Ian Cartlidge, co-founder of London-based studio Cartlidge Levene was awarded the Royal Designer for Industry distinction in 2013. There’s an interesting interview with him on designboom. Here’s an excerpt along with some of the studios identity work.
Ellis Miller identity.
What is the attraction of designing identities for you?
We consider identities as ‘visual language’ — we will generally use the term ‘identity’ rather than ‘brand’. We design logos, when required, but the spirit of an identity is communicated through its application. We design pure identity projects with printed and digital collateral but our environmental graphics and wayfinding projects are also largely about identity. Our work in this area will often embody the spirit of an organisation through information design and 3D materiality. Visual language is about communicating the soul of an organisation — it’s about encapsulating the intangible, an emotion, an atmosphere — this is the powerful offer that we all have as identity designers.
Given your experience, are you able to finalise a logo or identity design quicker than you used to, or does it remain a matter of trial and error?
Yes, experience enables you to instinctively edit ideas and allows you to cut out a lot of exploratory work — it can still involve trial and error but you develop a sense for knowing when something is right.
Stanton Williams identity.
What mistakes or ‘traps’ should a young designer avoid when working on an identity system?
Review your designs at 1:1 — you can never fully understand if a design concept works on screen. Print out, review at life size, put it on the wall, hold it in your hand, refine it, return to your computer, do this on a regular basis.
Think holistically — identity is rarely about an individual piece. Understand how all the components work together, develop the art of designing typologies and master hierarchy and order.
Communicate design successfully — some of the best ideas can stand or fall on how they are communicated to the client. Design is not just about the end result, understand the journey.
Guardian News & Media wayfinding.
London Aquatics Centre wayfinding.
Ian Cartlidge. Photography by Marcus Ginns.