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Friday, 6 August 2010

Carlos Acosta - and is there a virulent plague of design phoneys?

I've seen two of the world’s finest performers in the last three weeks.

First was Placido Domingo in Simon Boccanegra - his final performance at the Royal Opera House. Moving for me, as I first saw him in La Boheme, in 1974 when we were both much younger.

The second was Carlos Acosta at the English National Opera last night. They say he is currently the best dancer in the world today, and he really is extraordinary, partly because he incorporates street influences like break dancing in his work, partly because he seems to do almost everything except compose the music.

But trying to find out what was going on during his show was impossible because the programme was set in reversed out type which was impossible to read.

I often wonder why so many designers seem to want NOT to communicate. But not nearly as much as I marvel at how gullible the idiots who commission design are.

You don't have to be a languid aesthete to see that something is hideous, do you? Or that somebody's taking the piss on price? The Olympic games logo and mascot are good examples, which reminded me of something I just stumbled upon in my files. It’s so ludicrous as to be beyond parody, and explains why most sane people have nothing but contempt for a lot of marketing:

“The National Trust is set to roll out a new identity, created by Wolff Olins, from the beginning of next year."

(What do they mean, "roll out"? It's not a bloody carpet.)

"Wolff Olins has been working on the branding project for more than a year (you are kidding aren't you?) having been appointed following a tender process, according to a National Trust spokesman."

(What is the tender process? Seeing who can trot out the greatest volume of pretentious jargon? Buy the best dinners? Bestow smacking kisses on the most arses? All three?)

"The consultancy also worked on the National Trust’s last major branding project, in the 1990s."

(Did they get it wrong? Has the country undergone a mysterious change in 15 years?)

The spokesman says, ‘Following research about the perception of the National Trust, we’ve decided to refresh the identity.’

(Refresh? Was it wilting in the heat of global warming?)

He adds, ‘The main change is that the oak leaf symbol will be bigger, bolder and brighter. They’re fairly subtle changes, but we hope they will make the identity fresher'. The new branding will go into use for the first time in January 2010, blah blah, crap, drivel, horseshit, etc."

How much did this year’s work cost, one wonders? How could it have taken more than ten minutes on the back of a beer mat? To give a starting point for estimates, the thieves at Wolff Olins charged £400,000 for their massive Olympics piss-take.

But those who pay to be National Trust members can be sure the new logo will pay off. You can imagine the scene, can’t you?

“I see the National Trust’s oak leaf is a millimeter longer, Hermione. Fuck your idea of going down the pub this afternoon – let’s go and see Stonehenge.”

One of my heroes is James Lees-Milne who did so much to make the National Trust successful and wrote some of the finest diaries ever written. He lamented how the bureaucrats were taking over. He must be spinning in his grave.

Don't give the bastards a penny until they stop this corporate onanism.

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