An Australian designer with an international reputation, Dr Ken Cato (AO) is one of the most prominent and accomplished Australian graphic designers and his influence is everywhere. His prolific work encompasses all facets of brand management and design and he has designed thousands of corporate identities.
Cato’s design philosophy is rooted in the concepts of functional design and minimalism. His philosophy of design is dynamically holistic, providing the synergistic solutions that produce positive results.
He relishes connections. The giant figures he designed for Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre speak to the building’s architecture and the sports it hosts. The yellow-and-black Commonwealth Bank symbol references the Southern Cross. The pointed ellipses of the SBS trademark are a literal translation of opening up the globe. Cato Purnell’s themed redesign of Qantas aircraft interiors echoed elements of the landscape over which the jets fly.
When people ask Ken ‘Do you use computers for design’?, he says, ‘No, I use my brain, it’s much faster’. ‘Most designers are guilty of looking for solutions inside the computer box but I think the idea is absolutely king,’ he says. ‘I feed my brain and take inspiration from films, books, poetry, music, whatever … When I tackle projects, the battle is not the creative thing; the battle is to keep the mind open until you fully understand the exercise.
A lot of designers hear the brief and make very quick assumptions. I think the longer you can hold that open, the more chance outside influences and experiences will come into play.’