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Generative Thinking

For years designers have been using technology to speed up their work process and it has long been true that, to the layperson, the mention of “Graphic Design” conjures up images of computer-bound tech-focused creative types. As an industry, graphic designers know how reliant they are on computers (especially after losing hours of work to a crash!), but there is a new kind of thinking that embraces programmatic methods even more. It’s called generative design and should not be ignored.

“Generative” is a blanket sort of term used to describe design composed using algorithmic or random processes. A well-known example would be the music visualizers that featured in the earliest versions of Windows Media Player, creating visuals to accompany the music. You can see a selection of examples here. Some are not a world away from the visual characteristics of modern info-graphics in books like Information is Beautiful.

Coded typography

Growing Data by Cedric Kiefer depicts the air quality of major cities through the growth of virtual plants.

This kind of thinking is becoming more common, like in the standout SALT identity by Project Projects, which relies only on a dynamic font to establish the visual characteristics of an Istanbul art gallery. As the font is periodically altered by commissioned designers, so the whole identity is transformed.

That’s all well and good I hear you say, but what’s that got to do with print-based designers like me? Well, in this fascinating interview in Eye Magazine conceptual creatives Graphic Thought Facility speak to Nick Bell of the myriad approaches they adopt while designing books:

“AS: Systems is another strand. You establish a working method, solve the problem and it runs itself. It’s possibly less self-conscious because the system makes the decision.”

Their approach to the design of Stephen Bayley – General Knowledge stands out as more than just your ordinary grid design, as GTF explain:

PN: …The budget demanded a two-colour job, so we were thinking of all the possible ways to achieve richness. The fact that the printer works in sixteens meant that there were several economical place to change colours.

NB: But you sometimes change typeface in the middle of an article.

PN: Right – we changed it five times, I think.

NB: So it’s out of kilter with the content!

PN: Which we quite like – it’s that sort of “wrecking it” bit coming in. We wanted to reflect the fact that this work had come from different sources, but to do facsimile settings of the text was well dodgy ground. Using a system overrides that.

By letting the imposed system inform their design and create these odd typographic juxtapositions, GTF are engaging in something that isn’t just your everyday grid layout. As a developer/designer I am excited by these seemingly disparate fields influencing one another. Of course this is not a complete design approach overhaul, but may be something of a tool for that rare creative brief that asks for something conceptual and contemporary.  Books like Dynamic Identities and Generative Design show quite clearly that I’m not on my own here either. How do you feel about the idea of a dynamic identity? Great or gimmicky? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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The Big Fat Design Quiz of the YearAs another year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on the standout projects and moments of creative genius from the past year. In a year that saw the birth of a royal baby, the harlem shake, a dancing pony, the first ever 24 hour music videos and more of Miley Cyrus

fiasco design awards

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Nominations and awards: Fiasco Design wins New Talent award at the Media Innovation AwardsOn Thursday 21st November 2013 we attended the annual Media Innovation Awards in Plymouth. We were nominated for two awards. The first in the Print category for our work with Creative England on the One Thing I Know project and the second in the New Talent or New Business category. Although we missed out on […]

2 Mins

CSS3 Animation: Designing the Immersive InternetWith the introduction of CSS3 the web has been peppered with astonishing uses of the newest coding capabilities and they all feature movement. I think this is a game-changer for us graphic designers and it’s time we started to rethink our attitude to the web. Recently a print-designer friend of mine admitted something I have […]

2 Mins

Have a gurt lush HalloweenTo mark Halloween this year, we thought it would be fun to send out some postcards with a few of our favourite horror film quotes reworked with a Bristolian twang. After some serious head scratching and referencing of the Bristolian dictionary, we came up with a list of famous quotes, re-worded them, gave them a […]

Steve Edge Bristol

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Steve Edge: Design, dyslexia and dressing for a partyMy usual gripe with design talks is that they can often be a little one-dimensional. Most are used as an opportunity for a portfolio brag or an exercise in name dropping when all I really want to hear about is the people and processes behind the glossy images and flashy websites, and what I can […]

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And the beat goes on…I was once sent home from a five hour GCSE art examination with the worst migraine I’ve ever experienced. I remember my mum coming to pick me up, she turned to my tutor and said “well what do you expect to happen if you make him sit in silence for five hours!”. My mum knew […]

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Welcome to Bristol!Welcome to Bristol! It’s early October and the streets are teeming with fresh young student faces, itching to explore their new city. I could patronise you and pretend that the following Bristol-centric facts are for their benefit, but really this influx of newbies is just a great excuse to celebrate our beloved Bristol. Seriously though, […]

