Exhibition and Communication Design: The Future is Here – RMIT Design Hub


  • RMIT Design Hub
  • Studio Roland Snooks
  • Stuart Geddes and Brad Haylock


The Future is Here exhibition design, visual identity, exhibition signage, catalogue and the other graphic elements showcase the latest visual communication design and production technologies, as well as a number of advanced manufacturing techniques usually reserved for other disciplines, such as architecture or industrial design. At RMIT Design Hub, the exhibition included additional local design research projects that demonstrated the importance of speculation and prototyping to innovation and design, including Exhibition Design by Studio Roland Snooks and Communication Design by Stuart Geddes and Brad Haylock

The Future is Here is a touring exhibition created by the Design Museum, London.

Key Features


The cover of the exhibition catalogue was produced using digital offset printing — a quintessentially twenty-first century print technology. This type of printing allows short-run customisation, most commonly applied to direct mail campaigns. For the book cover, though, the variable data is the background motif, a biomimetic pattern developed by Studio Roland Snooks as the skeleton of the exhibition furniture. The pattern is developed using advanced computational processes until an optimum form is achieved. Evoking this process, the patterns on the cover of these books are varied, so no two copies from the print run of 4000 are exactly alike.


Playfully exploring the limits of the latest digital font standard, OpenType, hundreds of subtle idiosyncrasies are built in to the Design Hub font, mimicking the imperfections of handwriting. In the fifteenth century, Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type: individual metal letters were set together to print words on a page, but this eliminated the inconsistencies of handwriting. The Future is Here typeface, developed by Dan Milne, features random imperfections: lines are too short, so parts of letters don’t join, or they double back on themselves, and sometimes the pen doesn’t leave the page, so extra lines are scrawled as the software seemingly hurries to finish drawing a letter.


Robots and three-axis routers were employed as writing machines for the exhibition signage. By plotting the typography in space using architectural modeling software, and routing at different depths, Stuart Geddes and Brad Haylock have achieved something analogous to stone-carved lettering. Similarly, in adapting a machine to hold a Posca ink marker, the result echoes toilet stall graffiti, or is it café blackboard signage? Paradoxically, five and a half centuries after Gutenberg’s invention, contemporary font technologies allow us to reintroduce the idiosyncrasies of the human hand into printed and engraved characters.


Composite Wing was produced by Studio Roland Snooks in collaboration with Design Hub to form part of The Future is Here exhibition infrastructure. The intricate pattern of \’agentBodies\’ that run within the surface of the display tables are designed through a multi-agent algorithm that draws from the self-organising logic of swarm intelligence – such as flocks of birds, schools of fish or social insects. This generative approach negotiates between structural, formal and ornamental design intentions to create an emergent surface condition – one that develops through its own internal logic.


Composite Wing is an extension and amalgamation of three strands of research – algorithmic design, robotic fabrication and composite fibre materials. The composite fibre installation compresses surface, structure and ornament into one intricate and irreducible assemblage. The project is made possible through the development of robotic fabrication techniques including the extrusion of the fine-scale surface articulation. The surface gains its strength through the location of the articulation that operate as structural beams within the surface. This strategy enables the surface to remain only a few millimetres thick while spanning and cantilevering considerable distances.

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