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


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.)

GSA Winter School in the Highlands


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.

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

GDFS Live 2–day Project


Graphic Design Festival Scotland is a week-long programme of talks, learning and making. O Street took part as mentors and led a group of young designers in taking on a two day competitive brief.

IMG_7079 Graphic Design Festival Scotland

After introducing O Street using every available facial expression, Josh represented the studio as a mentor for the two-day project. The competitive brief, set in the context of autonomy, was dangerously simple: start something.

Such an open brief is a scary one for designers. We live by rules, grids and guides. Designers fancy themselves problem solvers, but with an open brief, you need to FIND problems that need solving.

So how did Josh and his gang tackle the brief? We took a walk.

Graphic Design Festival Scotland, The Lighthouse, Glasgow. Photo By Stephen Hughes


In a busy, bustling room buzzing with creatives, things were feeling claustrophobic. And so, we read the brief, read it again, then left for a walk and a chat.

A chat about the brief? No! We talked films, politics, colonising Mars, chocolate covered pretzels, skinny jeans; we talked about everything under the sun that wasn’t the brief. After a while, after talking openly about things they cared about, our designers had come to find problems that needed solving. They identified problems in this world that could be helped by starting something.

Graphic Design Festival Scotland

While the team were given direction on graphic design—the theme of the festival, after all—Josh made it clear that they wouldn’t be spending hours upon hours picking over fonts, colours and crafting tidy little logos. We were going to challenge ourselves.

Throughout the two days, we emphasised getting out of our comfort zones; getting out into the street and talking to people; challenging our perceptions of what design really was; working in a way we’d never worked before.

Graphic Design Festival ScotlandGraphic Design Festival Scotland

Our group came up with some amazing projects; one of which even won second place in the overall competition. Lisa and Lorna started The Walk Up, a non-profit focused on supporting sex workers in the UK. They were intensely informed on the subject and created a powerful brand toolkit to represent the idea.

THE WALK-UP._Page_04 THE WALK-UP._Page_01THE WALK-UP._Page_03Graphic Design Festival ScotlandTHE WALK-UP._Page_02 THE WALK-UP._Page_10

This video features explicit language and references sexual violence—to watch, enter the password ‘ostreet’.

Other projects from the O group included a campaign to reverse the law banning gay people from donating blood in the UK, an organisation to facilitate apprenticeships in the digital age, and a daring, abstract series of happenings centred on personal empowerment.

We’re proud of the quality of work from all our troops and the massive success of GDFS.

Seven Art School Life Drawing Disasters


In advance of beer x All the Young Nudes, our noggins have been full of memories from art school’s past. Of particular abundance are disasters we all seem to have experienced at some point in life drawing class. A rag-tag bunch of hormonal 19-year-old students, a nude model, and a three-hour session in a dimly lit studio: what could go wrong? Well, a lot. Here’s a few of the classics:

O Street — Life Drawing

1. The instructor make an example of you and narrates in extreme detail your inadequacy in drawing a particular body part.

O Street — Life Drawing

2. The model falls asleep after 10 minutes. No one wants to be the one to wake them up.

O Street — Life Drawing

3. You keep making eye contact with the model and then you start to worry that they think you’re a creep when really you just wanted to do a good job drawing their eyebrows.

O Street — Life Drawing

4. The model fancies themselves to be a revolution in the profession, and rather than just sitting there, thrusts their body into various yoga and dance postures that are excruciating to even look at let alone draw.

O Street — Life Drawing

5. The instructor puts one of your break-up trigger albums on the ol’ CD boombox and you spend the afternoon quietly crying while drawing a naked person.

O Street — Life Drawing

6. Your drawing has fingers that look like penises and a penis that looks like a thumb.

O Street — Life Drawing

7. You forget your assorted range of drawing materials and instead spend the afternoon exploring the various shading techniques of a biro pen, which then runs out after half an hour anyway.

O Street — Life Drawing

Bonus: the model walks in…and you know them (not in the way that either of you are happy about you seeing them nude).

We’ll be drinking, life drawing, listening to music and hopefully not reliving these disasters this Friday. Join us if you’re about the West End and feeling adventurous!

space camp


Last week Neil M and I took part in the Edinburgh Science Festival by acting as mentors for FuseLab, an awesome two day workshop of innovation, strategy and design for futuristic habitats on undiscovered planets. I know; there was almost a fight in the studio as to who would get to go.


After a flustered start (Neil was promptly on time… albeit at the wrong venue) we kicked off with a brief introduction to ourselves and O Street – noting of course our great sense of humour and keen interest in whisky and beer.

Then followed a brief ’master class’ on graphic design to two representatives from each workshop group. Condensing the concept of graphic design and brand identity into 20 minutes was no mean feat, but we stuck to the basic principles; have a strong idea as your foundation; think about your audience; use colour and type wisely, and above all; keep it simple, stupid.

FuseLab6With these wise words and few other gems of knowledge to aid them, our mini-me graphic designers returned to their respective groups to begin developing their inventions. Team 1 were struggling to navigate through their dense jungle environment in the rainforest biome; thus the need for a monorail above the tree-line. Team 2, meanwhile, had landed in the hostile habitat of Oceana; meaning a low cloud line and plenty of water – their idea involved a solar energy collector, floating 500ft in the sky.



It was brilliant to be a part of this innovative project and actually so great to see a creative thinking subject being included as part of the infrastructure of a festival/workshop like this. I certainly feel Ken Robinson would approve of this inclusion of a creative subject in a Science Festival workshop – an acknowledgement that children’s incredible capacity for innovation goes hand-in-hand with their natural creativity; creativity that should be encouraged—not just as a skill or craft based subject—but as a thinking process that can be influential to all aspects of the development of a young mind.

FuseLab1In a world where every education system has the same hierarchy of subjects—with arts still seemingly scrabbling around on the bottom rung—it was great to see an educational, forward-thinking program, such as FuseLab introduce an artistic discipline as a key aspect of consideration for these young minds as they contemplated the future state of the world.

Of course alongside our discipline of graphic design there was a product designer, a business marketer, a PR manager and an engineer – which made for a varied mix of mentors that perhaps offered tangible examples of some more alternative career routes available to these kids. Especially relevant as they embark on the next stage of their education and their thoughts (one would hope!) turn to their own futures.

FuseLab2With the various mentors in place as hotspots of advice throughout the day, the two teams developed each aspect of their inventions, resulting in some fairly polished project pitches at the end of the day. Even with the challenges of powerpoint the students pulled together some respectable slides – decorated of course with their respective brands; produced with the help of Neil and I. Yes, we’ll admit, we really did get into it – sci-fi fonts and all.

All-in-all it was a pretty good day for innovation, creativity and alternative thinking – areas that we like to think are reflected in our own day-to-day practice here at O Street (that and space travel). We do like our sci-fi after all… especially when it involves lego models.