Ken Cato

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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.’



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The incredibly shy Richard Burbridge is technically one of the top 5 fashion photographers on the market.   His ambitious photography explores the alchemical medium of photography.  Transforming his subjects — fashion, portraiture, beauty and still life photography — Burbridge subverts the expected.

Driven by an excitement to work for the American magazines he had started to work for when he was in London as well as the fact that the photographers he respected most were coming out of America, he moved there in 1993 and remains based in New York.

He has very opinionated criticisms of the way business is done in London and finds it nowhere near as professional as it is in America so he’s never had any desire to return to London.

While he works primarily in advertising and editorial photography, Richard Burbridge has a vision that’s distinctly his own, no matter who the client is.  He will only shoot someone he’s interested in and usually has his own opinion of them, so he’ll manipulate the shot into what he wants them to project.

Though he photographs models in luxurious couture, Burbridge throws traditional beauty conventions out the window.  He often alters the models’ faces and bodies with surreal props — bondage masks, baby doll heads, food, foam and anything that will give his subjects an otherworldly appearance.  Unafraid to violate the models’ pristine hair and clothing, Burbridge confronts viewers with the beauty within the ugliness (and vice versa) and creates images that challenge our expectations.

His inventive work has appeared on the covers and in fashion features in a range of internationally prestigious fashion magazines like Another Magazine, Self-Service, Italian Vogue, i-D, Dazed & Confused and V amongst others.  His still life and beauty photography, which can be seen in campaigns for MAC, Chaumet, Givenchy, Hermes and Louis Vuitton Eyewear is elegantly experimental and meticulous.

Burbridge’s portraits of the leading cultural figures of art, literature and entertainment also carry his distinct photographic style.  His advertising clients include Tom Ford, Chanel and Cartier.


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Paper is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally and takes up 25% of our municipal landfills.  Our forests store 50% of the world’s terrestrial carbon, so in an age of global warming, mitigating carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is paramount.    It is for these reasons Fresh Press was started by Eric Benson & Stevel Kostel.

Fresh Press is an educational agri-fiber papermaking and design studio providing systemic design solutions to East Central Illinois.  Their goal is to develop markets for sustainable paper made from locally produced agri-fiber and indigenous plant material.    Their intent is to function as a model for regional sustainable paper materials that collaborates across multiple academic disciplines, reviving a local agrarian economy based on entrepreneurship and sustainable professional practice, while reducing the environmental impact of paper consumption at the sizable university, as well as surrounding urban and rural communities.

Fresh Press agri-fiber and agri-fiber waste paper lab is based on a regional and seasonal model that is similar to the model of a microbrewery. They use what is indigenous to the area in terms of prairie grasses and other native species (when dried) and take the farmers’ waste after harvest.   So far they have developed paper blends from corn, soy beans, rye, switchgrass as well as several other crops I’ve never he Currently their hand-made paper is used mainly for stationery, handbills and posters.

Fresh Press is really interested in changing the system of paper-making which is primarily based on chopping down trees and therefore a very environmentally unfriendly way of making paper.   They’re also looking at creating regional economies based on fibres so farmers can grow these crops, sell the food portion of the crop and also sell what would usually be considered as waste.   Using that existing stream of fibre to produce paper will be a lot more socially and environmentally friendly way of stewarding the land.

Hello Kitty

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As a gift-giving society, manufacturers in Japan have evolved to cater to this cultural regime.   In the 1970’s, a Japanese company called Sanrio decided to produce a small, cheap ($1-$2) merchandise mascot that would appeal to the pre-teen girl demographic so young girls could participate in gift-giving occasions.   The company produced a line of character merchandise around gift-giving occasions.    They commissioned artist Yuko Shimizu to work on the project and she came up with a drawing of a white Japanese Bobtail cat wearing blue overalls with a red bow in her hair.

Hello Kitty was added to the lineup of early Sanrio characters in 1974 and the first related merchandise was released the following year with the original Hello Kitty concept appearing on a small coin purse.   Realizing that they needed to cater for different ages, Sanrio expanded the range of Hello Kitty products and the rest, as they say is history.

Hello Kitty is a ‘gijnka’, an anthropomorphism or personification of a cat, not dissimilar in concept to Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse.   No one would mistake the Disney character for a human, but at the same time he’s not quite a mouse.   Just like Hello Kitty isn’t a human, she’s not quite a cat either.   Shimizu got the name Kitty from Lewis Carroll’s book Through the Looking-Glass, where in a scene early in the book Alice plays with a cat she calls Kitty.

There are some characteristics of Hello Kitty that are quite clever and in some ways very Japanese.   She’s simple yet seductive and she’s very unthreatening to children.   Her eyes are set wide apart which is generally deemed to be safer for kids.   She has no mouth, she has no teeth and she has a very blank expression.

How did she become so popular?     Why was she such an instant success?

  • She was Part of the Animal Boom

Sanrio has the license to produce Snoopy goods in Japan and they knew that Miffy (the bunny) was popular too so from this Mr Tsuji knew that animal goods sell.

  • Cute (Kawaii) Culture

This was inspired by a generation of post-war kids (mainly girls) rebelling against the expectations of their parents who had lived through the war and believed their children should get a good education, get married, have kids and maybe work for a year or two in between.   The ’Cute Culture’ evolved as a means of maintaining their youth/childhood and really annoyed parents and teachers alike.   The cute culture was expressed in the way they spoke, the way they wrote and the ‘cute’ outfits they adopted.   So when Hello Kitty came out at this time, she was adopted as the ‘Icon of Cute’. These kids (and their kids) grow up to have children of their own and that’s why the Hello Kitty brand keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Every year Kitty is modified or re-shaped in some way and the designers come up with a new theme/stance for her (eg changing the colour of her bow or replacing it with a flower or strawberry).

She’s seasonal, she’s regional, she comes out in Limited Editions, she’s become collectible and she’s increasingly becoming a Luxury Brand.   Hello Kitty is now seen in the form of high end jewellery ($1000 necklaces) and adorning high-end makeup brands , etc).

The simplicity of Hello Kitty’s design, which is a simple flat line drawing, is probably one of the most intriguing aspects of her character.    Yet she now appears on over 50,000 products that are sold in over 70 countries and is a brand worth $7bn.    Roughly two thirds of Hello Kitty products are licenced and the rest are made by the company.   Every month about 600 products are taken off the market and 600 new products are added.   Sanrio holds the copyright and makes around $759m in annual revenue off Kitty alone.