I chose ‘Design Activism Challenging the Speciesist Upbringing of Children’ as my reference for Triangulation △2. This thesis is about how design contributes to the animal rights issues written by a designer. The topic is the same as my project, but the target audience and the enactments are different. In my written work, I organise the key elements of this thesis to learn what I should know about animal rights related to producing meat and compare the position between this thesis and my project.
Regarding the Written Response for the Summative Assessment at the end of this Unit, I should correct the references again for my research since I changed the context of my questioning when I narrowed down the target audience. The list of current references is below:
In week four, I analysed both Design Activism Challenging the Speciesist Upbringing of Children and PIG CITY to see the differences and similarities from these perspectives, purposes and the final enactments.
On the tutorial, Adele and Charles gave me the feedback. The working point was that the composition was very clear so that readers could understand my intention for the project. The non-working point was that it needed deeper analysis from the many types of perspectives. They also gave me the idea to connect the reference to my studio works, for instance, adding interesting information about pigs on the package so that humans feel similar to them as an animal.
●Week 05 – finishing △2 writings
During the tutorial, Andrew gave me 1on1 feedback, mainly about further studio work. He suggested that the design work should be wider than reconstructing packaging in expressing my position through design work. For instance, making DIY tools for activists or publishing a book regarding this issue.
I caught a cold and could not attend last week’s tutorial. I shared two weeks of progress this week.
What I did this week:
・Gathered two types of references – same position / opposite position ・Researched etymology of pig and pork ・Iterating package design as studio work – translation/investigation
Reference01 – Same position:
The first thing I looked for was references that used illustrations of animals to encourage us to think about animal rights in a positive way. Emma Erickson’s illustrations of anthropomorphic animals give us a fun impression of the vivid colours. She was originally a scientist. She says that the purpose of her illustrations is to convey our everyday behaviours and interactions in an interesting way. She also felt she was unique in that she didn’t use her mouth to manipulate facial expressions to convey joy, anger, or sadness.
On the other hand, Kate Louise Powell’s illustrations contain poignant expressions. She is a vegan and an animal rights activist. When she posted her illustrations on social networks, she realised that illustrations have more strong power as information than using only words. So, she decided to use them as a communication tool to tell animal rights.
Another interesting reference that I wanted to share is the packaging design for vegan bacon. They completely re-constructed the existing meat package through colourful, sophisticated and eye-catching graphic design. Compared to the first reference, it is the fact that using vivid colours for packages can convey a positive impression to communicate about animal rights. The other unique thing on the package is that the anthropomorphic pig is eating the vegan bacon. It gives me the impression that the pig is cannibalising. However, the designer may have intended to emphasise that even pigs can be eaten because they are vegan or express pigs are human’s friends through anthropomorphic illustrations.
I have collected some additional examples of humanistic food illustrations and analysed the purposes for which anthropomorphic ingredients are used daily. Left) Oden-kun: Oden is one of the Japanese traditional meals. It is an animation about their ordinary life. Centre) Sausage Party: A story about sausages running away after learning they are ingredients. Right) Yasaiccho: An animation to help children overcome their dislike of vegetables
Pig or Pork – Etymology
According to eGullet, it all goes back to the Norman conquest of Britain in 1066. When the French took over England, there became two ways of saying a lot of words, and from a gastronomic standpoint, the French won out (as they usually do). This is likely because the lower-class Anglo-Saxons were the hunters (so we get the animal names from them), and the upper-class French only saw these animals on the dinner table (so we get the culinary terms from them). So the Anglo-Saxon pig became the French porc, which was Anglicized to pork; the Anglo-Saxon cow became the French boeuf, which became beef; and sheep became mouton (later mutton). Even chicken got a new culinary name: pullet, which is the Anglicized version of the French poulet and is now only used to refer to a young hen. All of those French terms are still the French words for those animals (as well as their meat) today. As for fish, we most likely still call it fish because the French term for it, Poisson, is too close to the English word poison.
Based on this research, I knew that the elements that evoke the existence of life through package design are influenced by various aspects of design. Therefore, I investigate what kind of impression changes can be made by breaking down various elements (colour, content, typeface, texture) through the current pork meat package design.
Studio work01 – Translation:
What could I learn?
all of the translating designs do not make us feel that meat is life.
The package design that wants to express a sense of luxury for wine and cheese is similar in tone to organic raw meat packages.
If a pork package has the character of an unrelated creature on it, it can be confusing to know what kind of meat we are eating.
Studio work02 – Investigation:
What could I learn?
Regarding the illustrations, expressions that suggest that the pig has emotions reminiscent of death will create negative emotions.
