• Commission_wishful_thinking

    Commission Studio stationery

Graphic Design

Graphic Design: A chat with new studio Commission about the Annual and design

Posted by Rob Alderson,

A couple of days ago we unveiled the Annual 2013, our end-of-year look back at some of the most interesting work which has appeared on the site in the past 12 months. This year David McFarline and Christopher Moorby’s new studio Commission have taken on the design and so we caught up with them to find out about their new set-up and their plans for the Annual, and beyond.

You can pre-order the Annual NOW with free P&P in the UK. You’ll also have your name included in the book if you order before midnight on Monday October 14.

How did you guys end up coming together to form Commission?

We first met when we both worked at Made Thought in 2005. We’d both recently graduated and were at the start of our design careers. We quickly identified a kindred spirit in that short time of working together. I think there was a good level of competitiveness between us and we both felt slightly threatened by the talent of the other, which was a great driver. 

David went on to cut his teeth at Spin for the next five years becoming one of the studio’s senior designers and later freelanced at places such as GTF. I remained at Made Thought eventually becoming the studio’s design director, but we continued to work together whenever we got the chance. There was a sense of freedom and openness when designing together that we didn’t get working for other studios. It just felt right to translate that working relationship into a studio of our own. 

  • Mickey-_-johnny

    Commission: Mickey & Jonny website (www.mickeyandjohnny.com)

What influences from other places you’ve worked have you applied to the new set-up?

There are loads of influences we carry with us from other studios – both good and bad! We can only try and carry forward the good stuff to channel into Commission and let the bad stuff influence what not to do. The good stuff? Creating beautiful things with reason and meaning. I think this quality is common through all the best places we’ve worked at and it’s certainly shaped our ideology.

When you have it, you don’t need to present options to solutions. You can stand behind one answer with total conviction. And I think that approach comes from a restless work ethic; endless searching, endless editing.

You say on your site “Good design stands at the crossroads of function and beauty” – do you think this balance sometimes gets skewed in modern design?

I think design – certainly graphic design – is in the best place it’s been for a long time. The days of self indulgent designers seem a distant memory now and graphic design is returning back to its roots as a service industry. That doesn’t mean it’s no longer engaging or interesting but there’s much less ‘style without substance’. Style is an important tool for a designer of course but it’s visual clothing. It needs to be dressed on something with an underlying meaning and soul.

“Function and beauty” is simply the balance we strive for. I think if you hit it, your work will hopefully always be relevant.

“Style is an important tool for a designer of course but it’s visual clothing. It needs to be dressed on something with an underlying meaning and soul.”

Christopher Moorby

What were your first inspirations when approaching the Annual? Why did you want to change it up from last year?

Primarily we wanted it to reflect It’s Nice That’s personality; its sense of energy, inquisitiveness, and fun. We wanted to get that throughout, so we engaged Jiro Bevis to work on some characters that would effectively guide you through the publication – the ‘It’s Nice That Crew’ if you like! We’ve been itching to work with Jiro for a while now and the annual seemed like the perfect place to collaborate.

The actual design is very reactive to the content. The work that It’s Nice That champions is so diverse we wanted a free and adaptive approach for designing the book. There is no grid for example; column widths are dictated by the picture sizes on their respective spreads. The layout is created by eye and instinct. Hopefully it creates a publication that puts the content above the design but still has an attitude and personality of its own.

What are you aims for the studio over the next 12 months?

We’re most looking forward to introducing new members to the studio in time; design is a discussion and it’s important for us there are more voices involved down the line. The idea of hiring a graduate and nurturing and training them is an exciting prospect. We personally had great experiences developing alongside the studios we worked at previously and we would love to give someone that opportunity at Commission. It makes the discussion much more interesting!

  • Music-from-memory-1

    Commission: Music From Memory

  • Music-from-memory-2

    Commission: Music From Memory

  • Pica-post-covers-1

    Commission: Pica Post covers

  • Pica-post-spreads-1

    Commission: Pica Post

  • Pica-post-spreads-2

    Commission: Pica Post

  • Oipolloi_swingtag

    Commission: Oi Polloi clothing identity

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. List

    Hot Chip are one of those bands that have always had a fantastic visual sensibility. Illustrator Wallzo has been at the helm of it, bringing us glorious Michael Craig Martin-esque block colours and shapes to decapitated statues. Now, the band is moving into the world of bespoke printing, with the artwork for new album Why Make Sense by Nick Relph using an algorithm that means each copy’s design will be unique.

  2. Untitled-paris-ad-int-list

    They say that one good turn deserves another. And one good project leads to another, as Untitled Paris has shown us. Last year, the agency was commissioned to create a new identity for interior design company Laplace, creating a slick monochrome look that uses the name as the logo mark. Untitled says: “The entire identity rests on a simple type system and contemporary but sober look, as the work of Laplace is full of colour and feeling.”

