CONTENTS EVERY MAN I HAVE EVER SLEPT WITH
Lucy Flower has launched a new bestseller, Designer Sex: Designer Sex: My Love with Muller-Brockman, Moholy-Nagy and Jan Tschichold and our foreign correspondent finds out all about it.
INTERVIEW WITH KRISTAL MELSON
We met with the lovely Kristin Melson and she tells us some of her inspirations and what she loves to do in her spare time...(wink)
THE MAGIC NUMBER
Maps, windows and crossword puzzles. Just what do these three items have in common?
Amidst the food, hustle and bustle, and plethora of extra services, we dug up the dirt and found out that the skeleton of Geylang is actually a (gasp) grid!
Design Director Cara lets us in on how this tight and mighty team of creative geniuses work at Asylum.
We are convinced that sexual fetishes are indeed linked to deconstruction of the grid and we prove you how!
THE BRAVO BRAVADO Edwin Tan of Bravo company tells us what itâ€™s like to strike it out on his own.
AND THE GRID
EVERY MAN I HAVE EVER SLEPT WITH. An old and retired nightlife entertainer meets our journalist based in the south of the HĂśnggerberg and KĂ¤ferberg hills, Zurich, for a tell all on the history of the grid and debuts some exclusive juice on the pioneering designers she was romantically connected with. She is publishing her autobiography Designer Sex: My Love with Muller-Brokmann, Maholy-Nagy and Jan Tschichold.
EVERY MAN I HAVE EVER SLEPT WITH
“Of course they wanted me, I had the fairest skin and the most beautiful red hair. I was so beautiful. I never looked back and I never regretted this, if I wasn’t in that business, then I wouldn’t have met the most amazing men.” She said matter-of-factly. “Jo (Josef Müller-Brockmann) was the first designer I ever met. And he was the best. I remember I was eighteen, one year as a tänzerin. He watched me from afar. I could see him even from afar, I remember his hair was swept back and at his prime. He looked like a splitting image of James Dean just without the hat and coat. The whole time he didn’t look at anyone else. I went up to him after my show and he was so shy. He said he was a professor who studied and taught design and typography. I had no clue what he was talking about so he told me he’d show me if I followed him back in the university across the street.” She sighed as she looked out of the window and her lashes fluttered. “I was so thrilled. I had two boyfriends before Jo, but they were young puppy loves. I was in Zurich now and so didn’t know what to expect. My friends told me to go so I grabbed my trench and we ran to his office in his university just across the pub and just like that we were meant to be. It was like a flurry of anticipation mixed with love. He leaned onto me and whispered, let me show you something you have never seen before... I thought he was referring to his wein, but I was wrong. He went over and pulled open a large file and it was full of posters with lines and words all over the place but they were so beautiful. He said his job was to formulate and come up with visual structures that help to organize text and images on a surface in a legible and clear manner. It was such a noble thing at the time because all around order and clarity was a rare commodity at the time with the war and problems you know…” “That was the first time I saw how type corresponds to the grid form. He told me how the grid fields the elements of design: typography, photography, illustration and color, all can be disposed in a better way. These elements are adjusted to the size of the grid fields and fitted precisely into the size of the fields. The smallest illustration corresponds to the smallest grid field. In this way a certain uniformity is attained in the presentation of visual information. The grid determines the constant dimensions of space. There is virtually no limit to the number of grid divisions. It may be said in general that every piece of work must be studied very carefully so as to arrive at the specific grid network corresponding to its requirements. The rule: the fewer the differences in the size of the illustrations, the quieter the impression created by the design. As a controlling system the grid makes it easier to give the surface or space a rational organization. I think that was my watershed moment. It was exactly there and then, I sworn to myself this was it. This is what I want to be around twenty-four seven. My obsession were designers and what they do, which is their grids.” I was surprised by how she could be so enticed by this visual design. “I mean everything about this visual structuring process was sexy to me. Seeing those large oily lithography machines, the metallic smell of the inks and those inspiring prints hanging all over the place… I was addicted to them. The curves and slvete edge of the san serif fonts. I was in paradise. Ah Ich möchte seine Wurst stark saugen... She finished her sentence in german.
came to her on her word that she was willing to tell us a bit of juice from her autobiography and also on her idea of the grids they do. I met Lucy in the elder care home in a quiet district of East Limmat where she now resides. She wore a turquoise dress with a plunging neckline that accentuated her endless cleavage. “Whether you choose to believe my eighty three year old noodle is really up to you.” she said pointing to her head as she sat herself down, “but I would like to say that I remember everything like it was yesterday.” Sunlight from the left window frayed her wrinkles like a wind-drawn sand dune. “Cookies?” she offered a tin of homemade pastries with a grin, “They are made with tender loving care.” It was really hard to imagine she worked in a striptease cabaret and had slept with all the men in the design industry during her days. It was clear, with her annunciation, that she was from the western part of Europe. “Well, actually I was born in Germany, moved with my mother to Switzerland because of the war and to find a job, but when I went to Zurich, oh die Schönheit der Burleske! I was swept away buy the glitz of the night life. I was drawn to the burlesque shows like Blue Hammer and the one in Paris, a le Moulin Rogue. The tänzerin girls had so much fun you know. Dancing around wearing only feather C-strings and nipple tassles and oh the boys you get to meet!” She leaned back and sipped her cup of tea. “I applied and trained really hard and became a tänzerin stripper immediately.”
That was the first time I saw how type could be arranged in a grid form. He told me how the grid fields the elements of design: typography, photography, illustration and color, all can be disposed in a better way. These elements are adjusted to the size of the grid fields and fitted precisely into the size of the fields. The smallest illustration corresponds to the smallest grid field. In this way a certain uniformity is attained in the presentation of visual information. He also said that the grid helps determine the constant dimensions of space and that there is virtually no limit to the number of grid divisions, which when he said he was the one who conceptualize it, I felt that I was in the presence of a genius!” She laughed. “It may be said in general that every piece of work must be studied very carefully so as to arrive at the specific grid network corresponding to its requirements but the rule of the grid is that the fewer the differences in the size of the illustrations, the quieter the impression created by the design, things like that. it’s amazing. As a controlling system the grid makes it easier to give the surface or space a rational organization. I was so impressed.” “Then I asked him what were these works he displayed on the walls. These were beautiful and simple posters that really captured my attention. He said these were works by what he called ‘constructive designers’. Constructive designers, like him. And boy, these geniuses are capable of analysis and reproduction. They can influence and enhance the taste of a society and the way it conceives forms and colours. At the time, not many believed this and Jo said thats why the university and he were pushing this. Their designs are objective, committed to the common weal and when well composed constitutes the basis of democratic behavior. With such taste for order and such creators of beauty, I find it hard to believe it isnt popular yet at the time. I was pleading for him to show me more but he wanted to make love with me. And I told him I will, only after he tells me more. He wasnt too upset and was in fact glad I liked his work.” She remarked, “So he went to his desk and took another folder and showed me another kind of visual order called the Constructivism. He said this was a precursor movement that occured in many parts of Europe and especially in Russia.”
