20 March 2019

Esther Cox Answers 12 Questions Relating to the Creative Process

What is the creative process and how does it define us?

In this ongoing Q&A series, 12 simple questions are posed to people across different industries to reveal what it means to be creative, whatever your vocation.

Answering the questions this time is textile designer and illustrator, Esther Cox.





C O N C I O U S N E S S




In a nutshell, what do you do?

Professionally I create patterns for fashion textiles and interiors, and illustrations for posters, books and packaging. Personally I explore the human instinct for decoration and pattern through painting and collage. They overlap, feeding and confusing each other.


What’s your creative process; how do you get stuff done?


Look. Procrastinate. Play. Arrive at an outcome somehow… In practice this means visual research, drawing and collaging elements. Scanning into software and reworking and colouring digitally. The hand element defines my ideas, shapes and textures, the digital element allows me to turn those ideas into a cohesive repeat or composition. Colour is vital in what I do, and working digitally allows me to play with countless combinations. Mostly I know it is 'done' when I can't see any significant changes to make.


Everyone works differently. When did you become aware that your creative process is your own?


I think my process has largely been built out of trying to find a way to do things that I didn't know how to do. From a place of not thinking I could do things I've managed to create my own visual language and way of making. It has taken me years to unlearn a lot of things from art school that didn't make sense to me.

My first ever client was surprised by the way I presented my colour palette as a little pattern of intersecting shapes to show how they would be combined. I've since seen people use a list of Pantones or a pie chart (yawn).

I still find it difficult to produce roughs for clients. I work in an intuitive way and don't have a finished idea in my head. Offering a pencil sketch to a client doesn't give a very satisfactory indication of what the end result might be. I find it difficult to articulate it, so I am asking a lot from clients to trust in my peculiar process.


When are you most creative?


Usually when there is a deadline looming and I should be focusing on that. New ideas often start to present themselves then. Work begets work I suppose. A blank page and free time is actually stultifying. It's not the best system for a freelancer...


Can you be creative in a vacuum or do you need outside influences to help?

I spend a lot of time looking. Whether that is books, magazines, exhibitions, the Internet or the wall. As a textile designer I have to be aware of trends, but I feel the danger of getting caught up in them. So after my research is done, I tidy it all away and start work without too much reference material. It's the only way to retain your identity.

The thought of sharing a studio horrifies me slightly. I enjoy the solitude at work so my mind can wander or focus as it needs. But there is a great energy and joy in working with a client who is prepared to trust in you and have a free exchange of ideas. It's how I make my best work and I wish there were more of those creative relationships.






E X I S T E N T I A L I S M




Did you seek being a creative or did creativity find you?

I'm not aware of a time without creativity. It has always ebbed and flowed, and it took me a long time to figure out (and still am) how I could use it professionally. I think it is born of a sense of unease, of not fitting, and feeling outside of things. I'm a keen observer so I've gathered a lot of information over the years. Creativity is a way of using and making sense of that I think.


Do you think your background has had an effect on your creativity?

Certainly. My parents/grandparents are/were creative in different ways. I don't think it was ever intended as a career for me, but as a child I was always given things to make/sew/draw as a means of keeping me quiet and occupied. And it still does.


Have you ever struggled with creativity?

Most days. But the challenge is an exciting one. Howard Hodgkin, one of our great modern painters, is reputed to have said 'I hate painting'. That makes absolute sense to me.





D I S R U P T I O N




Is there any one person, thought or thing that’s changed the way you think?

I struggle to answer this question as there are many things, not one definitive one. My mum had a French art book when I was younger on Raoul Dufy and I would pour over the pictures even though I couldn't read it. I have my own copy now and I still look at it with awe and envy. Books have always been a way in for me.

Otherwise I can only really say that when I was choosing my A-levels at school I was told that Art wasn't a proper subject and I should choose something else. Which probably cemented my choice to pursue it.


