Posted by Alex Hawker
26 June, 2019

We return for part two of Quarterly Thoughts 2019, covering everything from European inspiration to reworked British classics.


I was struck by The Wildlife Trusts’ latest campaign, which uses animation and a host of celebrities to great effect to highlight the rapid decline in natural landscapes. We should all be doing our bit and it’s a nice, engaging way of illustrating this by turning something quintessentially British and idyllic on its head to show the realities. Thought-provoking stuff!


The colours, textures and forms of Portugal astound me every time I visit. The use of colour within tiles is always a particular highlight and leaves my head buzzing with possibility. As a designer, it’s so easy to dismiss combinations of colour when sat in front of a computer, but when you see them in real life around the streets of Lisbon, working so well, you can’t help but smile. It proves that no matter how important digital technology is in our daily lives, craft, playfulness and curiosity will always be the most important factors in creativity.

Coloured tiles in Portugal


At the 2019 democratic design day earlier this month, IKEA revealed their latest collections and collaborations. My highlight was Förändring, a homeware range made from rice straw. Not only are these baskets, mats and rugs beautiful, they’re also helping to tackle air pollution in North India. The design team noticed that a major source of air pollution in India was smoke produced by farmers burning straw left over after their rice harvests. So, IKEA developed a range of products made from rice straw, giving value to this waste material and incentivising farmers to collect, rather than burn, it. It's a great example of designers tackling big global challenges and how businesses can use their buying power for good.


Running next week (3-6 July), the Penzance Literary Festival gives writers, readers and romantics the chance to gain a fresh perspective on text. Billed as ‘the friendliest lit fest in the UK’, the event draws together a wonderfully diverse selection of authors, publishers, professors and poets. This year’s theme is ‘Borderlines’, with talks and workshops exploring the many interpretations it inspires. I’m looking forward to heading along to one or two – it’s a great opportunity to recharge creative batteries and meet new and interesting people.

Emma, design intern

The Happy News is a refreshing alternative to the news channels we are used to consuming, celebrating ‘all that’s good in the world’ instead of stories that are sad or terrifying. The newspaper’s founder and creator, Emily Coxhead, describes herself as a ‘fluffy-haired, smiley kinda thing but also a designer, illustrator and happy thing maker’, whose aim is simply to make people smile. I stumbled across The Happy News about a year ago on Instagram, and fell in love with the bright illustrations, positive messages and uplifting news stories. The Happy News is a real, full-colour publication, released quarterly. I highly recommend having a look around the website, which is just as joyful and beautifully designed as the newspaper itself, with moving illustrations and light, engaging copy. It’s a friendly, much-needed reminder that everything will be okay – despite all of the bad things in the world, there are still people who will go out of their way to make the world a better place.


I really enjoyed seeing all the different gardens showcased at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. I didn’t manage to make it there in person unfortunately, however it’s lovely to look through all the photos and appreciate the creativity and effort that goes in to designing something so beautiful. My favourite this year was the image below, and it’s great that it was to support the Donkey Sanctuary. I particularly love the colours, the flow around the garden and the fact that its not too ‘polished’.


I was amused by this brilliant cartoon by Warner in this week’s Private Eye. A few of Cornwall's most beautiful ‘secret’ spots have, since the advent of social media, been discovered thanks to ❤ hungry Instagrammers. There’s one particular beach close to my heart near Land’s End, which last year was the talk of Instagram thanks to someone keen to get more likes. As a result, the narrow lanes became clogged with traffic, and families risked their necks to clamber down to a remote beach which until then was thankfully little known.


I loved reading this article in Creative Review about IKEA’s imaginative recreation of famous front rooms. The company created three adverts, aimed at the expat UAE market, which took items available in store and rearranged them using 3D modelling software to form famous settings from Friends, The Simpsons and Stranger Things. The campaign, named Real Life Series, took months of work and involved the team searching through hundreds of items to find the right pieces.


Have you ever found yourself wondering how they tackled teaching the letter ‘X’ in children’s alphabet books before xylophones were popular and x-rays were invented? Nope – neither had I, until I came across this article on the Public Domain Review. It shows loads of examples, and it turns out that people struggled quite a lot. Sometimes they managed to get creative, but a lot of the examples are just downright lazy (such as the image below left). Silly, but strangely interesting!


A fantastic world of graphic art now confronts us when choosing our favourite tipple. The global boom in independent brewing has gifted graphic designers the perfect opportunity to flex their creative muscles, with the imaginative feats of design only surpassed by the myriad of flavours available. Understanding that most beer drinkers are pretty undiscerning when it comes to consumer decision making, has encouraged brewers to use their packaging to its fullest to attract the attention of would-be consumers. Some of these emerging breweries are starting to make waves commercially and as a result their creative approach is beginning to gain more traction within the wider sector. It’s amazing to see the DIY aesthetic of independent brewing inspiring creativity and offering designers a new outlet for their talents.


Tate Britain is currently exhibiting fifty of Vincent Van Gogh’s major works, with next month marking 162 years since his birth. His birthplace, Zundert, is also famed for its annual flower float parade. This year they’re celebrating Van Gogh with beautiful dahlia sculptures...