(tomáš luňák) In the Japanese section of the Victoria & Albert Museum, Japanese dragons and mythical birds fly above flower gardens where blossoms turn into butterflies. Philip O’Dwyer, the chief designer of the onedotzero festival in London, started this fabulous land of magic two years ago.
“I have always been interested in Japanese decorative art. This was an opportunity for me to respond to art which I really like,” explains O’Dwyer on why he chose the Japanese section in the VAM. He adds, “In the gallery, there are various objects – vases, bowls, and boxes. I wanted to revive them. I imagined a sort of animated decoration from the very start.” However, the project went much further than that. A completely new world was created.
When he was presenting his work at Datatransfer in Prague two years ago, most of us knew him as the designer of the cult-favorite onedotzero festival (1.0) in London. Since its very beginning, Philip has created the jingles, DVD jewel cases, catalogues, books, and all other materials related to the festival. However, his portfolio is much more varied: PlayStation, Futurelab, The Cartoon Network, etc. Unsurprisingly, one can find his name among those who predict the future for Graphic Design in the 21st Century (Taschen).
“The very first language I learned was called Logon. I was able to draw a small turtle with it,” describes O’Dwyer in regard to his first experience as a graphic designer in a digital environment. He was 10 at that time and had just won a school contest in collecting Apple computer vouchers. He adds, “I learned how to work with a computer and started to program it during my holidays. Logon was a very good program for kids, I must admit. I think it was quite ahead of its time. These days, kids may not have access to such good programs.” He says he remembers a lot from that time. “I am always most inspired by simple structures. I perceive them as real-world structures. In fact, I just solve how to organize things on a computer screen. Even a postcard holder in a souvenir shop can be very inspiring in this sense. It is a way of organizing typography,” he states. How did you start cooperating with 1.0?
O’Dwyer: “Originally I had a studio with two partners from my university. We published a lifestyle magazine. Its editor was one of the first 1.0 festival directors. We were surrounded by people doing various things. It was natural for me to start designing 1.0.” What is important for you when working on a 1.0 catalogue? Are you influenced by films presented at the festival?
O’Dwyer: “Absolutely. I always react to the issues that these movies bring up. In the beginning, it was all about technologies because technology itself was a new thing, the topic that we wanted to get to the core of in order to find out exactly what it is. These days, digital film is an everyday thing. It is nothing new. For this reason, we must create new stories and narrations, our own artistic visions. All of a sudden, the topics have become more complex – architecture, space, fashion. It is very interesting for me.” The Japanese dragons are living proof of it.