running words around
design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

Creative Exchange

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Back in May of 2013, a new commercial workspace for creatives in Edinburgh called 'Creative Exchange', had its launch night. The event attracted a big crowd of artists, designers, entrepreneurs and educators from the creative industries community, all keen to celebrate the opening of a much-needed, state-of-the-art, affordable business incubator for collaboration and innovation.

CX is actually a joint venture between Creative Edinburgh, the Cultural Enterprise Office, Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh College, and provides workspace for up to 80 individuals, groups and businesses. As well as ultra-fast 4G broadband and an on-site gallery with an exciting programme of exhibitions, CX is housed in a superb Victorian ex-Corn Exchange building (formerly the head office of the now-defunct creative agency Navyblue).

In the run-up top the May launch, the Visual Communication team at Edinburgh College was given the opportunity to be the first educational course to use the space. We hosted a 'one week' project, and exhibited design work at the official launch, alongside our colleagues in the BA Photography course. We also negotiated a dedicated space in CX, which includes a suite of Macbooks on hire for students to work in a self-directed capacity. CX is also very convenient to bring external clients, industry collaborations and visiting educators to, because it's located in the heart of Leith, where many of Scotland's leading advertising, marketing and digital businesses are based.

Our upcoming projects at CX include an Interactive Design show (March 7th), a Graduate Review night (April 30th), where a group of design mentors, former graduates and final year students will get together to present and share current and past work, and our end-of-year show on May 29th, a one-night only event (which last year won a commendation for Best Educational event at the Scottish Event Awards).

CX has quickly established itself and is now home to a number of creative companies and freelancers, and it's definitely worth checking out of you are an SMS, a start-up, or a freelancer. The CX website at www.creativeexchangeleith.com has a comprehensive pricing guide as well as some excellent visuals of the space. And if you are curious about the CX logo and branding, it was designed by Jon Walton, a Designer at Interesting!, whilst he was completing his HND in Graphic Design at Edinburgh College.

Neon Type and Salvaged Signs

Sunday, 9 February 2014

One of the first places we took our design students on the Berlin visit was the Buchstabenmuseum, a permanent exhibition of salvaged neon signage and type from the former East Berlin. The museum, the brainchild of Creative Director Barbara Dechant and CEO Anja Schulze, is housed in an old East Berlin department store covering some 350sq m.

The collection features station names, business signs and letters, neon shopfront lettering, and an array of super-sized chrome letters and landmark signage. Some of the lettering is wired up to switches and can be toggled on and off, or from one letter to another. Fonts like Avant Garde, Helvetica and Gill Sans dominate the selections, although there is some great vintage Germanic lettering and script signage from nightclubs and cafes. I wasn't sure at first whether this fascinating experiment was mere novelty or a serious endeavour. turns out its a bit of both, and a brilliant idea that is well worth the visit.

Museum Details:
Holzmarktstra├če 66
10179 Berlin-Mitte

Luftbobler @ Transmediale/CTM

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Last week I was in Berlin on our annual study trip - three tutors and 30 students - ostensibly to attend the 25th Transmediale Festival.

Berlin has so much to see in terms of design and the creative arts, and we managed to cram in visits to The Berlinische, the Bauhaus Archive, the Pergamon and Neues Museums, and Buchenstabmuseum. The Bauhaus Archive in particular was superb, and featured, much to my delight, an exhibition  called 'Werbegrafik 1928-1938' by renowned graphic designer Herbert Bayer.

A personal highlight however was an evening's entertainment at Transmediale, in partnership with Berlin’s annual contemporary and electronic art and music festival CTM, as Dinos Chapman gave a performance of 'LuftBobler' to a packed audience in the HKM auditorium.

The CTM festival theme of ‘Dis Continuity’ was aimed at exploring the connections between past and present musical movements in the context of  DIY pop culture and academic research, and featured over 150 performances, concerts and installations, split across the city’s iconic industrial arts venues including Berghain, Stattbad and Kunsthraum Bethanien.

Myself and fellow tutor Richard Bisset went along to see if Chapman could live up to his growing reputation as a musician and techno producer.  Chapman duly delivered, with a superb 90-minute live set, augmented by a series of spooky custom-directed films, featuring (one assumes) the artist himself dressed in a white rabbit suit, exploring urban and rural landscapes, via a mixture of overlays, collage and digital colour effects.

Chapman began making experimental electronic music re-creationally a decade or so ago, and his music is apparently inspired by 'insomnia, horror movies, and boredom'.  Which is a very good mix, and might explain why Chapman was recently described by The Wire as 'a sort of David Lynch of the dancefloor.'

The actual music reminded me a lot of early Aphex Twin (circa Selected Ambient Works 85-92), with a mixture of spaced out trance percussion, cacophonic noise and intermittent melody.  In that sense it didn't seem particularly ground-breaking, but it it did manage to feel energetic and, more importantly for a major visual artist moving into a new medium, relevant. Get a flavour of the work with this video: