Review of the Year 2015: creative director Neville Brody
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Industry legend Neville Brody tells us about his massive, even by his standards, year that saw the delivery of a new visual identity for Channel 4 and a reorganisation of the School of Communications at the RCA
There’s no pretending that 2015 was the year we all heard of some bright young thing called Neville Brody. It goes without saying that he’s been at the forefront of graphic design for decades now, but we felt we couldn’t not celebrate his work for Channel 4 this year. Working with 4Creative, Jonathan Glazer and DBLG, Neville helped create a new visual identity for the channel, based around a logo that “deconstructed” Lambie Nairn’s classic “4” brand mark, which has remained in its current form for over ten years. Neville designed Horseferry and Chadwick, two bespoke typefaces for use on display and information text.
Having launched Brody Associates towards the end of 2014, this year has also seen Neville inducted into the Design Week Hall of Fame at its 2015 awards. Perhaps the point in his career he’s most known for is art directing The Face magazine since its launch in 1980. Fans of post punk will know Neville’s work from designs for the likes of Cabaret Voltaire and Pere Ubu, while wider audiences were reached when he created a new typeface, Times Modern, for The Times newspaper in 2006. Few designers have managed to combine such experimental with such commercially resonant projects, and we’re sure there’s a lot more to come from Neville.
What was your creative highlight of 2015?
2015 has been a busy year for me and the Brody Associates team. We have worked on several major typography and visual identity collaborations, as well as smaller graphic design projects in many different countries. If I had to pick one project, it would be our typeface for Channel 4 in two styles – Horseferry and Chadwick. It was a brilliant brand to work with, and it was great to collaborate with 4Creative and their agencies. But aside from that it was a project that we believe had a great outcome. Horseferry represents the personality side of Channel 4, and Chadwick is a function information typeface based on the idea of a new British Gothic. The best parts have been the positive client feedback and their joy in working with the typeface across all broadcasting from News to Hollyoaks.
What was your lowlight of 2015?
Lack of time! With the studio being so busy we’ve not been able to get out to as many conferences and festivals as we usually would – that will change next year. Also, finding space for our own creative projects and personal practice has been a challenge, but we have now restructured the way we work to build more opportunities for creative exploration and experimentation.
What do you think are the markers of a good year creatively?
Good projects and positive outcomes from us as designers and the clients we are collaborating with is very important. Internally we like to see happy associates who are enjoying the work – spending time as a team to reflect and celebrate our achievements.
Neville Brody: Channel 4
Which piece of work from the last year has been your favourite to work on?
Apart from the Channel 4 font I mentioned above, a real highlight has also been the Punk.London work to celebrate next year’s 40thanniversary of its birth. As far as the RCA is concerned, a major highlight has been the work put in by everyone there to redesign the School of Communication, a project due to launch this week.
Which piece of work from the last year do you feel has been most significant to your portfolio/career?
The Channel 4 font. We have worked with several major media companies in the UK, The Times, The Guardian, BBC as well as other film and media brands internationally, but Channel 4 is a very special institution – one that is always pushing boundaries and covering subject matter that wouldn’t usually get featured. That’s a once in a lifetime kind of brief, and for that reason I would include it in my portfolio.
How has your work evolved over the last 12 months?
As well as being more hands-on in creative direction and designing, I have been finding new ways of working closely with the associate team to evolve how we create and collaborate internally. I’m very lucky to have such a great team with me and the quality of work we have produced has been rewarding internally as well as for clients.
What’s been the most important thing you’ve learnt in the last year?
The RCA has been a wonderful learning curve, and finding new ways to navigate the changes going on by finding exciting new opportunities, like launching Sound Design and Experimental Animation, has been a real development for me.
Who has been the most influential creative for you in the last year?
I would say the work of the graduate students from the School of Communication – they are always hungry for new ideas and challenges, and find new ways of seeing the things we are familiar with.
Describe 2015 in five words.
Fast, fun, hard work, fulfilling, creative
What are your hopes for 2016?
More of the same, and more learning I hope – we like to keep busy and we have several projects we are starting to work on that will keep us challenged and motivated. We want to find time to engage more with the wider community and spend time on our personal creative work. I hope to travel more and experience new cultures and start exciting client projects with the rest of the team.
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