Do you have one piece of advice for anyone starting out as a creative?

I try not to give advice. It's there to be ignored isn't it? I'd only say persevere. The path will not be linear and there is almost certainly more than one to follow. It is doubtful you will ever feel you have 'arrived'. But therein lies the excitement and drive and keeps you creative.





R E F L E C T I O N




Do you think creativity has defined you?

Yes. I'm a peculiar bird and sitting in an office in a suit, listening to people talk about 'thinking outside the box' would have killed me long ago.


What would you like to do if you weren’t doing what you do now?

I've done lots of things as the creative life is not always a financially secure one. But I was quite adamant as a child I was going to be an interior designer, so maybe that. I dallied with the idea of textile conservation once too. It still fascinates me, but I might have lost the patience for it, and I certainly don't have the science for it.






T H A N K   Y O U





22 February 2019

Will Mabbitt Answers 12 Questions Relating to the Creative Process


What is the creative process? How does it differ from person to person? And what are the similarities? Can it even be defined? If so, to what end?

Taking my own fascination for process and repetition, I thought I'd attempt to answer those questions by simply, asking more questions. Questions on what creativity means to different people from across a wide spectrum of vocations, designed to reveal what the binding elements look like; to extrapolate the gold dust in the glue that holds creative process together. At least, that's the big idea.

From designers to artists to chefs to musicians to writers to programmers (and quite possibly anyone in-between) 12 simple questions are posed to see what creativity means to them and to glean insight into how these individuals are inspired, work, and produce their craft.

Although thoroughly tempting to dissect the results, as part of my own process I'll be letting the subject's answers speak for themselves. A Q&A. No more, no less.

Answering the questions this time: children's author, Will Mabbitt.





C O N C I O U S N E S S




In a nutshell, what do you do?

I make up stories.


What’s your creative process; how do you get stuff done?


I alternate between hard work and daydreaming.


Everyone works differently. When did you become aware that your creative process is your own?


I think i developed daydreaming abilities in childhood but it’s taken me years to learn the hard work part. It didn’t come naturally.


When are you most creative?


When I’m happy.


Can you be creative in a vacuum or do you need outside influences to help?

I prefer to work alone, but I'm always looking outward for ideas and inspiration.





E X I S T E N T I A L I S M




Did you seek being a creative or did creativity find you?

I think everybody is creative. I was lucky to find a way I could express myself.


Do you think your background has had an effect on your creativity?

Ideas, jokes, books and art were celebrated in my family. Having said that no-one ever told me I could do any of those things for a living. I definitely left school thinking that doing 'art' of any sort would be a waste of time.


Have you ever struggled with creativity?

Only happiness.





D I S R U P T I O N




Is there any one person, thought or thing that’s changed the way you think?

Yes. I was writing as a hobby and mainly in secret until I saw a postcard of Austin Kleon's book Steal like an Artist. It was a list of rules. Rule 6 was 'The Secret: Do good work and share it with people'. Until then I hadn't even considered showing people my writing. Getting some very basic feedback from others made me better, quicker, and eventually lead to my first book being published.


Do you have one piece of advice for anyone starting out as a creative?

Ideas are great but it's bringing them into existence that will make you happy.





R E F L E C T I O N




Do you think creativity has defined you?

I think it defines everyone.


What would you like to do if you weren’t doing what you do now?

I'd like to be a talent scout for picture book artists (if that job actually exists). I see so many illustrators on Instagram that I think could make amazing picture books, but either haven't been given the chance, or haven't thought to give it a try.






T H A N K   Y O U




14 February 2019

Ismini Samanidou Answers 12 Questions Relating to the Creative Process

What is the creative process? How does it differ from person to person? And what are the similarities? Can it even be defined? If so, to what end?

Taking my own fascination for process and repetition, I thought I'd attempt to answer those questions by simply, asking more questions. Questions on what creativity means to different people from across a wide spectrum of vocations, designed to reveal what the binding elements look like; to extrapolate the gold dust in the glue that holds creative process together. At least, that's the big idea.

