Sad news – Ian Noble 1960–2013
Ian Noble – Educator, Designer, Writer
The news of the untimely passing of Ian Noble was felt deeply amongst his friends and colleagues, both within education and across the wider design community. His arrival at the London College of Printing (LCP) in 1997, in the wake of a subject review, heralded a period of rapid change and modernisation, both for the college and the design profession. Although Ian had a deep respect for the history and traditions of the LCP, he was also aware that to stay relevant places needed to evolve. Ian's infectious enthusiasm for the subject and how it could be taught soon began to inspire others across the school. Through his personal qualities, he was able to unite the many differences of opinion with good humour, describing education as a broad church that encompasses a diversity of views. He was largely responsible for the successful restructuring of the undergraduate programme which at that time included BA(Hons) Graphic and Media Design and the highly regarded HND Typographic Design (run by Dave Dabner). Ian recognised the strengths of the HND and supported its continuing participation and success at the International Society of Typographic Designers' (ISTD) Student Assessments.
Ian had an eye for people's talents and supported many colleagues through their ambitions. His special talent was being human – he knew when a hug was needed and didn't worry about doing the right thing for his own self-image. Empathy for our fellow beings is often at the heart of what we do as designers – designing communications with the hope of aiding others. Ian’s thoughtfulness for others is a reminder to use our talents to these ends. He was at home at whatever level he taught and had time for people whatever their function in life was. Ian, along with Russell Bestley, built the successful Graphic Design Masters Programme at what was by now the London College of Communication (LCC). This programme, and the ideas Russ and Ian were developing with the students, have been captured within two editions of the book Visual Research, which attempts to interrogate and articulate the process of graphic design from the position of the informed practitioner. At the book launch (held at LCC, naturally), Ian stamped the latest edition of this book with the motto 'try to make more mistakes'.
He was the master of the one liner: '…the theory of practice, not the practice of theory'. But Ian was also so down to earth and at times a little too earthy for some. Barely able to contain his excitement, he once emerged from the second floor toilets at the LCC exclaiming: 'I've just taken a piss with Weingart!'. He was unashamedly design’s number one fan. Ian didn't need the trinkets of academia or the profession. Few people can stand by their name alone. Everyone knew Ian as just Ian, unqualified by titles. How will any of us want to be remembered? By the status we achieved? Or love within the memories of those that remain? One of the things Ian use to say was that if we thought an idea was worth doing then we should do it, as if we waited it wouldn't happen. One such idea led to a major London exhibition of Siegfried Odermatt's 100+3 Posters. This was a collaboration between Odermatt and Tissi; University of the Arts London; Imagination; and the International Society of Typographic Designers. Whilst others might have found every good reason not to pursue this naive idea, Ian's somewhat reckless attitude bred confidence that a thought can transform into an action with enough belief. This exhibition and related lecture was the culmination of a three year series of lectures for the ISTD held at the LCC. Places have their special moments and golden ages. Ian's time at the LCC represented one such golden age in its history.
Tony Pritchard MISTD
- Course Director Postgraduate Certificate and Diploma Design for Visual Communication, London College of Communication