News, writing and awards

Go to page:   1 2 3

Local industry Out Of Joint vinyl record store

We visited the vinyl record store called Out Of Joint this week, that we noticed about a month ago. We said to man behind the counter ‘how long have you been here for?, we noticed you about a month ago and have been meaning to stop by’ he replied ‘4 years…’.

Photo of the front of the shop, showing glass window and records inside, with the counter at the back

Not totally intentionally we bought:

  • Atmospherica Vol. 2 LP by Deepchord. (New release. Genre: dub techno.)
  • Untitled LP by Konrad Wehrmeister. (New release. Genre: leftfield techno.)
  • Picnic Attack LP by I:Cube. (2nd-hand. Genre: house, future jazz.)

They use a custom labelling system on all vinyls, put on the top left of a vinyl that we have not seen used anywhere else, it is a nice feature and gives users a 2nd option for being able to scan through the information on vinlys, as apposed to having to locate information on the front or back of a vinyl’s artwork. It is a really nice touch.

Photo from the back of the store showing the crates with the vinyls in, then the front window in the background

We find it amazing how vinyls are still being cherished and are actually flourishing. It is still the most ideal music format in certain genres of music, and is not a fashion statement but used for maximum functionality. The sound from vinyl is super rich and warm, giving unbeaten sound quality not found digitally. There are some amazing things being done with vinyls, for instance, coloured marbled vinyl or even transparent vinyl, not to mention the highly niche and expert area around mastering digital music (usually a WAV) onto vinyl. There used to be a few other vinyl shops in Leicester around the year 2000, but with the increase of MP3 releases and the mainstream start of the internet, it affected vinyl production a lot.

A vinyl DJ deck, shows the metal arms, then a red vinyl on the deck spinning round

Another great aspect of vinyl that needs to be continually supported, is the amount of effort that goes into making and producing them, and also who, where and what countries they are being made. Vinyl pressing plants are increasingly not surviving, and when they go, a lot is lost, much more than the value of their machinery and loss in profit. Vinyls are made by people and are not so much of a technological electronic binary duplication. The positives and negatives of different mediums! Is the new really better than the past?

Read more about the store in a review from Inverted Audio. Photographs © Inverted Audio. October 2022.

The words ‘Out Of Joint’ in a half circle above, then thin black outline circle repeated and getting smaller like grooves on a vinyl, with a triangle going into the centre from the bottom

Local industry Fred Perry polo t-shirts made in Leicester, U.K.

In these summery Covid-19 aftermath times, it is time for some new polo t-shirts and investing just a bit of time and research, we found a solution just outside Leicester city centre, just a few miles away. We have bought an M3 Black/Champagne polo t-shirt. Here are the very impressive unique features:

  • Proudly made and hand-finished by people in Leicester.
  • Uses recycled tipping and sewing threads.
  • Uses buttons made from recycled materials.
  • Responsibly-sourced laurel wreath embroidery.
  • Responsibly-grown cotton through the Better Cotton Initiative.
  • Much smaller carbon footprint than imported polo t-shirts.

M3 black/champagne polo t-shirt and then inside the Piqué factory Leicester.

Front photo of the black polo t-shirt, shows the Fred Perry logo on the right chest area
Photograph of the inside of the factory, shows large green textile machines, with white and blue thread rolls in poles, and also other textile machinery. Shows a skylight in the roof

The Piqué factory Leicester (the dark graphite rectangle building with the 3 yellow square outline windows, in the middle), the pieces then go next door to garment makers ESP (the triangular-roofed building to the right), where traditional British machinery combines with state-of-the-art cutting technology.

Aerial photograph out the factory and surrounding area, shows the top of many terraced house and other buildings, then the skyline at the far top

Read more about the Fred Perry Made in England range and their community initiatives. It is going to be interesting to see how it wears and possibly fades (durability) over the years. Our aim is to support the local community in these chaotic and faulty times… Photographs © Fred Perry. August 2022.