From designers to artists to chefs to musicians to writers to programmers (and quite possibly anyone in-between) 12 simple questions are posed to see what creativity means to them and to glean insight into how these individuals are inspired, work, and produce their craft.

Although thoroughly tempting to dissect the results, as part of my own process I'll be letting the subject's answers speak for themselves. A Q&A. No more, no less.

Answering the questions this time is artist, Ismini Samanidou.





C O N C I O U S N E S S




In a nutshell, what do you do?

I am an artist and designer working with weaving, drawing and photography. I work on one-off pieces for exhibitions and site specific commissions, design textiles for industry and collaborate with other artists or designers. I used to teach more than I do now which I really miss. I also travel whenever I get a chance!


What’s your creative process; how do you get stuff done?


I do a lot of hand weaving, I also work on photography, and drawing and, depending on the project, may do a lot of design work on the computer too. A big chunk of it though is outside the studio, meeting people, writing emails etc. etc. etc.


Everyone works differently. When did you become aware that your creative process is your own?


I was pretty single minded and determined when I was a student so I think quite early.


When are you most creative?


When I am left alone to play without pressing deadlines and toddler tantrums, and able to focus on one thing at a time. Also on the train looking out the window my mind seems to wander and work ideas through.


Can you be creative in a vacuum or do you need outside influences to help?

Both: I need outside influences and then to be left in a vacuum for a while to make sense of them all.





E X I S T E N T I A L I S M




Did you seek being a creative or did creativity find you?

I think it found me. I always thought I would be a vet growing up. Photography captured my imagination and made me look and see, and weaving grounded me and made me ask so many questions about making and the world.


Do you think your background has had an effect on your creativity?

Yes definitely, I didn't grow up in a creative household and it takes me a while to throw myself into creativity today. It's not the most intuitive thing which is why I am so drawn to the process based work with weaving where math, planning and a methodology is a big part of the creative process.


Have you ever struggled with creativity?

Every minute every day!





D I S R U P T I O N




Is there any one person, thought or thing that’s changed the way you think?

I love the quote from Anni Albers 'You can go anywhere from anywhere' about the importance of experimentation and play and not worrying too much about the outcome, but enjoying the process of making. Also it reminds me that everything is connected.


Do you have one piece of advice for anyone starting out as a creative?

You need to be ready to stomach the creative lows and blocks along the way.





R E F L E C T I O N




Do you think creativity has defined you?

Something has given me a fire in my belly to keep working as an independent artist and designer, but I don't know if it is creativity as such. Good question. Need to keep thinking about it.


What would you like to do if you weren’t doing what you do now?

On a bad day I want to have a 'proper' job with well defined hours and a stable income every month, or that I should have stuck to the original plan and become a vet. Generally I would like to work more outside the studio on people projects: with schools, with the community close and far, and with projects in other countries looking at weaving and how this brings people together and changes values in the world.






T H A N K   Y O U





Photo credit: Gary Allson

08 February 2019

Matthew Coy Answers 12 Questions Relating to the Creative Process


Matthew Coy
What is the creative process? How does it differ from person to person? And what are the similarities? Can it even be defined? If so, to what end?

Taking my own fascination for process and repetition, I thought I'd attempt to answer those questions by simply, asking more questions. Questions on what creativity means to different people from across a wide spectrum of vocations, designed to reveal what the binding elements look like; to extrapolate the gold dust in the glue that holds creative process together. At least, that's the big idea.

From designers to artists to chefs to musicians to writers to programmers (and quite possibly anyone in-between) 12 simple questions are posed to see what creativity means to them and to glean insight into how these individuals are inspired, work, and produce their craft.

Although thoroughly tempting to dissect the results, as part of my own process I'll be letting the subject's answers speak for themselves. A Q&A. No more, no less.

