Joe Burton-Small balances accessibility and aesthetic in TITLE’s compelling editorial exploration
UK-based art director Joe Burton-Small has curated and crafted TITLE (The Investigative Topics of Life on Earth), a self-initiated editorial platform dedicated to in-depth and educational pieces on our planet and its climate. Launched to make this necessary information and the discussions surrounding it as accessible as possible, Burton-Small tells us, “TITLE was born out of my own endeavour to learn more about our environment,” seeking to collect the articles, voices and stories that he found most impactful, influential and relevant. “Part of our commitment to offering a diverse and inclusive story archive,” Burton-Small adds, recalling the process behind TITLE’s curation, “is knowing that there are voices and perspectives other than our own to be heard and represented,” finding the balance between representation and literary accessibility.
Achieving this level of accessibility not only comes down to the legibility of the energy and data-sufficient website but also to the aesthetic appeal, UI and UX of TITLE. This was achieved through a striking combination of slick graphic composition and typographic know-how – opting for Neue Haas Grotesk and Mackinac as TITLE’s titular type team. “The typefaces were chosen very quickly actually,” Burton-Small recalls, “I wanted to capture the idea of design and technology supporting very human interests,” he adds, proposing Neue Haas Grotesk’s pragmatic neutrality as the technological partner of Mackinac’s expressive personality. “Mackinac offers something that feels much more human, and akin to publishing,” he notes, “it has warmer and softer characteristics that juxtapose Neue Haas Grotesk in all the right ways.”
Turning towards the subdued colour palette that inhabits the identity, Burton-Small explains, “we’ve explored colour a few times, but in the end decided that simple and neutral was best,” wanting to steer clear of anything that aesthetically competes, and therefore lessens, the editorial impact of the featured pieces. “It didn’t make the content clearer, and it didn’t make the experience simpler,” he adds, noting the occasional use of green as an accent colour. “The stone colour, which is a warm off-white,” Burton-Small explains, recalling the organic core colours, “was actually inspired by the colour of newspaper stock” – a legacy of TITLE's initial intention to manifest in a printed format.
Turning towards the role design can play in environmental issues, Burton-Small indicates the scale of the condition; however, he suggests that it fundamentally boils down to shared responsibility. “Designers have this incredible power to imagine, to see things that don’t exist and create something out of nothing,” he explains, “that kind of thinking is where the great solutions of our time will come from,” recalling the “revolutionary and yet so obvious” ideas from the past. “Because designers possess that power, I believe that it is their responsibility to use that skill set to influence positive change,” he adds, noting creatives the likes of Bjarke Ingels, Neri Oxman and Space10 as successful examples. “Design nowadays has to be long-lasting, too much around us is disposable and short-lived, design cannot be like that,” he concludes, “it has to be as good in 10 years as it is now, otherwise it’s not really that good at all.”