If a picture of a pig shows grass, it gives the impression that animal rights are protected or that the meat is organic.
There’s a sense of déjà vu when I see an illustration of a pig dressed as a chef, so we can see it in many different scenes daily.
Studio work03 – Investigation:
What could I learn?
As a result of the iterations, I felt that it was easier to manipulate people’s emotions through package design by using the order of photos > colours > fonts > words.
This result is also used in current cigarette packaging.
How do I continue to the next step?
I do not change my mind to convey the importance of animals’ lives in a positive way through package design. Therefore, I continue these iterations and explore the design ideas and possibilities.
・In the Translation project, it is possible to see the context by translating a more comprehensive range of package designs than just products sold in supermarkets. ・It may be possible to redefine not only the label design but also the other elements. (Materials, formats, etc.) It’s a good idea to collect elements that can be learned from other products, such as computer packaging or cosmetic packaging. ・By analysing things designed to attract people’s attention, such as billboards and road signs, it may be possible to explore the possibility of packaging with more impact.
Feedback on the first introduction through dialogue :
・Cami advised me to decide on the target audience as specifically as possible. ・My line of enquiry was unclear: I should set the purpose of this project and relations between animal welfare and design role. ・Matthew asked me to think about What I can ‘hyper-focus in something’. ・Matthew advised me to focus on media rather than ethical issues since it is a project as a graphic designer. And I should pursue how the media can contribute to this issue.
What I did this week:
・Created the diagram(iteration) ・Setting the target audience ・Started doing the research
The topic in the previous term was about the possibilities of expressing emotional complexity through typeface design. Since the main feedback was about narrowing the target and topic itself, I decided to focus on complex feelings when people eat meat nowadays. I start the investigation by analysing the current meat package design at a supermarket, which is one of the first touch points when people decide to eat meat. Regarding methods, I continue to use all the methods I have learned from last year.
Lines of enquiry:
Based on the diagram I created, I started thinking about what I could do as a graphic designer for animals. I am currently not vegan/vegetarian and eat meat a few times per week. However, I sometimes think about not eating meat to keep some animal’s life. It sounds better than the current habit. Even so, I still cannot stop eating meat to take protein and enjoy meals. That’s why I decided to explore another way to contribute to this issue as a graphic designer.
I do not want to design the package to appeal to consumers’ conscience in this project. The reason is this approach goes against the passion of farmers who look after their pigs with special care, even if it might be the most effective way to reduce the total consumption of meat. In addition, if the consumers stop purchasing feeling guilty, the meat at a supermarket will only lead to food waste. Therefore, I decided to set the target audience for the CEO of a supermarket in the UK, the company side.
I compared pork meat packages from the five leading supermarkets in the UK. Many supermarkets have two different lines, which are the best values one and the organic one(more expensive than the former). Interestingly, the label design of each supermarket is very similar. They use blue for the best value one and green/black for the organic one. The function of the package label is to tell this information: what meat, what part of the meat, expiration date, from the British, from the trusted farmer, and how to keep it. There is little information to tell about animal rights.
・I should try translating another food package design to a pork package label in order to analyse what elements of a package lead people to positive/negative emotions. ・I should analyse what elements or aspects of the food package make it feel artificial or natural. ・I should consider additional layers for people who choose not to eat pork for religious reasons.
In this dialogue, I interviewed four times about my project during the summer holiday from June to September 2023. The original theme was emotional typeface design. However, after the first interview with Laura Knight, I decided to change the topic and my line of enquiry. Because I could not find the specific topic, I would like to narrow it down. In terms of emotion, the easiest way to narrow it down is by choosing one specific emotion, yet my interest in emotion was the complexity of every emotion. So I decided to choose the specific theme that people have the complexity of emotion, which is eating meat.
Nowadays, the number of vegetarian/vegan people is increasing. There are lots of reasons to be a vegetarian, but one of the most obvious reasons is environmental problems and animal rights. Personally, I am not a vegetarian or vegan. But I sometimes question these things: ’Is eating meat not a good thing for animals…?’ ’Should I stop eating meat as my justice…?’ To be very honest, I enjoy eating meat, but I feel some wrong feelings and a sense of guilt with the current consumption systems of meat. Can I visualise something as a graphic designer for the relationship between animal rights and eating meat? That was my starting point for this summer holiday.
Interview 01 – Guest tutor, Laura Knight 5th June
Regarding the interview with Laura Knight, it was the time that I could learn how to narrow down the topic. She read my blogs before the interview and prepared some references that are useful for my research. Firstly, she suggested I use this format to choose the specific target audience.
How to make a specific context To design a … (format) About… (topic) That… (who is the audience) Can use to… (what will they know to think or understand as a result?)
