Friday, 24 February 2012

Lost in navigation

I had the great pleasure last night to attend a talk by Tristan Gooley, (explorer, writer and navigator) on the subject of 'natural navigation'. This was the first event organised by the new SEGD, (Society for Environmental Graphic Designers) branch for Edinburgh, chaired by my friend Lucy and sponsored by Napier University who provided the wonderful 'Egg' lecture theatre as venue.

And what better subject to kick-start the series of talks, than taking us back to the very roots of wayfinding, literally in some instances, and to the navigational techniques that our ancestors used for millennia but are sadly now a dying art across all cultures. In our increasingly satellite guided GPS world, he took us back to nature and showed how to interpret the wealth of information around us in the landscape.

Tristan Gooley is on a one man mission to keep these skills alive, though I think he may have gained some willing new disciples from within the auditorium. He unpretentiously introduced the simple art of looking. The clever bit is then translating what we see into navigational clues that can accrue into practical directional knowledge. Using a crescent moon to find south, what asymmetry in the countryside is saying and what the timing and flight paths of certain seabirds can tell us on the open sea regarding land. This was fascinating, inspiring stuff and will I'm sure feed intuitively into the design of future wayfinding projects.

Gooley has a couple of books out, both now on my reading list, The Natural Navigator and The Natural Explorer. Now I know what I'm looking for, a walk in the country will never be the same again - especially for the kids as I casually introduce my new found expertise.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Let sleeping blogs lie - not anymore!

Well it's been a while - I admit it - but the return heralds news of a couple of new identities for the local market and a branding presentation to a Scottish Enterprise networking event. This latter occasion gave me a valuable snapshot into the entrepreneurial ambitions of a cross-section of young businesses and a useful insight into the very mixed levels of brand appreciation and investment expectations of start-ups. A good experience and a friendly bunch of people - I wish them luck in their ventures and hope they consider my words of branding wisdom as they pursue their business dreams.

As a proud holder of a DBA Design Effectiveness Award, it still strikes me as a great shame that design seems increasingly reduced to a commodity in a race to find the cheapest supplier and where true originality, ideas and quality have been left by the wayside. Great design should not become the preserve of the Apples and matching megabrands of this world but be a demand of every creative brief issued. It must however, be justly rewarded when delivered.

Almost sounded grumpy then. To lighten things up a little, here's the new North Berwick Kayak Club identity, soon to be appearing on the rash vests and vessels of East Lothian's paddling finest.