Block Party

For over a decade we have relied on Designers Block to add a dose of rebellion to the London Design Festival. Paul Mcanelly of Hawaii has designed its identity since 2001 – here, he reflects on some highlights as well as introducing this year's identity

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DB 2015 screen printed promotional poster

Tell us about the theme and execution of this year’s identity...

This year the London show returns to the Bargehouse on the South Bank, so we always had this idea of visually representing this as a circle or a loop. We also wanted to explore the idea of both process and craft. The final identity was produced from the multiple repetition of a single shape creating a fluid extruded form – the illusion of three dimensions from a flat source. The show posters were lovingly screen printed by Dan Mather and are available from our online shop.

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How did your relationship with Designers Block come about?

The relationship started purely by chance. I lived in a flat-share back in 2001 and Piers Roberts from Designersblock answered an ad we posted when we had a spare room to rent. Literally the right place at the right time. At the time, I was a freelancer, we got talking and Piers and Rory [Dodd, co-founder of Designers Block] were looking for someone to help them with their show at the Jam Factory in Bermondsey. And here we are today fourteen years later.

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Poster, Designers Block, London 2002

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Poster, Designers Block, Frankfurt 2006

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Foil-block printed invite, Designers Block, London 2013

You’ve worked on the DB identity for many years – how has it evolved over the years?

When we began working with Piers and Rory, there was no other show like it. They were anti the stereotypical trade show format with their pristine halls and gridded layouts. Instead, Designers Block opted for wonderful, weird rundown venues or spaces in transition such as the Tea building in Shoreditch, or what eventually became the Apple store in Covent Garden. Their individuality has taken them around the world.

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Poster, Designers Block, London, 2011

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Poster, Designers Block, Milan 2012

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Poster, Designers Block, London 2013

It was decided from the very beginning that each show should have its own theme and graphic identity. Designersblock is not corporate so why give it a standard corporate identity? The shows are creative, diverse and playful and the branding has always emulated this.

We still harbour fond memories of the rosette invites we created, all delivered in black envelopes with a beautiful DB wax seal.

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Rosette invite, Designers Block, London 2006

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Wax seal for invite, Designers Block, London 2006

How does the changing venue for Designers Block affect the way you approach the job?

From a creative point of view it is often the history of the venue or its location that helps formulate the idea for the show. The show graphics have always been visually eye-catching and deliberately left field.

What’s the secret to keeping things fresh and interesting in a long term client collaboration?

Creative freedom, the client willing to take a risk, trust and being appreciated. The winning formula to get the best results from any designer or agency.

See more work by Hawaii Design here

Designers Block London 2015
takes place at The Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, South Bank SE1 9PH
24 – 27 September 2015