Sunday, 25 November 2012




Critically define ‘popular culture’
• Contrast ideas of ‘culture’ with ‘popular culture’ and ‘mass culture’
• Introduce Cultural Studies & Critical Theory
• Discuss culture as ideology
• Interrogate the social function of popular culture

Analysing the idea of culture, the notion of culture as opposed to popular culture, what is the difference between low culture and popular culture/mass culture.

Famous writer in cultural studies:

  • ‘One of the two or three most complicated words in the English language’
  • general process of intellectual, spiritual & aesthetic development of a particular society, at a particular time
  • a particular way of life
  • works of intellectual and especially artistic significance’ 
Marx's Concept of Base / Superstructure    
Forces of production - materials, tools, workers, skills etc.
Relations of production - employer/employee, class, master/slave etc.
Social institues - legal, political, cultural
Forms of consciousness - ideology*
Culture reinforces capitalism 
These relations produce systems like politics, law and the army, which maintain the system.
(a) system of ideas or beliefs (eg beliefs of a political party)
2 masking, distortion, or selection of ideas, to reinforce power relations, through creation of 'false consciousness'
[ The ruling class has ] to represent its interest as the common interest of all the members of society, ... to give its ideas the form of universality, and represent them as the only rational, universally valid ones.
Karl Marx, (1846) The German Ideology, 

Four definitions of ‘popular’
– Well liked by many people
– Inferior kinds of work
– Work deliberately setting out to win favour with the people
– Culture actually made by the people themselves 

Inferior or Residual Culture
• Popular Press vs Quality Press
• Popular Cinema vs Art Cinema
• Popular Entertainment vs Art Culture 


Jeremy Deller & Alan Kane - Folk Archive:
creative practice that wouldn't normally be shown in galleries, eggs with faces on etc. throw away culture

graffiti in south bronx 
Banksy piece exhibited in Covent Garden 

Popular culture, a lot of people start to make value judgments, popular culture is inferior to real culture, you could think of popular culture as popularism - where something is aimed to be popular and commercial.  You can think of popular culture made by the masses for the masses - almost direct opposite of traditional culture.

Distinct class divide between popular culture and culture, you can trace this back very specifically to a particular moment in industrial capitalism.

Clear class divides that started to appear, very clear who were the workers and who were the bosses, clear lines of class separations, because of this separation, prior to this moment idea was there was a shared common culture, for all the country, in reality the only people that made this culture were the rich, they didn't have to work, they had enough time to write and listen to poetry.  Culture was and always has been developed by the rich. 
E.P. Thompson (1963) ‘The Making of The English Working Class’    

Inferior or Residual Culture
• Popular Press vs Quality Press
• Popular Cinema vs Art Cinema

• Popular Entertainment vs Art Culture    

Matthew Arnold (1867) ‘Culture & Anarchy’

• Culture is
  • –  ‘the best that has been thought & said in the world’
  • –  Study of perfection
  • –  Attained through disinterested reading, writing thinking
–  The pursuit of culture 

Culture polices ‘the raw and uncultivated masses’ 
‘The working class… raw and half developed… long lain half hidden amidst it’s poverty and squalor… now issuing from it’s hiding place to assert an Englishmans heaven born privelige to do as he likes, and beginning to perplex us by marching where it likes, meeting where it likes, breaking what it likes (1960, p.105)
Laverism - F. R. Levis
Still forms a kind of repressed, common sense attitude to popular culture in this country. 
For Leavis- C20th sees a cultural decline 

Standardisation & levelling down 

‘Culture has always been in minority keeping’ 

‘the minority, who had hitherto set the standard of taste without any serious challenge have experienced a ‘collapse of authority’ 

Still forms a kind of repressed, common sense attitude to popular culture in this country. 
For Leavis- C20th sees a cultural decline 

Standardisation & levelling down 

Describe popular culture, people who engage with 'silly' radio songs, a way of refusing to face the real world, its not about living. 

