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A far-off land for people with illness

Nominated in the Publication category of the Scottish Design Awards,  ‘a far-off land’ by Alec Finlay for Macmillan Cancer Support explores the memory of landscapes as a fond illness-companion.

A far-off land is a book of photography by Hannah Devereux poems by Alec Finlay exploring place-names and their meanings – commissioned for the new Macmillan Cancer Support Day Unit in Arbroath.

The photography remembers childhood illness, where bedding becomes an imaginative landscape – with scenes suggestive of the glens of Angus.

The book is based on the thought that the memory of the landscape remains fond and healing, even when it cannot easily be accessed, whether through illness or people coming to the end of life.


To find out more about the award-winning work we do at StudioLR, please get in touch.

TEDx Glasgow 2018

[2 minute read]

At the Nods Awards, we’d just won the Grand Prix when Dave’s name popped on screen. The lucky blighter had also won the raffle: two tickets to TEDx. A day of inspiring talks and demo labs in Glasgow.

So last Friday we set off together on a sun-filled early train, full of anticipation.

At the door of the Armadillo we were met with huge smiles and welcoming waves; handed our ‘Ideas Worth Doing’ notepads; and entertained by a jazz trio playing Stevie Wonder. This was a good start. Not like any other conference (or even ‘unconference’) we’d been to before.

We jostled amongst the 2,000 attendees for a free seat in the main auditorium, ears and eyes open and ready for 9 hours of stimulation.

First up on stage was Van Ives – not a speaker, a band. Two guys playing an engrossing fusion of electronica, R&B and folk. It felt like we were in the TED trance, under the spell already at 9am.

The rest of the day developed into an intensive blur (is that possible?) of inspiration, agitation, thought provocation, humour and arrest. From astrophysics to gluten free baking, robotics to tax avoidance, the perils of fame to the power of hope.

Standout (stand ups) for us were Darren McGarvey, Karen Dunbar, Adam Kashmiry, and Shona McCarthy. Here are three wee thoughts that have stuck with us over the week…

1. Expertise is nothing without the input of non-experts.
Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England, recalled sharing the good news with the world that the UK’s economy was growing again. The people hadn’t noticed. It turned out the only upturn in the entire UK was in London and the South East. If the economy is to benefit the public, a percentage on a spreadsheet isn’t a good enough measure of success. He was talking about ‘harnessing people’s lived experiences’ and we couldn’t help noticing he was sounding more like a good designer than an economist. A great approach!

2. Base change on truth. Brutal, honest truth.
Jean MacAskill Kerr, Leadership and Team Intelligence Consultant at Cisco, talked about how often we change the wrong things because we haven’t dug deep enough and had the awkward, honest conversations. It’s hard to open up and be brutally honest (especially at work) but if you base change on truth you can’t go wrong.

3. Heartstorming not brainstorming. Lifelines not deadlines.
Miha Pogacnik, violinist, leadership speaker and huge ball of energy, put a great spin on the idea of ‘business supporting the arts’. He argued that the arts are now supporting business more. Businesses are getting into the emotion of communication, the purpose that drives their passion – the arts have been doing that for centuries. You can’t give less than 100% when you’re playing Beethoven.

It was a fantastic day, topped off with the news that Edinburgh has secured next year’s TEDGlobal event. See you there.

The brand experience at Terex Trucks gets the Big Nod (the grand prix)

“Creativity for an audience in a place where you wouldn’t normally expect to find creativity” – Mt RAINEY, chair

Last week, we were over the moon to be standing on the stage at the Nods Awards in Glasgow to be picking up two awards for the Terex Trucks brand experience.

Including:

  • Best Brand Experience
  • The Big Nod (grand prix)

Here’s Nic and Dave picking up the Big Nod (sponsored by Jura) from Muriel Gray:

About the winning work:

Nicola Laurie: Young Designer of the Year nominee

We’re very proud to announce that our youngest team member Nicola Laurie has been nominated for Young Designer of the Year in the The Drum’s Design Awards, entered globally.

A FEW Words about Nicola:

It’s easy to be fooled by her youthful appearance; StudioLR designer Nicola Laurie has the confidence and wisdom of a designer who’d far outweigh her in design-years.

In little over a year since joining us after graduation, Nicola (Nic) has gone from strength to strength. Her systematic approach brings complex ideas and source materials together in a clear and concise way – demonstrating a rare maturity. As a result, she was promoted from junior designer to designer in a very short time. She has been instrumental in a wide range StudioLR’s highest profile projects, including the branding of the D-Day Story, museum now open. Nic also played an important role in rebranding Investors in People Scotland to Remarkable. And the design of an identity and visitor experience of the new Playful Garden at Brodie Castle for the National Trust for Scotland.

Nic is already confidently taking the lead and managing projects. Most notably in developing the brand and packaging for a new premium drinks product. The client commented: “I can safely say I could not have asked for a better start to the branding journey. It is GENIUS”.

