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15 July, 2024
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Neville Brody at UNIC: ''Embrace difficulty, question everything''

Renowned graphic designer to inspire graduates at the University of Nicosia with a message of creative rebellion and unparalleled innovation

Shemaine Bushnell Kyriakides

Renowned graphic designer Neville Brody, a pioneer in visual communication, will deliver the commencement address at the University of Nicosia, where he will also receive an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. This honor recognizes Brody’s unparalleled contributions to graphic design, an art form he has revolutionized with his concepts of "structured chaos" and his mantra to "question everything."

In a recent interview, Brody expressed his pride and excitement about receiving this prestigious award. Despite his embarrassment when asked about his legacy, his passion for design remains undiminished. A close friend described him as a visionary whose problem-solving approach to graphic design has inspired thousands, fostering a passionate relationship with typography and visual communication among young designers.

"It's about questioning everything. You don't have to accept things as they're presented,"

Reflecting on his journey, Brody emphasized the importance of questioning established norms. "It's about questioning everything. You don't have to accept things as they're presented," he said. Early in his career, Brody's work aimed to undermine persuasive advertising and encourage people to question their environments. This philosophy was evident during his punk rock phase and in his experimental record covers for bands like Depeche Mode, where he challenged traditional rules and conventions in design.

Arena Homme+

Brody's message to the graduates at the University of Nicosia is clear: embrace difficulty and trust yourself. He believes that education should unlock creative potential rather than merely train students to become professionals. "Ignore all of your tutors and professors," he plans to advise, highlighting the shift in education where teachers are no longer the sole repositories of knowledge but rather guides in the students' creative journey.

His approach to design is about breaking grids, creating dramatic layouts, and pushing the limits of legibility and possibility. "Graphic design is friction," he said, critiquing the trend towards sanitized, commercialized design that prioritizes smooth user journeys over creative expression. Brody advocates for maintaining complexity and nuance in design, warning against the dangers of over-simplification and the loss of diversity in both culture and communication.

He also expressed concern about the current trend of simplifying messages into catchy slogans, which leads to isolation and a lack of dialogue. "We're living in an age of what we call condensation symbols. A condensation symbol is a simple idea that captures a complex subject or narrative," Brody explained. "These simplified messages result in no nuance, turning complex issues into polarized debates. This polarization is something we're seeing across Europe and the rest of the world."

Brody’s impressive portfolio includes designing typefaces for global brands like Christian Dior, Coca-Cola and Samsung, creating the original BBC website design, and reimaging the Times of London. He also founded the Anti-Design Festival, a response to the commercialization of art and design, which celebrated un-commercial, dangerous, and anti-establishment creativity.

Anti-Design Festival

As he prepares to inspire the next generation of designers in Cyprus, Brody remains a fervent advocate for the integration of new technologies like AI into design. He sees AI not as a threat but as a tool that, like the advent of personal computers, will democratize and expand creative possibilities. "AI will be the same. I think we'll have to find ways of incorporating and adapting while looking to its potential.

When asked about his most favorite project, Brody reflected, "Well, my latest book. I think it's all sort of come together and shows a lot of different aspects of my work, from something artistic and creative and experimental and chaotic, all the way through to system building and more engineering approach."

Neville Brody’s visit to Cyprus promises to be a landmark event for the University of Nicosia, offering graduates invaluable insights from one of the most influential graphic designers of our time. His message of embracing difficulty, questioning everything, and trusting oneself is sure to resonate with the aspiring designers and artists in attendance.

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Coca Cola

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