'Twas the night before Christmas
24 December 2020
This morning we launched a special Christmas video pop up on the Actors' Benevolent Fund site!Conceived by HRH The Prince of Wales in an effort to support the work of the ABF, "'Twas the night before Christmas," was recorded at Clarence House in December 2020 by an ensemble cast featuring the ABF's patron HRH The Prince of Wales, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, ABF President Dame Penelope Keith, Daniel Craig, Dame Judy Dench, Ncuti Gatwa, Tom Hardy CBE, Joanna Lumley OBE, and Dame Maggie Smith.MOTHandRUST has been working with this incredible 135-year-old charity on their site and other design work for a few years and today their work has never been so important.Happy happy holidays!Posted in: web MandR news
Flashback Friday: the Lieber Institute for Brain Development (LIBD) site
20 November 2020
We've come a long way in the past 10 years since we launched the LIBD site… It was right around this time in particular, 2010/11, that the digital sphere went through a rapid growth spurt, testing everyone’s ability to adapt!
Partly because we are about to enter another new decade, and partly because we are (still) going through the archive of our work to finally update our site, we’ve been thinking a lot about how web design has evolved over the past decade.
One cannot think back about the good old days without thinking about Adobe Flash right? In the ‘00s, it was The Technology that allowed developers to incorporate animation and interactive content to sites.
In early 2010, MOTHandRUST launched our last Flash site. Shortly before that, all designers at the branding agency I was working at were enrolled on a rather lengthy Flash course. No one wanted to see that its demise was coming. But in April 2010, Steve Jobs wrote his “Thoughts on Flash,” a moment many have defined as “The Death of Flash.” Suddenly it was on the way out and everyone had to (sooner or later) accept this and adapt.
The LIBD site used interactive HTML5 Canvas animations that were just as sophisticated as Flash, but these could be viewed without having to install it (a major downside of Flash). This meant that it worked across most devices, even mobile. Of course today, everything can work pretty seamlessly across all devices, but this was quite amazing at the time.
Just over a decade ago, Nokia’s Symbian and RIM’s Blackberry were ranked as the top 2 mobile operating systems at the time. Things changed quickly, so by about 2010/11Android and iOS were quickly taking the lead. The iPhone was first unveiled in 2007, and its Android competitors showed up in 2010. Apple released the iPad in 2010.
With the explosive growth of smartphones and tablets, everyone had to adapt yet again, this time to designing for various screen sizes and devices: enter responsive web design. Today, the thought of a site not adapting to work on a tablet or mobile is unthinkable, but this was just not really done much before about 2010/11.
The LIBD site was responsive, which really made it stand out at the time. In fact, it did not only resize to tablets, but if you used it on a tablet and you tilted the tablet up and down, or left and right, you would move around the animation accordingly. Pretty cool!
One of the decade’s biggest graphic design trends, flat design, was born out of a need to make digital apps clean and accessible. It was developed to ensure that responsive designs work well and load fast (especially important since mobile devices have slower internet speeds). Designers had to adapt their work for easy readability and sparse interfaces. Nowadays, it’s hard not to open a web page (or a brochure or a magazine) without being greeted by flat design (flat colors, minimal vectors and geometric sans serif fonts, etc).
As you can see in the image above, the LIBD site also used flat design. For example, all buttons are large, solid bright colours. Again, today this is not unusual, but in 2010/11 3D buttons where still not that unusual.
By the middle of the decade, websites were moving away from being The Way to engage audiences, and were becoming more like informational portals. We began to see a rise in single page scrolling websites, and a rise in more and more cookie cutter sites. Even today, it seems sites are still becoming purely informational and less experiential. Cookie cutter sites are more prevalent than ever, due in part to availability of off-the-shelf design templates.
But really, the internet is still young and it definitely still has so much potential. This is still the beginning. We love the internet. We keep seeing amazing developments for those who are able to resist the cookie cutter approach. Just as websites never did completely kill print, such things as Instagram and AR haven’t completely killed websites—they simply exist alongside them. We have so many ways to communicate now, often it is more a matter choosing many ways, not one, depending on the audience. We look forward to doing what we always have done, focusing on the result, not the medium used.
