The Designers Republic
|Formation||14 July 1986|
|Founded at||Sheffield, England|
|Type||Graphic design studio|
The Designers Republic (also tDR, and styled as The Designers Republic™) is a British graphic design studio based in Sheffield, England, founded in 1986 by Ian Anderson and Nick Phillips. They are best known for electronic music logos, album artwork, and anti-establishment aesthetics, embracing "brash consumerism and the uniform style of corporate brands". Work by tDR is held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
This section possibly contains original research. (May 2015)
Work by the Designers Republic generally is viewed as "playful and bright" and considered Maximum-minimalist, mixing images from Japanese anime and subvertised corporate logos, with a postmodern tendency towards irony. It often features statements/slogans such as "Work Buy Consume Die", "Robots Build Robots", "Customized Terror", "Buy nothing, pay now", and "Made in the Designers Republic". They also celebrated their northern roots with phrases like "Made in the Designers Republic, North of Nowhere" and "SoYo" (referring to Sheffield's county of South Yorkshire) — affirming they were not from London's design community in Soho.
Initially, Ian Anderson founded The Designers Republic to design flyers for the band Person to Person, which he managed at the time. His first ideas were inspired by Russian constructivism. Nick Phillips, a sculptor and the organ player in World of Twist, soon joined him, and the duo created a visual identity for Fon Records, and album cover for Chakk’s 10 Days in an Elevator. This financed a studio space in the boardroom of a former engineering works.
Another early client which brought them to the wider public's attention was Leeds band Age of Chance, for whom they developed a series of record covers between 1986 and 1987, beginning with a cover of the Prince track "Kiss". The duo worked 72-hour shifts, doing everything by hand using photocopiers, craft knives and spraymount. The record label loved the artwork but not the repro costs, which came to £9000 for Age of Chance's debut album, One Thousand Years of Trouble.
In the 1990s, they established a faux corporation branded 'Pho-Ku', to express their dislike of corporate-driven consumerist identity.
The Designers Republic later produced album cover designs for the electronica label Warp Records (also based in Sheffield). They designed the covers for most Warp artists, including Autechre and Aphex Twin. They also worked for other labels, designing sleeves for Moloko, Fluke, Funkstörung, The Orb, Pulp (and Jarvis Cocker), Supergrass and Towa Tei, and the New York City label Sleeping Giant Glossolalia.
Outside the music industry, tDR created the visuals, packaging and manual for the PlayStation–Sega Saturn game Wipeout (1995), the interface for the PC game Hardwar (1998), and packaging and posters for the first Grand Theft Auto (1997). They collaborated with Swatch in 1996 to design their own watch. They also designed the packaging for Sony's AIBO.
The book 3D → 2D: Adventures in And Out Of Architecture, released in 2001, was an architectural examination of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia presented in the graphic style of their previous work.
tDR has consulted on the re-branding of the city of Quito, capital of Ecuador, and was the only non-national design company to be invited to propose a new flag for Slovenia. tDR was also commissioned to create a logo and general graphic design by French musician-producer Julien Civange for its Music2titan mission to take music on the European Space Agency's Cassini–Huygens probe to the moon Titan in 2004.
Early 2020, the company's website was relaunched with an overview of their works.
TDR have worked in a diverse range of media, including:
- Covers of CDs, vinyl records and DVDs
- Web design
- Music video production
- Apparel design
- Corporate design
- Logo design
- Flyers for the Sheffield nightclub NY Sushi
- 3MB (Juan Atkins, Moritz von Oswald, Thomas Fehlmann)
- Age of Chance
- Aphex Twin
- Cartoon Network
- Detroit Underground
- Nine Inch Nails
- Pop Will Eat Itself
- Rockstar Games
- The Orb
- Warp Records
- Ian Anderson
- Nick Phillips
- Michael C. Place - Now runs Build
- David Bailey - Now runs Kiosk
- Matt Pyke - Now runs Universal Everything
- Nick Bax - Now runs Human Studio
- Martin Fewell - Now runs Yolo
- Nicole Jacek - Now runs NJ (L.A.)
- Roger Coe - Now a concept and UI artist in the games industry
- Mark Stott - Now runs Common
- Almeida, Cláudia (30 September 2011). "Ian Anderson, English". Up Magazine. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
- "The Designers Republic in the V&A's collections". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
- Farrelly, Liz (Spring 2009). "Reputations: Ian Anderson". Eye Magazine Blog. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
- Burgoyne, Patrick (23 January 2009). "The Designers Republic Is Dead; Long Live The Designers Republic". Creative Review Blog. Retrieved 24 January 2009.
- Andrew Collins, Design o' the Times, NME, 11 February 1989, retrieved 29 May 2015
- Harrison, Ian (2001). "Age of Chance: Don't Get Mad Get Even! (The New York Remixes)". Q: The 100 Best Record Covers of All Time. EMAP. p. 72. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 24 January 2009.
- Burgoyne, Patrick (27 January 2009). "The Designers Republic Remembered". "Creative Review" Blog. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
- "work buy consume die". Archived from the original on 29 June 2016. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
- "Back Issues: Emigre 29". Emigre. Retrieved 24 January 2009.
- Brain Aided Design SoYo: The Designers Republic[full citation needed]
- "Music2Titan - Project". 6 February 2005. Archived from the original on 6 February 2005. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
- "3MB Featuring Magic Juan Atkins* - 3MB Featuring Magic Juan Atkins". Discogs. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
- Sin Credits (liner notes). TVT Records. TVT2617-4. Retrieved 1 January 2022.