Creative Director Kelvin Soh asks “what does"ugly” even mean?“

What is ugly? Who decides whether something is ugly? Is it personal and subjective? Is it collective and inherited? And, is it really a negative adjective? Talking to the global theme of Ugly, Kelvin Soh takes a look to the idiosyncrasies, vagaries and judgements surrounding the notion of the “ugly.”

For Kelvin, ‘design’ should never be defined purely as a vocation but thought of in the same way as writing – an activity approached differently depending on context. For example a writer might write a fictional novel, magazine interview, screenplay and personal letter in the course of a week. Kelvin’s interest in a more personal, meaningful design practice has led to him amassing a collection of found ephemera, publications and ‘amateur’ signage; things often considered ‘ugly’ when viewed through the lens of commercial or conventional design.

About the speaker

Kelvin is the creative director and founder of DDMMYY – a design agency and publishing platform based in Auckland. Kelvin embraces a thoughtful, fluid and context-responsive approach which accommodates a diverse range of outputs including brand-building, identities, packaging and art book publishing.

While his projects vary greatly in terms of scale and context, a unifying thread is the importance of the designer’s point of view, often resulting in highly collaborative and conversational approaches to design. His work for Stolen Rum, Triumph & Disaster and publishing projects for DDMMYY and Le Roy magazine reflect an interest in design that functions on a personal scale. Can design be meaningful in some way and able to accommodate playful experimentation, stories, opinions and even jokes?

Alongside his design work, Kelvin has also curated and shown in group exhibitions at St Paul St Gallery, Adam Art Gallery, Gambia Castle and the Govett-Brewster. He is the current editor of thought-based culture journal, Le Roy.

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