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.

Attitude Sickness

10.01.18

When I arrived in Colorado, I thought I was good to go: thoroughly hydrated and ready to plow through the altitude sickness. And boy, was I wrong. After a few hours of throwing up my guts, I required some serious adjustments to get well.

While getting a hand from some seasoned Coloradans, I learned there was really a science to acclimatizing up in the mile high city. Eat these certain things, perform those certain actions, and you’ll get through it. Within a day or two I was physically feeling like myself again—but not mentally.

Moving to a new place, disoriented and homesick, I realised I’d gotten over altitude sickness only to be stricken by attitude sickness. I needed to get myself right, so I turned to the ways that got me acclimated to the altitude.

Hydration

We’re mostly made of water, and lots of it does us good in more ways than one. If you’re really dragging mentally, treat yourself to a day of heavy H2O consumption. You might be surprised that not just your body—but your brain—were begging for some oxygen from the liquid good stuff.

Routine

Steady bed and rising times, consistent recreation and exercise, and taking meals at regular times will get you through any rut. It’s also one of the most difficult things to do. Write your routine down. Tell someone about it. Don’t beat yourself up when you fail, just ride the wave and get back to it.

Train high, rest low

Mountain climbers employ this strategy to acclimatize. Climb, come down a bit to rest overnight, and day-by-day go incrementally higher until you’re at the top. You can do the same with sorting yourself out and getting things done: take a bite out of a big goal, come back down to a more comfortable level to recover, then go out and take a bigger bite.

Feed yourself

To recover from altitude sickness, I was given foods high in healthy fats, like avocados and nuts. Your brain also thrives on this good stuff and it gives you loads of energy, keeping you feeling full. Whether or not high fat foods work for you, avoid processed garbage—you are what you eat.

Prioritize

What really matters? Get a piece of paper and write down all the things demanding your time. Circle the ones that will really, truly help you get to where you need to be long term, and cross out the ones that don’t—banish those time-wasters from your life, and take that time to work on what matters.

A couple weeks later, I’m doing my best and feeling acclimated in more ways than one. Am I at the top of the mountain? Naw. But I did write this essay.
–Josh P

Our Design Space

30.11.17

We were delighted when Computer Arts hosted us in their My Design Space feature, which you can find here.

No matter where we go, our flagship studio in Scotland’s grunge capital Glasgow will always be our beating heart. Our design space was long ago a general store, more recently a laundromat, and probably a couple other things in-between. Now it’s a design shop.

Like all things, we approach our space like a project: functional, efficient, and — importantly — interesting, damnit! We’re human creatures!

In addition to a well-stocked book shelf, the beautiful sign in the back is from an old Glasgow tram. Another favourite item, the bed & breakfast sign, was a gift from our pal and ace designer Kenna.

Our Beertimes parties are a chance to explore creative beer packaging, and the abstract figurative ones we created for beer x All the Young Nudes are some of our favourites.

This Cubs pennant is a bit redundant after they won the World Series in 2016, but we just don’t find new sports-related design as handsome as the good old stuff. This is something we’re exploring…

Even in the digital age, understanding traditional design technique is foundational. This type lens is mighty handy.

We don’t just make ideas—we make things. Sometimes those things are longboards. Life is good.

We like to joke that we’re just a bunch of failed musicians. Like all decent jokes, it’s funny because it’s true.

We’re going places, but our design space is where the heart is.

beer x KOZY

13.11.17

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.

Read this post at Beertimes.net

Graphic Design Festival Scotland Live 2-Day Brief

30.10.17

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

23.10.17

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:

Supermundane
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.

Spin
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.

Pantone
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!