In addition, she shared some relative references for emotion, design systems and typeface design. I list these links below:
①MuirMcNail They explore systematic and algorithmic methods in type design, graphic design and moving images. Since Paul McNeil is a typographic designer and a researcher, their works show me how to expand abstract ideas into design systems. https://muirmcneil.com/
③Amuki Studio She is also a typeface designer. Her typeface designs are very artistic. Laura showed me her work to tell me how much I should narrow down the topic. https://amuki.com.ec/
I tried to pick up one specific topic I am interested in: the recruiting system in Japan. In this case, the target audience is the 3rd year university students looking for a job after graduation. I knew that these kinds of specifications were required, even though I did not choose this topic.
To sum up the interview for Laura Knight, I have learnt the techniques for narrowing down the topic and making the line of enquiry as much as possible.
Interview 02 – Susan Askew(Artist) 28th July
I met Susan Askew, an artist doing the MA in Fine Art at Camberwell College of Art. She has been creating some installations about the relationship between humans and animals in the future in a speculative way. I showed my project on the Method of Cataloguing and asked her what to think. She advised me that I should try to understand my perspective and what I want to do through my work as a person who is not vegan/vegetarian but wants to do something as a graphic designer. Also, she recommended I add the perspectives of pigs to the current package. For example, why do we call pork only eating? How does a pig’s mom feel when her children become pork meat? and so on.
Interview 03 – Group discussion with Natsuki Numao(Editor), Erica Miura, Saki Machida(Illustrator) 19th August
Since starting this course, I have made time for group discussions with my Japanese friends once a month to share what I have learnt at the university and organise my thoughts to iterate the explanation about my research. On 19th August, we have time to discuss the current meat consumption. I decided to find the way that people are evoked in terms of how we eat life when we eat meat without negative feelings. One of the discussion members gave me the idea of finding the same things between pigs and humans as mammals. Getting pregnant or becoming a mother could be the key word to re-constructing the current package design. In addition, a member gave me the reference: Gunda, a Russian documental movie about pig’s mother.
Interview 04 – Kaoru Nakada(Designer)
The last interview during the summer holiday was for a graphic and UI/UX designer, Kaoru Nakada. She is living in London and working for a digital branding agency. She reminds me that the package is not the only media through visual communications. For example, if a supermarket shows pictures of the differences in breeding environments between the best-priced one and the organic one on the meat counter, the selection of customers could be changed. In addition, there is a farm which has a policy for selling their meat after learning about how they grow their animals. – Tamana Farm in Kumamoto, Japan. So I should carefully choose my media and try many possibilities to make my topic deeper.
In this iterrating project, I tried to make a high fidelity copy of the typeface ‘BM Ikon’, created by a Turkish designer, Murathan Biliktu. The concept of the typeface is Anatolia’s vast landscapes and cultures, so it expresses abnormal and sophisticated stories through its design. For instance, BM Ikon adopted serif as its fundamental construction. But it also used a sans-serif approach to specific letters like T, C and K. In addition, he added characteristic curves to the letters like H, L and V to make the font look human-centred and graphical.
When copying, I have noticed the huge difference between recent trends in typeface design used by global companies such as Google, Burberry, YSL and BM Ikon. These typical contemporary typefaces are mainly sans-serif and give high priority in terms of legibility since the company use their logos on many types of media, not only on physical products but also screens of mobile phones and computers. From my point of view, the consequence of this typeface trend is the optimal solution brought about by many trials and errors in capitalism.
Considering the polarised features of typeface design trends and BM Ikon, I would like to explore the possibility of communication through a typeface with further experiments.
I read Adhocism (1972, p39-53) by Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver for continuing further experiments. The essence of adhocism helped to understand designing new typefaces with past subsystems; “nothing can be created out of nothing”. In this book, ‘ad hoc’ was defined as “for this particular meaning”. Through this book, I analysed the different features of typefaces between recent trends in typeface design used by global companies and BM Ikon.
Firstly, recent trends in sans-serif typeface designs are the consequences of the movement in which people have engaged in accelerating innovations after the Industrial Revolution. Societies have focused on efficiency and the succession of technological advances more than respect for traditions and human sensibilities. I assume that typefaces were not an exception to this movement because typefaces became designed mainly in a digital way around this time. On top of that, the book also explained that after repeating the evolutions as a creative stage, the design became stabilised in its most economical and efficient forms. Take a bicycle frame, for example. Its frame design has been mostly the same for eighty years. Therefore, the fact that many global companies have adopted similar typefaces might be the consequence of typefaces’ stability in the digital age.