First up in this series: musician, Matthew Coy.





C O N C I O U S N E S S




In a nutshell, what do you do?

For fun: a musician, beat maker, sound designer, synth hobbyist, drummer, DJ, and producer. For a job I teach music technology to children in a pupil referral unit (kids that don't quite fit the mould in a mainstream school setting).


What’s your creative process; how do you get stuff done?


In my work setting I am very productive, writing various different styles of music (mainly UK drill and trap). This is done by students saying they want to make a song in the style of an artist they like at the time. This creative process is very rapid and usually creates a good soundalike track in half an hour. I use this to wow the students and show them how they can make music they like.

A lot of inspiration comes from the students playing the midi control/keyboards badly then me finding the best bits of random sounds and notes that I can loop and turn into a decent track. I may do this process up to eight times a day. I love the idea that people who can’t play any instruments are able to turn these random untrained sounds into something special.


Everyone works differently. When did you become aware that your creative process is your own?


When I used to drum for many different bands and musicians, each creative process had a different way of working. After a while I tapped into how other musicians work together. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with other electronic musicians whose approaches are totally different to mine. For example, they may start with a beat and build around that, whereas my way of working begins by finding a simple sound or noise and letting that dictate how a composition progresses, with the drums written to the sound and style of the music. I put this down to drumming in a band where an idea or song is presented to me to which I come up with drum patterns and sounds to compliment the vibe.


When are you most creative?


I’m most creative at work because I have to be, even if I'm not feeling creative at the time. The pressure of getting my students to see the value of music makes me want to show them that it can be done.


Can you be creative in a vacuum or do you need outside influences to help?

I get excited when my missus and daughter say that they’ll be staying a couple of nights at her parents’ house. I have loads of grand ideas of what music I would like to make in this little window of opportunity. But when it comes to them going away and I'm home alone, I lose all creative drive and I’m usually not very inspired. I have too much freedom. On reflection I like the hustle and bustle of my home and I think that is actually what inspires me to write. Alone I tend to procrastinate but working with other musicians makes me focus a lot more and inspires me to better myself.





E X I S T E N T I A L I S M




Did you seek being a creative or did creativity find you?

I think creativity found me, I've always been creative, whether it’s art, design, photography or music. It’s the only thing that seems ‘normal’ in my life.


Do you think your background has had an effect on your creativity?

Probably yes. My father is a musician and a retired art teacher, my mum was a keen photographer and we had a darkroom in our house. I grew up going to lots of gigs that my dad would play at - lots of folk festivals. So being around all that has had a positive impact on my life and allowed me to explore different avenues of creativity.


Have you ever struggled with creativity?

Yeah, usually at the weekend when I've been writing beats at work all week and struggle to focus on my own stuff. In the past, if I've been really busy at work – lots of band practices and gigs, all with different bands over a period of months – I'd usually say that “I've blown a musical gasket”. But I’ve learnt to accept that this happens. And when it does, I don’t try to force any creativity as the results are usually a bit rubbish. It’s after a long period I usually get the feeling that I'm ready to pick up my tools again.

For me, the best bit of being creative is not all about the finished product, it’s the joy of the process of starting something new. That’s what keeps me going and that’s why I never finish stuff. Because the initial joy of creating has turned into a different beast.





D I S R U P T I O N




Is there any one person, thought or thing that’s changed the way you think?

Bob Ross and YouTube and all the special musicians that I’ve had the pleasure to musically bond with over the years.


Do you have one piece of advice for anyone starting out as a creative?

Make mistakes. I tell this to my students a lot – that it’s all about making mistakes. So much creativity can come from random mistakes.





R E F L E C T I O N




Do you think creativity has defined you?

I believe it has shaped who I am. It’s made me chase my dreams of doing a creative job that about 15 years ago I could never have imagined that I could or would be doing. It's definitely been my goal to be a random knob twiddler/beat maker, although I did dream to be an international superstar. But that didn't happen! At least I'm still making beats for a living and hopefully inspiring less fortunate kids that they too can have fun being creative.


