Design for Ministers and Monsters

As you might have noticed from our two previous posts, things have been pretty busy lately at the Ministry of Stories and Hoxton Street Monster Supplies.

It’s been three years since the Ministry, a young people’s writing centre in Hoxton, opened its secret door at the back of Hoxton Street Monster Supplies – the only shop in the world catering exclusively to the needs of monsters. (Check out this post if you need a bit of background to it all.)

In that time, the Ministry (thanks to a small army of volunteers) has helped thousands of children and teenagers to discover their inner authors. They’ve published a series of anthologies of writing by those children, as well as a Guide to Monster Housekeeping (designed by Ed Cornish).

They’ve published a regular newspaper, Hoxton A.M. (designed by Alex Parrott), filmed a soap opera, created a new republic in Shoreditch (designed by Burgess Studio), and, most recently, released an album (designed by We Made This).

Meanwhile, the monster shop has continued to do great business, constantly releasing new products, including Salt made from Tears (from a concept by StudioWeave), and Milk Tooth Chocolate (designed by We Made This).

And that’s just a few of the highlights – there’ve been a whole bunch of other projects, all designed by various brilliant designers (with art direction by We Made This), all of them giving their time and skills for free.

But the Ministry has a whole heap of new projects (small, large, and gargantuan) coming up in the next couple of years, and needs to add to its design roster. That means you!

So if you’re based in London, are ridiculously talented, and want to create something brilliant for the Ministry or the monster shop, drop Alistair a line. We’re happy to hear from freelancers or studios, and from graphic designers, web & interaction designers, and illustrators. There’s no money, but it’s for a fantastic cause, and you’ll get the chance to create something incredible.

Share More Air

What would happen if you asked a group of children to write the lyrics for some songs, and then asked a bunch of adult musicians to write and record music to go with the lyrics? That’s the premise for the brilliant new album Share More Air, released jointly by the Ministry of Stories and Communion Records. It features lyrics from children aged 8-13 from east London, and music from artists including Ben Folds, Matthew and the Atlas, and Marcus Foster.

It’s a really wonderful project, and the finished songs sound fantastic.

We put together the CD book and the microsite for the album (built with skill and speed by Alex Wybraniec).

If you want to know more about it, check out this wonderful short film – there’s a humdinger of a moment part way through that may well get your tear ducts going:

Jarvis Cocker even dropped by to chat to author & Ministry co-founder Nick Hornby (one of the founders of the Ministry of Stories) about the project for his show on BBC 6 Music. Look, here are Jarvis and Nick hanging out at Hoxton Street Monster Supplies:

Buy the digital download of Share More Air now on i-Tunes, or pre-order the CD from Hoxton Street Monster Supplies (available from 25 November).

Milk Tooth Chocolate

We’ve been busy lately on a variety of projects for the Ministry of Stories and Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, and this is the first to hit the shelves: Milk Tooth Chocolate – a smooth milk chocolate with utterly delicious chunks of delicately roasted milk teeth.

It is of course ethically sourced: “Our chocolate is made with only the finest quality molars, gathered by our skilled team of tooth fairies – and children are always paid a fair price for their teeth.”

It’s truly delicious (with an uncanny similarity to milk chocolate with hazelnut pieces).

And, there’s an added bonus – the inside of the wrapper has the beginnings of a short story by Francesca Simon (author of the Horrid Henry books). The story is about the tooth fairy, who is bored and fed up. Francesca has asked for any budding young writers amongst the shop’s customers to help finish the story for her – with the best results being published on the Ministry of Stories website.

As with all Hoxton Street Monster Supplies stuff, the profits from the sale of the bars support free writing workshops for children and young people in east London. You can order them from the monstersupplies.org website – and with Christmas looming, they make fantastic Secret Santa gifts, or stocking fillers.

The bar is produced by the lovely people at the rather brilliant Divine Chocolate - the only Fairtrade chocolate company 45% owned by farmers.

Packaging design and copywriting are by We Made This.

Rapha City Cycling Guides

The good folks at super-smart cycling brand Rapha sent us over a boxed set of their brand new City Cycling Guides to have a look at – and what a wonderful thing it is.

