Thoughts on design

Last weekend I visited Colour World UK with my sister. Colour World Uk is an event that welcomes hundreds of colourists to an event designed specially for hairdressers of all ages and stages. The event focuses on inspiration, learning techniques (by watching accomplished colourists at work), and sharing ideas to grow a colour business.

My sister Katie is one of the most talented, focused and knowledgeable hairdresser of her age you’ll ever meet. To keep up to date and to maintain this fantastic skill set she frequently goes to events and talks throughout the year. As as any good sister would, I accompany her.

These events are an absolute joy for a graphic designer to attend, especially when discussing the process and the technicalities of colouring.

Many of us at university are told, design does not live in a bubble. You must engage with other things in life to become a more well rounded designer. This becomes easier said than done when you’re interested in beautiful type, colours and layout. However if you look hard enough you will find that you can gain so much from talks/events/visits that you would not instantly think have any connection to graphic design.

Vidal Sassoon

On Sunday the lecture that inspired me the most was by Edward Darley –
UK Colour Director from Vidal Sassoon. Incase you’re reading this and have no idea who Vidal Sassoon is here is a brief history.

Vidal Sassoon was a male hair dresser in 50’s and is possibly the single most influential hairdresser – ever. He was a forward thinking hairdresser who took inspiration from the Bauhaus movement. This inspiration and cross over between architecture eventually created one of Vidal Sassoon’s most iconic hair cut – the asymmetric bob


Vidal’s process and values are heavily installed into his team and this was very apparent during Edward Darley’s lecture .

Colour Theory

Darley spoke about the use of colour theory and how this knowledge can allow you use colour to create shape and balance within hairstyles.

By referencing the likes of Johannes Itten and his most famous book ‘The Art of Colour’, the lecture instantly became accessible to anyone who uses or deals with colour. It is easy to forget that not only graphic designers deal with colour, therefore was pleasantly surprised and fascinated that there was this strong connection between hair and design.

Throughout the talk Darley spoke convincingly about colour theory with real life examples. Not only did I learn and reinforce my exsisting knowledge surrounding colour theory, I also was reminded how to important it is to be great at public speaking. Darely spoke with such passion and integrity that it was impossible to leave the room without feeling inspired.

This was just one of the many inspiring talks from throughout the day, there were plenty of discussions and presentations that looked at collections, the ideas behind them and the creative process. All of these events relate back to design; we all use ideas and have a creative process the only difference is the medium.

Even if you are not interested in the subject of hair, listening to those who are speak and discuss hair with confidence and creativity can only benefit you as a designer.


I haven’t blogged for a really long time. Probably the last time I properly blogged, was the first week of my internship which was well over 9 months ago. Since then, a lot has happened: the biggest thing that happened to me was fucking up big time; I failed and I failed hard.

From student through to a professional graphic designer, you are constantly told to risk failure and that failure can be good for you. This always confused me, as why would you intentionally try something that wasn’t going to work – how could you possibly gain from failing?

When I was a student I played safe due to my ‘what’s the point in failing’ approach. I had never performed badly at anything – in no way am I being big headed; I always worked hard, put the hours in and got good grades. The word ‘fail’ wasn’t in my vocabulary – that changed.

I failed at my internship. To simplify all the failures into one – I failed as I wasn’t offered a job.

Initially I blamed everyone else but myself (typical denial). As it is now many months down the line, I can be honest to myself about the situation. I can see what happened now without embarrassment/upset of failing. I can now see where I went wrong: I changed from someone who was confident, capable and excited about the future of design into a person who didn’t want to design any more. I lost my design mojo. I niavely assumed that as I had done so well before, it would just continue. WRONG.

However, not being offered a job was the best thing to happen to me. Why? Because it forced me to change.

I now have a very different job, I work in-house at Ecommerce website. The company is small as well as a start up. I would have never had this opportunity or have thought about this sector if it wasn’t for failing.

I have also changed my attitude; I say yes to any opportunities that come my way even if I don’t think I am 100% capable. I have found that learning through mistakes is actually the quickest way to learn and that making mistakes is not the worst thing in the world to happen. I am also more open to feedback, I don’t take it personally when someone asks for amends. Previously, I was controlling of projects (egotistical reasons), now I have lightened up and this has benefited group work. This also goes for my design principles: I now understand my feedback on my degree assessment form — that I should do things for the sake of it and just enjoy it as finding reasons and analysing instantly stops you making and creating.

One big thing I do differently is to remain enthusiastic about everything. During my internship there was one person who was constantly excited about every project, excited about ideas, excited just by life in general. I had previously thought that it was just his personality but it isn’t – it is a choice that as individuals we make. I have come to realise that the way you feel is due to the way that you think. If you think positive then you can only feel positive. For example there can never be a good or a bad job, only good or bad feelings about that job.

Ultimately what has failing taught me — a good designer is not how creative, capable or skilled they are but the attitude they posses.

I’m really glad I failed.