Review by final year student, James Land

In the second of this term’s Design School Lecture Series, Pentagram’s Eddie Opara came in to discuss the role of design and modern technology, as well as demonstrating his impressive design background.  “The problem graphic design has, is when you try to define it.”

LCC Alumni, Opara, identifies not as a graphic designer, but as a tinkerer. Moving from place to place, person to person, repairing and making things work.The design identity of Platform, a series of talks in tech hubs around America is an example of Opara’s ‘tinkering’; his methods in branding the event transcended graphic design, creating an innovative strategy integrated with all aspects of the event. Opara asked us to question how much we rely on grids as designers; arguing that although they give us clarity and balance, that we should try to break away from using them so rigidly… “More of a grid religion, that a grid system”. As conveyed in the video shown, the identity of Platform challenges grid structures by adding a kinetic aspect which cleverly communicates through print as well as in the moving images Platform used.

In his talk, Opara discussed what he has learnt as a professional designer throughout the breadth of his career, touching on problems we will inevitably face once we graduate. One of the main issues he mentioned was a designer’s relationship with the client; highlighting that a lot of the time the client has no idea what they want, which can be frustrating. However through ‘tinkering’ this can work to your advantage – showing the client work they didn’t know they wanted. What I personally found particularly compelling was his suggestion that sometimes working for free can be a positive as long as you are clear with the client “If I’m going to do it for free, I’m going to do it my way”, which allows you to have a lot more creative control over your work. The talk offered inspiration, but more importantly motivation and encouragement, showing the success of someone that graduated from LCC and therefore what our career futures can very realistically become.