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I went to the AMA Conference and …

Categories: Events, Inspiration, Learning things, Useful/interesting

AMA Conference 2013 website header – Game Change

We work with a fair few people in the arts sector and, for several years now, I’ve been a member of the Arts Marketing Association. “Why?”, I hear you cry, “You’re no arts marketer!”

True. But the idea is that we can be more helpful and useful – i.e. better at our jobs – when we have a decent understanding of what it is the folks we work with actually do all day; their aims, wider objectives, challenges etc. to use some businessy-type speak. And, yes, we may even meet potential new clients while we’re at it; bonus.

(Another significant reason for joining is that I don’t believe it ever hurts to learn new things either professionally or personally.)

So, that’s why I’m a member of the AMA. And, while I have rocked-up to a decent number of the local networking sessions (run by our trusty West Midlands reps Amy and Tim), I’ve certainly never been what you could call an active participant in the association.
Until Tuesday.

For it was Tuesday that I trained-it up to Sheffield (along with ooooh, at least half a carriage-load of Brum-based arts marketers) to attend my first AMA Conference; this year spending 2 days focusing on ‘game-change’.

The theme was introduced by Jo Taylor, AMA Chair, whose opening keynote was warm, enthusiastic and motivating, making for a good start and reassuring me that the next couple of days could be a very good use of my time.

Over those days I learnt a great deal; agreed with lots of things; disagreed with others; understood more than I expected to; felt out-of-my depth at times; caught-up with people I know; met loads of new folks … and made plenty of notes which I’m busy turning into blog posts (one of which will explain this post’s title).

One of the main things that stood out to me was that an arts marketer’s role is invariably varied. Mix that with the ever-changing ways in which people are communicating, and the sector's already stretched finances becoming even tighter, and the result is that marketing departments – or those whose role includes marketing – are having to take on more and more responsibility. So, us being better at our jobs (making sure our projects run smoothly – and enjoyably) is becoming more and more important.

All-in-all it was an intense, thought-provoking, tiring and enlightening couple of days. So, that was the easy bit! Now for the tricksy task of helping to put some of these learnin’s into practice …

Design of the Year 2013

Categories: Inspiration, Learning things, Nice stuff, Useful/interesting



Image: Design Museum

Tomorrow, the Design Museum will announce the over-all winner of Design of the Year 2013 – a celebration of the past year's very best Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Furniture, Graphics, Product and Transport design.

The winner will be chosen from this shortlist of category winners:

Architecture: Tour Bois-Le-Prêtre, Paris / Designed by Frédéric Druot, Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal

Digital: gov.uk / Designed by Government Digital Service

Fashion: Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel / Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland

Furniture: Medici chair / Designed by Konstantin Grcic for Mattiazzi

Graphics: Venice Architecture Biennale identity / Designed by John Morgan Studio

Product: Kit Yamoyo / Designed by ColaLife and PI Global

Transport: Morph folding wheel / Designed by Vitamins for Maddak Inc.

As a graphic designer, I obviously have a particular interest in the Graphics and Digital categories. John Morgan Studio's brand identity for the Venice Architecture Biennale is just my sort of thing; simple, elegant, well-executed and, once you've seen it, there could be no other solution. It's perfect. And James big-upped (bigged-up?) the government's new website not so long ago in this blog post – and it is a fantastic example of simple, thoughtful, useful design. But neither of these would be my Design of the Year.

Although I'm a fan of Heatherwick Studio's Olympic Cauldron which was longlisted in the Product category, my personal choice for Design of the Year is the one which took the cauldron out of the running – ColaLife's Kit Yamoyo.

Image: Simon Berry

An exceptionally deserving and clever category winner, each Kit Yamoyo contains single-dose packs of oral rehydration salts (diarrhoea is the second-biggest killer of under-5s in sub-Saharan Africa), and the wedge-shaped pods also double as measuring cups for adding the correct amount of water to dilute each sachet.

