Being invited to present at agIdeas International Design Week is quite a coup, especially since the annual invitation only extends to 40 design creatives worldwide. Big international names are often the drawcard at the weeklong event in Melbourne, but this year’s Australian speakers make for a stellar line-up. As the only South Australian representatives, Anthony De Leo and Scott Carslake’s inclusion marks them as two of the most dynamic graphic designers working in the country today.
Being invited to present at agIdeas International Design Week is quite a coup, especially since the annual invitation only extends to 40 design creatives worldwide. Big international names are often the drawcard at the weeklong event in Melbourne, but this year’s Australian speakers make for a stellar line-up. As the only South Australian representatives, Anthony De Leo and Scott Carslake’s inclusion marks them as two of the most dynamic graphic designers working in the country today. They co-founded Voice 14 years ago and have since grown it to a four-person operation. In recent times the Adelaide-based design studio has been no stranger to industry recognition. Voice’s recent successes may have included a slew of international and national awards for branding, identity, publications and illustration, but both De Leo and Carslake’s approach remains refreshingly pragmatic. “Everything we do is essentially built on the idea of getting somebody’s attention,” Carslake says. Last year’s Design South Australia catalogue for the Integrated Design Commission and new branding for McLaren Vale boutique winery Hither & Yon are two recent examples that do exactly that. The prior’s palette of gelato colours and interspersed pages of geometric patterning lend it instant appeal. While the latter’s exaggerated ampersand motif gives the brand’s wine labels immediate vibrancy. Their work for Hither & Yon is especially interesting as it signals a shift in direction for the design studio. “In the last year we’ve managed to work with clients that have allowed us to take brand work a lot further than print and digital,” Carslake explains. “We’re now also expanding into environments.” Voice’s work with Hither & Yon has included collaborating with Adelaide-based interior designer Georgie Shepherd to redesign the boutique winery’s cellar door. It’s an opportunity that has rounded out the design process for both De Leo and Carslake allowing them to be involved in the complete branding experience. It also highlights the diversity in their design process, which is often markedly different from one project to the next. And those lucky enough to hear De Leo and Carslake speak at agIdeas were given plenty of insight into just how diverse this process can be. One of their past projects they discussed was the rebranding of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO). “Scott and I wanted to explore the notion of what music looks like,” De Leo says. So the two University of South Australia alumni went back to their alma mater to conduct a series of workshops with a group of graphic design students. “We got them to do some visual studies for a day while we played different types of music,” De Leo continues. “Then we went away and built a visual body of work around that collated material and that became the identity for the ASO’s 2006 season.” The project remains a significant one in Voice’s portfolio for the attention it garnered. It also reveals the lateral lengths the design studio is prepared to go to achieve outstanding results. De Leo and Carslake’s motivation is an ongoing search to find innovation in all that they do and this allows them to constantly keep on coming up with new ideas. Some of these ideas have been Eureka moments while others have felt like hours spent banging your head against a brick wall. However, as Carslake says, “It doesn’t matter how you generate an idea, just as long as the idea is valuable.” At the end of the day what De Leo and Carslake are trying to achieve through every facet of their creative output is a response. The design studio is currently working on a number of local projects, but De Leo and Carslake can’t give too much away. What they can say is that they’re gearing up to launch the new Rio Coffee brand within the next month and a big project in South Australia’s wine sector will come to fruition over the next 12 months. The adrenalin may have slowed after agIdeas, but the drive and energy that distinguishes Voice doesn’t seem like stopping anytime soon. voicedesign.net agideas.net