Critical Talking

by Steve Watson in August 2011
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Last autumn I stumbled across the oasis of olden days print that is the St Bride Library on Fleet Street. I spent a lovely afternoon amongst their presses and type, so I jumped at the chance to be part of their annual conference this November.

It’s being co-curated by the Friends of St Bride and John L Walters, editor of Eye magazine, and the theme is Critical Tensions. I’ll let them explain the concept in full:

Tension is frequently described as a positive in design, with designers balancing opposing constraints and visual ideas in often ‘perfect tension’. Design work balances a whole series of tensions: analogue–digital; male–female; Twitter–Facebook; art–design; East–West; old–young; interns–employees; global–local; micro–macro; educated–‘feral’; in-house–independent; degree course–short course/apprenticeship; designer–client.

In these uncertain times of economic and educational cutbacks, what of the old adage that from adversity comes creativity? In the aftermath of WWII, the exhibition ‘Britain can make it’ celebrated the potential of design as a tool for national recovery. The political struggles of the 1960s fuelled the portfolios of a generation of our most celebrated graphic designers. So where are seeds of creativity emerging from current struggles? What are the key points of tension today and what possibilities for designerly making and thinking are opening up as a result? Is tension vital to the design process itself?

It sounds like it’s going to be genuinely wide-ranging, and there are some really good people lined up to speak. The event is going to run from 10-11 November (I’ll be speaking on the Friday afternoon about independent publishing) so if you can manage a couple of days out of the office, check out the event page and come along.

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