- There was a Mark Leckey Late at Tate last weekend. Had tickets, but then got this email1 a few hours before the event. Read it multiple times, no idea what its trying to tell me. Anyway, we didn’t get into the exhibition and I still have no idea what the email wanted me to do.
- This FT article about silicon roundabout has been making me laugh all week. Same with the final paragraph2 in this Vice article about hacked iPhone cables. In digital government people talk lots about “fixing the basics” in a way that implies government is uniquely bad at this stuff, but even the most well-designed products available have basics that need fixing.
- Talking about tech companies, it looks like Ustwo fired one of their senior devs for trying to start a union :C
- I bought a cheesecake from M&S on my way back from the pub a few days ago. Been dutifully working my way through it since, but its hard to ignore how much more it tastes of butter than mascarpone cheese. Lots of food from M&S is like that isn’t it, like one of those home counties pub meals where the chef is trying to recreate a meal they loved on holiday but only has traditional british dairy products and white pepper to work with.
- M&S food tastes like brexit is I guess what I’m saying.
- After going to Designs of the Year last week finally got around to buying the new Shoplifters3. Loved the previous issues of Shoplifters (and generally a big fan of Actual Source) but I can’t really figure out why it got nominated for the award, as it’s basically just a really nicely designed version of Things Our Friends Have Written on the Internet but fonts.
- Total aside, why doesn’t the Design Museum actually sell the products nominated in the award in their shop? Other museums would kill for that opportunity.
- Also read Fonts SK, Digitized Type Design in Slovakia4. Its the same type of thing as Shoplifters 8, but shows all the new fonts designed in Slovakia as they’ve deliberately attempted to create a new typographic culture after decades of communist rule and graphic standardisation. If I was going to nominate a book of font samples for a design award I would have chosen this one tbh.
- These videos from abcdinamo’s variable fonts class are mindbending now I want to fuck about with making variable fonts.
- Back on the subject of the Design Museum, a couple years ago they hosted a panel about Jeremy Corbyn and memes with Ash Sakar, Huw Lemmey and Michael Oswell. It was way more informed and insightful than that IIPP event I wrote about last week, even though everyone involved seemed a bit embarrassed about the whole thing. Anyway, was reminded of it this week when Huw published Sweet Moderation, Heart of this Nation. If you only follow one of the links in this weeknote, make it this one (there’s an audio version of the essay too if you’re a radio person).
Power is held in a startling small number of hands and, even outside of the dominance of the right-wing newspapers, liberal papers like the Guardian are controlled by an even more restrictive social background. Oxbridge graduates dominate, and an Oxbridge attitude rules. It’s not that editors tell commentators what to say — nothing so crude as that. It’s that few are given those positions if they’re the sort of person who might say the wrong thing. Thus the semblance of free thought is preserved, and the logic of entitlement to power and a ‘voice’ pervades the opinion pages and late night news shows, more so even than in Parliament. Those without that voice simply are not heard; no wonder everything from the landslide victory for Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership election, and the ‘surprise’ victory of a reactionary Brexit campaign, were such shocks to the system.
Huw Lemmey, Sweet Moderation, Heart of this Nation
- The Wellcome Collection currently have Superflex’s Flooded MacDonalds on display as part of their Being Human exhibition, which I’d only seen in stills before. It’s affecting in stills, and is even more so in person5.
- Was only visiting the Wellcome Collection on my way to see the ceramics exhibition at The Building Centre. Which was fine, but their enormous 3D printed map of all the new building developments currently happening in London is AMAZING6. You’ll fucking love it.
- And their bathrooms are all fitted out with those fancy japanese toilets you see on TV with weird flushes. Check them out if you’re in the area.
- I went with Ella to a conference she was speaking at in Birmingham7. Stephanie Donald did this standout talk about Citymapper with proper design-nerd details about how they localise the design of the app for different cities8 — plus her comments about designing feature matrixes rather than user-journeys was about the closest thing I’ve heard to the complexity of designing something like GOV.UK, where you need to provide affordance for different users needing access to the same touch points in vastly different circumstances.
- Rebecca Dibb-Simkin’s talk about Octopus Energy was very good too. Didn’t know anything about them beforehand, but I’ll be paying attention now.
- It was my first time in Birmingham where I wasn’t there for work. It’s an underated city, way more scandinavian feeling the UK tends to feel. Apparently entirely propped up by EU funding though so.
- There’s some banging St George flags by Shireen Liane on display in Stour Space9 at the moment.
- Finally, the more I use Stratford International Station the more infatuated I get with it10. Its excited platform announcements! Its lack of any international destinations! The complete yonic brutalism of its design (presumably inspired by EWHA Women’s University). Love love love it!
- Sorry, this week’s note is really long. I’ll try to do better next week.
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