Steph Harrison-Baker - BA Graphic Branding & Identity
I’m a Graphic Branding and Identity student currently working as a designer at Jellyfish, a global digital marketing agency which connects people and brands through multiple different digital platforms.
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, no matter where you are located in the world, you will have experienced a lockdown at some point in the last 18 months. It is hard to imagine the world without a set of rules for almost anything now but there once was! As much negativity and disruption, the Pandemic has brought in our lives, there are many positives which have been brought about by it. One of the positives of the Pandemic has been our ability to adapt. More than ever, technology now plays a significant role in our everyday life. In times when we were unable to visit museums, fashion shows and exhibitions, they were brought to us virtually. New ways of working, travelling and socialising are now the ‘new normal’. Will we ever go back to the old ways? The London Fashion Week is an example of how such a prestigious event adapted to the situation for the better. The LFW is one of the most iconic fashion shows in the world and as a result of restrictions in the UK, it was broadcasted virtually for the first time in history. This was the first time a fashion show had ever been made into a digital event especially at this scale. This year “anyone could grab a front-row seat straight from their device’ (Lalonde, 2021). This fashion show pushed boundaries in all ways possible using technology but also in many other ways too as it combined both womenswear and menswear into one show whereas previously these had been separate shows. Is this anti design or is it just breaking the ordinary and developing new ideas?
When relating the idea of ‘anti design’ back to my design pathway of branding whilst continuing to look within the fashion industry, it is hard not to notice similarities and trends in fashion houses logos. In the article “The Rise of the Anti-Brand” the author, Mandana identities that many of the top fashion houses have undergone rebrands recently whereby many of the top fashion brands now have very similar logos. For a long period of time a logo was the heart of a brand, it allowed people to differentiate brands, allowed customers to gain an insight into the heritage of the brand and to gain a sense of the brands values and tone. However, in recent years brands have “emerged from their re-design with a minimal, black on white, sans-serif (Helvetica, is that you?) – not really) logo, losing all distinctive qualities that their previous brand identities may have had” (Mandana, 2019). As a result, brands wordmarks are becoming more visually aligned allowing for customers to shape the brand through their interactions with the brand. Some could argue that this is removing the design from the brand however I believe that this is just a trend which these companies are currently following as it is fashionable.
Anti-design is a movement which emerged in Italy in the 1960s where designers rebelled against the status quo of the more traditional modernist designs and broke the rules to create unique and less traditional things. An example of this which Charles Moffat explains in the article ‘Anti-design’ is the Panton chair designed by Vernor Panton in 1963. This piece of furniture is deemed to be the hero image for anti-design as the aesthetics of the chair had never been seen before. The unique S Shape of the chairs breaks all stereotypical designs of what a chair should look like. But why should a chair have a set aesthetic?
My primary role as a designer at Jellyfish is App Store Optimisation where I optimise companies’ creative assets on both the iOS and Android App Stores. There are set specifications I have to adhere to when designing these creatives such as size requirements for them to be approved by Apple and Google. However outside of those ‘rules’ I have the creative freedom to design the creatives. I would say that this to me allows me to have creative freedom, especially in the brainstorming stage of the process. Is this ‘anti-design’ or is this the natural role of a designer to create new engaging ideas
Overall, I don’t believe that there is a difference between ‘anti-design’ and ‘design’ as they are the same thing. To me, design should allow for creative freedom. I believe that design is creative, and you should be allowed to create whatever you want. From an early age, I was always told that when it came to art there was no right or wrong. You are the designer and you have the freedom to make the design as unique as you want or to follow the latest trends. There will always be trends, whether you work in fashion, marketing or branding but the only way new trends are formed are by someone breaking the current trend. This isn’t anti-design this is called being creative and having your own ideas.
Lalonde (2021) Highlights from London’s first digital-only fashion week https://www.deptagency.com/en-gb/insight/highlights-from-londons-first-digital-only-fashion-week/
Mandana (2019) The Rise of the Anti-Brand? https://medium.com/@sleeplessinldn/the-rise-of-the-anti-brand-bb154c8caf2c
Moffat (2011) Anti Design http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/antidesign/