Furry Thoughts

It all started with two words that would make a great name for a design firm, possibly even my future, hypothetical firm… “design dogs.”

The more I thought about it (of course the .com.au was registered in 0.5s), the more I believed it would be right for me, despite some possible negative connotation around ‘dogs.’ Aren’t the greatest brands a bit controversial, after all?

In early 2016 I set it up as best I could, with limited time devoted to the project. But in mid-late 2016 I chose the concept as a theme for the Interactive and Visual Design 2016 graduation show. This allowed me to develop it in detail as well as put time into creating some serious assets for the idea.

I wanted to stand out, and offer something fun. The first thing set in stone was a business card folks would stamp with the logo.


Stamping the business card.
Stamping the business card.

I had a rough drawing of the dog I wanted to use to represent the brand, but it was difficult to translate that to a clean illustration suitable for reproduction at various sizes and in different contexts.

I eventually got it done, the process of which you can see sped up in the video below.

People would be wandering around and I wanted to engage them without them spending a lot effort. I presented a video of myself writing on a chalkboard displayed in front of a chalkboard to suggest as a  novelty that my hand was right there.

Leveraging this academic opportunity, Design Dogs has become the face of my freelance endeavours (which will hopefully be succeeded shortly by working in a larger team).

Furry Thoughts

This booklet was a part of an exhibition installation displayed at the Horizon16 Interactive and Visual Design show for 2016 graduates.

I’ve included the spreads from the file which is designed for print, so they might not work well on mobile. Sorry! I included the text below. Not as nice without the illustrations.



The final implication of all digital communication is analog… physical. The digital is just an abstraction from the real.

The only problems that matter are real-world ones. If we use it creatively, the digital could help us raise the standard of living across the globe.

But the digital realm also threatens to take us away from the one we actually live in and need to work on.

To fix the problems of the day and enhance the human experience, we have to take advantage of digital efficiencies without being infatuated by them, and focus on what matters: life.

It’s all so new. We’ve just begun finding our feet, learning step by step what is possible, expanding our imagination one degree at a time. The startup and app explosions are exciting, but we’re just toddlers.

At this stage it’s not about technical capacity, it’s about what we choose to focus on.

Nothing can help us look in the right direction.

Designers have a lot of information to deal with. We think we need more than we do. Fads, and even the UX revolution, are blips. There are so many superfluous labels, rules and methods.

While everyone is shouting in an echo chamber, it can feel strange to remain in silence and tune out. The key is to see what is really important and focus.

As we move forward, grow and learn, we’ll need less to do more.

Being unique is our native state. Each of us have amazing internal tools, which can easily be obfuscated by external ones. We won’t find them in endless articles or tweets. We need introspection and integrity. The most important skill is to hold our own centre from where we can see clearly.

Visual trends are coming full circle, we’re entering a post-era era.

Technologies may advance, but we’re looking backwards for inspiration not forwards.

New music, even in electronic genres, is being humanised. Art rich in texture and imperfection is seen more online. The analog is regaining its value inside the digital, just as it’s regaining its value in the real world, with the resurgence of books, CDs and vinyl.

People want to touch again, they want to feel.

To solve the big problems, we need digital tools, but also lateral thinking. What can we do with what we’ve already got?

Design Dogs was conceptualised to improve real life through humanised digital communication.

But it was also founded on a customer service ethic – that designers should be more like dogs: friendly, loyal and responsive (house trained is assumed).

We don’t want to drop our work like a mic and walk off leaving a wake of confusion. We want to support our clients like a pack.

We don’t want to rest on our laurels or be irreproachable designer gods. Design is just a job and it’s our purpose to do it humbly and eagerly.

Basically, we want to be a best friend for our clients, or anyone we deal with.

Design Dogs founder Alistair has a diverse background including inventing, branding and producing the world class non-dairy cheese Notzarella, WordPress freelancing and even music production.

His strong visual skills include vectors, illustration and photography, but he has an equally strong penchant for experience and strategy. He thrives working on projects with the potential to improve quality of life.

What does the future hold? Alistair is looking for a great team where he can play a part in solving important problems (even small ones that just happen to make money) and contribute to a high functioning workplace.

Visit alidark.com to view the range of Alistair’s work beyond Design Dogs.


Posted on November 12, 2016 Modified January 19, 2018