  • Collapse of traditional authority comes at the same time as mass democracy (anarchy)
  • Nostalgia for an era when the masses exhibited an unquestioning deference to (cultural)authority
  • Popular culture offers addictive forms of ditraction and compensation
  • ‘This form of compensation... is the very reverse of recreation, in that it tends, not to strengthen and refresh the addict for living, but to increase his unfitness by habitutaing him to weak evasions, to the refusal to face reality at all’ (Leavis & Thompson, 1977:100) 

    Frankfurt School – Critical Theory
Institute of Social Research, University of Frankfurt, 1923-33
University of Columbia New York 1933- 47
University of Frankfurt, 1949-
Theodore Adorno Max Horkheimer
Herbert Marcuse Leo Lowenthal
Walter Benjamin    
Reinterpreted Marx, for the 20th century – era of “late capitalism”

Defined “The Culture Industry” :
2 main products – homogeneity & predictability

“All mass culture is identical” :
‘As soon as the film begins, it is quite clear how it will end, and who will be rewarded, punished or forgotten’.
‘Movies and radio need no longer to pretend to be art. The truth, that they are just business, is made into an ideology in order to justify the rubbish they deliberately produce. ... The whole world is made to pass through the filter of the culture industry. ... The culture industry can pride itself on having energetically executed the previously clumsy transposition of art into the sphere of consumption, on making this a principle. ... film, radio and magazines make up a system which is uniform as a whole and in every part ... all mass culture is identical.’
‘Authentic Culture vs Mass Culture’    

Qualities of authentic culture

•Active Consumption 
•Individual creation 

Products of the contemporary ‘Culture Industry’ 
Adorno ‘On Popular Music’
Walter Benjamin
‘The Work Of Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction’
‘One might generalise by saying: the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition. By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence. And in permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in his own situation, it reactivates the objects produced. These two processes lead to a tremendous shattering of tradition... Their most powerful agent is film. Its social significance, particularly in its most positive form, is inconceivable without its destructive, cathartic aspect, that is, the liquidation of the traditional value of the cultural heritage’ 

  • The culture & civilization tradition emerges from, and represents, anxieties about social and cultural extension. They attack mass culture because it threatens cultural standards and social authority.
  • The Frankfurt School emerges from a Marxist tradition. They attack mass culture because it threatens cultural standards and depoliticises the working class, thus maintaining social authority.
  • Pronouncements on popular culture usually rely on normative or elitist value judgements
  • Ideology masks cultural or class differences and naturalises the interests of the few as the interests of all.
  • Popular culture as ideology
  • The analysis of popular culture and popular media is deeply political, and deeply contested, and all those who practice or engage with it need to be aware of this. 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


Identify a minimum of 5 examples of the effective/creative use of print in the following areas of design:
  • Branding and Identity
  • Packaging and Promotion
  • Publishing & Editorial
  • Information & Wayfinding


“Frank’s is a speakeasy bar in Buenos Aires. The materials and textures refer to a certain rustic characteristic of the 20′s with aesthetic aspects of the prohibition era.” – FBDI
Identity system for a small boutique hotel chain that caters to touring musicians. A rider is a set of hospitality and technical requests a band or performer sets as criteria for a specific performance. Hence, Rider offers hospitality and services exclusively for touring musicians before and after their concerts.  Designed by Josh Finklea.
The brand identity is based on the concept of DUALITY. Shanghai has a DUALITY persona in almost every aspect of its DNA. There are art deco old historic buildings on one side of the bund, and across the bund, there are cutting edge skyscrapers; ballroom dancers practicing their routines next to older people doing their Taiji in the morning. Hence the identity is designed having the ability to an 'IN & OUT', 'BLACK & WHITE', reversible concept - aptly reflecting the architectural design intent of inside out, outside in.

Another layer of the identity development pays tribute to the Waterhouse as a former warehouse. The graphic profile of the identity was built in squares to mimic the stacking and storage of cargo and goods. This identity has to be global and internationally appealing, it should be work as well in Shanghai or Berlin.
Founded by Karin and Mathias in 2009, Berg & Berg asked us to develop a full visual identity, including stationery, packaging and web shop. With a strive to create products of the highest quality possible, their goal is that every product will become a trusted friend in your wardrobe: loved, cared for and enjoyed for many years to come.
It was important to bring a sense of authenticity to the brand, although Berg & Berg is a new and contemporary brand without the rich heritage that competing brands often have. A simple and modern logo symbol is paired with typography set in Johnston Underground — a classic and british typography that hints about heritage and tailoring without being too outspoken.

As the main font, we fell on the contemporary, yet classic Reader from Colophon Foundry. The quirky imperfect details in the lettering underlines the handmade feeling of the identity perfectly. So does the supporting font — the monospaced Pica 10 Pitch. Additional identity elements include several forms for stitches and a pattern showing some stiching techniques.
Designed by Ryan Feerer: 'I did the branding and packaging for my friend's boutique here in Abilene, Texas. All of the bags, tags, and business cards were hand stamped. Its quite a bit of work but feels more personable this way. Also, its more cost effective in the long run. Its pretty hip for Abilene... which is a wonderful thing!'