Fred Perry logo showing a black leaf crest in the shape of a capital ‘U’ letter

Showcase Shutter Hub Exhibition: Yearbook 2022 Competition

Shutter Hub is a photography organisation providing opportunities and support for creative photographers worldwide. Our photograph Tavistock Drive, Leicester (Leicester City Centre, United Kingdom From Far Away) has been published in their online Exhibition: Yearbook 2022 from 1600 entries across the world, and was in the 300 selected photographs. 100 images will then be selected and an announcement will be made later this summer, about who will be published in the printed publication.

The photograph can be bought from Alamy here and see also our main Alamy portfolio. July 2022.

Shutter Hub logo, has a black rectangle background, then 2 cut-in-half white circles on the left, then the word ‘SHUTTER’ on 1 line, and ‘HUB’ below

Writing Measuring the Performance of Typefaces for Users paper

The difficult and complex area of testing typefaces in our paper Measuring the Performance of Typefaces for Users (Part 1) and Measuring the Performance of Typefaces for Users (Part 2) but ‘I think we are there’.

The paper was wrote in about 3 days (quick to write) although Alma Hoffmann (Smashing Magazine editor) pushed us much more, and the paper went through 3 rewrites and 3 reedits (slow to publish) but certainly benefited. Thanks again to Alma Hoffmann and Natalia Lassance.

‘Well, whatever your thoughts are, in 2022, with a mass of typefaces available and 100s of years of designing and manufacturing typefaces, it is time to consider this topic. I think the time has come, and we are there’.

We hope you find the paper useful. Some editorial style errors remain, but we tried our best with them. June 2022.

Illustration showing a row of large lowercase letter a’s in the many different versions of the Garamond typeface, then the name of each version in a diagonal red line below Smashing Magazine logo, a red rectangle box, on the left in a small white diaginal box is a white letter 's', then to the right on the 1st line is 'Smashing Magazine' and below that 'Magazine' both in white capital letters

Local industry Shoes designed in Leicester U.K. and made in Northamptonshire U.K. and Italy

Due to the recent worldwide events between 2020–2021 (Covid-19), it has given us time in the office to consider what we have been doing, well doing with ease and not really thinking about… We have bought 2 pairs of shoes, but these are not any-old-shoes like you find in local highstreet mass-market shops though.

The 1st pair are Leicester Tigers Icon (Espresso) smart leather shoes, designed in Leicester U.K., then crafted and manufactured by hand and people in Northamptonshire U.K. The yellow leather lining inside the shoe is really soft and feels like a luxurious leather glove. The rubber soles are made from recycled material, the carbon footprint is much smaller than shoes imported from outside the U.K., and we are supporting a local business in a very competitive industry.

The Espresso shoes, photographed side-on diagonally. Shows brown leather shoes with yellow in-lining and grey/dark green soles

The 2nd pair are Pace Bi-Colour (Off White/Black) and are not even on sale to the public yet, which are more of a trainer, and less of a formal shoe. Once again designed in Leicester U.K. and then handcrafted by people and manufactured in Italy, using Italian materials with rubber soles that use recycled material.

The Pace shoes, photographed side-on diagonally. Shows trainer-like shoes, black leather and then white soles

Leicester used to be well-known for its shoe manufacturing and shoe factories, a notable example was British United Shoe Machinery (BUSM) Ltd in the 1960s, it was Leicester’s biggest employer, employing more than 4500 people locally and 9500 people worldwide. All that changed because U.K. companies decided to outsource work and manufacturing to Asia, to take advantage of cost cutting and cheaper labour to maximise profits. ‘The raw shoe materials and machines (engineering) that made the shoes, were also cheaper in low-wage economies’ as BU History Group was telling us. This strategy affected and destroyed not just the shoe industry but many other U.K. industries like typesetting, printing, textiles, and electronics over the years and decades, and is still very much utilised today… although you are probably not even aware of it. It was a bad idea then and it still is, we have been conned out of our country’s soul, and now we have next to nothing to regenerate or rebuild with.

British United Shoe Machinery Company (BUSM) Ltd on Belgrave Road, Leicester, U.K. Photograph dated 1984 from Nigel Tout (CC BY-SA 4.0, changes made).

