Mark King / Design & Art Direction

Anti Design? Bazooka it.

We’re not sure we understand Anti Design, but we don’t have to understand it to love it.

For lovers of anything ‘design’, the diary at the moment is crammed full of huge events and exhibitions. London Fashion Week, The London Design Festival, 100% Design, The Icon Design Trail, Tent... each one a flurry of multiple happenings in multiple locations. Exciting lamps, uncomfortable chairs, crushingly expensive kitchens, eco-everything... It was all getting a bit much so we dashed to The Anti Design festival thinking we could have a rest and a bitch about, well... design. Designers do actually do that.

The Anti Design Festival is the brainchild of graphic design rock star, Neville Brody. He was solely responsible for the look of The Face magazine in the 80s and was pretty much ripped off by all and sundry during that decade. He moved on in the 90s to pioneer customised typeface design which was taking off at that time. He’s been a design pioneer and a leader for decades so why is he now organising an Anti Design festival? Has he had enough? Is he jaded? Why is he on such a downer? Where is he and can we have a glass of wine with him and slag off other designers we don’t like?

No, we’d got it all wrong as the Anti Design festival is as much of a celebration as any of the others. A different kind of celebration that has edge. The idea is that design has become too corporate and commercialised. Used to tart up tat and sell us stuff that – without a design makeover – would just not be very good. The festival wants to shake up designers and let them run riot with the idea of just – well – designing. Make mistakes. Bring back the art of the accident that computers have virtually taken away. Crash and crush and chop and slash and mix up the the visuals. Enjoy. Rebel. Actually have fun again. This suddenly felt really energising, especially as artist and GT favourite Stuart Semple was actually curating some of the shows.

Top: Work by Stuart Semple. Above: Bazooka

To describe Stuart as a Pop Artist is to simplify him and make him sound like a copyist. His work is very much of now and belongs on the edge of the culture we are immersed in this second. He even sent a barrage of pink clouds towards London to cheer the city up. We love him. To see what he loves and inspires him through his curation was too good an opportunity for us to miss.

We were at his Bazooka show at The Aubin Gallery. Bazooka are a hugely influential French illustration group, formed in the 70s and just as influential now. On seeing their work we could understand why Stuart loves them so much.

Initially the work appears to be collaged pages from fanzines. Twee, cutesy and, erm... slightly rubbish watercolours overlaid with strips of cut up type and bright pen sketches. Dolls, girls having sex, military imagery – it’s all there. Layered and full-on. Then you realise the works are original with real watercolors overlaid with actual sketches and the initial immediacy of ‘collage’ reveals a strong level of craft, ironic or not. And it’s in French. And blown up and woven into static-creating, trashy, man-made fibre rugs.

It’s exciting and complex, doesn’t make a whole load of sense but embodies what the Anti Design festival is all about. Strong, experimental, accidental, anti-corporate, visual experience. You don’t have to understand it but you can’t help but be excited by it. It’s just what we need right now. It’s fun.

Bazooka is showing until 3rd October. Aubin Gallery, 66 Redchurch Street, London E2.

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