The sounds of a design studio

12.06.18

We pride ourselves on thoughtfully different design. While we create work that looks beautiful, the buck doesn’t stop there. To be an O Street project, you’ve got to have character.

 

 

So when we created a new showreel strutting our stuff, we decided to pay special attention to the soundtrack. Even though the product is visual, the sound is the backbone. It’s the underlying support system that keeps the whole thing chugging along. How could we do something different? …

…Enter Bessa.

The Scottish musician and occasional Boston-Red-Sox-hat-wearing lad joined us in our Glasgow studio to capture the sounds of our design process.

Here’s what you’l l hear in our soundtrack:
– Furious sketchy scribbling
– iMac keyboard mashing
– Commuter bike squeaking

– Google Hangout shouts of ‘Good morning!’ from our Denver studio
– Friday beers cracking
– Various O-shouts and hollers, likely font-related

And of course, there’s the squeaky arm of our waving cat Boshi.

Bessa took all these unique sounds and mixed them into an original track, making the sound behind of our reel more than just an off-the-shelf electronic tune. The result? A banger of a showreel that’s thoughtfully different—kind of like us.SaveSave

Porto Design Summer School (A Good Use of Two Weeks in Portugal)

30.05.18

Okay, it’s tough to have a BAD two weeks in Portugal, but Porto Design Summer School is a good way to get it right.

Photo: Porto Design Summer School

Student work. Photo: Porto Design Summer School

O Street’s Josh P took part in the course’s first run in 2013. Walking the streets of this majestic, brilliantly grungy and deathly hot city, he learned more about design and his physical capacity to sweat in two weeks than he had in years at university. It certainly didn’t hurt that the tutors were some of the best living graphic designers, including Jonathan Barnbrook and Jessica Helfand.

A quote by tutor Andrew Howard, illustrated by Josh P

The focus of the course was typographic. The students become completely immersed in the local visual vernacular; Oporto is an endlessly fascinating city chock full design inspiration.

The final project is to take a work of literature and interpret it through the lens of the city with a print publication. It‘s a crash-course in type, layout, and contextual design.

Student work. Photo: Porto Design Summer School

 

Photo: Porto Design Summer School

Photo: Porto Design Summer School

For this summer’s course, the programme has a shiny new responsive website and a suite of amazing new tutors, with Ronnie Fueglister and Sonya Dyakova joining staples Andrew Howard and Hamish Muir. Their work is amazing.

If you feeling a calling to do so, sign up here to enjoy design, exploring and mingling in Porto.

— Josh P
(This post was not paid or requested by the school.)

Getting stuck in—the magic behind making a brand

12.04.18

What’s the difference between visual identity and a brand? There’s a hundred ways to skin this cat in design thinking, but one theory is this: the former is a visual toolkit, while the latter embodies the spirit of its subject.

While an identity sets one apart from competitors, a brand captures a certain “suchness” which exemplifies their nature.

You know a brand has achieved this magic when you see it. Rather than identifying its presence simply by a certain colour, font, or logo, you know it from the way it visually speaks to you. It is wholly itself, couldn’t be anything else, and feels like it’s always been around.

How does a designer attain this magic? For us, one way is to get stuck in and really get to know a client.

The advent of modern technology allows us to work with clients around the globe, which is a wonderful thing. For example, our Glasgow studio will have a 4pm video chat with our studio in Denver (where it’s 9am) to chat about our work with a client based in Luxembourg (where it’s 5pm). While this is a great way to work in this day and age, attaining true brand magic is best done in person. So, we pile in our Soviet tank and head for the hills.

To design a brand is to know a brand, and to know it is to live it. There’s an art to truly understanding how someone operates, and it’s through lived experience that you attain it. We roll down the same roads as our clients, pull through their gate and smell the same misty air. And we spend as much time with them as they’ll tolerate.

These design residencies give us mountains of insight. It’s not just the big things—operations, what’s what, who’s who—but the little things that matter. Who makes the coffee? How long has that graffiti been on the toilet? Is there a story behind that broken window? Who is the cow named after?

You never know what little bit of real-world inspiration will be the thread that leads to the perfect brand concept. In our experience, it’s these tangible, seemingly innocuous interactions that lead to capturing a brand’s “suchness”. One little detail can be the spark that’s the difference between a visual identity and an unbeatable brand.

Not to mention, we usually get to drink their beer.

Cool things brewing in London — women in the beer trade

19.03.18

Last week we raised a glass to the women of the world, and it gave us a thought: what’s the state of women in brewing?

Having designed the What’s On Guide for Walthamstow Forest Council and their community arts project Making Places, we’ve had a sneak peak at cultural events popping up around London. That’s how we discovered Wild Women Week, a beer-soaked musical celebration for women that raises money for Girls Rock London.

Heading up some of the activity around this is Walthamstow’s own Wild Card Brewery, featuring super cool head brewer Jaega Wise. They play a central part in International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day, a celebration for female brewers worldwide, founded by Sophia de Ronde of Burnt Mill Brewery. (Can we get a ‘YASSSS.’)

Photo: Wild Card Brewery

As big fans of both beer and female empowerment in general, we thought this was all great and wonderful. Unsurprisingly, however, the topic of women in the male-dominated world of brewing is also an on-point political topic.

Sorry, fellas…women were there first.

Photo: Wellcome Images, operated by Wellcome Trust

The original brewing profession was women’s work—they brewed most of the ale in England. Regarded as a domestic chore, women planted and grew herbs, ground grains and boiled ingredients in a large black cauldron over a sweltering fires, all whilst running a home. This eventually led to an accessible (and often lucrative) side hustle for many women, leading to ale-houses and a few women gaining independence through their trade.