The set features eight small guide books – covering Antwerp & Ghent, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, London, Milan and Paris. Each one is densely packed with information for the cycling tourist, or the touring cyclist, or even just any old tourist to be honest. They each have a short introduction to the city, and feature a mapped day-ride that takes you round the main parts of the city, before diving in to more detail on a few specific neighbourhoods. They’re written and designed by Andrew Edwards and Max Leonard.

By way of example, with the London guide you’re given detailed information about Soho & Mayfair, Shoreditch, Borough, Notting Hill and Hampstead – including shopping, eating, stuff to see and do, and of course a few bike shops and cafés.

At the back of each book there’s also a great (and detailed) guide to the cycling habits of the city you’re visiting – invaluable when you consider the starkly different riding habits of Londoners, Milanese and Parisians.

Each book is illustrated by a different local illustrator: Amsterdam is by Joost Stokhof, Antwerp & Ghent by Sebastiaan van Doninck, Barcelona by Judy Kaufmann, Berlin by Mikkel Sommer, Copenhagen by Simon Væth (pictured below), London by Henry McCausland, Milan by Riccardo Guasco, and Paris by Louis Thomas.

The Rapha website also has a set of additional ride routes for each city which you can download to your bike’s GPS thingamajig if you have one.

Very lovely, and, given that these are produced by Rapha, surprisingly affordable at £25.

Tony’s Chocolonely

Alistair was out in Amsterdam this weekend, and stumbled across this fantastic typographic packaging: Tony’s Chocolonely.

The brand has a fascinating story behind it. It was set up in 2005 by Dutch journalist Teun Van de Keuken. A couple of years before he’d done an investigation into the cocoa industry, particularly in the Ivory Coast, where he discovered a significant percentage of the cocoa farm owners were engaging in what he saw as slave-labour practices. As an avid eater of chocolate, he saw himself as complicit in these practices and handed himself in to the Dutch authorities for trial. The case was thrown out, but on the back of it he set up the Chocolonely brand, to create chocolate that is produced entirely ethically.

It’s really interesting to see an ethically-based brand that looks fun rather than worthy.

They produce a line of bars that are shaped as big chocolate letters too. Brilliant!

Even the inside of the packaging is great, with a spot-the-difference illustration for the kids.

As it says on the inside of the label, “Crazy about chocolate, serious about people”. Lovely stuff.

The Hill Valley Project

So this is kinda cool. To coincide with the anniversary of the date Marty Mcfly first went back in time, Back to the Future is being tweeted in real time, right now, by all the characters.

The project has been created by Gavin Fox (creative director at Poke), Martin Rose (creative director at Mother), and Tom Hartshorn (founder member of Nation). All to increase awareness of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which raises funds for research into Parkinsons Disease.

Go follow.

The Gentle Author’s London Album

The Gentle Author’s London Album is the wonderful new book, designed by David Pearson, written by the author of the fantastic Spitalfields Life blog. Alistair just picked up his copy from the author, suitably enough right in the middle of Spitalfields Market. The book has been published by the author’s own imprint, Spitalfields Life Books, and financed by the readers of the blog.

If you don’t read Spitalfields Life, you should. It’s a beautifully written treasure trove of stories documenting London’s history, all based around a small patch of east London. It has been written by the anonymous Gentle Author since 2009, who made the bold promise of writing every day until 10,000 posts have been written (sometime in 2037).

As with the blog, the book is a sumptuous pictorial record, a dense feast which includes myriad morsels from London’s past and present, and features over six hundred pictures, many of them taken from glass slides from the archive at the Bishopsgate Institute, which have never been printed anywhere before.

The book also features the atmospheric London Underground photographs by Bob Mazzer which have been all over the internet recently (after featuring on Spitalfields Life of course).

You’ll also find the wonderful typographic designs of Roy Gardner, market sundriesman:

Here’s a rather marvellous little film celebrating the launch of the book:

There’s also a rather fine slideshow that the BBC have put together about the book.

It’s an absolute labour of love from both author and designer – we share a studio with David, and have witnessed first-hand the painstaking care and attention lavished upon the book.

Buy a copy directly from the Gentle Author, inscribed and signed if that takes your fancy (and really, why wouldn’t it?).

Go on, off you go. Buy one right now.

Ten rather fine iOS7 wallpapers

So iOS7 has finally dropped. It’s mostly lovely, though with a few glitches here and there, and a rather over excited colour palette.

