bryan edmondson (sea design) interview bryan edmondson (sea design) interview
oct 03, 2013

bryan edmondson (sea design) interview

bryan edmondson (sea design) interview


we spoke to the founder of SEA design, bryan edmondson about his work and influences.


DB: please could you tell us briefly about your background and the evolution of your work?
BE: I studied graphic design at newcastle polytechnic and graduated in 1992. looking back at that three year period we were pretty much left to our own devices and my interests in typography, identity and dutch design from the 1960’s and 1970’s seemed to be my biggest influences and this is still the case after 20 years.

after graduating in 1992, I moved to london working for a number of studios, roundel, williams & phoa and imagination, however, even at college I had a desire to form my own design studio. in 1996, after a project for the princess trust I decided to form sea, working on projects for the BBC, EMI and the UK based paper company, GF smith. it was a hard start however after a couple of years sea was winning some fantastic work.

over the past seventeen years the studio has attracted mostly identity projects but from many different worlds, such as matthew williamson, jamie oliver, gordon ramsey to more recently a qatar museum, an outdoor clothing brand regatta to the global type brand, monotype.

we have always maintained a relatively small team, most of the time there is about ten of us, however over the past eighteen months we have grown due to a heavy work load and we are now approaching fifteen, which still feels manageable.



K2 poster



K2 poster – detail



DB: how would you describe your work to someone who hasn’t seen it before?
BE: our identity work tends to be uncluttered communication – never ‘over designed’. the business and brands we work with tend to be the ones who want to see real transformation – and they are all challenging in a great way.



architecture PLB identity


architecture PLB identity



DB: how do you share your workload between studio members?
BE: the work is shared through a series of teams although we all work closely on the projects that are in the studio and my time is divided between all projects.



regatta identity



regatta identity



DB: what is the attraction of designing brand identities for you?
BE: I’m passionate about how brand identities can help change and define businesses. for a period we become part of a client’s company and it’s wonderful watching identities develop, whatever the size and scale of the business.



matthew williamson identity



DB: who would your ideal client be?
BE: every project seems to be ideal for a while. for thirteen years we’ve helped define and position GF smith paper to be the UK’s premium paper brand and we are currently working with monotype – does it get anymore ‘perfect’ than a type brand? we always seem to attract new and different projects, I think we have an enviable client list.



jamie olvier identity



DB: what ‘traps’ should a young designer avoid when working on an identity system?
BE: its may sound obvious, but identity is about ‘identifying something’ and sometimes younger designers can try too hard to create something unexpected and loose track of the message that needs to be communicated, I know I did! also it’s important not to get sidetracked as the project goes on, or to be talked out of something that you know can work. if you have a strong idea, stick with it and don’t give in, ever!



GF smith digital



GF smith digital


DB: what are your thoughts on specialization vs generalization?
BE: our projects are diverse, however, they all tend to have one thing in common, a desire to transform. we tend to learn whilst working with different people, whether they are a fashion designer or a merchant bank. I love the diversity.



GF smith collection



GF smith collection


GF smith collection



DB: do you think it’s important for a graphic designer to be able to draw?
BE: I would say it’s important to draw because I love to draw! I am not sure how I would cope if I couldn’t although I know other designers who don’t draw. drawing and thinking is the same thing for me.



fedrigoni sirio collection


fedrigoni sirio collection


DB: how do you think the popularity of online design resources have influenced the design being produced today?
BE: work now is instantly ‘judged’. when I graduated you waited until the D&AD annual was published to view great work – now we do it on an hourly basis. designers are magpies!



monotype collection



monotype – collection



DB: besides design, what are you passionate about?
BE: design seems to consume my life. I spend as much time as possible with my family – they keep me sane and my three small children keep me awake at night! I’m also passionate about blackburn rovers, although they need to start winning again!



monotype – pencil to pixel installation



DB: what is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
BE: ‘show your best project first’ because you never know how long someone will give you their full attention.

DB: what is the worst piece of advice you have ever been given?
BE: nothing comes to mind. if I have been given any bad advice I didn’t listen to it.


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