The year in design.

Our top three design stories of 2016.

From buildings to brands, publications to protest campaigns, EJ Design Studio has reviewed global design headlines from the past year and whittled down a multitude of great projects to the three that most excited and inspired our team.

Each is beautiful, rational and executed with outstanding attention to detail. Each demonstrates the application of a design process to create tangible objects and spaces, but also to change people, perceptions, and behaviours.

Hertzog & de Meuron & the Tate Modern Switch House.

Significant architectural development of a major public gallery is rare. Rarer still, is the opportunity for a gallery to work with the architects responsible for the scheme of the original building. Yet this was the scenario when Hertzog and de Meuron (H&dM) were invited to design an extension to their 1995 refit of the Bankside power station.

The ‘Switch House’ offers an expanded suite of galleries, along with space for a cafe, members’ rooms and a rooftop terrace. H&dM have created a seamless addition to the fabric of the existing building, whilst taking advantage of the possibility to create dynamic geometric new forms, expanding the architectural language of the entire site. Furniture schemes featuring Jasper Morrison, and wayfinding by the incomparable Cartlidge Levene, add a quintessentially British “lightness of touch” to the interior.

Brilliantly focused design intent, rendered with attention to detail and commitment to quality.

Migrant Journal.

“Design will save the world, right after rock ’n’ roll does”, or so the t-shirt reads. And yet, designers in increasing numbers are reconnecting with the social purpose and responsibility of design espoused by schools such as the Bauhaus and HfG Ulm in the first half of the 20th century.

Migrant Journal is an example of this drive, writ large in swoon-worthy custom typography. The instigators of the project describe their intent as follows:

“In order to break from the prejudices and clichés of migrants and migration, MIGRANT asks artists, journalists, academics, designers, architects, philosophers, activists and citizens to rethink our approach to migration and critically explore the new spaces it creates.”

The project launched on Kickstarter in May 2016 and quickly achieved its meager funding goal for issue one. The team is now working on a three-year subscription model that will allow them to create six issues as one cohesive body of work.

Design that looks good and does good.

Vitsoe & Black Friday.

Since 2015, furniture manufacturer Vitsoe (most famous for the 606 universal shelving system by designer Dieter Rams), has run an anti-campaign to coincide with global ‘Black Friday’ sales. For the past two years, bricks and mortar Vitsoe showrooms in London and NYC have closed for the day.

Their contention is simple, and underpinned by the essence of their brand: that people ought to consume products that will adapt, age and function for life, rather than fall for the lure of products with an obvious planned obsolescence. In their words:

“At Vitsœ we have always designed and built furniture for the long term … We have always offered a single, fair, honest price – avoiding discounts and sales – so that our lifelong customers can buy whenever they need.”

Ethical, sustainable and honest; qualities of timeless design.


Honourable mentions.

The Glue Society recreates ‘The Kiss’.

To coincide with Rodin’s sculpture ‘The Kiss’ arriving in Sydney, The Glue Society invited seven modern Sydney couples to re-enact the famous pose. The couples were 3-D scanned and printed for display alongside the original work. Beware the nudity!

Unit Editions: Impact 1.0 & 2.0.

From the “designers’ design publisher”, comes this two-volume catalogue of magazine covers from the last century. Many of the most influential editorial art directors and popular tastemakers are featured, with titles in design from all over the globe, displayed democratically and objectively.


Staff favourites from the EJ design studio in 2016.

Janine: I like the Yallambee website; it has great, authentic photography and shows what you could do on a small budget.

Maddi: The RWAV Annual Report is my favourite piece. David, our Design Director, did a remarkable job of capturing what was great about the previous report and bringing it into a contemporary and fresh document that exceeded the client’s expectations. It’s been admired by many in our office!

Kat: I love the redesign of the design studio section of the EJ website.

Amelia: I’m a big fan of the Realm of Possibilities visual identity and how that’s been rolled out across digital and print. It’s full of mystique, with cosmic references taken from the space itself.

Caroline: Patrick also created a signature typography for the Realm. Very cool.

Melinda: And that work shaped our Christmas party invitations, which were creative, beautiful and effective pieces of printed communication.

Elise: Our design for the #BeTheLast campaign really turned heads and inspired action.

Rhod: The Lowe project provided a rare example (for the property sector) of a strategic identity development applied in visual identity: from logo construction through art direction and graphic devices. It speaks with beauty and nuance to its target audience.

Felicity: I agree, the Lowe branding and website really nailed the brief. It feels creative, yet sophisticated – much like Lowe themselves.

Alice: The Lowe work definitely stands apart from other ‘cookie-cutter’ property branding on the market.

Kellie: The Lowe website looks clean and elegant.