We thought it might be an idea to update some of the iPhone wallpapers we created a few years back (originally for the iPhone 4, way back in 2008), and add in a couple of extras. So here, for your downloading pleasure, are ten rather fine iOS7 wallpapers. They’re sized 72dpi at 744 pixels wide by 1392 pixels high, and are lossless .png files, so they should be just perfect for iOS7.

Click on the images below to download them – scroll to the bottom of the post for full installation instructions.

Because sometimes you just wait and wait and wait.

 

This roundel will be familiar to anyone in the UK who’s old enough to remember rotary dial BT phones. Just putting you through now caller.

 

Is it me you’re looking for?

 

And this little fella will be familiar to anyone old enough to remember Dan Dare.

 

And? What exactly?

 

Courtesy costs nothing.

 

This is what phones used to look like. In olden times. Ask your parents.

 

Otherwise you’ll just trip over your words.

And finally, these two, Little Monster (perfect for the Lady Gaga fans amongst you no?) and Boo!, are on loan from Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. Go check out their shop for more monstrous goodness.

To install them if you’re browsing on your iPhone:

1. Click on whichever image you want, and it should open up the full size image.

2. Hold your finger on the image, and select Save Image. It should save to your camera roll.

3. Go Settings > Wallpapers & Brightness > Choose Wallpaper

4. Select Camera Roll from the Photos section, and choose the image.

5. Move and scale it as necessary.

6. Click Set > Set as Lock Screen.

7. Boom. You’re done.

To install them if you’re on your computer:

1. Click on whichever image you want, and it should open up the full size image.

2. Download the image to any image folder that syncs with your iPhone – iPhoto, Google Drive, Dropbox, wherever. Or you can email it to yourself as an attachment.

3. Navigate to the image on your phone, and save it to your camera roll.

4. Go Settings > Wallpapers & Brightness > Choose Wallpaper

5. Select Camera Roll from the Photos section, and choose the image.

6. Move and scale it as necessary.

7. Click Set > Set as Lock Screen.

8. Boom. You’re done.

These are designed to be used as Lock Screen images, rather than Home Screen ones, and work best when the parallax effect is off. (To turn it off, go Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion, and switch the toggle button to On. Do this before you set your wallpaper though, otherwise it goes weird.)

A logo for London

If you think about London, certain images immediately dance around in your mind.

Perhaps some of its buildings: Charles Barry’s Palace of Westminster, Sir Horace Jones’ Tower Bridge, or Sir Christopher Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral.

Or something more recent – Marks and Barfield’s London Eye, Norman Foster’s Gherkin, or Renzo Piano’s Shard?

All individually iconic, but perhaps not representative of the entirety of London.

Often a city becomes known by its skyline, but London has no single point from which it is best viewed, so no single arrangement of its architecture has become dominant. (Though for our money, the view looking east from Waterloo Bridge is hard to beat.)

Other London icons, as evidenced by the wares sold in a thousand tatty tourist shops, include the red double decker bus (probably in the form of Douglas Scott’s Routemaster), and the London black cab (most probably in its Austin FX4 incarnation).

 

Those are the ‘things’ that quickly spring to mind.

But if you’re asked to think of a piece of graphic design that most represents London, then you can’t help but think of the representations of London’s transport systems – either the iconic Transport for London roundel (the name for the circular logo with the bar through the middle), or the ingenious Underground map (shown here in its current incarnation).

While we are familiar with the story of Harry Beck’s design of the map, the story of the roundel has been a little less celebrated (though there is a good short history of its creation on the London Transport Museum site).

Fortunately, David Lawrence’s new book, A Logo for London, sets the record straight, in exacting detail.

The book documents the genesis and evolution of the roundel, demonstrating that rather than being the offspring of any single creative genius, it is the child of many hugely talented designers and administrators – including Frank Pick, Harry Ford, Edward Johnston, Eric Gill, Hans Schleger, and Misha Black from Design Research Unit. It has grown and changed over the course of more than a hundred years to become the defining graphic symbol for London (despite the occasional attempt to find something else to do the job).

Lawrence describes how the roundel had two direct antecedents, in designs used by companies that later became part of the London Transport group.