AND THE GRID
“Jo pointed out to me that Constructivist designers manipulated design laws into practical solutions. They work systematically and in accordance with strict format principles makes those demands for directness, intelligibility and the integration of all factors which are also vital in socio-political life. It’s not entirely different from constructs designers but their works can be quite intuitive as they believed in spirituality of form. But I had always been into the pragmatic way of doing things I told him. I always preferred working on positions in sex than expand on the spirituality of tantric sex and in that, me and Jo were also alike. Sex with Jo was almost acrobatic. I don’t want to get too graphic but honestly,” She leaned across the table to my ear, whispering, “I don’t know what I like what more, his thrust, or his strong grip over the nape of my neck whenever he was reaching an orgasm…” I blushed at her and she sat back down on her chair, “Ah, seine nassen genitalien in meinem weichen loch…” “My virginity was lost that faithful night on his work desk and it was nothing short of magical. I asked Jo to tell me more about the grids after our first time and he said sure... Only if I were to meet him again tomorrow. He was such a tease really, leading me on like that. I totally fell for it, with sparkles in my eyes. We met every week after that for a whole year.” She grew silent for a while. “He always visited my workplace and bring me back to his office. He introduced me as his girlfriend to all his colleagues. One night he came to my cabaret and told me he wanted to move to New York and asked if I would want to come along. I thought he was joking. New York was so busy and different and it was so nice here. He told me there were opportunities there awaiting him. I couldnt leave Switzerland because I had to be with my mammy and I told him that it would be best…” her voice trailed off. She took out a square hanky and wiped her tears, “that it would be best if we went our different ways. It was hard as I was still young and he was my strength, the first man I was truly in love with.” She sighed. I said held her hand and she held on to mine. “The very day when he had to leave for good, he told me that the
“My virginity was lost that faithful night on his work desk and it was nothing short of magical. I asked Jo to tell me more about the grids after our first time and he said sure... Only if I were to meet him again tomorrow...” most important thing that I needed to remember for life was the significance of the grid. Its strange how till now, because of that promise, I can never forget anything about grids at all. And I am as old as Johann Bernoulli and Gottfried Keller put together!” “You know, you might think what he made me promise was silly but during the time, many detractors and non-believers of the day see intuition in visual organization as a more viable system. The grid system implies many things! The will to systematize, to clarify, the will to... penetrate into the essentials, to concentrate, the will to cultivate objectivity instead of subjectivity, the will to rationalize the creative and technical production processes, the will to integrate elements of colour, form and material, to achieve architectural dominion over surface & space and the will to adopt a positive, forward-looking attitude. The grid is so powerful. I was determined to know more and thankfully, Jan was in town.” she said with a smile. I wondered if the Jan she was refering to was Jan Tschihold, another pioneering master who wrote many books from modernist design to a more classicist style later on in his design deveopment. “Oh yes Jan Tschichold from the Bauhaus, yes. Actually I met him while I was still with Jo. He was still married then, slightly tubby but very charming a person. He had such a great sense of humor that I knew was a cover for his dark feelings. People didn’t know this but at a drinking session Jan resided in me and Jo about his wife’s infidelity. It caused him a minor depression when he left war torn Germany for Switzerland. His wife was acting weird and have been dodging questions. I could smell that cheat a mile away. When Jo left, I turned up at his door with everything I owned. It was a period when he moved out for a while. I told him I was alone and he was also alone then and there. We had sex and it was angry sex...” She said matter of factly. She leaned forward. “Wir begattet, bis ich blutete. I fucked him thinking of Jo, he fucked me to get back at his wife.” “The year his wife died of pneumonia was the year we really got together. Though we stayed together, it was still an open relationship and I felt that our relationship was free flowing. He knew I loved the grids. I worked only on weekends in the cabaret at the time
so on weekdays, I would get down to his studio and I worked closely with him. I never thought of myself as a designer when I worked for him. I simply rode on the desire to know everything about these ground breaking and beautiful formats and be part of it’s developmental process. We bounced possibilities and I was his external opinion on whether something was working or not.” She sat up and drank her tea. “I would dare say I was his greatest source of motivation when he finally finished his book De Neue Typographie, which had gotten much praise back then till now. This book was a manifesto of modern design, in which he condemned all fonts but sans-serif (called Grotesk in Germany). He also favoured non-centered design (e.g., on title pages), and codified many other Modernist design rules in which without me, he wouldn’t have finished it. He advocated the use of standardised paper sizes for all printed matter, and made some of the first clear explanations of the effective use of different sizes and weights of type in order to quickly and easily convey information. I fucked him whenever he needed to relieve himself and in that and more, I spurred him on because I really believed in this book he was releasing. I worked very hard as well in that. Through looking at his work, I began to recall the way the grid was treated by Jo. I came to the conclusion that the very visual creative work is a manifestation of the character of the designer. It is a reflection of each designer’s knowledge, ability, and mentality.” “I began to realise the trend in designers I dated, they are never settled for one place. In 1946, even before Jan wanted to leave for London’s greener pastures, I met a few other designers who was intrigued by my interest and association with his design scene. Because I was free to go about, I had flings with many other men while I was with Jan. He knew what he got himself into when he wanted to be my lover so really, he knew I would be so.” “To recall, I remembered a couple of boys I was with…” she narrowed her eyes and thought hard. “There was Josef Albers, the handsome Herbert Bayer, Mr Max Bill, or Billy as how I used to call him, there was Marcel , and Christian Dell and the well-
EVERY MAN I HAVE EVER SLEPT WITH
Lucy, 24 (left), Lucy, 78 (right)
endowed Werner Drewes, Lyonel Feininger, Naum Gabo, Ludwig Hilberseimer, Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack, the muscular Johannes Itten, my Russsian Provocateur Kandinsky and also not forgetting, Paul Klee and Otto Lindig, Gerhard Marcks, oh and Piet Mondrian which you would read a lot about in my book and Oskar Schlemmer and Schreyer, oh the adorable Joost Schmidt, Naum Slutzky and a lesbian relationship with Gunta Stölzl.” She saw my shocked face and held my hand again, “Don’t look surprised my dear. I think the Swiss government should give me an award for my contributions to the Swiss economy and the development to design!” “I know what you are thinking. I’m such a slut… I think I just like sex. I still do. I’m glad I still do. I just slept with Arthur over there, Arthur!” She screamed across the room. An old man on a wheelchair wearing a tepee hat turned and gave a toothless grin. “He is more of a passive lover that man.” She stirred her tea flippantly. “There was this one, Lazlo Maholy-Nagy. I knew who he was ever since Josef talked about him years before the meet. He was about twice my age but Lazlo Maholy-Nagy was one crazy spirit. He was 58 years old at the time while I was twenty something… But his age was forgivable because he was bigger than anyone who was in me then. We did it at the back of the bar the very first night we met, I smoked for the first time there while we were at it… Weed not nicotine.” She assured me, “Wir kopulieren so hart, ich hatte einen doppelten orgasmus.” “I learnt the most from Laszlo who not only had a studio, he had people who worked for him. Most of the time, he conceptualizes and makes his workers work on the actual print. This style of working was something that has integrated with the modern design business models. He was slightly crazy and old but my God he and his team can work all through the night. Designers like him have a professional ethos of clear intelligible objective, functional and aesthetic quality of their mathematical thinking is a great turn on and never fail to perform in bed. Just like his sexual prowess, I would say that Lazlo’s design ideas is a contribution to design’s general development and itself form part of it.
