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Desktop #296
Cover: Heath Killen

Each year, the August issue of Desktop examines education. Issue #296 takes this theme and looks at it as broadly as possible, from the past to the future, from the primary to the tertiary and beyond, and new possible avenues for how we can learn and grow as designers.

Lorena Mercado kicks things off with an essay about the how creative education begins in primary school, and she explains that a diverse and rigorous curriculum is vital for the survival of the design industry, and indeed continued cultural innovation and progression. To cap it off, her two seven year old twin boys provided the editorial illustration!

Suzanne Boccalatte is this issue's featured designer. Boccalatte has one of the most divergent and fascinating backgrounds of any Australian designer, and she speaks here about how life experiences, different careers, and an unbridled curiosity about the world can help fuel a new class of designer that is socially responsible and boundary pushing.

We visit Fabrica for a virtual open-day. Fabrica continues to represent a new approach to design education and research, one that is largely unmatched in the world. With new CEO Dan Hill at the helm, the school continues to grow in relevance and leadership.

Masters & Apprentices is a special feature in which a celebrated, senior Australian designer is paired up with an emerging talent or recent graduate to develop a project together. The 'Master' is tasked with creating a brief for the 'Apprentice' - who is then charged with producing an original work in response. This intensive mentoring program yielded some incredible results.

The team from design conference Sex, Drugs & Helvetica speak with Moon creative director Linda Jukic about new frontiers in design education. They discuss what's good, what's bad, and what's possible in one of the most engaging Interchange pieces yet.

And to cap things off, we asked the big question that everyone wants to know but nobody seems to be asking - 'What is missing from design education today?". Hear responses from the likes of Lucienne Roberts, Steven Heller, Peter Hall, and more.

Find out the meaning of the cover art, get some advice on some of the best books for new students to read (and senior talent to refresh themselves with), take a look at Mark Gowing's amazing posters for the UTS VCD guest lecture series and much more in this very special issue.


Desktop #295
Cover: The Rainbowmonkey

Following a regional tour of Australia's cities and towns, and an international voyage to visit studios across the Asia-Pacific region, this issue of Desktop goes interstellar - venturing out to the furthest reaches of the galaxy and into the realms of the imagination.

Desktop #295 — Other Worlds explores the links between design and fiction. This issue takes things out of the studio and into a spaceship for a trip beyond the stars, through virtual realities, and across fictional lands. Along the way the worlds of cinema, video games, literature, speculative projects, and possible future scenarios are all examined.

Even the cover exists between between two worlds. In daylight, you see a collection of everyday household objects that appear to be a little enchanted, perhaps possessed by something. All is revealed when you turn off the lights. In the dark, the strange spirits behind the weird scene come to life with glow ink the dark ink. Those objects reveal their true selves as strange, psychedelic spirits.

Of course it doesn't stop with the cover. In place of the usual Longform essay that opens each issue, Australian author Adam Ford to contribute an original piece of design fiction called Happy Anniversary. This romantic short story features drones, hacking, Doctor Who's iconic scarf, and love that spans the reaches of the cosmos.

Profiled in this issue is The Rainbowmonkey, who comes to us form a parallel dimension. Using the mild-mannered avatar of New Zealand based designer Markus Hofko, he transmits strange, clever and utterly beguiling imagery into the world – imagery whose purpose is largely unknown. Is this true, or just a little bit of make believe? You’ll have to read to find out.

Once upon a time, seven Australian studios and a group of university students were invited to choose a person, place, event, or organisation from a work of fiction, and develop a visual identity based on their selection. That's the premise of a special feature called Story Telling, and participants include Studio Constantine, Bec Worth, There, Small Studio, Naughtyfish, Small Studio, Ivana Martinovic, and in a special ‘Student Edition’ of the project – Andrew Ashton of WorkArtLife with his MADA class.