What would you like to do if you weren’t doing what you do now?

To concentrate on my own music more but this will be an ongoing mission. Failing that, something involving a surf board and snorkel.






T H A N K   Y O U





Photo credit: Seth Carnill

31 October 2018

Videogames: (Sketch) / Design / Play / Disrupt



I took a trip to London recently to do some gallery lurking, and was fortunate enough to get a ticket into the V&A's latest digital inspired offering, Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt. As a designer within the industry this show is exploring, when I saw the curtain lifted on how games are made (a brainstorm wall, a spreadsheet of narrative forks, how sprints work, etc.) it began to feel like I'd come in on a Saturday to do some paid overtime – with me doing the paying.



But then something happened. I saw a kid, a girl. About ten years old, taking notes and sketching. And then a boy, he looked about 12, discussing with his dad all the inner machinations on display. Looking around, amongst a varied ragtag bunch of punters, I realised a large contingent were kids with parents. When the next generation of makers are getting inspired before your very eyes, you quickly start seeing things differently. The day-to-day in front you instead morphs into dreams. That spreadsheet, a dry but necessitous tool of organisation, becomes a truly beautiful, rational weapon of brilliant logic slaying the demons of disorganisation. My love for a spreadsheets and Gantt charts became crystallised as I saw afresh their pedagogical powers. And as I moved along this work-away-from-work, observing the hours, days, weeks, months and years of design, development and production unfold as art, I found the big one. The holy grail. A single artefact carefully secured, sheltered by dimmed light and protected by glass. A sketchbook. And it got me thinking.



I began thinking about thinking. I thought about the thoughts written down and how they got turned into something real. I wondered if that designer ever wondered what would become of their sketchbook. Did they see it as a workaday means to an end? A breadcrumb trail of thought? Or some other thing; proof of their part in something much bigger? Could they ever have imagined that a small part of their creative process would become worthy enough to be considered curate-able in the same room that showed the life work of David Bowie, currently next to an exhibition on Frida Kahlo in a museum space shared with epochs of diverse human antiquities, art and endeavours ranging from Tipu's Tiger, to Constable, to a 3D printed gun? My guess is not. I imagine they thought it would just sit on top of another sketchbook, in a long line of sketchbooks, gathering damp or dust or whatever it is you find at the bottom of a box in an attic. Until now.

Now it’s firing the imaginations of kids and showing that what we do, what makers do, is no different to what they do. Dreaming, sketching, making. And very often just doodling. (But doodling’s fine, kids. It frees the brain.)

I clearly remember as a kid myself, sketching on my 'William' custom headed notepaper my brother James got made for my birthday when he worked at Prontaprint. I looked up to him being a Graphic Designer and one day hoped I could do the same and somehow combine with that my massive love of The Beano, and turn my cottage industry of imitation comics and home t-shirt printing into something like a job. Funnily enough, something like that did happen. I did become a graphic designer. I did end up working with The Beano, helping make a couple of games. And the constant throughout this journey? Keeping sketchbooks.



It’s impossible not to. It’s one place where a constant thread of thought can be scrawled, traced and relinked in a tangible space. Quickly and easily navigated by thumb and forefinger, amended simply with a pen. Looking back through my current sketchbook, I can see an analogue time machine of projects and thought process, and even a few bits of those aforementioned Beano games scratched out. In the spirit of Design/Play/Disrupt, here are some of those sketches from two recent releases I worked on at Jollywise for Beano Studios: Return to Lender and Sausages and Chips.




We all know Da Vinci kept sketchbooks. Artists throughout time have done the same. As have designers. In one magical display, the V&A has helped solidify the importance of the medium for whatever field you work in, and turned the almost impossible games-as-art debate into a beautifully winnable argument. If you get a chance, take a look. And take a sketchbook.