Back in those days it was vogue to wear large conical black hats, a fashion supposedly adopted by brewers as a way of being identified in a crowded market. A geographical identifier for thirsty customers was a broomstick hung over the front door. As mentioned, the ale was brewed in a big black cauldron…one can imagine where this is going.

In short, growing male-led urban guilds and the Church turned against these women. The trademark alewife identifiers became associated with fire, hell, brimstone and all other terribly bad things. At first the talk of witchcraft was seen as merely insulting, but as guild communities grew, and urban life increased, screaming “witch” at the sight of a woman brewing became easier and easier, thus turning a once profitable, accessible career into a form of devil-magic.

With the rising tide of witch-hunts and persecution by death, we can see why brewing beer became a less appealing craft for women.

Photo: Wiper and True Brewery

Thankfully, we’re now in an age where people have (mostly) ceased walking around shouting “witch” at women in the street, and there is a resurgence of women being interested in the craft. The good work of making good beer for all to enjoy can continue. Black hat or not.

We’ll drink to that.
> Tessa

( Psst. My current go-to: the limited edition alewife-tribute beer XX from Wiper & True Brewery. That beautiful windmill illustration above is from the packaging.)

Inspiration and images for this post borrowed from these awesome sites…
wildcardbrewery.co.uk
wiperandtrue.com
ancient-origins.net
medievalists.net

Iceland, accidental design mecca

07.03.18

Since branching out to America, a certain island has become an obvious stopping point for Oventurers: Iceland. Yes, we too fall prey to travel blog fever, not to mention the extended layovers offered by airlines at no extra cost.

Iceland is no stranger to quality design, but we find inspiration in the low-brow, everyday graphics taking centre stage amidst stunning landscapes. Here’s a few of our favourites.

Hotdog Sauce Packaging

If you’re traveling in Iceland on a budget, there’s precisely one thing you can afford to eat out: hotdogs. They’re not glamorous, but they sure are tasty. Fortunately, they’re smothered in this amazing sauce, which comes in an even more amazing bottle. You’ll be clearing space in your carry-on for this smiling dog.

The Swimming Guy Sign

Whether in natural hot springs or a public pool, the hearty folk of Iceland enjoy a soak. So much so there’s signs about indicating where you might find some hospitable water. Pools are marked by this simple icon, which one could also decide to read as a man wrapped in giant bacon strips. Delicious.

Mountain Signage

If you’re in Iceland, you’re headed to the mountains. If you’re headed to the mountains, you’re relying on these signs to help you get around. They’ve developed their own amazing visual vernacular over the years, with primary colours, interesting icon illustrations, and local graffiti, er, input.

Brennivín

No matter the occasion, if the Icelanders are drinking (they are), it’s this. This potent schnapps will knock your socks off. In an effort to make it less appealing, the government forced the spirit to use black, boring packaging. Predictably, the brutalist design helped sales boom.

Boring old road signs

Signage in the UK is the stuff of design legend, but sometimes the snow is whiter on the other side. The utter simplicity of Iceland’s signs had us wondering if we could smuggle one or two back through customs.

Our Wee Peeing Man

An O Street list wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from our most-plagiarised work: the ‘desperate’ toilet signs we designed for Jamie Oliver restaurants way back when. This time, they’ve appeared at a public toilet at the base of a stunning waterfall some 100km outside of Reykjavik. When you gotta go

GSA Winter School in the Highlands

27.02.18

In January, students from Audencia Business School’s MSc in Management and Entrepreneurship in the Creative Economy (MECE) programme travelled to The Glasgow School of Art’s Creative Campus in the Scottish Highlands for the International Winter School. The event is a two-week intensive experience that brings together design practitioners, students and scholars from all over the world.

O Street have had links to Audencia since we created illustrations to help them communicate their course structures.

At this year’s Winter School, the students were tasked with researching contemporary interpretations of heritage. O Street’s David Freer was asked to talk to the students about both new models of working in the design industry and projects that dealt with ‘contemporary interpretations of heritage’.

The design industry has surely changed since O Street first started. Emerging technologies affect both the tools we use and the mediums we employ. There has also been a shift from fully integrated agencies to smaller boutique studios. With these smaller studios now working for bigger global brands, collaboration and the very definition of what ‘design’ means is being re-examined across a spectrum of services.

When it came to discussing ‘heritage’, we presented O Street’s redesign of the new RBS bank notes, a piece of work that will be in Scotland’s pockets for the next 30–40 years. In this project, not only did we have to think about presenting the heritage of the nation in an engaging way but we had to balance aesthetics with a timeless narrative that would remain relevant for decades to come.

Further to this, our work with cultural brands positions O Street in a unique place to understand how heritage can be used as a way to inspire, engage and excite.

Speaking with this new generation of designers reminded us how creative and powerful our industry can be and reassured us of the importance in harnessing their talents and providing them with the opportunity to really make a difference in the world.

“International Winter School is an opportunity to do something that is fundamentally different,” explains Dr Gordon Hush, director of the Innovation School at the GSA. “We’re actually engaging with communities; we’re engaging with real people and we’re doing it in an international context.”

As Dr Catherine Morel, associate professor of marketing and head of the MECE programme at Audencia, describes: the International Winter School atmosphere allows students to fully inhabit their creative and innovative potential. “Students have space to think and create,” she says. “It’s a marvellous place to be.”

Thanks again to both Catherine and Gordon for inviting us to participate in this year’s Winter School.