Afterlife – Stephen McCarthy

We are having a series of talks in University with key speakers from the Graphic design industry. Our first designer was Stephen McCarthy who is Head of Design for Government as a Platform at Government Digital Service (GDS). He and a team of others designers help to streamline the Government online system. Before they started to create there was numerous sites for different departments within the government, each with their our design and layout. Stephens job was to combine these websites to a one stop site for all.  Giving the government websites an overall identity.

He talked about what a big feat this was to begin with, having to collaborate with lots of people from different disciplines, to create The overall design won the Design Museum Design of the Year Award 2013.

“ looks elegant, and subtly British thanks to a revised version of a classic typeface, designed by Margaret Calvert back in the 1960s,”(Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic) – Stephen told us that the typeface used for all the text was called New Transport designed by Margaret Calvert and Henrik Kubel (A2-TYPE in London.). It is a digital adaptation of the 1960’s Transport lettering used in the UK’s road signs. Originally designed by Margaret Calvert and Jock Kinneir.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the site was an example of “world class design talent” and enhanced “the modern relationship between the public and government”. – Quite a accolade to the people that helped to produce the website.

Stephen went into more detail about the process that they work with within the GDS. There are about 300 designers that work for the government around the country, each working within multi-disaplinary environments, such as developers, researchers, product managers. They work collaboratively in the open on the project from start to finish. Each can code, and all are expected to spot problems and help to resolve them. This was is something that was of interest as many think that being a graphic designer is only being at the end of the creative process, were they put all the text and the images together for produce the final piece of work. But they way the Stephen and the team works was good to hear, they are able to be part of the whole process. This links up with a website that he discussed the design princess that they use within the office. Found these really helpful for thinking about my future projects.

Below are a few of the posters that are displayed within the work space a GDS. Showing that even in the office they are putting a clear point across.

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I found our talk very informative, lots of food for thought about what the future holds for myself. Working in a multi-disaplinary studio clearly pays off, and I think that more and more designers of the future will be working collaboratively. After listening to Stephen I would like to learn more about coding, I think that it would be an asset for future employability.


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