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Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt

On now at V&A until Sunday, 24 February 2019

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This post was first published on the Jollywise blog

20 July 2018

Innovation, simplicity and creative thinking Eno nutshell


The old aphorism 'Necessity is the mother of invention' came to mind recently when I was listening to Episode 38 of the Adam Buxton podcast, in which he interviews Brian Eno (for the second time; the first time being episode 37, continuity fans).

Whenever Brian Eno says something, gold falls out. Kind of like a sagacious and thoughtful alchematic raconteur. If he had a strapline, it would be 'More than a musician'. You may have gathered, I really really really like Brian Eno. During one of Adam's signature ramblechats, they talk about making verse-chorus-middle eight pop/rock songs and, with it, some lovely insight into creativity spills out of our demigod. I mean Brian.

Discussing an early period of his songwriting, in one concise statement he manages to reveal more about a certain part of the creative process than few wordy articles ever have:

‘Very early on when I started writing songs, thinking, if I make a decision never to use the personal pronoun 'I', never to use 'you' in the singular, or 'love'. I thought if I make a decision never to use any of those three words in a song, I would already be in a very tiny area which nobody has explored very much. So that's kind of the trick I think, is to say okay, there's one target – the love song – and everyone is shooting at it. What about if I invent another target?’ (Click here, skip to 15:00.)

Back to that classic old aphorism ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’. Difficult situations inspire ingenious solutions, and essentially what Eno wanted to do was set himself parameters that would force a unique outcome. Innovation by reduction. Parameters are a great creative starting point on any project - that's why interrogating the brief is such an important part of the design process: distilling the requirements of a project into a nutshell so time needn't be wasted in casting the creative net too wide. One nice little example of this is to ask the client what they’re not looking for, often weeding out some very specific details that otherwise may not get articulated until a much later stage where time has been burnt venturing down yet unknown dead ends. For example, “We hate purple. So as long as the interface isn’t purple, we’ll be happy”. Good to know.

What at first appear to be boundaries can quickly stimulate lateral thought. Eno's take on forcing a situation whereby constraint is actually a positive fuel – rather than a creatively stifling pot of old glue – is nice to hear from a sensible demigod. I mean, person. Whatever creative field you're in, it's just how you choose to do your version of it; to harness your own set of rules, whether it's a didactic approach like his or a more philosophical one – such as using the ethos of simplicity as a whole.

Simplicity as a design tool for making more by using less is something I believe all us designers strive to do, but in practice is very difficult to execute. Projects often require proof of existence by the volume of ideas, the complexities therein and the output created by them, and it's a struggle to counter the 'more stuff = better value' logic. However, to coin a mixed metaphor, there's always more than one way to get your cakes in a row, slice, then eat them.

I recalled another interview, with director Jonathan Glazer, talking about the process of working on total cinematic amazathon and best film-with-a-Hollywood-A-lister-driving-a-white-Transit-van-around-Glasgow, ever: Under the Skin.

‘The perfect machine is the one with the fewest parts. You don't start with the fewest parts, you're trying to distil to the fewest parts. Simplicity is something you end with, you don't start with it; you get to it. If you're lucky you get to it.' (Click here, skip to 12:48.)

Nicely put. His MO is to accept that things are complex. You start with a camel but strive to end up with a racehorse.

Today's takeaway, dear reader: yep, sometimes more is indeed more. But in whichever creative industry you work, simplicity wants to win, and the people at the top of their game will always find a way to let it.

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This post was first published on the Jollywise blog

21 March 2017

A Mist Opportunity - fast food, UI design and Snoop Dog’s favourite weather


The commute to work the other day was that classic British trudge in the rain-not-rain which soaks you to the bone despite existing as a seemingly inert omnipresent grey smear. You could call it Cornish weather. Or maybe a grand soft day if you're in Ireland. I suppose it's drizzle, but it's a bit closer to mist. Hard to explain to your Spanish cousin, but if you're the BBC, you solve it with a simple icon of which Gerd Arnz would be proud.