Old greyscale photograph showing the British United Shoe Machinery Company 5 storey building side-on diagonally, on Belgrave Road, Leicester. Shows the large factory building in the background, then the road in front with vans and a car driving bye

The Covid-19 lockdowns have made us think that maybe we need to try to look closer to home for the things we need, even if it requires a bit more effort and money, in order to support the local community and local businesses, because if things are not working well around you, they could get a lot worse or finish altogether… then what? Are you aware of what goes on behind the seams of the products you buy? If you read the labels inside your clothes, or the colophon in books, or the packaging of products, pretty much everything is made in Asia, disappointing but true. This is the extra we are doing, to support our local community and industries in these challenging times.

For more information visit the Marcus De website, shoes are available until stocks run-out. June 2022.

The text ‘MARCUS’ on the top line, then ‘DE’ on the bottom line in large yellow capital letters, with ‘England’ below in a script font

Recycling Old Mac Pro

As part of our concern for the environment and the future, we have recycled our old Mac Pro (Early 2009) back to Apple using their Apple Recycling Programme. May 2022.

The Apple logo on the left (a black shape of an apple with a bit bitten out of it) on the right side, then a green heart drawing to the right, then a green drawing of the world

Competition A new pictogram for disability and accessibility..?

We have submitted a pictogram design into the International Accessibility Symbol Design Competition 2022 organised by The International Union of Architects (UIA) and Rehabilitation International (RI). They invited submissions for a 21st century symbol of accessibility to represent their core values of rights and inclusion, equity and independence, diversity, physical and virtual accessibility for all, including people with disabilities. The person in a wheelchair is a somewhat aged and old-fashioned view of people with disabilities, not great hey? We think we have a very good solution, and have user testing data, but will have to see… We wonder if Otl Aicher would agree? We would like to say thanks to the people and organisations that took part in user testing. We could not have done this project without you, and user testing was an absolute competition entry requirement. Winners are announced on the 18th April 2022. There is a financial prize, but also if successful, the design will be adopted by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and used internationally, like in airports and on official signs. If you are in need of a new pictogram to represent people with disabilities, and of issues of accessibility and inclusion, contact us we have what you need. More about this project will be announced after the 18th April 2022. March 2022.

After a delay of 3 weeks after the original winners annoucement date, our submission did not get an award. What would we say about the top-3 pictogram designs awarded? ‘not good’. Here are the winning entries. More about our work on this project can be seen on our Information Design webpage. May 2022.

The blue disabled pictogram sign on the left with a person sitting in a wheelchair. Then a right pointing arrow to the right. Then a blue square box, to the right of this, with the text 'What should the disabled pictogram sign look like in 2022 and onwards, that reflects disability, inclusion, diversity, equity, independence, and physical and virtual accessibility? We have the answer.'

The International Union of Architects logo. The letters ‘uia’ in large bold grey lowercase sans serif letters. Then an arrow to the right that is red halfway at the top, then blue halfway at the bottom

Rehabilitation International logo. The letters ‘Ri’ in large blue italic letters, then behind them a world latitude and longitude graphic design.

International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) logo. The letters ‘ISO’ in large white capital letters. Then behind them a world latitude and longitude graphic design, all of this is in white on a red background

Writing Interview with Joanna Suau in the Information Design Journal, 26(2), 2021

The rise of APIs… We are delighted to announce An Interview With Joanna Suau From Infobip on the Design of Application Programming Interface (API) Documentation in the Information Design Journal, 26(2), 2021. March 2022.

Journal cover of Information Design Journal 26.2, 2021 shows a white cover side-on, with a yellow gridded graphic with green pie charts above, and the text 'idj' in large white bold letters at the top

Goodies 2 new typefaces and Typotheque’s new typeface specimen book

Well we were going to mention we have 2 new typefaces in the office: Arnhem Greek and Fedra Serif B, but were not going to mention it, but we now have reason to do so. Arnhem Greek by Type By is a good typeface for books and documents of many kinds, designed by Fred Smeijers from Belgium, then Fedra Serif B by Peter Biľak founder of Typotheque, is especially good for academic journals, and features an extensive character and symbol support, even for complex maths.