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Creative Events: BLAB 16 with Steven Bonner and John McFaulOn Monday 9th September I made the three hour train journey up to Manchester to attend the sixteenth BLAB event. After starting four years ago as a modest meet-up event for creatives, BLAB has evolved and grown into a quarterly event which now hosts 200+ creatives and has played host to guest speakers such as […]

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Calm Down Dear, It’s Just A Logo DesignEarlier this morning, after 30 days of different designs Yahoo! finally, and rather anticlimactically, released their new logo design onto the world. Along with the new design came a rather baffling statement from Marissa Meyer, the CEO of Yahoo! who professed to creating the logo herself with an in-house team over the “majority” of a weekend. […]

3 Mins

Foot in t’ door: How to make it as a design graduateThis week our blog post comes from the pen of our design intern Simon Cherry. Simon who graduated t’north this summer, recently moved to Bristol in search of work and below he explains what it takes for a new design graduate to make it in the design industry. As I write this blog post, I […]

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Stop, Collaborate and ListenIf you’ve read my latest news post ‘Why you should own a sketchbook’ you will understand that I appreciate putting pen to paper every now and then. And that’s exactly where this collaboration project with the mighty Craig Minchington aka Adora Attack was born, from ‘pen and paper’. I tend to use my sketchbook for getting […]

2 Mins

Why WordPress? Here are just a few of the advantages of using WordPress as a CMSThis year the publishing platform WordPress is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary. With parties all over the world, and over 66 million installations it is apparently used on some 18% of the entire internet! So, for those of you who don’t really know what all the fuss is about, here’s a round-up of why we use […]

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Why You Should Own a SketchbookAfter spending an afternoon diving into a mammoth pile of my belongings that I’m giving away to charity, (mainly due to the fact I don’t want Channel 4 making a documentary about a 27-year-old Bristol based design hoarder!) I stumbled across all 30+ of my sketchbooks. From early school days, through to hipster friendly Moleskin […]

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Design Graduates: Emails are the New Cover LetterThe design field is awash with new graduates looking for work and competition is hotter than ever. Along with this, we have also seen the complete digitization of the application process particularly for Graphic Design companies like Fiasco. With this in mind, any opportunity to stand out from the crowd is a valuable one, especially […]

Here London 2013

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Here London 2013On Friday 21st June we attended the second annual Here London event. Taking place at London’s Royal Geographical Society (RGS), Here is a one-day “fast-paced festival of creativity”. A creative symposium of “inspirational talks, experiments and live elements”. Curated by the team behind It’s Nice That, this year’s event boasted a healthy roster of thirteen […]

James Fairbank Rapha bikes

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Ride + Design: Branding, Design & Bike CultureWords and images by Sean McGowan Ride + Design is a one-off event in Bristol hosted by the Arnolfini and put together by The West of England Design Forum and local Bristol digital agency Pixillion Digital. The unique one-day event set out to explore the close relationship of bicycles and design, bringing together some of […]

3 Mins

Apple Redesign iOS7 & Highlight The Value Of Graphic DesignThe western world is rapidly waking up to the role a graphic designer plays in modern society and Apple are playing a large part in enlightening the public. A quality exposition of the value of design, reading through the press release of iOS7 reminds me of a pitch for arts funding. I can’t think of […]

Everyone's a winner, baby

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Everyone’s a Winner, Baby, That’s The TruthAt the end of last month we released One Thing I Know, a collection of insightful articles written by over forty creative leaders, in order to share their knowledge of running a creative business with the next generation of young creatives. The 116-page book also contains over 30 unique illustrations created by some of the best […]

Flat Design

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Flat Design: A Style Not a TrendIn this blog post I want to tackle the ever-growing argument surrounding ‘Flat Design’. But not the ever-repeating debate between its relationships with it’s archenemy ‘Skeuomorphic Design’ and which outlook holds the most purpose within the digital design world. Throughout the numerous blog-posts this debate has caused continuous headaches and created inconclusive forum arguments the […]

5 Mins

Josephmark: The design studio behind the new look MyspaceA few weeks ago we examined the new Myspace design that is currently in Beta stage of testing. Touting it’s design ingenuity and bravery, we decided to speak to the designers at digital studio Josephmark to find out more about the studio, their objectives and how they approached such a huge project.   FD: So when […]

