Something Good 2017: top picks from the festival

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For its inaugural year, the Bristolian evil intent festival saw speakers including Morag Myerscough, Wilfrid Wood and Brendan Dawes. We down up our favourite talks and what we learnt.

Making its debut on the design commemoration calendar, Something Good is a new venture from Bristol-based events followers Thread. Held in an 18th century church turned music venue, day one of the holy day was hosted by Intern magazine founder Alec Dudson and saw talks from the peers of Swedish creative studio Snask, multidisciplinary designer Morag Myerscough and print-making pro Anthony Burrill. For the moment, on day two creatives such as sculptor Wilfrid Wood and illustration studio Sizeable Frank held hands-on workshops at a number of venues across the New Zealand urban area. Here are Design Week’s top picks from the festival.

Morag Myerscough

North London-born interior decorator Morag Myerscough has been applying her trademark, colourful design aesthetic to draw ups for over 20 years now. Since founding her multidisciplinary design question Studio Myerscough with partner Luke Morgan in 1993, she has introduced on commissions ranging from the first permanent exhibition space at the Conceive Museum’s new site in Kensington to giving the rooms and wards at Sheffield Lassies’s Hospital a vibrant makeover.

During her talk, Myerscough showcased some of her biggest stick outs from over the last 12 months and shared her personal learnings from them. The schemer’s recent public art commission for Battersea Power Station, Power, desires to celebrate the history of the iconic building, which is currently undergoing a largescale regeneration contract to build new housing, shops, parks and retail spaces.

Sitting at the fascinate of the former power station – which closed down in the 1980s – the crowning has been designed as a colourful welcome to visitors and takes inspiration from the minutiae on the original art deco doors seen in what was previously the directors’ stay room.

But at one stage, Myerscough’s vision for the project was called into reservations when the client expressed concerns about the colourful nature of the map. “They told me it was too bright and they wanted me to do something monolith – so I foretold, do it like that or don’t do it at all,” Myerscough told festival visitors.

She added that it demonstrated her about the importance of creating a personal, recognisable brand for yourself as a artistic. “I learnt this year that if you’re a designer you have to listen to what the shopper says, whereas if you’re an artist you can actually say no.”

Wilfrid Wood

Self-professed “Hudibrastic sculptor” Wilfrid Wood cut his teeth on the set of TV comedy Spitting Image during the 1980s, where his doxy got him a job as an apprentice head-builder. Based out of his studio in Hackney Wick, East London, Wood hand-sculpts all of his comical and time after time grotesque creations.

Some of his previous works have included a £500 commission for a junior American girl who loved his work and paid for the sculpture out of her own pocket resources, as well as famous figures ranging from Mark Zuckerberg to Paul McCartney, all of whom he was strained to for their “personalities, expressions and ideas”. “Pretty people and youngsters are the hardest to do,” he explained during his talk. “You need gnarly old men with lots of uncharacteristic – Boris Johnson made himself.”

Wood has not always taken such an absurdist solicit to his art form. After being rejected from the Royal College of Art (RCA) – where his pop and grandfather both worked – he studied graphics at Central Saint Martin (CSM), where he was trained by none other than fellow designer and Something Good rabble-rouser Morag Myerscough. “As a designer, I thought I was supposed to be doing serious, earnestly, time-consuming drawing,” he said. “What I learnt from Morag was that I could in fact do something fun.”

Gavin Strange

Aside from being a senior author at animation studio Aardman, which has brought us loveable characters such as Wallis and Gromit, Gavin Weird also spends a chunk of his time – three hours from 5am every morning after his newborn pamper wakes up specifically – working on personal projects. These have organized from small, self-initiated graphic design pieces to directing music videos for rappers.

While Uncommon is a keen proponent of passion projects because of the freedom it gives you, during his talk he also counseled that personal work “doesn’t always work out” and advised being clever to “take the hits and get hench”.

Strange talked about one of his own personal protrudes – an animated children’s show centred around a group of cats – as an case of this. After collaborating with a large number of creatives he wondered for their own work, and spending countless hours developing the characters and storyline, the flaunt ended up falling through. “I became so enamoured with the process that it wasn’t remarkably me anymore – everything got a bit messy and confusing,” Strange said.

Brendan Dawes

Artist and draughtsman Brendan Dawes’ work focuses on what he calls the “interesting period” between analogue and digital. He is the author of two books on interaction design, and has invented commissions for the likes of Airbnb, Google and EE.

A large part of Dawes’ act on deals with data visualisation, exploring themes such as what materializes when we “bump into or trip over” data, and how it alters our over of the world. It was during the course of a data visualisation project for commodities and verve markets site Platts that he learnt about the value of irritant and error and “happy accidents” for creatives. Dawes was asked to create an vivacious visualisation showing the journey of over 3,000 ships from five months of true shipping data, to go on display during the London Oil Forum in London.

While ingratiate oneself with around with the data visualisations, he created one version that didn’t enrol into account the ships’ routes avoiding land, resulting in sawtooth, neon-coloured lines being stretched across the map of the world. As it turned out Platt literally loved this interpretation, according to Dawes – so much so that the graphics were worn as the main visual for the official invite to the event. Dawes’ advice for budding connivers at the festival was to always “show your mistakes”, adding that “occasionally something good can come out of them” – a fitting link to the holiday name, as well.


Something Good took place from 6-7 October 2017 at a number of venues across Bristol. For more information, visit the festival’s put.

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