On the other hand, the design of BM Ikon is the result of ‘ad hoc’ and critical evolution, which breaks down current typefaces’ features positively and negatively and rethinks from the start. In the book, the author stated that if the object reaches the stability stage, it does not mean each detail is also stabilised. For instance, even if the design of the bicycle is stabilised, a bicycle seat may be able to be fixed in a more economical balance. This moment means that the bicycle seat is simultaneously a part of a bicycle and an autonomous whole so that it can be transported from one context to another. When I put this example into typeface design, the evolutionary stage would differ depending on whether the typeface design is recognised as a sentence or a word or each letter itself. In this case, recent trends in sans-serif typeface designs focus on the balance, harmony and readability of words and sentences more than each letter’s beauty, and it seems to be in a stabilised stage. On the other hand, BM Ikon was dissected apart with Anatolian culture as the essence of the mutation of the typeface design to express each letter. Therefore, we can see the beauty and uniqueness of this typeface even if we see just one character.
To summarise everything, I compared the feature of typeface design between recent trends in typeface design used by global companies and BM Ikon from the point of adhocism. Then I came up with the idea that recent trends of sans-serif typefaces focus on high readability so that people can always get the same impression in any words and sentences to keep their branding image. However, BM Ikon was transported into the evolution and expressed the independent legibility of each letter.
I read Adhocism (1972, p39-53) by Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver, then compared the feature of typeface design between recent trends in typeface design used by global companies and BM Ikon from the point of adhocism. After that, I came up with the idea that recent trends of sans-serif typefaces focus on high readability so that people can always get the same impression in any words and sentences to keep their branding image. However, BM Ikon was transported into the evolution and expressed the independent legibility of each letter.
I have conducted four experiments with BM Ikon to know that my interpretation of Draft 2 was mainly correct. 1) Refining the details of the typeface to explore changes in impression. 2) Mash up with other fonts to create a new font. 3) Combining two letters to determine the beauty potential of the typeface’s letters. 4) Using one letter to draw a completely different object. Therefore, I confirmed that BM Ikon is beautiful enough, even being used as a single letter, and it can keep its beauty even when the details are altered. In conclusion, this typeface is suitable for in case of logo and sign designs, using a single or a few letters to express the whole atmosphere of the brand.
Based on this interpretation, I further thought about the potential of expressing the same branding tone and manners in different languages in the digital age. In multilingual typeface design, how will the design progress to the stability stage in the future? To deepen this question, I visualised the translation from English to Japanese as a sample experiment since I could understand both languages. Coincidentally, Hiragana, one of the Japanese character types, is designed around curves, so I noticed that the BM Ikon font has a high affinity with Japanese.
In conclusion, it is possible to be translated into another language with keeping the concept of typeface design by analyzing the characteristics of each language carefully. However, it needs further thought and evolution to do this experiment in a large number of languages.
ADHOCISM by Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver (1972) pp. 39–53
Why We Should Really Be Concerned About “Critical “for everyone?
To discuss this question, we have to start with the essential meaning of the word critical. First, let me present the three elements that Ramia Mazé proposes. These three elements overlap and influence each other in critical design practice.
●Critical Attitude Designers must repeatedly ask themselves questions about their perspectives and social issues during the production process and have a critical attitude to incorporate new interpretations and social positions into the design practice.
●Concerning Debate Critical practice requires the challenge of updating traditional values and formats. It requires thoughtful discussion based on critical approaches and discipline within the community.
●Pressing issues on Society We must maintain sight of the purpose of critical design, which is to address social issues. We don’t practise critical design to talk among designers; we do it to raise questions about social and political issues.
What can be read from these is that the role of designers is transitioning from Author to Researcher. The reason for this is not only that the function of design has matured as a discipline and that its legitimacy has been sought as a research tool but also that the importance of multiple research methods, such as social science and cultural anthropology, has increased.
From this point of view, the social issues that need to be addressed are by no means the domain of designers alone, and that design does not necessarily have to be the method of presenting solutions.
However, the word “critical” tends to be consumed like a label in the current design industry. One reason for this is the ambiguity of the word critical. Therefore, we will need to examine the very word, critical critically.
It all started when the curation team vaguely defined the term for the 2007 exhibition “Forms of Inquiry: The Architecture of Critical Graphic Design.”.
Since then, the word “critical” has been consumed like a label in the Internet media, and we have seen many ironic design expressions that seem to skim only the surface meaning.
Designers can now easily buy good reviews and followers on Social Networks. In such a situation, there may be a certain number of designers who have an allergic reaction to criticism itself. However, we must remember that these criticisms are made not for the designer’s identity but as part of their social contribution.