February’s Nicer Tuesdays took the audience on a multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary trip yesterday evening at Oval Space. From Nicholas Bonner taking us to North Korea through his collection of graphics ephemera, and the Yarza Twins talking about their rebranding of Oia in north western Spain, to Lucy Hardcastle leading us into the future of art in the digital realm, and revered set designer Gary Card’s travels through his material-based career, it was quite the journey. Here is a collection of the best bits were learned on the night.
There’s no such thing as advertising in North Korea
Nicholas Bonner began the evening of talks with his fascinating insight to graphic design in North Korea. Based in Beijing, Nicholas, a landscape architect turned filmmaker and self proclaimed graphic hoarder, bound all his findings together in Made in North Korea: Graphics from Everyday life in the DPRK, published by Phiadon.
Through his findings Nicholas taught the Nicer Tuesdays audience how there is actually “no such thing as advertising in North Korea” all categorised under the umbrella of promotion. Despite this, Nicholas pointed out how “the first thing that gets you about the country is the beauty and the aesthetics of their graphics”. The artistic tendencies of North Korean graphics develop from a “distinct Korean palette,” he says, where packaging is far more beautiful than the content due to a colour palette that is “very bold, allegorical and symbolic,” designed so that “every Korean understands that symbolism”.
The Yarza Twins had never heard of Magaluf before they moved to England
Next up we had Spanish siblings Marta and Eva Yarza, the twin sisters with a joint love for graphic design. The pair took to the podium to talk us through a recent branding project commissioned by Oia Council, creating an identity for the Spanish municipality in Galicia. Oia, the Yarza twins explain, is a place with a Spanish “culture very different to what people think it is”. To demonstrate this, Marta and Eva taught the audience the many misconceptions that surround Spain, for instance one sibling admitted not knowing “what Magaluf was until I came to London”. Their bold identity was encouraged by Oia’s uniqueness, designing an alternative visual language to the rest of the country’s tourist boards. “We were worried about attaching a modern identity to such a traditional village, but it was received well by the locals.”
Lucy Hardcastle’s work will make you lick your screen
Best known for “creating visuals that feel and appear digitally native,” Lucy Hardcastle gave us an insight into her creative mind that spans the “digital, real, physical and the virtual”. Speaking through her practice from a background in textiles to a master’s at the RCA, the “digital craftsman” taught us about the goals and meaning of her practice which aims to develop “new ways of storytelling”. The result is work that although digitally-based and hyperreal, has recognisable qualities of being seductive and slimy. By combining these aesthetic qualities, Lucy’s work is a captivating experiment on the human relationship with technology, ultimately asking: “Is tech a servant or a life enhancement?”
Card isn’t just Gary’s surname, it’s his favoured material too
Our last speaker of the evening was the fantastic and prolific set designer Gary Card. With many, many a project to talk about, the designer took us on a speedy journey through his career from his work with massive names such as Tim Walker, Liberty and Comme des Garcon, to his continuous collaboration with fashion designer and dear friend, Charles Jeffrey. Despite the breadth of clients Gary covers, using malleable materials comes first describing that his studio “takes a very naive material and we see how far we can stretch it to its most satisfying and logical conclusion”. Gary’s affable talk taught us the usefulness of everyday materials, particularly if you can transform bin bags and cardboard to a set for fashion week.