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Making space for art

Categories: Events, Jewellery Quarter

On Friday I went along to the launch-party-type-thing for the latest art exhibition at BPN Architects here in the Jewellery Quarter.

It's Dean Melbourne's first solo show. And it is good.

I must admit that sometimes art stumps me a bit and can make me feel daft if I don't 'get' it. Not this. That's not to say Dean's work is easy or bland or anything though; far from it. This is work you can stand and look at for ages and it gives something back, somehow. Uh-oh, I'm starting to sound way too flowery for my liking …

As I'm not having much luck explaining myself, I'd heartily recommend having a read of Lorna Parsons' blog post about the show, which is much more readable than my witterings. Lorna (who worked with Dean to organise the exhibition) gives a very clear and rational explanation for an architectural practice hosting art exhibitions – a concept which may at first seem a bit odd but actually makes perfect sense.

Dean Melbourne's paintings of dreamy fables and tea-sipping ladies will be on show at BPN Architects' really rather ace exhibition space until December. Contact BPN in advance to arrange a look around.

Oh, and when you go, be sure to notice the framing for an extra hit of colour and detailing. Lovely stuff.

All aboard!

Categories: Our work

Some months back we were approached by 'social web' gurus MySociety who were looking for some help with the branding and user interface design of their latest major project.

MySociety are kind of a big deal and do some ace projects so we were pretty chuffed they got in touch and wanted to work with us – especially as this was the first time they'd ever worked with a design agency.

And what a project to work on.

Fix My Transport logo

Now, the fruit of everyone's labour – FixMyTransport – has officially launched; and to rather wonderful (worldwide) reaction.

At a basic level, FixMyTransport makes it easy for people to send problem reports to the companies or authorities responsible for those problems. (You can find out more about it on the FixMyTransport 'About' page – have a read.)

Sounds like a simple idea, right? Deceptively so …

With around half a million bus and tram stops, train stations and ferry ports across the country, each needing to be linked with (possibly several different) transport operators, it's been a work in progress for a good while and, with MySociety blogging about the project's progression, has been eagerly awaited.

Following a few weeks of beta testing, on the official launch day it had fantastic press coverage, including articles in Wired, The Guardian and the BBC over here and The Wall Street Journal across the pond.



We were especially pleased with this Guardian Professional article, which picks out the site's user-led interface and design as being a key factor in its success so far. Hey; we worked on that! So that was nice.

Primarily, however, the site's success is due to the ideas, clever coding, hard graft and sheer tenacity of MySociety senior developer and all-round good egg, Louise Crow. (Who is also thoroughly adept at using video conferencing and instant messaging to explain the ins-and-outs of Ruby on Rails, ERB, HAML and PostgreSQL. Quite a feat.)

According to MySociety's blog, on the day FixMyTransport was officially launched after its quiet beta, there was a 550% rise in visitor numbers and more than 70 new campaigns were created; with lots more smaller problems being sent directly to the relevant operator. Those are some impressive stats.

All told, it's been a pretty smooth and thoroughly pleasant journey; definitely no complaints. I think we can confidently hail this project a success.

On 15th July …

Categories: Extra-curricular, Useful/interesting

1573 English architect Inigo Jones was born.

1799 The Rosetta Stone was found in the Egyptian village of Rosetta by Captain Pierre-François Bouchard.

1823 A fire destroyed the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.

1919 Irish author and philosopher Iris Murdoch was born.

1955 Eighteen Nobel laureates signed the Mainau Declaration against nuclear weapons; later co-signed by thirty-four others.

1973 American actor Brian Austin Green was born.

2003 The Mozilla Foundation was established. (The same day AOL Time Warner disbanded Netscape Communications Corporation.)

2011 Likemind Birmingham celebrated four happy years of setting the alarm early for Friday morning coffee and conversation.

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Thanks to Wikipedia for the info. above. Apart from the Likemind bit which we knew already.

The dark side of dessert

Categories: Our work, Silly

Apropos of nothing, other than it's something that's been languishing in my 'stuff I've drawn' folder for ages, along with a good deal more metaphorical kilograms of illustrated fruit and veg. It turns out I like drawing food.

The above'd be best served with a damn fine cup of (Georgia) coffee, I'd say.