File Under: Spatial (Non) Fiction is the name of a special extended conversation with Geoff Manaugh (editor of BLDGBLOG) covering speculative design, design fiction, landscape futures, emerging technology, and the strangeness of the real. Perpare to have your horizons permanently expanded with this lengthy discussion that takes in everything from climate change to cyborgs to the Die Hard films.

Cinema Australis features three of Australia’s finest key artists sharing some thoughts on design for Australian cinema, and the aesthetics of Australian films. Hear from Jeremy Saunders, Marcus Cobbledick, and Demi Hopkins as they examine the unique colours, textures, and themes, that make up our identity on the silver screen.

One of the reasons for doing this issue is the belief that ultimately designers are looking for stories - ways to uniquely express an idea and connect with people on a deeper level. BTP and clients New World Whisky tackle this idea by examining their recent branding collaborations, which draw inspiration from the stars.

And of course there many more stories to tell in this issue, including an essay by Pat Armstrong that explores the concept of critical graphic design, a series of aphorisms and personal annectodes from various video game playing experiences by Daniel Neville, and the “Other Canberras” exhibit feature from Desktop's May issue is bookended with a look at the recent CAPITheticAL 21st century Australian capital city design competition.

Other Worlds comes with a very simply manifesto:
weird times call for weird designs. If that sounds like something you can get behind, then this is the issue for you.


Desktop #294
Cover: Catherine Griffiths

This issue examines the value of community in design, as well as the role that design can play in creating and shaping different types of communities. Expanding on the previous issue (#293 — Making Places), we leave the city and travel internationally to look at some of the work being produced by Australia’s neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region. Some of the best studios from across the ocean were invited contribute original designs, articles and opinions – making this Desktop’s first truly international issue. It’s all about making new connections and reviving old ones.

"I arrived in Australia in 2003 with no touchstones whatsoever. After ten years of squashing the arts and the web together, often as uncomfortable bed-fellows, I left all of my professional, social, geographical and familial communities behind in the UK. My Australian address book was empty. Where to look, what to find?" So begins an essay by Stuart Buchanan about his experiences with community. Buchanan is something of an expert on the subject, having immigrated to Australia from Scotland, subsequently embedding himself in many local community projects such as FBi radio in Sydney, and now he helps businesses and organisations build their communities through social networks.

Catherine Griffiths is the issue's feature designer and cover artist. A true citizen of the world, Griffiths has many stories to tell and opinions to share. In this special extended interview, Griffiths showcases her multidisciplinary work, and opens up on her thoughts about culture, community, and the fine art of collaboration.

Trade Routes is the issue's big feature. Six studios from six countries across the Asia-Pacific were invited to contribute an original piece of work in response to the word 'Australia'. This feature is an exercise in cultural exchange, and the begining of a new design dialogue. Included in this feature are so+ba from Japan, Na Kim from Korea, Guang Yu from China, Jackkrit Anatakul from Thailand, Wang Zhi Hong from Tawian, and Edith Prakoso from Indonesia.

There's also a special feature called Dual Citizenship, in which three prominent Australian studios talk about how they expanded their operations overseas. Get ready to navigate the stormy seas of international bureaucracy, and witness all the wonderful work created along the way.

Elsewhere Lou Weis talks about his most recent curatorial project Broached East, which examines Australia's history with Asia through a series of exquisitely crafted design objects. Some fascinating things are revealed.

The issue also takes you behind the scenes at Queensland's Asia-Pacific Design Library, where creative director Christian Duell shares the ups and downs in realising his vision of a prototypical space for 21st century community engagement.

And as always - there's so much more, from a dissection of online design networks, to cutting edge publishing projects from Tokyo, to community driven design projects in Auckland, and even a photography tutorial by Jacob Ring. Pick up a copy and find out who the people in your neighbourhood really are!


Desktop #293
Cover: Racket

This issue investigates of some of the different relationships between design and spaces - an investigation that travels from bush to the beach, and from city to country. It's a big, broad theme, but one that is not often explored in the context of graphic design.