The link to the LIBD site is still live, at least until our upcoming site update.
Posted in: web MandR work digital
MOTHandRUST is 10 years old today
4 November 2020
The design studio of MOTHandRUST turns 10 years old today! Like so much else in 2020, our big celebrations have been postponed, but we do look forward to them—as well as the next ten years!Posted in: MandR news
4 Ways to Support Live Theatre During The Pandemic
23 October 2020
Live theatre is one of the industries most impacted by COVID-19. Here in the UK, many remain closed, and the period of closure has been longer than anticipated. MOTHandRUST loves the performing arts and we can’t wait for the theatres to be able to fully reopen, though of course this may not be for some time.In the meantime, there are so many ways you can show your support, in addition to donations, that are always appreciated.1. View productions online- There are many professionally-recorded live theatre productions available to watch online—typically for just a small fee. Can't find anything to watch on Netflix? This is often better!- We've been working with one of our favourite London theatres for over six years now, the Unicorn Theatre—it's new free digital offering is a testament to how creative, flexible and resourceful it is. I loved Anansi the Spider:2. Reach out to your local theatre- Remember that most smaller community theatres lack the resources to offer professionally-recorded productions or Zoom performances and other online experiences.- Reach out to see what kind of programming your local theatre can offer, and find out how you can help. Many are finding creative solutions to stay in business and need support.3. Buy from the theatre shop- For example, buy a play transcript or theatre soundtrack. This is a great way to both support artists’ work, and it is often overlooked. Listening to an original cast recording of a musical soundtrack, or reading a play, can really enrich the performance when you do see it live.- Another one of our long-term clients, the Actors' Benevolent Fund, sells its famous Christmas cards, which helps the Fund continue its vital work in supporting actors, actresses and stage managers experiencing hardship due to illness, injury or old age, as as well COVID-19:4. Buy tickets to a live performance- Socially-distanced indoor performances are allowed to take place as per UK government COVID-19 regulations, such as audience members seated together in bubbles. If you are able, coming back to the see a show is a great way to support our theatres.- When it reopens in January, Wilton's Music Hall will only have 109, rather than 250 seats. In the many years we have been working with them, we have not known it to have such dramatically reduced capacity. As Wilton's says, this will "make the experience even more magical than usual."- Current closure dates for SOLT member theatres may be found here:- Is your theatre not selling tickets yet? You can buy Theatre Tokens to see a show once it reopens:Posted in: theatre
Suzan, why did you get a neuroscience degree? WHY?
25 September 2020As someone who runs a design studio, it is not uncommon to hold a design degree. However, I do have a neuroscience degree as well, and when people find this out, they always ask, “why?”The answer is simple: I planned to be a psychiatrist.So what happened? It was a really tough decision that weighed on me a lot, but finally I decided to apply to art school instead of med school. Then at least I'd never wonder "what if..." And if I really wasn't happy, I could always go back and apply to med school later.I never looked back. And I learned an approach to tough decisions: go for it and if it doesn’t work out, you can usually go back to where you were before. It was this thinking that helped make moving to NYC, Montreal, San Francisco and finally London, for work after graduation, a bit easier.I often give this advice to students, who may answer: is it not a big waste of time and money? It seems that so many want to know exactly where they are going, and then simply get there in a nice, efficient straight line. I'm not sure this is always possible, or even desirable. It is however, understandable. Uni is so costly these days. A tuition freeze and some scholarships meant my student debt was manageable, so I was lucky—the cost was well worth it.If for whatever reason, your path leads in many directions, in this new world of disruption and convergence, it does not mean a big waste of time or money. A diverse background always feeds into what you do later on. In my case, my design studio MOTHandRUST works with a lot of science clients, which means my background is an advantage. I lead science-related projects that I am genuinely interested and passionate about. It makes it easier for me to convey scientific ideas and findings in compelling ways. I can quickly understand and grasp the needs and vision of my science clients. I understand a range of audiences both inside and out of the organisation. Finally, I see the similarities between the Art and Science, not just the differences.Posted in: science MandR news design art