So to the reason of this news entry: indeed we did buy Fedra Serif B, however I got an SMS to say that something was coming in the post from Typotheque in The Netherlands, even though we did not order anything to come in the post, what could it be? A few days later Here: A World Poem, Typotheque’s latest typeface specimen book arrived, and we were more than delighted. It features 560 pages of typeface samples, specimens, essays, poems and much more. The cover is especially nice and the large text ‘HERE’ in capitals, is printed in a multi-coloured foiled ink or something?, which ripples and catches the light. The binding is especially nice and precise. The book feels like 1 of the old Edition Suhrkamp Verlag books made and printed in the 1960s from Germany. Print has qualities that electronic information does not have. There are pros and cons to both printed and electronic communications… Although we still love print, even more so now because of the amount of digital pollution that is out there, and the majority of website users only use a webpage for a matter seconds, whereas a printed book is typically used for much longer lengths of time. Thanks again Typotheque, they are doing some amazing stuff in typeface design, utilising technology and language coverage not easily found elsewhere. We really like the Manu Informal typeface from them, which is basically a handwritten typeface that not only supports Greek but has small capitals, very hard to find. Bedankt (‘thank you’ in Dutch). February 2022.

Photograph from the top side-on of the front cover, shows blue cover with the word ‘HERE’ in large thin capital letters on the front A6 landscape compliments slip on light cream paper, with handwriting in blue ink which says ‘Hi Thomas, thank you very much for your order. I’m sending you our complete type catalogue. Do let me know when you would like to test any new fonts. Peter’

Work showcase New photographs from our 2 documentary projects

We have made available 155 photographs, mainly from our back‑catalogue from the Leicester City Centre, United Kingdom From Far Away, 2020 Onwards, and the New Walk, Leicester, United Kingdom 2020 Onwards documentary projects, covering all 4 seasons (spring, summer, autumn and winter). They are all available to buy direct from those 2 links on Alamy. February 2022.

Photograph of daffodils close-up with green grass behind, then The Belmont Hotel Leicester in the background, and other high office buildings and trees in the background

Writing Interview with Paul Jerome in the Information Design Journal, 26(1), 2021

We are delighted to announce that our interview An Interview With Paul Jerome From Kent County Council on Easy Read has been published in the Information Design Journal, 26(1), 2021.

Easy read is essentially information designed for people with learning difficulties, which is typically made larger in size and more blatant than typical information is, as well as making the text content easy-to-understand.

The Information Design Journal features world-class exclusive content found nowhere else, and is available in printed and electronic formats, published 3 times per year.

Thanks to Paul, Patricia and Francisco. August 2021.

Journal cover of Information Design Journal 26.1, 2021 shows a white cover side-on, with a colour photograph of a health card, and the text 'idj' in large white bold letters at the top

Work showcase Photographs of New Walk, Leicester, United Kingdom 2020 Onwards project

You can view a short press release and information about this project on our Medium web area. You can view all the photos in this documentary project on our album on Alamy, or view our main Alamy portfolio. July 2021.

2 circle photographs above and 2 circle photographs below, of New Walk Leicester showing various city and lanscape shots, showing people and places

Work showcase Photographs of Leicester City Centre, United Kingdom From Far Away, 2020 Onwards project

You can view a short press release and information about this project on our Medium web area. This project features unique, unusual and hard-to-photograph views of Leicester, we do hope you enjoy them. You can view all the photos in this documentary project on our album on Alamy, or view our main Alamy portfolio. July 2021.

2 circle photographs above and 2 circle photographs below, Leicester city centre showing various city and landscape shots, showing people and places

Work showcase Slanted Magazine #36 — COEXIST

Our Ban Public Smoking (Factories) environmental poster (which you can see on our Graphic Design webpage) has been showcased in Slanted Magazine #36 – COEXIST, on page 269.

COEXIST: to live or exist together, in peace, at the same time, or in the same place. The 1st time in our lives the world is changing fundamentally. We need to rethink what all this is about. Higher, faster, and further at the expense of others cannot point the way to the future. We need to question ourselves, how we want to coexist, show consideration, and take a step back. The book questions topics such as climate change, political power, human rights, freedom of speech, wars, and many other global issues. November 2020.

Photograph of the front cover from a side-on view, showing large black only curvy illustrations of people

The word 'Slanted' in white capital letters on a rectangle background with the corners cut-off

Go to page:   1 2 3