI systems that have the ability to track our every move; and brands savvy enough to convert that insight into hard profits. Should we trust them?


To help answer that question, here’s our experts:

The event at Google was hosted by Matt Jones (Design Director at Google Research & Machine Intelligence). The expert panel included: Sarah Gold (Founder and Design Director of If); Priya Prakash (founder of Design for Social Change); Tom Taylor (Chief Product Engineer at Co-Op Digital); and Rachel Coldicutt (CEO at DotEveryone).

And here’s what they had to say (forgive my paraphrasing):

AI machine learning sounds like ‘magic sprinkles’ but behind that people have to work and build good things. We need to own up to this and start pulling on the threads before they start pulling on us. Neural networks are already in our smartphones—what opportunity does this offer? Can we gather and store our data locally? It’s a huge shift in thinking… Google are trying to change the underlying logic, moving the processing and acting closer to the person actually doing the thing.
—Matt Jones

As designers we need to show a different way that things can be. Making and testing is quite a powerful way to do this, to learn, then share that learning openly. But how can we safely test and learn? What data you use is the tricky bit, ethics of using raw real data. Can you use dummy data? Small groups?
—Sarah Gold

Amazon Echo doesn’t understand my 4yo with most things, but when he asked ‘play Everything is Awesome’ it worked as the machine had learned from so many other toddlers. But could Amazon be even more responsible with that power? I sometimes wish Echo only did things if you say ‘please’ first, it has the ability to teach manners to my children, how to behave well.
—Rachel Coldicutt

People are totally ambivalent about AI. They are not interested when it works, but when it goes wrong they want to know who to speak to. People are already going to get busier, so we pretty much know that they are not going to track every bit if data about themselves that is recorded. However, we do have a responsibility to make the important/sensitive information easy to access. There will have to be a level of openness from the AI industry to the wider public.
—Priya Prakash

The password strength green bar, an amazing visual tool in helping build trust. (Tip of the public understanding of an AI trust infrastructure), but the green bar is just one micro interaction.
—Tom Taylor



By the very nature of the topic, much of this discussion brought about more questions than answers. It’s realising this is an important topic—and talking about it—that is key. My takeaways:

– Our behavioural data has been valuable to brands for years, and now that AI offers the ability to process it in larger and more complex ways, it’s even more valuable.
– Not only do most people not understand this subject, we’re also not talking about this as a society—we should be!
– Subjects like history and philosophy (how to behave as a decent human being in an ever changing world) will be more important than coding or IT studies in equipping our children to cope with the new digital age.
– The Google UX team is starting a great conversation here.
– Manners maketh humans…


Also, what I do know is that as a leading graphic design studio we can’t ignore the amazing pool of knowledge UX designers are gathering at the coal face of technological advances.

It’s not only important for us, it’s important for society to understand these things, especially when it comes to trusting digital data collection. There are certainly brands that are collecting our data whom we should trust, but there are also plenty to be wary of. A good graphic designer that understands this stuff is the exact kind of person that can cut all the complicated shit out of the discussion and communicate what really matters to real, busy everyday folk.

So if any of you want to talk to me, give me a call. I’m sure your bots can find my number.

– David Freer