Firstly, there was the logo of the London General Omnibus Company, designed by a gentleman known as Mr Crane, featuring a spoked bus wheel with a bar through it, adorned by a pair of wings.

Secondly, there were the station signboards of the Metropolitan District Railway, blue enamelled signs with white lettering, which announced which station you were at.

In use around 1906, these were beginning to be swamped by a proliferation of text based advertising which surrounded them at stations. Frank Pick, the real genius behind much of the London Underground’s branding, suggested testing out new signs of different shapes and sizes. A year before, Joseph Carter, Company Secretary of the District line, had done exactly that sort of test, and had come up with a red disc bisected with a blue bar with white lettering. This new design, used for station signboards from 1908 onwards, looked something like this:

These two pieces of design were then brought together by calligrapher Edward Johnston, who had been commissioned by Frank Pick in 1913 to create a single typeface for the Underground (which is a whole other tale in itself). There’s a lovely section in the book detailing Johnston’s correspondence with Harry Carr at the Underground Group about the design of the new Underground logotype.

Johnston’s new Underground roundel, then known as the bulls-eye, was used from around late 1919, and is the moment at which the roundel found the form that is still with us today. Here is a drawing from 1925 detailing its exact proportions:

If we deconstruct the logo, we can see that although it grew out of the spoked wheel logo of London General, and the red circle of the early signboards, it artfully represents both a tunnel, and a train running through it. Or perhaps (at a stretch) a bus running across an abstracted representation of the city. Perhaps, even, the river running from west to east across the city.

It’s possible it doesn’t really matter at this point – its meaning after all is self-defined through use.

Lawrence goes on to show how the logo is gradually introduced across London’s entire transport network, on signage, posters, leaflets, maps and uniforms.

So the old solid red circular sign at South Kensington would have changed to look something more like this:

The design of the roundel stayed more or less the same through to 1935, when Hans Schleger* was commissioned by Frank Pick to put together new designs for bus stop signs. Schleger stripped back the roundel to its simplest form – a coloured circle with a coloured bar, with the type reversed out of the bar. His redesign was gradually implemented right across the network, so that by 1955 station signboards looked more like the one below, stripped of their keylines:

They’ve remained that way more or less until the present day. (Though interestingly, the latest crop of signs have reinstated a keyline, in the form of a silver grey border on some of the signboards.)

Rather brilliantly, nearly all of the Transport for London visual guidelines are available on the TfL website, so it’s easy to see how the roundel is now being used across the city’s vast transport system.

For example, here are all the different networks it represents:

 

 

Not bad for a hundred year old logo. (Although it doesn’t always work perfectly – Taxi·Private Hire roundel, we’re looking at you there.)

A Logo for London, while occasionally a tad dry, is a great addition to the recent crop of books detailing the design of the capital’s transport system (you should also check out Mark Ovenden’s fantastic London Underground By Design).

For more roundel goodness, take a look at the London Underground Poster and London Underground Signs groups on Flickr.

*No Wikipedia page for Hans Schleger? Astounding.

Graphics Summer School 2013

Alistair was teaching on the Graphics Summer School at Central Saint Martins for the last couple of weeks, so we thought we’d present a small sample of the students’ work here.

The summer school allows students from a mix of backgrounds, experiences and ages to sample four disciplines in rotation across two weeks: illustration, advertising, photography and typography. For the typography section, Alistair set a brief to the students: create your own personal alphabet.

There was a fantastic variety of responses. Kaja Slokewska created a bubbly alphabet (above) from acrylic and glue, to represent her love of diving; while Gina Hollingsworth created an alphabet out of a single sheet of paper, just with cuts and folds. Beautiful.

Jonathan Yip created a really pleasing set of letters using guitar strings – first playing about with them in real life, then vectorising the results. Mighty fine.

Meanwhile, Andrea Sartini revealed a love of ice-cream with his set of melting letters (below).

Chris Hall created a fantastically complex grid for his alphabet, and went to town creating a set of properly bonkers letters.We particularly love his 3.

The students also had a half day introduction to the delights of letterpress, thanks to the wonderful Helen Ingham, which featured a quick whip through the history of type, followed by the chance for each student to set a line of metal type, which was then combined together in one souvenir print.

Check out more of the work over at Alistair’s Flickr set. Lovely stuff.