• 01_da3_cover_angle_g

    Matt Judge: DA3

Graphic Design

An interview with Matt Judge about his award-winning Design Assembly book

Posted by Rob Alderson,

When the Design Assembly discussion forum closed, founder Matt Judge was determined it should’t sink without trace. The book he produced to mark its passing was one of the most eye-catching publications to appear last year and has rightly been recognised by various awards panels. We spoke to Matt about the process of commemorating a blog in print, his attitude to awards and the pressures of designing a book aimed at design afficianados…

How did the idea for the book come about?

Ask anyone who runs a blog and they’ll tell you it’s a pretty thankless task. We weren’t interested in turning it into a commercial venture, in part for fear of losing the integrity of its voice, so it was fuelled purely by the passion of its authors, and their desire to make a difference. Design Assembly had been pretty prolific for the first 18 months but as our authors moved up the professional ladder their priorities naturally changed, and writing thought-provoking content became more and more of a challenge that time didn’t permit.

After all the energy and effort that had gone into making the platform I would have been devastated to just pull it down, but equally would have hated for it to just become forgotten because of the growing infrequency of its posts. 

Then in late 2010 I lost my dad to cancer. It had a profound effect on me, forcing me to question what I wanted from my life and career. With Design Assembly we had been trying to make a difference to fellow creatives, by challenging their perception of design and showing them how important our role is to greater society. What better example of that than to donate all that time, energy and content to a far greater cause — fighting cancer.

  • 02_da3_cover-flat_g

    Matt Judge DA3

  • 03_da3_cover-flat-open_g

    Matt Judge: DA3

Why did you decide to structure it in the way you did?

The number three became a recurrent theme throughout the project. Three years with of Design Assembly being the starting point, and the frightening statistic that one in three of us will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in our lifetime being the motivation. 

It made sense to split the content into three sections — an introduction to Design Assembly and the cause the project supported (book 1), the new content I had commissioned exclusively for the printed publication (book 2) and an archive of the website forming the bulk of the publication (book 3). 

Because each section was unique in content, each was unique in design, size, binding, which was way more work than I imagined, and added huge complications to the production process, but gave DA3 a unique selling point, which I felt was crucial in a fairly congested design-publishing market.

All profits from the sale of the book are being split between three charities with a combined global reach, rounding off the theme of three nicely.

  • 06_da3_book02-2_g

    Matt Judge: DA3

  • 08_da3_book02-4_g

    Matt Judge: DA3

How much pressure was it to design a book about a design site – knowing it would be pored over by design buffs?

I am my harshest critic, always have been, so could feel no greater pressure than that which I put myself under. 

How pleased were you with the end result?

Delighted. Considering the time frame it was put together in, the limited budget to work within and the problems I encountered (paper sponsorship being withdrawn two weeks prior to print was amongst the worst) I’m surprised it happened at all! When you see someone go through something as destructive as cancer it helps give you some perspective, and what may have seemed like a brick wall a few years ago started looking more like speed bumps.

“Producing something physical is a great way of placing a stake in the ground — we were here.”

Matt Judge

You won the Creative Circle award recently for best publication – how do designers feel about these kinds of awards?

I’m a pretty big award sceptic. Unless it’s based on something tangible (increased revenue or subscription, for example) it’s just down to personal taste. The best work can be dismissed because the judging panel have a different aesthetic, so the entry fee becomes a gamble some people just won’t take (often the smaller agencies doing the most progressive, compelling work).

But I knew a little of the Creative Circle from my time at This is Real Art, and knew it was highly regarded in advertising circles, which was interesting because I thought it may help give the book exposure to a different audience. Having Micheal C Place as head of the design judging panel also gave it real credibility. I hold Build’s work in such high regard, so to have a real ‘design buff’ you respect and admire single your work out for praise is incredibly humbling.

  • 10_da3_book02-6_g

    Matt Judge: DA3

  • 07_da3_book02-3_g

    Matt Judge: DA3

  • 09_da3_book02-5_g

    Matt Judge: DA3

  • 12_da3_book03-1_g

    Matt Judge: DA3

  • 13_da3_book03-2_g

    Matt Judge: DA3

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. A2-moscow-int-list

    Somewhat lazily I’ve included an image in this post that concisely explains exactly what Moscow Sans is, who’s created it and why – which pretty much negates this whole piece of text. But in truth it was the best example of the typeface in use that I could find, hence its inclusion with the images below. Anyway, rather than repeating the sentiments of this text I’ll just say how excited I am to see Margaret Calvert lending her expertise to this project and reiterate a widely-held view that Henrik Kubel and Scott Williams are some of the finest typographic designers working today. Enjoy!

  2. Artworklove-jeff-koons-int-list

    You’d struggle to make a big, bright, shiny Jeff Koons balloon dog anything but visually brilliant, but Parisian studio Artworklove has surely done more with it than most, making it the star of some beautifully designed invitations to the artist’s show at the Pompidou centre. The colours, the scale and the stock selected work together beautifully and make a nice introduction to what the studio’s been up to since we last posted about them in 2012, when we flagged up some great art direction using a nice Julia Roberts quip. Other cool noteworthy projects they’ve carried out of late include a great identity for French furniture and homeware site La Chance, which takes a simple icon and colour palette and twists the mark into something more dynamic.