He said that the use of whichever grid system of arrangement requires one to come to terms with the problem in hand and to analyze it. It fosters analytical thinking and gives the solution of the problem a logical and material basis. If the text and pictures are arranged systematically, the priorities stand out more clearly.” “You just need to know that a suitable grid in visual design will always make everything easier to construct objectively, to construct the text and illustrative material systematically and logically, to or analyze the text and illustrations in a compact arrangement with its own rhythm and to put together the visual material so that it is readily intelligible and structured with a high degree of tension. There are various reasons for using the grid as an aid in the organization of text and illustration: economic reasons: a problem can be solved in less time and at lower cost.” “I choose to feel that the grid is part of my legacy, without me, some of the designers would have given up really. I choose to think that this is something I leave behind on this earth for all designers. The grid today is still the very same grid I learnt from my lovers. Everyday, this system is being used by many typographers, graphic designers, photographers and exhibition designers for solving visual problems all over the world!”
LUCY’S BOOK, DESIGNER SEX IS OUT NOW IN ALL MAJOR BOOKSTORES. BOOKS CAN BE IMPORTED THROUGH AMAZON.COM
THE DESIGNER AND THE GRID
INTERVIEW WITH KRISTAL MELSON
K R I S T A L M E L S O N
Out the door, spinning around, turning plain things into gold. Wearing mittens to stop things from changing. Hiding in the dark and playing wildly in the night, she captures dreams with pencils and paints alike. Fantastical wanderings, fleeting feet, dancing toes and spiraling tips are all a part of her charm and mystique. Drifting in and out of galaxies at the twitching of her thumbs, she leaves a trail of her doodling behind in large unhealthy clumps for Frankie, Grafuck 3, ELLE, Arena, ffffound, Kult, Levis, The Flaming Lips and a fazallion more...
AND THE GRID
Hello what is your name and who do you work for?
What does it feel like to be a designer in Singapore and what do are some challenges you face?
Hello! My name is Kristal Melson and I am a graphic artist. I’ve been freelancing so I guess I work for myself.
What are you working on right now? Aside from monthly illustrations for ELLE magazine I’m also working on my submission for the ‘Animal’ issue for Kult and album art for my buddy Nicholas Chim, who is currently recording his second album.
So, tell us how did you get into designing works like this? I just try do what I think would be the awesomest. I’m still trying to figure out a lot of things while still enjoying myself. If you mean influences, that would be comic books and album covers.
Now that you’re an established graphic designer, what would you say to the design student you once were? I would tell myself to firstly get a haircut ... and as for work.... Don’t over think. Just keep at it.
I’m sure wherever you are, you would face the similar issues. And with the mightyinterwebs you aren’t limited to where you are living anymore. It can be stifling because you still need to make a living, so you can’t just do want you want, although I try to!
Who are your design heroes? There are so many, I’m a huge fan girl. When I was in school Deanne Cheuk really made an impression on me. Her art direction in Tokion years ago, made me see how i could combine illustration with design and she really pushed each headline and every issue was different. Marian Bantjes, for her immaculate craft and for always putting her heart into her work. Milton Glaser because for the longest time I wasn’t sure if I was a designer or an illustrator, and i always felt torn. I learnt from his work that there really doesn’t have to be a line to separate the two. Paul pope, his art is fused with design all the time, it just makes me terribly excited.
Tell us whether you enjoy indulging in doing sensual design projects. Why? Sure! its fun isnt it? Let loose a little, get excited, and why not have a chance to turn it up?
“Let loose a little, get excited, and why not have a chance to turn it up?”
INTERVIEW WITH KRISTAL MELSON
Most of the designers we talked to see sensuality or sexuality in design as unimportant. What do you think?
On ‘Clients and Creativity’, tell us your thoughts. Are they the authority or should designers just be rule breakers?
No they sound dull. I think its really important in making something appealing, not in a perverted way. It doesn’t have to be literal, like having some sexual undertone in everything. But the notion of sexiness would make something more attractive.
I try not to think that way, although it can be hard, and I always can’t help but feel rebellious and stubborn. It is sometimes a good thing to break the rules, but only if its to make something better, not just because “ I like it like this”.
What do you think makes ‘sexy design’?
On ‘Design Trends’, what do you think is the next big design wave?
That depends on what turns you on! Do you kern all night long? If you enjoy spheres, lol. whatever floats your boat baybeh.
Do you use grids to create your illustrative type designs? Why? It really depends on what I think works best for the subject, if I need something that’s clean, I would have a rough grid. Otherwise I just go with what’s natural till I get it “right” Sometimes when I draw I’d use graph paper, so the hand can do its thing, but still have structure.
What is your opinion on grids in relation to design?
“Undesigned, ugly design, so-bad-that-its-good design” “arentyou-bored-of-helvetica-design” “really-raunchy-vulgar-obscenelyugly-design.” Once something has become a trend then its not fun anymore right?
Who is your dream client? (A band you like? A big multinational company?) I would love love love to do work for FLAUNT or the New Yorker. Loves loves!
Lastly, what would you say to aspiring graphic designers who want to do what you do?
Grids to design is like bones to a body. Run for the hills. kidding.. just keep pushing yourself !
“Grids to design is like bones to a body.”
CHECK OUT HER RADICAL ILLUSTRATIONS AT WWW.KRISTALMELSON.COM. SHE IS ALSO AVAILABLE FOR FREELANCE WORK!
THE DESIGNER AND THE GRID
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, worse, cheated on.”
THE MAGIC NUMBER Maps, windows and crossword puzzles. What do they have in common to be put together in a singular sentence? They all employ the equivalent of an almighty in graphic design – the holy grid. Introduced in design books to be ‘the formal systematic arrangement intended to create visual order and economy in production’, these wonders are also described to be ‘most used in publication and web design to guide information hierarchies and promote visual rhythm and consistency among multiple pages’. Yes yes yes, they are the authority of neatness in displaying information. But before one breaks out in symptoms of OCD, how about taking a risqué approach to discussing the topic of the magical grid. Now, there is no need to feel shy, (read it in the privacy of your bathroom if you must!) for it is the very reason why you are here in this dangerously big world. Babies do not just appear in the trash, and are definitely not delivered by stocks. Before your minds get permanently stuck in the gutter, keep in mind the objectives. To communicate accurately, and, to develop strong and rhythmic relationships between bodies (of text, images and space). Nice and slow, nice and slow. Beauty of a the manuscript grid – Monogamy
Boldness and versatility of the multi-column grid – Polyamory
Sometime back in the 15th century, a young German goldsmith created a technique that would change the world forever. Gutenberg’s creation of moveable type was a result of his conscious awareness of layout and design; letters were drawn to consistent size and margins around the text were uniformly proportioned.