So, what's the link with cola? And why the weird shape? The pods are wedge-shaped to fit into the spaces between Coke bottles in crates, enabling them to be transported and distributed using Coca-Cola's extensive networks across the region. Ingenious!


A Kit Yamoyo promoter hands out vouchers to mothers. Image: Simon Berry

The story of how the idea came about is a must-read and, as the ColaLife folks say, "It must be the first time that an anti-diarrhoea kit takes centre stage as a design icon."

Design for good at its very best.

(I'll update this post with the official winner once the announcement's been made.)

UPDATE

And the *actual* winner is … gov.uk. Congratulations! (And kudos for getting a press release about the win sorted so quickly an' all.)

I stick by my personal choice of Kit Yamoyo, but the Government's new website was always James' pick; and there is something rather nice about a website winning this gong, I reckon. Especially as many of the GDS Team's (award-winning) design principles run through the work that we do – it's sound stuff!

If you want a closer look at the nominees, they're being exhibited at the Design Museum until 7th July. Although the winner can obviously be seen on an internet connection near you.

Stop: look and listen #4

Categories: Inspiration, Stop: look and listen

Look
Treme – Season 1 (HBO series / DVD)
Worth watching just to experience John Goodman's slow burning, melancholic performance. Mesmerising. Oh, and the music! Set in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, the team behind The Wire manages to transport you to the heart of this fascinating and vibrant place. Inspired casting all the way through.

Genius of Design (BBC series / DVD)
As much a history lesson as a design documentary, this insightful and entertaining BBC production manages to show the literally life-changing impact design has had and continues to have on our everyday lives.

Dial M for Murder – Alfred Hitchcock
Suddenly I found myslef watching a lot of Hitchcock – and I really can't fail to appreciate his precise and clever way of conducting a story. It's simply classy entertainment that has stood the test of time. And there are plenty more of his classics to choose from. Dig in.

Listen
Jamie Woon: "Mirrorwriting" (album)
Initially I was put off by some lukewarm reviews and a bit of too much hype surrounding this young gentleman. But then, after not being able to play much else than this record for a couple of weeks I was sold. This is an album, though not short of single potential, that works best listened to from start to finish. It really gets under your skin, with a dense and bass-heavy production. Yes, it is smooth but it's got just enough rough edges and soul to make it much more interesting than most popular music. Play it loud.

Kate Bush: "Directors Cut" (album)
She's back. Not with new material, though. These are re-workings of her own songs from "The Sensual World" and "The Red Shoes". The concept is not unlike what Joni Mitchell did with her "Travalogue" album but there is no orchestra involved here, making this is a much more stripped back affair. The 80's production sheen that defined the originals has been replaced by an intimate, soulful atmosphere.

You can't listen to her new versions of "This Woman's Work" and "Moments of Pleasure" without being moved. Really, really special.

Check out Alex Petridis' well-worded review in The Guardian.

Pretty, tickled, shocking

Categories: Inspiration, Useful/interesting

This year, it's all about pink.

Amongst the various Valentine pinks which are no doubt bombarding your eyes at the moment, you may have spotted a very specific shade; Pantone's Colour of 2011, Honeysuckle or PANTONE 18-2120 to give it its technical moniker.

From browsing the interwebs when it was announced last year, there doesn't seem to be all that much love for Honeysuckle – but maybe its dusky hue will grow on folks over the course of the year. The colour pink supposedly stimulates energy, encouraging action and confidence, so perhaps we shouldn't knock it until we've tried it.

What do you reckon then; Pink Panther, Pink Martini and Thomas Pink – all big in 2011?

Hmmm, I'm not sure but if you do happen to be a fan of pink and feel like showing some love this St Valentine's Day, there's always the option to shop pink.

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If you're interested in colour trends, Pantone've put together a complete Honeysuckle palette (I used it to make that hearty image, up yonder) which can be downloaded as an Adobe Swatch Exchange file.