The BBC's icon for drizzle


I'd never seen this weather symbol before. I'm not sure how long it's been in existence, but it must be quite new (I'm British. I own a smartphone. Ergo, I check the BBC Weather app like a teen checks Snapchat). So I had a dig around, asked someone I know from the internet called Jeeves, and found an old BBC piece on the redesign of their weather services, written by Melanie Seyer. It's a fantastic read, which - given the speed of how digital design develops - is still a relevant overview of a complex project, discussing research, user experience and graphic design. Curiously, it's briefly mentioned they were trialling a new symbol for drizzle. In 2011. Maybe I'd just never bumped into it?

Regardless, it's a thing of small beauty. It sits perfectly within the complete set of BBC weather icons and is a lovely bridge between the light rain icon and 'MIST' (one of only three which use words as adjectives - FOG and SAND STORM being the other two). Which got me thinking, imagine if mist absolutely definitely without a doubt needed an icon. What would it look like? How would you do it?

I did actually go through a brief design period of wanting to pare all messaging down to iconography, to the point of madness whereby I wanted to subtitle Stanley Kubrick's The Shining using only icons. Maybe the effect of reading too much Isotype history, or working on games which had to be localised in multi-languages. Instruction and information as a graphic was often an elegant workaround; pictures speaking a thousand words and all that. However, sometimes just one simple word is the quickest way to cut through and deliver your message.

Take the much maligned 'burger bar' for example.

IKEA's burger bar, appears top right on the nav.






It's a symbol many web users take for granted as an instruction to open a hidden menu. However, herein lies a classic design problem: no matter how intuitive you could argue this particular design pattern is - it's still a part of a language recondite to any user who's unfamiliar with it. (There's a wider UX conversation we could have right now, but I'll let Cassandra Naji do it better so I can stay on point - this is just a pithy blog entry after all).

Anyone who's owned a smartphone from the start has had the benefit of learning  iteratively, in tandem with the developers who create these user interfaces. New actions, swipes, hidden features, 3D Touch - they've been drip-fed to us. Now imagine it's 2017 and you've never picked up a smart phone before. No matter how intuitive the design of the OS may intentionally be, there's still an incredible learning curve involved. Intuitive design only works as part of a complex and myriad series of learnings undertaken by the user - not just technologically but socially. For the burger bar to work, you need to already have an idea of interfaces hiding content which can be revealed. You also need to decode the metaphor of three horizontal lines and what they could represent. A stack of content? Greeked text? A concertina? A delightful Rococo chest of drawers? Then there's action and consequence. Will tapping it make something happen which the user doesn't want to happen? And I haven't even mentioned the alternatives to the burger bar. Apple's Avocado on toast (I made that name up BTW) or the 9x9 cluster of dots. All variations on a theme trying to convey an action for which there is no set visual standard. Confusing.

Top: Apple's burger, bottom: Wired's burger.








So, three questions the user may ask themselves when trying to find the menu:
Where is it?
What is it?
What happens if...?

So, assuming the website is created for an English speaking audience, If we simply replace the icon with the word 'Menu', then the user need only ask the first question. It's an elegant simplification which seems counter-intuitive to the aesthetic simplicity of an icon, but it works. Which brings me back to 'MIST'.

Mist doesn't need an icon in this context. Mist is a atmospheric condition which affects visibility. It's damp. It's almost physically not there, but is. It's similar to fog. But it's not fog. It's mist. So, back to my original question, how would you create an icon for it? My answer: I wouldn't bother. Let it simply be 'MIST'.



Want some extra reading?

One of the original members of that small BBC design team, Adam Morris, writes about his experience on Medium.

The BBC’s guidelines on iconography (GEL - Global Experience Language) across their brand, including the weather.