At the extreme end of the spectrum, we meet with polyamory – the state of being romantically involved with more than one person at a time. This nature of this grid puts one’s mind in a constant state of thrill and rewards with a high level of satisfaction when executed successfully. The multi-column grid is like the manuscript’s cool elder brother. The visually strong rectangles in the manuscript are being chopped up into smaller areas that provide more leeway for experimentation. Elements can be arranged to conform to specific proportions and various moods can be created by just altering the measurements of typesetting.
For the sake of starting on common ground, monogamy, according to Oxford Dictionary, suggests a state of having a sexual relationship with one person. In the zoological world, swans are the perfect mirror of this philosophy. They symbolize love, monogamous relationships as well as loyalty and trust in partnerships. Monogamous behaviour in a way, is similar to how the manuscript grid works. One of the simplest to create, this grid is not necessarily what one imagines when the term is used. Manuscript grids work on the same basis as the idea of monogamy – sticking through thick and thin with one. To borrow a marriage vow familiar to the Roman Catholics, it reads ‘...to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health...’. Does that not sound like what the manuscript grid would say? Visually, this single-columned grid produces strong rectangular blocks of text on almost symmetrical pages. It’s job is to accommodate extensive continuous text, such as books or long essays. Irregardless of how long your body text is, or how hard it is for you to come up with a decently laid page, you can always count on the manuscript grid for a quick solution to your design problems. Convenient it may be, care must be taken when dealing with this simple grid to ensure comfort and visual interest after prolonged reading. One way to do so is adjusting the proportions of the margin – a wider one exudes calmness and stability while helping the eye to focus. Faithful and never a heartbreaker, the manuscript grid is the man every girl would want to meet.
This grid proves good for editorial projects or other seriesbased material where the content may change often. A threecolumn grid is traditionally a good option for brochure work for it provides sufficiently wide and readable columns. Small illustrations can float amongst text and captions to create visual interest. Like polyamory, the multi-column grid thrives on one’s need for variety and the want to be versatile. The notion of multiplerelationships is as old as human race itself, but it is the “free love” movement of the 1960s and 1970s “free love” that skyrocketed this philosophy. The idea of having multiple columns might sound like heaven to some designers, but do keep in mind the number of columns one employs, for one too many would cause confusion. The big ‘but’ of polyamorous relationships, is the mission (almost) impossible of multi-tasking which is the Achilles’ heel of most men I know. Let’s also not forget that it is programmed in all humans to be jealous. Hell really hath no fury like a woman scorned, and worse, cheated on.
THE MAGIC NUMBER
AND THE GRID
G-DISTRICT Amidst the food, hustle and bustle, and plethora of extra services, we dug up the dirt and found out that the skeleton of Geylang is actually a (gasp) grid!
View from bridge, Gelyang Road
AND THE GRID
THE GEYLANG DISTRICT An awkward mix of activities goes on within the area. One may indulge in the heavenly taste of popular local dishes like frog leg porridge, beef hor fun, dim sum or maybe get a tattoo from any of the tattoo parlors littered around the district. Find yourself squatting on the pavements while feasting on D24 durians, or even praying in a temple, mosque or church. Anyone who has been in Singapore for more that 4 hours will never fail to associate this area to the sex trade which comes in many forms. Apart from the regular brothels, you can find this very trade happening in karaoke lounges massage parlours and even on the streets by the “freelancing” prostitutes. From the government’s viewpoint, the task of containing this trade may seem like mission impossible. However, they have tools. The government use deliberate city planning to aid them in this challenge. We, designers, call it grid. Take a look at the Geylang district on the map; it would not take long before one realizes that the area is indeed planned using a grid. Sims Avenue and Guillemard Road which runs parallel to and flanks Geylang Road in its north and south respectively form the boundaries of the district and they demarcate the boundaries in which all activities has to be contained within. Geylang Road is the main road running through the area, splitting it into two big chunks, the north and the south. Zooming in more, the lorongs (meaning lanes in Malay) that run perpendicular to Geylang Road further dissects the district into smaller modules, effectively making navigation within the area much more manageable. Putting things into perspective, the flanking Sims Avenue and Guillemard Road serves as the margins of the grid. These are no-go areas for any type or images in a design. Geylang road is effectively the gutter than splits contents within the grid into two columns while the perpendicularly running lorongs serve a purpose similar to the horizontal flowlines in the modular grid, breaking information down into a much more manageable and digestible size. The modular grid system is arguably the most versatile grid system which when utilized properly, can work many wonders. It is extremely useful when a wide spectrum of information needs to be displayed. The modular grid gives the designer precise control in hugely complex projects. As such, it is no surprise that city planners chose to use the modular grid in trying to contain the wide plethora of activities that goes on in the Geylang district. The Unigrid, designed by Massimo Vignelli in 1977 for the National Park Service, demonstrates the versatility and effectiveness of this particular grid system. This grid has been used universally for all of National Park Service’s publication materials, ranging from brochures to annual reports, websites and even signboards. More than 30 years since its inception, the Unigrid is still in use. Talk about longevity of good and effective designs.
Famous Ho Kee Paus, Loring 23
Fruit Stall, Lorong 23
Tattoo Parlour, Loring 11
That said, there are certain circumstances in which the usage of the modular grid would not be most appropriate. There are times in which a more organic grid structure is preferred. In these cases the hierarchical grid system is used. The hierarchical grid is a more intuitive approach to laying out information as opposed to the repeating patterns you may find in a modular grid structure. In the construction of such grids, the designer needs to study the interaction between the different elements such as the images, typography and the medium. This analysis will then be used to determine the manner in which they are laid out. Without underlying grids in place, the designer can create a hierarchy within the design by manipulating the scale, placement, shape, or other attributes of the different elements. A good example of such a situation is the layout of The Waterina condominium in lorong 40. Because of the curvature of Guillemard Road, the façade of the condominium follows along the curve in the road, giving it a “D” shaped plan rather than the regular boxy ones. In this case, the shape of the plan has been altered to better utilize the space and also to make it look less rigid.
Freelancers at work, 2.30pm
G U I L L E M A R D
LOR. 37 GEYLANG LOR. 34 GEYLANG
LOR. 41 GEYLANG
LOR. 35 GEYLANG LOR. 32 GEYLANG
LOR. 38 GEYLANG
LOR. 33 GEYLANG LOR. 30 GEYLANG
LOR. 39 GEYLANG
LOR. 31 GELYANG LOR. 28 GELYANG
LOR. 36 GEYLANG
LOR. 29 GEYLANG LOR. 26 GEYLANG
LOR. 27 GEYLANG
R D .