Nic was also our main designer on the global event launch of a new industrial vehicle for Volvo which took place in April. It was a resounding success with Volvo and their customers, her brave ideas and impressive brand understanding made this a Volvo event to remember.

To top it all off, Nic is a creative idea powerhouse in the studio she churns out diverse creative ideas with enviable ease. No doubt she is one to keep an eye on.

Up for a challenge

[2min read]

January is a good time to reflect on the year gone by.
Here are a few of our favourite challenges from 2017…

Taking a well-known brand, shaking it up and making it remarkable

Investors In People Scotland came to us as a well-known brand looking to breakout of the preconceptions that prevented them from reaching the clients they really wanted to reach. We helped develop a brand strategy that ultimately led them to take the brave decision to wipe the slate clean and rebrand as Remarkable. It wasn’t going to be easy. To get from concept to launch, collaboration was key – it took an ambitious client and a strong team of designers, strategists and marketeers working together to achieve this.

Attracting families to a visitor attraction that has a playful story to share

Changing the visitor demographic of an attraction is no light-hearted challenge. This is exactly what Brodie Castle is setting out to do with the introduction of the Playful Garden, which is expected to be a big hit with families when it opens in the Spring of 2018. We’re working with National Trust for Scotland to bring the unique stories of over 400 daffodil varieties into a bright visual identity that adds unbound playfulness to the Brodie experience.

Turning good design into design for good

We believe that good design can change the world. We’ve worked with a number of clients to use design as a way of rallying people to a cause, changing behaviour, or improving public services. In 2017 we received funding from the Life Changes Trust to re-design and evaluate everyday symbols for people living with dementia (The Life Changes Trust is funded by the Big Lottery Fund). It’s an ambitious project that aims to enable people with dementia to live an independent life for longer.

Read more at: #InclusiveSymbols

This year we’re aiming to spark something in people.
Why not send us your challenges for 2018?

Lucy appointed to the Education Design Council’s Expert Panel

In January 2018 Lucy was appointed by SBID (The Society of British and International Design) to the Education Design Council expert panel.

The Society of British and International Design is the UK-based standard bearer organisation for the accreditation of professional interior designers, product suppliers and educational institutions. 

The Education Design Council seeks to put effective design at the core of the learning process and show how evidence-based design decisions can transform the learning experience for everyone. The council consists of experts across the sector of the industry.

Inclusive symbols: end of year update

As we move to the end of the year our #InclusiveSymbols project is progressing quickly.

We’ve now completed three concept workshops reviewing around 15 everyday symbols, and we’ve started the exciting (and daunting) challenge of redesigning them to be clear and understood by people with dementia.

In a room of creatives, and members of our wider team, each symbol was discussed in detail for 10-15 mins. This included reviewing our scoping exercise to compare variations on each symbol, comments from the focus groups we held with people with dementia, and generating sketch concept ideas for a new version.

Workshop 1 (16th November) we reviewed:

  • Exit
  • Fire exit
  • Stairs
  • Elevator
  • Escalator

Workshop 2 (30th November) we reviewed:

  • Parking
  • Ticket purchase
  • Waiting room
  • Priority Seating
  • Toilet

Workshop 3 (12th December) we reviewed:

  • Information
  • Wheelchair access
  • ‘No’ symbol (i.e. no parking)
  • Hidden disability
  • Communication difficulty

What did we learn from the workshops?

His head looks like it’s falling off!

The detached head on the current ‘symbol man and woman’ is used consistently across all variations. It’s really odd, and potentially confusing for those with dementia.

 

It’s easy enough to design a toilet symbol as it has a physical form. How could we represent ‘giving information’?

Some symbols are easier to review than others. Symbols such as information or exit are challenging to distil into a simple visual idea. It is also interesting to consider the longevity of our interpretations (particularly for symbols impacted by digital technologies such as tickets).

 

Should we design this in 3D or 2D?

3D symbols are more readily understood but needs some consideration around clarity and simplicity. We need to be careful not to include too much detail in a 3D representation, further complicated by the introduction of a person to reinforce an action.

 

Blobby-humans or human-humans

Our 2D vs 3D conversation sparked some debate around the representation of people in symbology. Understanding that more detail often leads to more questions and literal interpretation from those living with dementia, our initials sketches show a person represented in a solid ‘blobby’ gender-neutral form, enhanced with more realistic body shapes and features.

 

Will using an arrow help make this symbol clearer?

The symbols are used to trigger an action and to help with wayfinding. We discussed including arrows within the symbol (i.e. arrow for exiting a door) but decided this could be confusing for literal interpretations. An arrow within a symbol supported by a directional arrow on the same sign could really confuse people!

 

P is for parking

We’re interested to find that the blue P represents parking internationally, regardless of each country’s alphabet or language. We’re recognising how valuable the review of language and the words we use will be to supporting each of the symbols.

