Fred Wordie


A spoof start-up agency spun up by a Critical Designer to challenge our ideas about innovation.

Fred Wordie runs Ventually, a fictional Venture Capital start-up. That's right: fictional. The Ventually website website contains Pygma, Fauxcal and Arbit - a selection of credible-sounding companies with professional-looking 'pretty pictures' to illustrate their products; "ideas which seem believable and positive but as you think about them you might start to question them ..."

On start-ups

"Due to our growth-driven economy they can end up worse then they were intended to be. For example: Air BnB's slogan is 'live like a local' - but now hotels in Berlin crowd out the locals! If you visit a geyser in Iceland you only meet tourists."

"Start-ups show the technological limits of our society but also our underlying laziness and egotism. They serve the things that aren't always that needed. The idea was to present ideas which seem believable and positive but as you think about them you might start to question them. If you wear glasses the whole time to make healthy food more appetising - what are the limits of these things?"

"Pigma - before eharmony and OK cupid - online dating was a taboo. Then Tindr came out and now if you're not using Tindr that's taboo! So choosing your child will be a thing rich people do but when it bridges that gap, will it become a taboo not to have your child genetically modified?"

"What about if you choose a kid with high agreeableness? They will follow the crowd!"

Critical Design

Fred's design practice is Critial Design - he considers this a flavour of Service Design. "Friends of mine graduated and got jobs at agencies, worked their way up ... I wanted to do weird, cool shit! You don't tend to get paid for it."

Ventaully collaborators included his sister, illustrators from his network and 3-D modellers he recruited via Fiverr. His influences include "Design thinking at Glasgow School of Art ... rather than designing a hoover, ask why the floor is dirty?". Also "Communication design at GSA ... the illustrators create work inbetween graphic design and conceptual art."

"I never engaged with blogs - I get inspiration from podcasts, film and TV. Science Fiction programmes like Black Mirror make you question the world in an accessible way - trick people into thinking it's real. Also podcasts -including Benjamin Walker's Theory Of Everything."

He talks enthusiastically about Hyperisland "a design finishing school. They're not about the what or the why of what you're doing, but how you go about it. If you're a graphic designer you can train to become an art director by doing a six month internshop."

He's also a fan of the Glasgow School of Art Comdes course, which produces interesting illustrators who work across the boundaries of graphic design and conceptual art