Map of Geylang
LOR. 40 GEYLANG
LOR. 24 GEYLANG
R D .
LOR. 22 GEYLANG
LOR. 20 GEYLANG
LOR. 18 GEYLANG
LOR. 16 GEYLANG
LOR. 14 GEYLANG
LOR. 12 GELYANG
LOR. 10 GEYLANG
LOR. 8 GEYLANG
LOR. 6 GEYLANG
G E Y L A N G
LOR. 25 GEYLANG
A V E .
LOR. 23 GEYLANG
LOR. 21 GEYLANG
LOR. 19 GEYLANG
LOR. 17 GEYLANG
LOR. 15 GEYLANG
LOR. 13 GELYANG
LOR. 11 GEYLANG
LOR. 9 GEYLANG
LOR. 7 GEYLANG
S I M S
We cannot emphasis any more how important it is for designers to know and understand the grid. Consider this – if all else fails, you could still ditch your low-paying design job and take up one as an urban city planner!
AND THE GRID
s it turns out, we found no electric chairs or straightjacketed designers in reputable design studio, Asylum. Design director Cara let us in for a peek. She shared with us their design philosophy, and amongst other things, the amusing relation between good ideas and legs.
Can you introduce yourself for our readers...
“ Nobody actually sticks to the grid 100%. Because if that’s the case, you might as well let the computer design it! ”
My name is Cara and I am the design director at Asylum. I have worked with the company since 1999, when we just started. We are basically a multi-disciplinary design agency. Interior and environmental design, along side the usual like print and branding are some of what we do. We’re not exactly a publishing house, so we do not deal solely with typography and grids, but they are definitely some of the nifty tools we use. So I guess I could give you some input about grids and their usefulness.
So, what are some of the big projects that are keeping you busy right now? We currently have many projects on hand; a signage project in Abu Dhabi, an experiential centre for a whiskey brand in Shanghai. Also, some print brochures for residential properties in Singapore and a branding for a dry-cleaning company. Another interesting project is the collaterals for an artist who is going to be featured in the Venice Biennale, which includes posters, catalogues and invite cards. And also, branding and interior design for a jewelry shop.
Wow, that’s quite a variety of jobs for a small team... We split up the work according to the deliverables required, for example if it is for a job that requires interior design and branding, then it would involve our print and interior designers plus me. And if there’s a job that requires an output in all aspects, then it would involve the various designers for their respective media. So basically I’m involved in all the jobs!
better is to travel out of the country. The more exposed you are I think the more developed you can be as a person.
Could you tell us how it was like when Asylum first started out? When we first started it was a really small company, with just 3 or 4 people. Of course when we first started neither did we do web design, nor interior design. We were only doing brochures and identity projects. All these extra disciplines (like web and interactive) only came in gradually because we feel that feel that like, ‘oh if I design the identity for a restaurant for example, we can only do so much. Then if the interior design is crappy so, ‘oh too bad’. We feel a lack of control so that is how we started doing all these. But of course when we just started we had to do a lot more jobs, even those that we didn’t like because we were still very new. It took us about 2 years to establish quite a good portfolio and until now, basically we can be quite selective about the kind of projects we do and we don’t have to take on any other job just because we need to make the money. We’d only do work which we feel is fulfilling...
…and enjoyable? I guess so. We still do corporate jobs, but every designer here would get to do a balance of good projects and serious ones.
Tell us which medium do you secretly think type is most neglected... Maybe Chinese restaurant menus?
What about pro-government posters in the neighbourhood? Now that the elections are coming...
Let’s talk about art-school curriculums. What is something you’d do if you could change how art schools function? Yeah, but I think there’s a reason why it’s like that as well. First Getting out of the classroom once or twice every two weeks would be good. School shouldn’t be limited to just researching on the fields of study, students need to get out and be exposed! They should be watching films, seeing exhibitions or even checking out new stores just to see how the shops are designed. What’s even
of all, there is no need for them to look designer. They have different agendas. Whatever they do has to appeal to the masses; it is something your grandfather needs to understand, you have to understand, and the person sweeping the road has to understand. As long as the message is clear, it’s good enough.
AND THE GRID
“I think design is a lot about hard work and passion, so when you put that into your work, it will generally speak for itself.”
So is that what the design process is? You submit a draft to them, changes are made...
So is he your design hero? Yeah, he’s one of my favourite designers…and a few others.
Yup, this process rocks back and forth. Like the images, some get approved; some needs to be reshot... Remember, when you present your work, the idea should be key and that’s when clients will stop picking on all the nitty-gritty that would change your design When you present the design as an idea, then the idea becomes the key and that’s when clients will stop picking on all the nittygritty that would change your design. Because if they buy your idea, then whatever that you are communicating will fall right into place and it would be a smoother process. It also helps to gel everything together.
On design trends, what do you think is the next big design wave? Trends are not important to me I think. They have the lifespan of bubbles. I think it is great ideas and good thinking that transcends time, it gives you legs to run. Great ideas can be applied to many disciplines or execution. There’s thinking behind so there will never be a shortage of ways to present it. I have a book to share. Like the title says, ‘A Smile In The Mind’, is about works that make you smile in your head and go ‘What a great idea!’. They may look a little dated, but it still touches you. I don’t know if you’ve attended any talks by Sagmeister. He often talks about design that touches your heart, which is his philosophy! If you look at his work, the brilliance of his ideas comes through.
What is something you’d like design students to know... Because sometimes I interview fresh graduates and young designers, something they’d say very often is ‘ Oh I love your work and I want to work in your company’. But when I see their work, it’s as if they haven’t put in any effort at all. Nothing is easy, design is not something that is easy. People think designers are cool and they think, ‘I want to be cool so I be a designer’. You think you can get away with putting some text and images together? I think design is a lot about hard work and passion, so when you put that into your work, it will generally speak for itself.
Portfolio over qualification? Of course! We don’t really care about qualification.
While we are on that topic, what are your thoughts on doing a bachelors in design? To me, education is never enough. The more you can of it, the better. If I didn’t have to worry about money, I’d love to just study until I die you know, it’d be so fun just to be a student forever. To do research and come up with ideas of whatever you like. Ultimately, I think anything as a career is great, as long as you love it and you put in your whole heart to do it.
Interiors of Asylumâ€™s workspace
AND THE GRID
“I think design is a lot about hard work and passion, so when you put that into your work, it will generally speak for itself.”
The commercial world uses sex to sell a lot of things. Do you think Asylum’s work is sexy? Probably not. The only project that has a bit of a cheeky nature is Frolick and it is a successful brand strategy. Generally I don’t think that the commercial world uses only sex to sell. Look at brands like Apple, Uniqlo, Muji and Aesop, they don’t use sex to sell but they are still reliable brands with good design! Sex draws attention, but at the end of the day, would it help the product or the brand? It’s a different strategy. Sex can help create a lot of hype but does it help give credibility to the brand? Like, for Frolick, the whole idea was to be politically incorrect and they want to brand it as a ‘naughty brand’. It has nothing to do with yoghurt at all! Everybody knows that yoghurt is healthy and what not, but how does one differentiate itself from its competitors?
