• Pat2top

    Patrick Fry: Living Symphonies

Behind The Scenes

Behind the design of a musical forest installation with Patrick Fry

Posted by Amy Lewin,

Taking on the art direction of a musical installation touring about British woodlands sounds like a somewhat complex task. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what a musical installation set amongst trees would even involve. I assumed it wasn’t anything to do with singing pixies.

If anyone could do it though, it’d be Patrick Fry: an art director and designer who has worked for the likes of Paul Smith, Nike and the BBC. A while back, we wrote about the striking identity he designed for an event at the Globe, and we caught up today to talk trees and technology.

What is Living Symphonies?

Living Symphonies is a sound installation that is touring across English forests this summer, created by artists James Bulley and Daniel Jones. The piece is composed using generative music created through data collected from the forest’s ecosystem. Speakers are hidden across a forest environment, each playing a different musical motif relating to specific fauna and flora present in that specific ecosystem.

Where do you start with a project like this?

I spent quite some time with the artists trying to understand the technical aspects to the project. We also listened to prototypes of the sound art itself, to best understand how to visually represent the experience.

We began the project before all the partners and supporters were involved. So it started off as a simpler typographic identity. The idea was that the type would flow, shuffle and readjust to its surroundings in a manner that referenced the nature of the generative music.
After all the funding came through and Living Symphonies grew to the size it is now the identity needed to work harder. So it grew alongside the project; we commissioned Katie Scott to illustrate the key data groups that would form musical motifs within the piece. Diagrams, interactive iPad visuals, signage, way-finding and various pieces of print followed. We also created a website that would document the development of the piece and host the artist’s research.

  • Pat5

    Patrick Fry: Living Symphonies

  • Pat6

    Patrick Fry: Living Symphonies

  • Pat3top

    Patrick Fry: Living Symphonies

Is it tricky to create an identity which spans posters, signs, paper publications and iPad interface?

That presented a challenge in itself but we also had to think about the different audiences involved and how they would interact with the graphic design work. As it is a high concept, sophisticated piece of artwork there is an immediate expected audience who are naturally well-informed and keen to learn about the piece in detail. But as the project is based in forests, there are far more families and nature enthusiasts that really do not expect to be running into strange art installations while off bird watching or going ape. We had to think about how to distil the essence of the project in a more approachable and easy to digest fashion.

How much time did you spend it the great outdoors seeking inspiration/researching?

Not as much as I would have liked! Visiting a prototype of the installation in Thetford Forest was the main highlight of my research, as this gave an invaluable insight into how it felt to experience Living Symphonies.

  • Pat1

    Patrick Fry: Living Symphonies

  • Pat8

    Patrick Fry: Living Symphonies

  • Pat7

    Patrick Fry: Living Symphonies

Tell me more about the booklet. Our magazine editor James thinks it looks so natural that it could be planted and grow a whole new life!

We used heavily recycled stock with a tactile quality that we hoped would inspire people to get away from their city life and into the great outdoors.

Returning to the iPad, is it not doubly difficult to design a technological interface for an installation which takes place in the most natural and low-tech surrounding?

The piece itself is extremely high-tech; it is run using all sorts of algorithms and amazing hardware. So although the identity itself has an earthy feeling we really wanted the guests to experience the hidden side of the work. The interface features a collection of 22 repeatable tiles that represent the different environmental elements such as bracken, dead wood or moss. These had to visually represent their elements, but also hold enough differentiation to make the interface understandable.

Lastly, how do you see the relationship between music and design?

I think that it is the designer’s role to do their best to reflect the feeling of listening to the music. As this is an extremely objective experience it’s hard to say if you have fully succeeded, so it’s best to leave a little to each listener’s imagination.

  • Pat4

    Patrick Fry: Living Symphonies

  • Pat9

    Patrick Fry: Living Symphonies

Amy

Posted by Amy Lewin

Amy joined It’s Nice That in July 2014 as a freelance editorial assistant. Previously she studied English at Oxford University and has worked at several media and film production companies.

Most Recent: Behind The Scenes View Archive

  1. List-3

    Harley Weir is an extraordinary talent. Her work is bold and unreserved, whether it be part of a personal project investigating the border between Israel and Palestine, a vibrant fashion editorial for the likes of British Vogue, or a series of ethereal portraits capturing redheads with all of the eerie stillness of Millais’ Ophelia.

