Whether it's the production aspects of television shows, the logos and packaging of well-established brands, the dominating heights of skyscrapers, or typographic compositions and text layout systems, the world of design has always been an integral part of my life.
Game shows
Television game shows are something I've been obsessed with for as long as I can remember — not just for the production aspect, but also for the formats themselves. One in particular that has been a significant part of my life in recent years is Channel 4's Countdown, by which some of my branding is inspired. Others I've enjoyed over the years have included Deal or No Deal (Channel 4, 2005–16), Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (ITV, 1998–2014, 2018–present), The Weakest Link (BBC One, 2001–12), Golden Balls (ITV, 2007–09), The Million Pound Drop (Channel 4, 2010–15; later but briefly The £100k Drop from 2018–19), and the short-lived The Colour of Money (ITV, 2009). Out of these, Countdown is the only one that hasn't yet been axed at some point in its life and still retains its slot in Channel 4's weekday afternoon schedule after four decades.

▸ Countdown: where game shows are concerned, I've always been fascinated in the composition of their set design. With Countdown, which I've had an intermittent obsession with since the age of three, this has included the six principle styles the programme has gone though, the differences in lighting setups between filming blocks (as the set is dismantled and reassembled between each of them, and furthermore shifts between two studios at the filming location), the multiple camera positions and shots, and the subtle on-screen changes that have been made every so often. Countdown's production is the one thing I've been fond of from a young age, from the letters and numbers boards used during the rounds, to the appearance of the tiles placed onto them. The programme has been filmed in the Dock10 facility at MediaCityUK, Salford, for the last decade, and I've had the privilege to visit the studio on five occasions, three of which were as part of the now-redundant studio audience. These visits gave me the opportunity to experience how the programme is directed and how the crew members interwork to ensure the recording process goes as smoothly as possible. My third visit, in September 2019, oversaw the grand final of Series 81 being recorded; therein, as an added bonus for me, the set was decorated for the Christmas period. Above all, the most memorable experience I had at the studio was for the filming of the Championship of Champions XVI tournament between the 7th and 9th November 2022, for which I was the guest for one of the participating contestants. Knowing it would most likely be my last venture there, I took full advantage of the opportunity by sharing my passion for the production side of the programme with members of the team, in addition to presenting the design material I've produced for many years. Everyone was wonderful and accommodated me for the three days, even allowing me to remain in the studio to watch the games unfold from directly behind the cameras. Susie Dent, the show's resident lexicographer, took an interest in my handmade letters board — which I took down to the studio for the duration of the tournament — and I expressed my gratitude to her compliments with one each of the 'S' and 'D' tiles in my letters pack to represent her initials.

▸ Deal or No Deal: in the case of fellow Channel 4 game show Deal or No Deal, which aired between 2005 and 2016, the programme had six themed events over the course of the year to celebrate a number of national holidays. These included "Love Week" (covering the week in which Valentine's Day fell), the Easter weekend, Banker's Birthday (celebrating the birthday of the show's estranged villain), the summer holidays (following which the show generally went on a summer break), Halloween, and Christmas. On each of these occasions, the entire studio would be adorned with props and stage flats constructed by the show's creative in-house art department, the set lighting would be tinged with a palette of colours associated with the event, and presenter Noel Edmonds and the 22 contestants would be dressed in fitting costumes. The most prominent change was given to the boxes involved in the game, which were redecorated from their conventional red colour. I was constantly in awe of the ideas the art department came up with for the production of the specials, and they often gave fans a glimpse of the work they did for them via the show's Facebook and YouTube platforms. Some of my all-time favourite themed weeks on the show were "Deal in Space" [Banker's Birthday 2013], "Big Christmas Dinner" [Christmas 2012], and "The Dark Woods" [Halloween 2010]. Deal or No Deal's original run sadly concluded in December 2016, by which time it had given away an extraordinary £40 million in prize money to members of the public throughout its decade-long tenure.
If my passion for Countdown is anything to go by, it's that I've always loved letters; more specifically, the way in which they are presented. I've been able to quickly identity a broad range of typefaces for a long time, even if they are examples that I've either never used or haven't seen in use for a while. Although I typically stick with a single typeface in a piece of my own design work, I do enjoy experimenting with different styles to see how they might and might not work together. Personally, I have a preference for geometric sans-serif designs because of their contemporary look, but equally like styles that associate with different moods, genres, occasions and demographics. Most of my favourite typefaces are commonplace in the design industry: Eurostile, DIN, Futura, Gotham, and Poppins to name a few. Among others, some I like include Barkentina, Europa, Greycliff, Inter, InterFace, Mark Pro and Whitney.
From the setback design of the Empire State Building, to the glass-encased pyramidal composition of The Shard, architecture (primarily skyscrapers) has been yet another continuous obsession of mine. The monumental size that skyscrapers can reach is mesmerising to me, not to mention all of the planning, prototyping and challenges that have to be overcome to make them fit for purpose in their individual environments. I'm fascinated by both modern and historical examples of architecture, with favoured styles being those from the Art Deco movement that rose to prominence in Europe and the United States in the 1920s; in particular, New York City's renowned Chrysler Building and Empire State Building.

The two buildings I've always admired above everything else, which developed my interest in the architectural field  — despite having zero resemblance to Art Deco — are the Twin Towers of the original World Trade Center complex. Although sadly no longer in existence, I was first drawn to the towers after seeing them in the second Home Alone film at about the age of six, before I learned of the tragedy they were the subjects of a few years prior. I think what captivated me the most about the towers was simply the fact there were two of them, as opposed to one, dominating the Lower Manhattan skyline. From visiting the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in 2016, and exploring the reflective pools representing the footprints of the Twin Towers, I was lost for words at how majestic they must have looked in person.
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