 

Communication difficulty

After lengthy discussion we agreed that this symbol is too challenging to design without the benefit of feedback from the focus group on current versions (this symbol came into play recently and so it wasn’t included in the research project). We decided not to attempt a redesign of this one as part of this project but perhaps in the future, if we were armed with relevant research.


What’s next?

Moving in 2018, we’ll be completing the first concept design options of the new symbols in January. These will then be evaluated by living with dementia people from across the UK, facilitated by our research partner in February.

Sleep in the Park: our thoughts after thawing out

[5 minute read]

Last Saturday, four of our bravest team members joined in Social Bite’s Sleep in the Park event to raise money to help end homelessness. Taking to the park, armed with our many many (many) layers of clothes & a sleeping bag, we were as ready as we could be be to face sleeping in Princes Street Gardens on a chilly winter’s night.

Some slept, some didn’t. But despite temperatures dropping to -6 degrees they made it through the night – warmed by a sense of purpose and solidarity.

So far, the team has raised a fantastic £1,280! We’d like to say a massive THANK YOU to our clients, colleagues, friends and family for sponsoring the team. If you didn’t get a chance before the event, there is still time to donate:

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/studiolr

Here are the takeaways from our thawed-out team:

Dave (the shiverer) says…

“The whole event was pretty inspiring. So many people in the same place for the same cause. It warmed my heart right through the layer of frost on my sleeping bag.

Nobody’s perfect and what I love about Social Bite is that they know that. They’re full of positivity – absolutely no finger pointing or blaming and no disconnect between strategy and hands-on action. They’re here to make things better for people, whatever it takes. Their positive attitude makes it easy for everyone to take part and help – from the top of the government to the average joe.

Although the event was primarily a fundraiser, there’s been a lot said about the level of empathy you can really feel by sleeping outside for one night only. I actually think that impact has been huge too. Everyone you speak to now asks how cold it was and follows it up with a thought about people who have to do that regularly. Making people think about others is a pretty great side-effect of raising £4m.”

Kim (the toss’n’turner) says…

“It was pretty cold on Saturday night, everything was covered in frost. I didn’t sleep a wink but how often do you get to be part of something that is helping to eradicate homelessness in Scotland while you stare up at Edinburgh castle and the stars on a winters night.

The sleep out raised a lot of money, and I am in awe of people’s charity so close to Christmas. I’d like to thank everyone that donated.”

Nic (the slider) says…

By the time we arrived at the event we were all passionate about the cause. We had watched the numbers rise on the sleepout website: money raised, jobs pledged, accommodation found… it was awe-inspiring to watch. 

When speaking to the sleepout crowd on the night, Josh Littlejohn reiterated the outstanding fundraising efforts but more importantly, something I hadn’t realised, the awareness raised around this event has knocked down a wall between Edinburgh and it’s homeless community. We can’t turn a blind eye to this anymore, we can’t go back to where we were a few months ago, this really is the beginning of the end for homelessness in Scotland.”

Raini (the snorer) says…

“A movement. That’s what Josh Littlejohn and other speakers spoke of. This wasn’t a one time novelty event – this was another significant strategic step in creating a community of people who can no longer ignore homelessness.

The experience of sleeping outside itself, having only the smallest of tastes of what life for rough sleepers is like, chilled me to the bones but all of our friends and family rallied behind us (and the cause) with their support!

This was the true power of the night – making everyone feel like they have the ability and responsibility to make a difference. Where any blame was deliberately pushed out and all that’s left is the opportunity to shine as one of the good guys who took action. Count me in.

Mental health: is your mind full?

[2 minute read]

Most people I know, including myself (who I know vaguely), have minds overflowing with stuff and things. We live in a world where there’s so much to take in, and at such speed, it’s a minor miracle we’re able to function at all. To help us, and our brains, mental health needs to be discussed often and freely, so we can create healthy working environments.

At the recent Marketing Society St Andrew’s Day Dinner, Ruby Wax highlighted the importance of mental health in a way only she can – with humour and discomforting honesty.

The analogy I remember most vividly was that the modern stresses applied to the brain are equivalent to filling your computer with files and wondering why it’s slowly grinding to a halt. It reminded me of a quote I’d read recently for a new project…

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things.” Sherlock Holmes.

All of this got me looking into my ‘attic’ and realising how similar it was to my actual attic. Full of crap. Perhaps I should take a leaf out of my colleague’s book. He’s been abstaining from all news for the last six months. He’s noticeably more relaxed and is blissfully unaware of how angry he should be about all the things he has no ability to control.

I will now attempt to dump enough information so that I can remember my kids’ birthdays…

– Mark Wheeler


End mental health discrimination: https://www.seemescotland.org/

Mental health in the workplace: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-support-mental-health-work

 

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