Anyways, here is a marketing brochure that is used to sell space in a shopping mall. Okay, say you’re the owner of Candy Empire and I would like you to open a shop here and I’d say, ‘Hey this mall is very exciting, the up and coming, so and so will visit the mall... and so on’. The job of this brochure is to entice people to set up shops here. It’s a lot of promises what this place can be, and the idea for it is to be an exciting shade of retail experience. The type is treated differently here, but we make sure that readability and legibility are not compromised. This is an example to show how you can use type to communicate a certain kind of message or mood and people don’t miss the point of what you’re trying to say.
The idea behind Frolick is to sell the cheekiness of the brand, and maybe give it a little personality so as to attract and communicate to the their target audience.
Could you share with us some of your works and the grids you used? Are you a grid breaker, or follower ? Maybe not so much about grids, but I can show you some of the stuff that breaks from grids. Generally, as designers, when you do a piece of work or a publication, one must keep in mind you have to solve the problems of your client. Breaking boundaries are okay but it must be done with a purpose in mind and not just for the sake of it. Every piece of publication uses grids but not so much when it comes to name card design or logos. Nobody actually sticks to the grids 100% because if that’s the case, you might as well let the computer design it! You can break the grid, if it helps create the desired effect. At the same time, it still has to be a responsible piece of work. If the client is trying to sell something, you obviously have to make sure that people can still read it. There needs a balance.
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AND THE GRID
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We realized that the desire for designers to break from the grid is related to the sexual desires of to mentally, it is the desire to create a different experience from what is normally expected in the visu what we call bre
T h e o b j e c t i v e o f b r e u a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s b y o r c o l u m n s s u c h t h a r y s e q u e n t i a l i n f o r m t h e c o m p o s i t i o n o f a e r â€™s d e s i r e t o d e f o r m a r a t i o n a l l y s t r u c t u r e d s p a c ea slu ci hg t nh amt teh en etl e.m e nTt s hwei t h ian d d e i o n s h i p s . I n a w a y, i t i s l i k e a f e t i s h , w h e r e t h e sf e ex ut a il sa rho ues as l aa pre res o n ur esc ee i vde s ii s c a l o b j e c t , o r f r o m a s p e c i f i c s i t u a t i o n t o c r e a t ed ai ws hoo lre dd ief fre r e no t f e x pse rei exn cue . a l p a b e t t e r
odayâ€™s contemporary fetishist. Fundasual and sexual culture that makes up eaking the grid and fetishes respectively.
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a k i n g t h e g r i d i s t o f i n d n e w s p a t i a l o r v i s b r e a k i n g d o w n a s t r u c t u r e i n t o g r i d m o d u l e s t t h e y b e g i n t o o v e r l a p , e v e n w h i l e t h e y c a r a t i o n , c r e a t i n g a p e r c e p t i o n o f l a y e r s w i t h i n a r c h i t e c t u r a l s p a c e t h r o u g h d i f f e r e n t a x e s o f e d p e r c e p t i o n a l l a y e r s a r e s i m i l a r t o t h e w a y nr e - m a n y w a y s l i k e p s y c h i a t r i c m e d i c i n e , a s a r e f e r e n c e o r a s a n e n h a n c i n g e l e m e n t , c a u s i n g s e x u a l b o n d b e t w e e n t h e p a r t n e r s .
AND THE GRID
S e x u a l r o l e - p l a y i s a n e r o t i c f o r m o f r o l e - p l a y. I t i s a s e x u a l b e h a v i o depends on the people involved, and the scenario may be anywhere
This is principally similar to illusory representations of a subject in l i k e a m e m o r y, a n e v e n t , o r a d i a g r a m . E v e n t h o u g h n o g r i d i s p r e s e n t , t h e s t o r y l i n e i n r o l e - p l a y. M a r g i n i n t e r v a l s b e t w e e n i m a g e s & t e x t a n d r e l a t i v relate to this overall idea. This allusionary basis of design is similar to material for an er
Images may move across a for mat or be otherwise changed from page t amorphous, but its po werful ef fects can be recognized and understood as This volatility is apparent with the popularity of the internet that h Linguistic Deconstruction gives a “voice” to visual language. It can help alter the structure of text by pushing words out of paragraphs or forcing modules or columns into relationships where the natural logic o f t h e w r i t i n g c r e a t e s a v i s u a l o r d e r, o f t e n c h a n g i n g w e i g h t , s i z e , c o l o r, o r a l i g n m e n t a m o n g l i n e s o f t y p e , corresponding to stresses and lulls in actual speech. This is fundamentally what phone sex relies on in the c o n v e r s a t i o n o n b o t h e n d s o f t h e l i n e w h e r e t h e v o i c e c o m m a n d s t h e r e a l i t y. Sometimes when we are on the phone, we turned on each other by saying something related to sex in hope o f a r o u s i n g t h e o p p o s i t e p a r t y. We s a y t h i n g s l i k e “ I w a n n a l i c k y o u r b o d y. ” o r “ D o n’ t y o u w a n n a f e e l m y m a n h o o d ? ” T h e s e p h r a s e s w o r k t h r o u g h h o w y o u s a y t h e m , a s m u c h a s w h a t y o u a c t u a l l y s a y. In linguistic deconstruction, verbal or conceptual cues within the content can be used to break a grid structure. The natural rhythm of spoken language for example is often used as a guide for changing weight, size, colour or alignment among lines of type. In phone sex, the cues that brings to life the fantasy of the sexual experience can take for m of sexual sounds, nar rated, and enacted sug gestions; sexual anecdotes and confessions; candid expression of sexual feelings or love; discussion of very personal and sensitive sexual topics; or just two people listening to each other masturbate.
C rCuri usiinsign fo g rfose r xse, xo, r orc r uising tc r uising is the is the ac tacoft of walk walk inging or o r dri v i n g abo u t a loc ality in search of a se x partner, u su al l y o f t he an onym ous, c asual, one-tim e v ariety. T he t e r m i s al so used when technolog y is used to f i n d casu al se x , such as using an Inter net site or a t e l e pho n e se r v i ce. Fundam entall y, c r uising is based on t he chan ce o peration to der iv e a partner for se x.