  3. Nbstudio-almeida-int-list

    It’s often the case with design work that the final outcome is quite different in scope to the original brief. So it was for NB Studio, which was originally asked by the Almeida Theatre in London for a brand review and refresh. After what the studio calls “an intensive period of immersion and briefing sessions,” the NB team came back with a more wide-ranging proposal – “It was clear then that this was to be a bold re-brand rather than mere cosmetic enhancement,” they say.

  4. Vg_alphabeta_04

    About seven years ago Village Green produced a series of iconic posters for London’s infamous Fabric nightclub… and then we haven’t checked up on them since. Poor form on our part as they’ve been busy expanding, improving and creating work for bigger and better clients. Currently it seems they’re specialising in architectural branding for commercial property developments, cladding the Alphabeta redevelopment in Finsbury Square, London and The Bonhill Building office spaces on Old Street. Of course they’ve done other stuff too; like the identity and exhibition design for Jean Paul Gaultier’s Barbican show and Nike’s 2013 Hypervenom campaign, but frankly there’s just too much stuff to cover in one article. We’ll be sure to keep closer tabs on these guys in future.

  5. Quimmarin-posters-int-list

    Barcelona-based designer and art director Quim Marin has a strong visual sensibility and a prolific work-rate if scrolling through his site is anything to go by. There’s a load of impressive poster and other print design on there, with particularly effective use of some trendy tropes which can often feel stale in less talented hands. “In such a visually polluted environment I try to come up with fresh and memorable designs with a clear aim at essential beauty and equilibrium that, at the same time, will ensure communicative effectiveness,“ Quim says by way of a mission statement, and it’s hard to sum up his work better than that.

  6. Chevalvert-int-list-2

    You wade into Chevalvert’s portfolio rubbing your hands across your eyes, unsure of what you’ve stumbled across. The Paris-based studio was founded in 2007 by Patrick Paleta and Stéphane Buellet and describes itself as being based on an “open, multidisciplinary approach,” which might go some way to explaining why it feels like a cave laden with treasures. So many treasures.

  7. Fantastic-man-list

    Fantastic Man magazine has been redesigned, as shown in its teaser image of its tenth anniversary issue. The magazine’s new issue cover star JW Anderson has shown the new cover on Instagram, which reveals a new design seeing the masthead run vertically and horizontally, instead of its previous preluder horizontal configuration. The cover image also runs to both sides, moving away from its previous white-edged format. We’re excited to see what changes might have been made to the inside of the mag…

  8. Dwp-bikestock-int-list

    This morning I had a puncture that I couldn’t fix and had to get the train to work, so it feels timely to be writing about Bikestock, a range of vending machines full of cycling essentials that can be found all over New York and Boston. The concept is a simple one; inner tubes, spanners, tyre levers tyres and any number of other little bits and pieces that make your wheels turn smoothly are boshed into a vending machine so you can grab them on the go and, more importantly, at any time of day!

  9. List

    Joost Bos is a recent graduate from the Academie Minerva Groningen in The Netherlands where he’s spent three years studying for his bachelor’s degree. Like many of his Dutch counterparts he’s a dab hand with typography both traditional and experimental and has a plethora of printed pieces in his portfolio. This one, Sequence 1, is an exhibition catalogue for a show of artist books at Joost’s alma mater, which perfectly demonstrates his design sensibilities. Immaculately set type is interspersed with hand-drawn elements and bright colours bring intrigue to an otherwise monochrome publication. Like what you’re seeing? He’s available for freelance work right now!

  10. Sam-coldy-penguin-int-list

    Is it just me or is Penguin killing it at the moment? The publishing house only recently celebrated its 80th birthday by launching a range of its classic titles for 80p each, accompanied by a slick website and a poster campaign which has reached even the furthest corners of London’s transport system. And right now, they’re in the midst of a new campaign called On the Page which celebrates women authors and characters in literary masterpieces.

  11. Karansingh-mop-int-list

    The glorious coming together of pattern, shape and colour makes for a joyous experience and that’s why print designers are held in such high regard. Last week we commissioned Animade to turn three eye-poppingly good Pucci x Orlebar Brown patterns into trippy GIFs, this week we’re turning our attention to profiling creatives we believe are among the best around when it comes to working in this area. We are proud to present these #mastersofprint.

  12. Gerard-marin-int-list

    There’s something of a trend going around at the moment for identities using 3D logo-marks, and with this one by Gerard Marin we can see why. Barcelona-based designer Gerard developed the branding, stationery and corporate materials for interior designer and visual merchandiser Neus Ortiz. Recognisability and malleability were at the forefront of his mind for this project, and the flexible “N,” which changes according to its application, prove a neat solution to both. His is an unfussy aesthetic which lends itself perfectly to branding projects – here’s hoping more make their way to him very soon.

  13. Nike-logo

    There’s a moment in this film where Michael Bierut comes over all Hayley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense as he declares: “ I can see things in typefaces that normal people can’t.” It’s part of his discussion about how “design can be a lonely thing” and that as you immerse yourself in that world “you’re actually making yourself less normal than regular people.” Filmed at Design Indaba in South Africa last month, this interesting short film moves onto to look at logos and why designers are so interested in them. Using famous examples like the Nike swoosh and the Target, um, target, Michael explains his theory that we’re drawn to them because they’re primitive and yet we invest them with so much meaning. “A lot of what we see when we’re looking at the logo isn’t really happening in the logo; it happens in our own mind,” he explains.