"Our cities are — for the most part — heavily pre-moderated. They are designed primarily to prevent the wrong action and not to encourage the right ones or discover the unexpected ones." Marcus Westbury kicks things off with an essay about how cities should be more like YouTube and less like Hollywood. It's a great metaphor that perfectly highlights how the use and design of our cities could be improved.

Rachel Peachey & Paul Mosig are the husband and wife team behind Katoomba based studio Racket. They're the featured studio in this issue and are responsible for that jaw dropping cover image. In fact, that's their eldest son Sascha staring back at you. This is a cover that you simply have to see (and touch) in person, as printed in raised thermographic ink over the black background behind Sascha's head are contour lines from an old map. Inside the issue Racket share their wonderful story and beautiful, uniquely Australian work.

The big feature of this issue is called Situationism. A studio from each state capital was invited to create a psycho-geographic map of their city. It's a surprising, exciting, confusing and truly delightful feature that will change the way that you think about wandering the streets. The journey starts in Sydney and travels around the country to end up in Brisbane. Participants for this one are Public Associates (Sydney), Alter (Melbourne), Liminal Studio (Hobart), Voice (Adelaide), Tonnegramme (Perth), Boab (Darwin), and The Letter D (Brisbane).

Where's Canberra? Well, Canberra features in a few spots (and will appear again in upcoming issues) including a special spread on the unsuccessful entries into the original 1911 National Capital design competition. It's a fascinating insight look into the Canberra(s) that could have been.

Elsewhere, the issue looks at how the culture of regional Australia is changing, and attempts to understand a little of how, where and why that's happening. Not only are a selection of regional design studios interviewed about the places in which they live, but Frost* studio sat down with their client Broken Hill City Council to unpack a recent branding project, and get to the heart of where the personality of a place comes from.

And that's just skimming the surface. There's also Gregory Anderson from Trigger talking about exhibition spaces, Finn Butler and Soren Luckins from Büro North on wayfinding, Stephen Banham finds an interesting connection behind places and (type)faces, and Tim Horton shares some thoughts on how cities can be designed to accomodate change and growth.


Desktop #292
Cover: Jenny Grigg

Identity is a big, complex topic that is dealt with everyday, but dominant ideas about who we are are rarely challenged, and the compositions of our identities rarely investigated with any depth. This issue is about starting a dialogue around who we are as people, as designers, and as a nation, as well as investigating exactly what makes us that way.

Jenny Grigg is the featured designer this month. Jenny is
someone with deep connections to Australian culture and storytelling. She speaks about growing up with scientist parents and travelling around the country with them. She also provides insights into some of her work with major literary figures such as Peter Carey and discusses her love of traditional crafts. Her cover illustration is a image printed directly from wattle leaves with black ink, and it's been realised in incredible detail with a sculptured emboss and clear foil by Avon Graphics. It's an absolute textural delight.

Clinton Duncan launches the issue with a wonderful article that examines the very nature of identity. It's a powerful, stimulating, and often very funny piece that's bound to generate some discussion. Papercraft master Benja Harney and photographer Anna Pogossova provide the accompanying illustration.

It seemed appropriate to commission a series of self portraits from a variety of different designers and illustrators for this issue. Still Life With Self is a visual examination of identity, exploring the different ways that we see and express ourselves. Featured here are Michael Cina, Georgia Perry, Steve Byram, Kelly Thompson, Lopetz from Buro Destruct and more.

Ian Anderson created one of the most distinctive and influential studio identities of all time with The Designer's Republic, and not only does he speak about the Angryman logo and identity in general, 9 Australian designers have remixed the Angryman image and given it a regional context. There are some quite moving (and humorous) responses to this brief.

There are a range of great articles in this one too, including Paul Mylecharane taking on graphic design's identity crisis, a conversation with Christopher Doyle and Kevin Finn on nationalism and first impressions, a look at a magazine that sought to help re-invent South Africa's post-apartheid identity, Stephen Banham on suburban street name clusters, and an interview with former Fabrica resident Yianni Hill on the cultural myths that dominate the Australian image.