CHANCE OPERATION LINGUISTIC CONCEPTUAL ALLUSION SPONTANEOUS OPTICAL COMPOSITION
f o r m a r a t i o n a l l y s t r u c t u r e d s p a c e s u c Ihn tvhi su a talt hcoe meml eum ents within n i cations, chanc e op eration juxta poses w a y, i t i s l i k e a f e t i s h , w h e r e t h e s e xmu at a le riaal r o ut hat s a l mai g ht p e rotherwise s o n r e c emi vaye s hav i s e r esc e - a ped notic e. r o m a s p e c i f i c s i t u a t i o n t o c r e a t e a w h o l e dH i f eflepir enng ta ede x psig e rner i e nsee c e . the m aterial m ore clearl y, al l o w i n g hi m o r he r to or g anize it in less predic table, ye t m o re i l l u m i n at i n g ways, m ak ing the desig n rele v ant t o spe ci f i c pe ople who rec og nize the c oherenc e in part i cu l ar. T he t e r m c r uising in itself is a ter m that i s a co de i n g ay sl ang , by which those “in the k no w” w o u l d u n de rst an d t he spea k er’s unstated se xual intent, w he re as m o st he t e rose xuals, on hearing the sam e word i n t he sam e co nte xt, would nor m all y m isread the spe ak e r’s i n t e n de d meaning in the word’s m ore c om m on an d pre su m abl y less threatening nonse xual sense, so t he e f fe ct o f chanc e operation on both v isual and se x u al o pe rat i o n s re ach out to it’s ta r g et audienc e in a m o re e x act m anner than it would to anyone else.
o r w h e r e t w o o r m o r e p e o p l e a c t o u t r o l e s i n a s e x u a l f a n t a s y. H o w s e r i o u s l y t h i s i s t a k e n from simple and makeshift to detailed and elaborate, complete with costumes and scripts.
the deconstruction of the grid. Illusionary allusion deconstruction is based on a concept, e sequential nature of the compositions is unified by a governing idea or concept, like the ve de pth on the pa ge may constantl y change, but this change has recognizable features that the scenario based nature of sexual role-play where nearly any role could become the base otic experience, and there is no limit to what objects an individual could consider sexual.
t o p a g e , a f f e c t i n g o t h e r i m a g e s o r t e x t t h a t a p p e a r l a t e r. T h i s k i n d o f k i n e t i c s t r u c t u r e i s s the viewer experiences the succession of frames that evoke a visceral emotional response. has created a platfor m for online sexual encounters, kno wn as cybersex, which may involve r o l e - p l a y i n a q u i c k e r, a n d f l e x i b l e m a n n e r a s c o m p a r e d t o t h e p h y s i c a l s o r t o f r o l e - p l a y .
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CRUISING PHONE SEX ROLE-PLAY PUBLIC SEX
In visual construction, the method of spontaneous optical composition is a purposeful intuitive placement of material based on its formal aspects: seeing the inherent visual relationships and contrasts within the material and making connections for the viewer based on those relationships. It is a step in the process of building a grid that starts fast and loose, making quick decisions as the material is put together. It is here that the relationships are first seen. As the different optical qualities of the elements begin to interact, the designer can determine which qualities are affected by those initial decisions and make adjustments to enhance or negate the qualities in ways most appropriate for communication. These intuitive decisions relate to spontaneous public sex. Public sex are sexual acts that take place in public or semi-public places. The term is increasingly used to describe an act taking place outside the bounds of a private residence, regardless of whether it be strictly public for example, a toilet, cubicle, or cemeteries. Participants of public sex do this based on the thrill of such locations, the excitement of having to make decisions on surface or position for intercourse based on the terrain and level of conspicuity the location is. According to the magazine New York, public sex actually occurs relatively frequently in New York City, and is a fantasy common to a large number of people. Outdoor sex also relies on the optical qualities of the elements of the environment and the participantsâ€™ interaction with the state of the place. Both designers and the participants of public sex will have to decide which qualities are acceptable on their terms to work with and make impromtu adjustments if need be. Outdoor sex is rumored to run rampant in Vancouverâ€™s many parks and beaches in San Francisco. In Singapore, the old toilet in Citylink Mall and the toilet in Golden Mile Complex are also choice locations for gay men to meet in public settings in order to have sex. In the UK there has been a rise in public sex on premises venues, which could be attributed to a more relaxed approach to enforcement of laws relating to this victimless crime since the early 1990s.
THE DESIGNER AND THE GRID
THE BRAVO BRAVADO
BRAVADO Edwin Tan of Bravo company tells us what it’s like to strike it out as a designer on his own.
We went to Outram Park in search of Bravo Company, who graciously agreed to meet us for an interview. Bravo Company is a creative and independent design studio based in Singapore, that specializes in identity, brand development, printed communications & art direction. At the furthest end of a row of shophouses, we stopped outside a store that sold fishing equipment because djacent to that, a doorway beside housed a stairway up. The door number was a black and shiny acrylic starplosion of a door-label that read: BRAVO COMPANY.
Bravo Company, noting it’s military origins, is certainly a unique name to call a design company. It is a rather ambiguous name that doesn’t give any unnecessary preconceptions. However, there are some clear things, the word Bravo connotes a job well done and it’s explosive logo and related peripherals gives the company a sellevision hard-sell and humourous edge to their identity where they strive to achieve practical design where just by it’s aesthetics, you will understand the intention.
The door opened to a young man, Edwin Tan, Bravo Company’s founder and art director who had won numerous international awards and whose works has been featured in many design books and magazines. When he worked in Asylum, he conceptualized Frolick, Loof and The White Rabbit. To Edwin, graphic design is visual communications. if the visuals cannot communicate, it’s just graphics.
Stepping into his studio, it was spacious and very white. Delphic played in their stereo and that the air-con was a refreshing welcome from the heat outside. He sat us down in the meeting room beside the office.
AND THE GRID
“The first time my lecturer taught me about grids, it was an eyeopener”
Bravo Company is a rather young studio, tell more about it – what were the challenges you met when trying to start it up, what influences the studio and what are its design philosophies?
You made a big switch from Asylum, working with creative directors above you and now that you are your own boss, would you consider the difference significant?
I used to work in Asylum, so I am quite influenced by my experience there. I feel that design shouldn’t just look nice – they can look ugly but the idea and concept behind it is most important. How we started was when my partner asked me out for coffee. She wanted to set up an ice cream shop and she wanted me to help her with the branding and stuff. We chatted and I told her it may not be lucrative. I shared that I wanted to start out but needed someone to help me the business side, so we started out from there.
Yes when you are in a company with a creative director, he has to like it. So it is very much catered to his direction. You don’t actually have much say about the direction of the design. Also it is slightly more tedious. Before presenting your 3 ideas to the client, you have to come up with 9 designs. Your creative director then chooses 3 out of those 9. It weakens your design because you have little time to concentrate on one. At first it was okay. You need to learn, but towards the end, I slowly felt that directions of my creative director and me were drifting apart. Therefore I decided to leave.