  2. List

    Back in August, Thames & Hudson published Collector’s Edition, a stunning book collecting collector’s editions of music and literature releases. Now, to continue the rather meta trajectory of the original, the book’s author and creative director, Stuart Tolley, founder and director at creative agency Transmission, has released a collector’s edition of Collector’s Edition in the form of an “artist cover bomb” series, which has seen ten artists whose work appears in the book decorate a copy, and which will be sold in an online auction to raise funds for The Alzheimer’s Society. He talks us through the “very loose” brief he set the participants, and how it felt for him to have the likes of Paul McCartney and Nick Cave decorating a book he created.

  3. List

    There are equal doses of pleasure and frustration to be had in stumbling across the work of a photographer you’ve never seen before. It’s classic FOMO on a macro scale, coupled with joy at the prospect of showing off the treasure you’ve found. At least that’s what I felt when I discovered that photographer Mark Neville was to be showing two of his photo-series alongside one another in a new show entitled London/Pittsburgh at London’s Alan Cristea Gallery.

  4. List-flyers-for-the-institute-at-sexology.-photography-by-russell-dornan_-design-by-liam-relph-(3)

    London’s Wellcome Collection space always hosts explorations of the things that fascinate us most. It’s covered death, it’s exhaustively explored the human body in all its glory and grotesquery, and now it’s moved on to surely the most fascinating of all – sex, or more precisely, how people have studied it.

  5. List

    How’s this for a collaboration? Artist Quentin Jones, who counts photography, animation, painting and filmmaking among the tools of her trade, has teamed up with spatial designer Robert Storey to create the setting for her new exhibition in the The Vinyl Factory Space on London’s Brewer Street, with Robert creating a set for each of Quentin’s works.

  6. List

    There’s a real appetite here on the internet for old black and white photos being presented in colour, but in the main they tend to focus on historic or social themes. It’s less common to see sports photography undergoing this treatment, which is why we were so struck by the work of Gooner Frog when we came across it on Facebook.

  7. List-2

    Marrying a playful typographic approach, sensitive illustrations and deliciously tactile gold foil, the cover of The Recorder is a great indication of its contents: a beautifully designed ode to typography and its omnipresence.

  8. Main

    Music publishing is in a strange place. There are certain places we go to get our fix: Dazed, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, NME, ’SUP and FACT to name but a few, but the atmosphere of the industry feels slightly scattered. Do people still want their music news in printed form when the internet will always get there first? We were curious to speak to Hanna Hanra who is the editor of BEAT magazine, on how she started, why the hell she’s doing it, and what the publication aims to do. I asked Hanna who the magazine was aimed at and she answered: “Well, myself, primarily.” Here she is…

  9. 4list.-charles-jourdan_-spring-1976-%c2%a9-guy-bourdin

    In the summer of 1979, several legs boarded a ferry travelling from Dieppe to Plymouth. However unlike most other legs making the journey, these didn’t have any feeling in their toes.

  10. Main

    No magazine gets snapped up and devoured like Apartamento when it arrives into the It’s Nice That studio – there’s something about its size, understated beauty and incomparable wit that makes it irresistable. It states that it’s an “everyday life interiors magazine,” but it’s so much more than that, providing in-depth interviews with some of the coolest people who walk on this earth, with snooping photographs of their dwellings to boot. Now on its 14th edition, I wanted to ask Omar Sosa, the magazine’s much-loved founder, a little about this issue, those in the past, and where Apartamento is headed.

  11. Main1

    Embarrassingly, I only recently realised the magic and majesty of The Paris Review. I came across it when a recent issue was illustrated by one of my favourite artists, Chris Ware. Eager to see who was responsible for this decision, I tracked down their art editor and came across Charlotte Strick. Charlotte is a fantastic, intelligent book jacket designer who is utterly seeped in the work that she makes, so much so that she writes about design almost as much as she practices it. I was keen to speak to Charlotte about what she did and what got her there, but I wasn’t prepared for the level of detail she was to go in. – she gives a truly spectacular interview. Here she is…

  12. List

    It’s a well-established fact that even the most conceptually exciting product designs can fall flat on their face if they’re photographed poorly. Imagery can often make or break these projects. And while of course this isn’t the be-all and end-all, it’s worth taking this part of the process seriously to maximise the chances of your work cutting through the noise.

  13. List

    A couple of weeks ago, Channel 4 aired a documentary (below) which saw photographer Giles Duley (himself a triple amputee) meet some of the disabled victims of the war in Syria. It was a difficult watch but an extremely important story to tell, and one that meant a lot to Giles. He got in touch to say that although The Guardian ran an in-depth piece on the same theme, he had some photographs which weren’t used that he was really keen to get out there.