Silly Season

For their recent project Flumadiddle, Warriors Studio invited artists and designers from around the world to set practicality and reason aside and create something sublimely ridiculous, with wonderfully weird results. We caught up with the Warriors to find out more...

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The formidable team at Warriors Studio have certainly been busy for the past few months; on top of their day-to-day work running a renowned graphic design practice, they've also organised the fourth outing of Graphic Design Festival Scotland, an annual event they founded back in 2014 which gathers the cream of the graphic design world in Glasgow for an action-packed week of events, exhibitions, workshops, talks and screenings.

As part of this year's festival, Warriors curated Flumadiddle, a showcase of the work of a diverse selection of artists and designers that was presented as an exhibition within The Lighthouse, the GDFS venue in central Glasgow, and as a broadsheet publication printed by Newspaper Club. For the project, the Warriors team invited practitioners from around the world, whose work they admired, to respond to the word flumadiddle, meaning ‘utter nonsense’ – encouraging their contributors to be absurd, ridiculous, useless and senseless. “As designers, everything we do is backed up with reasoning and rationale,” they explain. “Everything we make and design must have a practical purpose. With Flumadiddle we wanted to take a step back, shake our day-to-day thinking and try to unlearn some of our established conventions by doing the complete opposite!”

The resulting exhibition and publication present a wonderfully weird and diverse showcase of work from contributors including Noviki, Alex Wallbaum & Aleia Murawski, Nadine Kolodziey, Elise Mesner, Sally Hackett, Isabel Seiffert, Calum Douglas, Anna Beil, Jack Sachs, Mark Bohle and Célestin Krier. We caught up with Victoria Donnelly and James Gilchrist of Warriors Studio to find out more about why they wanted to encourage their fellow creatives to embrace nonsense, and how the project came together...

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Flumadiddle is an excellent word – where did you come across it and why did you choose it as the prompt for the project brief?
Victoria Donnelly: We wanted the work that contributors sent to be weird and wonderful, so we hunted for a word that translated to nonsense – then we accidentally (and fortunately) came across the word flumadiddle, and fell in love with it instantly. It had to be the name of the project!

How did the theme of nonsense translate into your designs for the identity for the project and for the accompanying newspaper?
James Gilchrist: The contents page of the newspaper probably adheres to the Flumadiddle concept best – with no page numbers, captions or descriptions, just a visual snippet of each piece of work and a name positioned closely alongside it, acting as a key. The Flumadiddle concept is "nonsensical", so an identity which has no connection with the work but is disruptive and incoherent might have been conceptually sound. However, it was important the identity fulfilled the practical purpose of connecting the physical exhibition with the newspaper, and could be used to promote the project online. A single tone of red, with a playful logotype and a secondary typeface, provided a simple framework which was functional and energetic but understated enough to let the artwork do the talking.

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What were your reactions to the different artists' and designers' submissions as they started coming in? Were there any that surprised or shocked you?
Victoria Donnelly: We think the name of the project unlocked this sense of freedom within the artists and designers, so the results were incredible. We felt really inspired by the work that was contributed, as each of them approached the Flumadiddle concept in a completely unique way.

James Gilchrist: I think almost all of them were a surprise, there was no way of know how anybody would respond!

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Flumadiddle submission by Fedor Velyaminov

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Tell us more about the voluptuous type you used within the exhibition…
James Gilchrist: The logotype is a bastardised version of Othmar Motter’s Motters Ombra. Othmar Motter’s work is incredible, and we’ve been waiting for an opportunity to reference him or put something he designed into practice. I think the weirdness and playfulness of Motters Ombra represented the collection of work quite well. Heavier weights of Grilli Type’s GT Walsheim were used for subheadings and body text, to contrast with the strangeness and obscurity of Motters Ombra.

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Has the project as a whole encouraged you to think differently about your own practice, both as designers and as curators?
Victoria Donnelly: It has definitely encouraged a natural and spontaneous approach to future projects. Nothing is ever too silly.

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Flumadiddle submission by Noviki

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Flumadiddle submission by Karol Banach

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Flumadiddle submission by Celestin Krier

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Flumadiddle submission by Sally Hackett

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Flumadiddle submission by Alex Wallbaum and Aleia Murawski