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Kevin Finn is a self-professed design nerd! So much so, the unassuming and softly spoken designer has created a new entrepreneurial and strategic design label called DESIGNerd, under which he hopes to develop a range of products and publications, the first of which will be launched in the coming months. Finn is no stranger to entrepreneurial projects, having instigated the journal Open Manifesto in 2003, of which five volumes have been produced so far. The idea of DESIGNerd has been ruminating in Finn’s head for many years, but finally came to fruition in 2011. The first series of products to be launched under the DESIGNerd label is 100+, a set of graphic design trivia games.
The intentions behind both projects vary dramatically. While Open Manifesto questions design and its contribution to contemporary culture, the objective of 100+ is to celebrate and revel in design knowledge.
When discussing his new label and project, the practical and philosophical conversation demonstrates the intellect Finn applies to design thinking and design doing that underpins his approach to 100+.
100+ comprises three volumes, with each volume containing over 100 questions and answers of varying degrees of difficulty.
Each card has one primary question, but may include a related bonus question. Every card has a category, such as typography/ history, publishing/contemporary or studio/ contemporary, with questions that design enthusiasts would (or should) know. The volumes contain a selection of questions from prominent design figures: Volume 1 – Kevin Finn, Volume 2 – Steven Heller and Lita Talarico and Volume 3 – Stefan Sagmeister. The aim of the game is to bring people together – designers and design enthusiasts – to celebrate design’s value.
To understand the process of constructing 100+, Finn undertook the project himself. He researched and developed a selection of personal questions and answers for Volume 1. As he worked through the project, he was able to pre-empt any hurdles other contributors could encounter when developing their questions.
The outcome is a series of three black tins brimming with design knowledge. Finn established a style that is intentionally neutral in order to highlight the information inside the tin. This approach also allowed for the contributors to personalise the tins through the inclusion of handwritten numerals and question marks on the front and back of the tin. These visual cues also help identify the authors of the specific volume. Finn specifically chose to work with Helvetica because of the significance and passion (both positive and negative) the font has commanded.
Inside, the cards are black and white. Finn has designed a simple system where the categories are identified with a circle, while the point allocation is identified with a square, an octagon or a starburst, depending on the point’s level. These are located on the top of the card, leaving space for the question, answer and suggested score guide or bonus points panel located at the base of the card.
A sophisticated approach underpins the simplicity of the design objectives. The game is designed to create interactions and to ‘overdesign’ the cards, just for the sake of it, would dilute the objective of the game.
Finn’s interest in design lies in the generation of content. He is a design thinker, who revels in possibility and is excited by the prospect of a holistic design industry that is inclusive and diverse. While he manages a design studio, his recent relocation from remote Kununurra, Western Australia to Brisbane has given him the opportunity to reflect and restructure his practice to develop self-initiated projects, rather than relying primarily on client projects.
There is no doubt that trivia is compelling, and design trivia for design enthusiasts is heaven sent. It can be used in any situation, design related or not, to inform, entertain or assist with creative blocks.
Plans are already underway for further volumes, not only in graphic design, but architecture, product and fashion as well. As more volumes are produced, I can see them becoming a vehicle to explore some of the more problematic issues in design such as diversity, design for social good and paradigm shifts. In my world as a design educator, I envisage groups of students in and out of class playing the game and using the questions as a starting point for further research. In fact, I can also picture meetings where the agenda is entirely hijacked by 100+. Kevin, I congratulate you on your contribution and making design available and accessible to everyone.
From desktop magazine.