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WEDF Talk

Posted on March 20, 2015

I was invited by the West of England Design Forum to present a five minute talk at the ‘We Love Design’ evening as part of the ‘Five Days of Design’ programme.

Game of life

One of the things I love about digital design is the unpredictability of its outcomes. Creating flexible visual systems that adhere to a simple set of rules is really key when designing for digital media. This is because very often only a limited amount of content is available when designing the product and it’s also impossible to fully predict how a website will evolve over time or on which device it will be consumed. One loses the fine control over text flow and to some extent flexibility over layout that one has whilst designing for print, but you gain a living and breathing entity that the client and users bring to life in all sorts of unexpected ways.

An example of a simple set of rules that creates unpredictable, lifelike behavior is Conway’s Game of Life, an infinite two-dimensional grid of square cells, each of which is in one of two possible states, alive or dead. Every cell interacts with its eight neighbours following four simple rules. In most cases, it is impossible to look at a starting position (or pattern) and see what will happen in the future. The only way to find out is to follow the rules of the game.


An example ‘game’ from Conway’s Game of Life
The idea that design can be responsive to information that the designer has no control over has recently been introduced into the world of branding in the form of the generative logo.

Visit Nordkyn logo

The Nordkyn peninsula accommodates two municipalities in the county of Finnmark, Norway, Neue were given the task to unite and promote them as one tourist destination. In a place where nature rules, the result is a generative logo that changes along with wind direction and temperature.


Structure of the changing icon. Notice the “Calm” state at bottom left


Colors cover a range of temperature from -25°C (-13°F) to 25°C (77°F)


Sample iterations of the logo

When used offline the date, wind direction and temperature are appended to the logo.

My own generative logo

At heart I’m an unabashed geek so generative logos, which are created on-the-fly from dynamic data, particularly appeal to me. A few years ago I started taking down some basic notes on each project I’d completed, placing all of the findings in a Google Spreadsheet which now has 200+ projects in. To make the task of creating a logo from this large amount of data easier I’ve concentrated on one column within the spreadsheet, the industry sector the project was carried out for.


The live Google Spreadsheet

I then created a simple set of instructions to visualise this information in bubble chart form using a visual programming tool called Impure. The ‘D’ and my name are fed into the Impure Space as static images overlaying the chart.

Because I update the Google spreadsheet after each project’s completion the logo’s icon was an embodiment of all of my previous work, a sum total of my career.

Generative LogoScreenshot of the live logo, unfortunately now offline.

Unfortunately the visual programming tool I used to create the generative logo has now been shelved by its developers which means the logo is no longer live.

A big thank you to WEDF for inviting me to talk!