3 Mins

5 Top Tools for DevelopersAny developers out there will know that moment when seemingly out of nowhere pops a heavenly solution to a problem you've been running into for ages. The feeling of relief is enough, but there are some software discoveries that become such an integral part of your development process, you come to wonder how you ever got by without it. Here's our best

Cheltenham Design Festival 2013

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Does Good Design Make Us Happy?Now in its second year, the Cheltenham Design Festival 2013 boasts a heavy weight line-up of speakers, open discussions and workshops which according to the website aim to “celebrate how original thought can change the world”. From 11th -14th April, the leafy Gloucester town of Cheltenham Spa better known for its Gold Cup, brings together […]

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MySpace: Has the revival begun?In 2005 Myspace was by far the biggest social media player on the web and Facebook was only a year old. How times have changed. There’s no question that the new Myspace is undeniably beautiful, but where is all the hype? The new Myspace is surprising. Not just for it’s ground-breaking and beautiful redesign, nor […]

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Creative Questions Part 2Questions are extremely inviting, but there is another kind of design out there that is not only concerned with inviting response but also with inviting audiences into the design process itself

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Noma Bar: Finely tuned and distilledOn Wednesday night we gathered at the Arnolfini, Bristol along with a crowd of eager designer types to listen to illustrator and proclaimed graphic story teller Noma Bar tell us his own story as part of The West of England Design Forum’s “Evening with…” event. Bar’s portfolio boasts an impressive array of national and international […]

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Just do itRegular exercise has a positive effect on your creativity and not just your waistline. We live in a society where we are constantly being bombarded with reminders that the majority of the population is over weight, unhealthy and close to death on many levels! Scare tactics I know but this approach is being regularly used […]

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Inspiration Overload: How to keep your inspiration life healthyThe information age has brought with it an inspiration age. Finding inspiration is easy, it’s what we do with it that matters. And with no shortage of beautiful images to gorge on, it’s increasingly important that we learn how to digest and control what we are consuming. I often say that designers get stuck when […]

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Hold on to your integrityTowards the end of last year, we underwent our third re-branding in so many years. The process was well documented in this post here, but with our third birthday fast approaching I thought I might share some of what I’ve learnt about the importance of branding and keeping your integrity intact over those first few […]

Vinyl mural wall design

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The Office Group wall decalWe were asked by The Office Group, Bristol to create a vinyl wall decal for one of their meeting rooms. The design needed to be playful whilst including elements relating to the geographical location of The Office as well as the nature of meetings taking place in the space. We worked closely with local high-end printers Hello Blue in achieving […]

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Creative Questions Part 1“Questions are more transforming than answers.” — Peter Block Any common conversation can be divided into three parts: speaking, listening and asking questions. The power of graphic design is generally employed to project information into our culture, fitting almost solely into the “speaking” aspect of communication. Is there a place for using our design skills […]

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Ten Valentines Day GiftsYes, it is that time of year again. So if you want to earn those extra brownie points this Valentines Day listen to us carefully. We have compiled our list of the top ten Valentines Day gifts for the hopeless romantic with any budget, so pay attention…     FUJIFILM INSTAX MINI INSTANT CAMERA   […]

Hegarty advertsing

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Pitch perfect?The word “pitch” can be a dirty word to use amongst creative types. There is an ongoing debate within the industry over whether agencies pitching creative work to clients in a bid to win new work is a good or a bad thing, with many designers and agencies now refusing to pitch, whether the pitch […]

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Sorry Mr GlaserDear Mr Glaser, you were wrong. I know it was a long time ago when he said it, but the relationship that a graphic designer shares with a computer is not comparable to the relationship between the microwave and cooking. In the eyes of a chef, microwaves are the lazy option. They are bland and […]

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Finding that self-motivationTowards the back end of 2012 I became increasingly aware that I had sunken into my studio chair and become a design machine. Ploughing through client work with no real emotional investment in the end result. For some creatives this is enough, but I kept finding myself trying to push certain client projects more than […]

Choi Gallery Magazine

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Choi’s Gallery MagazineWe were contacted last year by Choi’s Gallery, a bi-monthly publication and asked to submit some recent branding and web work. Choi’s Gallery is a unique magazine dedicated to the best new graphics from all over the world. It includes packaging, identity, publication, poster, DM, promotion material, campaign, card, website, environment, point of sale, photograph […]

Data visualisation Internet Things

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Our Connected WorldIt’s hard to deny that digital connectivity has become an integral part of our every day lives. With over a billion users worldwide now on Facebook, and Twitter which provides a platform for news to spread faster than ever before, social networks such as these are allowing us to connect in a way which we’ve never […]