Pasta La Vista – it is a brand which covers a wide range of various hand-made macaroni products manufactured in accordance with traditional Italian recipes and using only ecologically clean products of highest quality.
It was required to develop naming, the corporate style and brand communication, as well as the product package. Original naming – Pasta La Vista – reflects emotional essence of Italian soul and cuisine while the word Pasta perfectly reveals the category that the product belongs to.
Considering the key feature of the brand, which is hand-made manufacturing, we have decided to introduce four characters into the corporate style and package since the pasta is made by some certain persons, these are Mario, Francesco, Giovanni and Francesca. Therefore, every package depicts one of the characters – an Italian chef in the process of cooking. All the illustrations are performed in a bright original manner that communicates the temperament and exclusiveness of the trademark. 
In addition to that, the product in the package can be seen as hair of one of the characters neatly tuck under the cook’s cap which also serves as a package element that provides access to the product. All that allows receiving pasta directly from the “hands” of the Italian chef. It is a wonderful way to convert your kitchen into an Italian restaurant having collected all of the characters.
Eight Treasures of Happiness is all about the people who care for and oversee the rice gardens. From squad leader Lee who strictly guards the gardens to Ms. A-lu who passes on the taste of happiness, and everyone in-between.
BrandOpus has worked with Badger Ales to create the packaging strategy for the first of its ultimate collector’s ales series. Designed to be the perfect gift for the discerning ale lover, the launch of this limited edition premium ale follows on from the award winning redesign of the Badger brand by leading agency BrandOpus which rolled out onto the shelves in February. 
Inspired by this BrandOpus created an all-naturally sourced packaging design, which reflects the hibernation of countryside animals: the champagne bottle is cocooned in an oak presentation case, embellished with fragments of the Badger identity, reflective of the yesteryear crates that Badger was once delivered in.
To celebrate the number of years Hall & Woodhouse has been brewing, 235 bottles of the Collector’s Edition 2012 will be released, each bottle hand-numbered and signed by Chairman Mark Woodhouse upon a leaf-like swing tag which picks up on the countryside equities of the Badger brand, and which is attached to the neck of the bottle with twine.

Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select is a special edition whiskey crafted to honor Frank Sinatra’s fifty-year friendship with Jack Daniel’s. Frank was a fiercely loyal, lifetime fan of the brand, and Sinatra Select was designed to be both a classic expression of style and an homage to two American icons. This exclusive outpouring of the distiller’s craft is matured in proprietary oak barrels for a bold flavor, timeless character and exceptional smoothness. Sinatra Select will be available at high-end retail stores and major airports worldwide, debuting in Las Vegas and later spreading to destinations including New York, London, Sydney and Singapore.
Sinatra Select is packaged within a bespoke bottle made for this special edition product. The branded box incorporates a medallion with the Frank Sinatra fedora icon and orange ribbon. The color orange works as the perfect complement to Sinatra Select's classic black color palette. Sinatra said that orange is the happiest color, and often used a bright orange pocket handkerchief to add some pop to his tailored suits and tuxedos. Inside is a special book that tells more about the story of Frank’s fifty-year relationship with Jack Daniel’s.
Award-winning brand design agency Sandstrom Partners today announced it has completed a rebrand for Kobrick Coffee Company, a 92-year-old artisanal roaster of coffee for many of New York City’s finest restaurants, according to Sandstrom president Jack Peterson.
Sandstrom produced a new identity for Kobrick along with packaging for more than 30 specialty blends, espressos and single-origin coffees. A line of signature cups was created to complement the line.


Art direction and layout for french "Magazine" issue n°47.
Template design and art direction of the first two issues of BSD (Building Sustainable Design), a new monthly magazine for United Business Media.



The Vinex Atlas gives the first in-depth account of the entire Vinex stock, describing 52 districts aided by aerial views from the mid-nineties, plans, site data and recent on-site photographs.
MAP 005 Chernobyl is now available. After six months of work and a moving launch of the publication at the Chernobyl Museum in Kiev and subsequent visit to the exclusion zone on the 26th anniversary of the accident, MAP 005 is finally being distributed world wide.
This issue charts the history of major nuclear accidents, focusing on the Chernobyl reactor 4 explosion of 1986, mapping a minute by minute description of the events on nuclear plant cut-outs and info graphics. From its medical implications to the social impact of the accident and articles and input from scientists, this issue offers a wide spectrum of commentaries on the implications of radiation in this scarred landscape. 
The project page investigates various scenarios; an astrobiology testing base, the reuse of the massive "Woodpecker" ex-soviet antenna into a migratory bird feeding ground, a mobile archeology lab for radioactive landscapes and Mount Chernobyl, an alternative to the new sarcophagus for the damaged reactor.