  3. Dyakova-list-mcm_gagosian_back-cover_905

    Earlier this week Sonya Dyakova revealed that she “like[s] to wear a uniform that [she] can just hide in and work.” And while her clothes may want to slink into the background, the work of her agency Atelier Dyakova begs to be in the spotlight.

  4. Kurppa-hosk-korshags-int-list

    It’s not often I get to write about my two great loves in a single article, but sometimes the stars align and I’m covering smoked fish and graphic design all in the space of 300 words. Today I feel blessed! This strange combination of subjects has come together thanks to Swedish agency Kurppa Hosk undertaking a wholesale rebrand for Falkenbergs Lax, a small, family-owned smoked salmon specialist. Charged with turning the small-scale brand into an international major player in the fish industry, Kurrppa Hosk renamed it Korshags, and have came up with a sleek new visual identity to accompany the new name.

  5. George-primo-louw-1

    As a rule we profile Jorge Primo on the site once a year; first due to posters for a shoe brand, then a carpenter’s identity and last year it was just for his personal work. This time round Jorge has been hard at it making graphics for skateboarding brand Louw. He’s done designs for their decks, exuberant posters and even knocked up a hand-drawn version of their logo. Choice!

  6. Francesco-del-russo-bologna-int-list

    Graphic designer Francesco Delrosso has spent the past few years making his way through undergraduate study and out into the big wide world of Fabrica, Benetton’s communications research centre. There he’s honed his skills in research-based design, putting them to use in the creation of all manner of print publications. Since leaving Fabrica he’s settled in Urbino where he’s specialising in communication and editorial design at Isia.

  7. Eloisa-perez-book-int-list

    Early school days weren’t so bad: the odd bit of colouring in, keeping up with the adventures of Billy Blue Hat, playing that game where you have to sit in a curled up in a ball being quiet when the teacher wants a rest. But they could have been even brighter, especially in the learning to write department – and graphic designer Éloïsa Pérez’ Apprendre à écrire offers a perfect solution.

  8. Mariohugo-recentlyrejected-int-list

    There was an interesting discussion on our podcast recently about why anyone would really want to watch the creative process taking place. Off the back of our visit to see what was essentially P J Harvey in a box, we’ve spent a lot of time chatting about how the creative process is slow and messy and frustrating, littered with wrong turns and dead-ends.

  9. List-la-direction_le-sucre_1-int

    A sweet, sweet identity project for you today, in the shape of Lyon-based studio La Direction’s work for venue Le Sucre. The studio is helmed by Aurélien Arnaud and Elsa Audouin, who set it up two years ago and have since worked across print, web, and interior graphic design for clients ranging from adidas to Born Bad Records to Grolsch. The one that most neatly presents the breadth of their capabilities, though, is the aforementioned Le Sucre project. The venue is a late-night party joint in Lyon, and the graphics subtly reflect its hip vibe while remaining resolutely timeless and simple. We love the restraint of the interior graphics, letting the strange architecture speak out, and the gorgeous blue of the printed materials. Elsewhere on La Direction’s site are some excellent poster designs, so we’ve popped a couple of our favourites on here for you. What’s not to love about the blue erotic market woman?

  10. Braulio-amado-nyt-int-list

    Braulio’s been a busy boy lately since he took up his full-time post art directing over at Bloomberg Businessweek. You’d think a job at one of the world’s most respected bi-weeklies would keep his time pretty well occupied, but the restless designer still finds plenty of spare hours to horse around with personal projects, sell weird ouija boards online and hand-letter for The New York Times Magazine. We wonder how he ever gets any rest? “I should indeed sleep more,” he says.

  11. Fontanel-dutch-design-talents-int-list

    Here at It’s Nice That we love discovering young creative talent – and feel a responsibility to identify and promote new artists and designers – but the challenge can sometimes feel daunting. So anything that can help point us in the right direction is hugely appreciated, such as this new book from Dutch creative site Fontanel. It has run a feature called The Fontanel Finals for the past five years, a scheme which showcases graduation shows and identifies the most interesting practitioners it finds each summer.

  12. Two-points-aamodt-plumb-int-list

    I always imagine that rebranding an architectural consultancy must be the dream gig for a design agency. There’s so much to work with in terms of structural materials, geometric forms, textures, type and slick photography. Even so it’s not every day you see an architectural rebrand executed with the kind of flair with which Two Points has created Aamodt/Plumb’s new corporate materials.

  13. Gentlewoman-bjork-list

    Whenever a new issue of The Gentlewoman is announced two questions spring to mind: what colour is it, and who’s the cover star? For the upcoming Issue 11 those all-important answers are cream, and Bjork, and it looks absolutely tantalising. Björk’s been shot by longtime Gentlewoman collaborator Alasdair McLellan and is pictured looking windswept and enigmatic (two of her strongest vibes). It’s hard to move without bumping into Björk at the moment – with a trailer just having been released for her upcoming show at MoMA in New York – but that won’t stop us counting the days until we can delve into this interview.