We used to be called uuonn but that didn’t mean anything. The name came out while I was designing the logo. Interesting because I wanted it that way – for the name not to mean anything so that it doesn’t give any preconceptions. After a few months into the business, we found that it was an obstacle because clients didn’t know how to pronounce our company name. We got so sick of it that we decided to change. The name Bravo Company was derived when we tried to branch out into web design and interior design etc. It sounds like a military unit but I liked the name because of the meaning of the word “Bravo”, which means good job. Sometimes, design companies have to have one kind of name but with Bravo Company, we can do anything and not be restricted to the design industry. We also didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously so now it has nothing to do with the military. We brand ourselves as the salesman on “Sellevision”. Silly hard sell. Which is also why we have very cheesy name cards.
Was asylum your first design stint with a company? Before Asylum I worked for Voice, which only did annual reports. There I did four annual reports for three months. I couldn’t take it. I resigned immediately when I found out that it was stated on my contract that I only needed to give a day’s notice.
So, let us in on what are you guys busy with at the moment? Currently, Bravo Company is involved with a lot of projects. We are doing an editorial design for a magazine. We are doing a relaunch for Orita Sinclar School of Design, New media & the Arts by designing their prospectus, doing their interior design and revamping their website. Another project is an identity for a TV show pitch. It’s something like Glee but set in a kitchen. A local firm filmed the pilot so they need to sell the show to make it a full series. Then there are the corporate stuff, like a marketing kit for yahoo. That is quite fun conceptualizing but the execution is a drag. It’s a 200-page book of statistics...
What are your inspirations that you refer to? I like Michael C Place. There is a lot of attention to details in his work. It’s quite techno-techno, like small labels... Then, the agency we like is kastlescrayon from the Netherlands. Their work always has a sense of humor even for serious jobs like banks, they can convince the client to make it funny la. This is this difficult to do in Singapore. Some clients take themselves too seriously. I also refer to Behance.net for inspiration. That website is a good source of inspiration. It is also a site where we put our portfolio. My inspiration are net based because books are slower than the net. When a design company finishes their work, they put onto the web faster than books. Also, books are getting expensive.
THE BRAVO BRAVADO
Bravo Company’s humble studio
Now that you are an established designer, what would you say to your younger self ?
How did your first encounter with grids go? Does it restrict you? Was it troublesome?
I would have started out on my own sooner.
Actually it made my design better. The thing about grid is that although they are invisible, a very plain design can somehow look very nice if you follow the grid carefully. This is because I think we humans are drawn to patterns. The first time my lecturer taught me about grid it was an eye opener. First we were made to just layout the grid then put in the elements, once you remove the grid, it looks nice. Like magic. (Laughs) Last time I used to be very anal about grids to the millimeter. Up to 3 to 4 decimal point. I guess that’s why I like Michael C. Place - he is very detailed.
What is the most difficult thing when you start out your own firm? Is it looking for clients? The client stream is okay as we get a lot of referrals when we work. At first it is really the money - cash flow. That was tough in the first year, but it is the same for every company, where bosses don’t get proper salary in the starting years. They will just draw small amounts of money whenever they need. Now we have problems looking for talents. There are very few good designers. That is the toughest.
I’m sure you visit grad shows. It is hard to match the standard expected. The standard is falling, especially for polytechnics. Now, Temasek Polytechnic is getting worse and Singapore Polytechnic is getting better and better. LaSalle is getting better too. I used to be from LaSalle.
In which medium do you feel is type most neglected? Websites. It can be a lot better. In the past, there are only a few fixed typefaces but now with HTML 5 you can use any font you want so things are getting better.
Which typeface you overdose on? Helvetica? (Everyone laughs. )
Have you seen the ADM grad show? Ya. Last year I went. There is a difference between a diploma show and a degree show. Degree shows tend to be very theory driven. A degree is like that la. The show is a bit hard to really shop for designers. The works are often more art than design.
The commercial world uses sex to sell almost everything? will you use it? Erm. I agree that sex sells. I don’t however feel that design needs sex. What design need is more ideas. Design needs humour. The world is too serious.
How would you change the art school curriculum? Have you done any work that you consider very sensual? I feel there is a problem now of how they get students. There used to be interviews but they have now scrapped it. Most students get into art schools purely by results. Many have not even done art in schools. I feel design aesthetics can’t really be taught. It’s a flair. You either have it or don’t. You can study for years but somehow you tend to choose the wrong fonts and wrong colour and spacing all wrong. All these are natural and can’t be learnt.
Yea. Frolick, when I was at Asylum. The buttons slant towards the sexual. Sex worked because we decided that this brand shouldn’t just sell yogurt. We came up with the theme ‘politically incorrect’. Naturally, we associated it with sex. For Frolick, the young girls they hire are also part of their success. But overall, sex is not very important in design.
“Design needs humour. The world is too serious.”
AND THE GRID
I notice there is a trend for designers to widen their scope from print to things like interior design or interactive media design? Why is this so? Because what we do is branding, branding needs all these things. When we brand, the website down to the interior has to have the same tone. There is a need to have control over all these things to brand something. Expanding the disciplines really depends on the company who wants to do so. For us we do. At the moment, Bravo Company is my partner, one perm staff, one freelance designer and I. We are trying to expand the team now since my partner and I are both busy running the company and meeting clients, thus we hardly have anymore time to do any designing.
“Experience is most important”
At first we were thinking of getting an interactive designer, or someone who can design websites and know programming. But it is not easy to find good talents. I only know two or three in the industry. After a while, we dropped the idea of getting someone out there. Nowadays, whenever there is the web assignment, we just design the graphics and pass it to programmers to make it happen, which is faster.
Finally, give us some tips for aspiring designers. Start up early? Slow, not early. Starting up on your own requires a lot of work experience. Experience is most important. Another thing is find a good company to work for. nowadays I notice, I experience a lot of young designers keep hopping jobs. You can not do much when you only work for a few months at a firm. You need at least a year or two before you start churning out something good. If you are in the company for only 3 to 6 months, the bosses will not give you good projects to do. So the important thing is to really find a good company that can nurture you and from there work for at least 3-4 years to strengthen your portfolio before you can start exploring other options - maybe you want to try something else, or start up your own. Locally, there are only a few good design houses. Try to get into those as a start. That said, there are more and more up and coming ones. The design field is actually looking very good.
So you tend to stick to the grid? For books especially as when there is a lot of text, I will use the grid. However, for other things, we tend not to follow the grid. For name cards, we use a bit of the grid; just make sure the border is correct.
Do clients cramp a designer’s creativity? I believe that every project should be a collaboration (between the client and designer) because designers don’t do business and the business doesn’t do design, so need to work closely together. A client engages a designer because he needs help so the designer job is to assist him. During the process, the designer should then try to push boundaries. However, it will be wrong if the designer’s objective was just to push design. If in process of pushing the design, the concept of the product gets lost, then it is bad design. If a designer needs to explain the design concept then it means that the design is not working.
TO SEE MORE, VISIT WWW.BRAVO-COMPANY.INFO. THEY CAN ALSO BE FOUND ON BEHANCE.NET, FACEBOOK AND TWITTER!
THE BRAVO BRAVADO
THE DESIGNER AND THE GRID