Interview with designer Alvaro De Ramón Murillo (AD), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Signal Ethic Food Allergies Pictograms.

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Interview with Alvaro De Ramón Murillo at Wednesday 20th of April 2016: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
AD : There's no standardized pictogram for food allergies as there are for Kosher or Halal foods. The actual international legislation is not enough as it only considers the fact of writing the allergens in the ingredients. But people speak different languages and people travel. Products also travel and need to be translated. Text is obligatory in food labeling. Wouldn't it be more simple to represent it also with pictograms?

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
AD : My focus was to achieve this project in 7 months for the Final Project of the Modulo Superior that I did in Madrid (kind of undergraduate program). And of course doing something which can be used by people for improving their quality of life.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
AD : I am actually making optical corrections and different models depending on the size of representation for ensuring the correct visualization at any size. More improvements are coming I hope but I can't talk about them yet.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
AD : It has taken 7 months of hard work. I invested almost 1000 hours on it.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
AD : In the beginning I wanted to make a pictogram system of impairments (deafness, blindness...). After talking with Joan Costa, one of the greatest specialists on pictograms worldwide, he told me that I had found one of the limits of graphic design, as it isn't possible to represent abstract things with pictograms (for example autism). So after talking with my teachers and other specialists, I decided to focus on food allergies.

DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
AD : I don't know yet if its way of monetization but I'm looking for the sponsoring of companies which want to show their involvement in food security for their clients.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
AD : The fact that I think that graphic design has the power to change the world.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
AD : Yes. I used as a basis the works of Margarett Calvert and Jock Kinneir in their Transport typeface (1957-1963). Also Antonio Cavedoni's San Francisco typeface for Apple. And for the pictograms I used the shapes that compose the pictograms that the AIGA did in the 70's for the Department Of Transportation (DOT).

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
AD : Airports, airlines, restaurants, food industries, supermarkets, individuals.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
AD : This one is unprecedented. There is no typeface that includes food allergy pictograms in the world. There are typefaces that include pictograms of transportation, for example, but none of food allergies. In the case of food allergies pictograms there are many groups of pictograms that already exist. The problem is that many of them use colors, or are too much detailed, or have many colors that are not related to international standards...well, it's the chaos.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
AD : I was in an expo in a paper company showroom and I was talking (in spanish) with the Commercial Director. The woman asked me about my final project. I answered that I was going a "señalética" (signage in spanish) of food allergies. She didn't knew the word or mabe she was conscious of having a good idea, I don't mind. The fact is that when she repeated the word she said, in an interrogative tone "señal-ética" making a pause in the middle. "Señal" means "signal" and "ética", "ethic". Thanks to her i had found the name:

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
AD : Glyphs Adobe Illustrator Adobe inDesign

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
AD : It's universality. 80% of the allergic people interviewed associated correctly each ingredient to its correspondent pictogram. Once the person has seen the pictogram with its written indication in its language he's able to distinguish it even if the ingredients are written in other language.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
AD : I received the advise of many professionals and specialists in graphic design, signage, pictograms and typography.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
AD : Technology enabled me to make the whole process after the sketches. The interpolation of fonts, the modularization of the pictograms, the optical corrections...everything.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
AD : I had to make a lot of research. I read a lot on food allergies, pictograms, on systematization, on standardization, printing techniques and typography.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
AD : The two biggest challenges were the nearly divorce of my parents and having a job in an agency and having to quit it one month after beginning for having time for achieving Signal Ethic.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
AD : My parents always told me that "squeaky wheel gets the grease". So I followed their advice. And my work got the price.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
AD : I learnt how to organize my time for achieving whatever I want. That's certainly an important learning.

DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
AD : I want to thank my grandma for putting me in art classes since i was a kid, making me visit expositions in many cities and improving my culture. And my parents for teach me since my young age the appreciation and empathy for people. And of course all my friends and network who helped me in the difficult times during the project. And A' Design Award for the price. Thank you all!