As the promotional posters rightly proclaim, this year’s Degree Show boasts a whole host of emerging talent. Up on the top floor of the Crawford building, the brightly lit studios with pristine white walls are home to the work of this year’s Graphic design graduates.
Whilst the work is perhaps not as flamboyant or vibrant as last year’s, this student cohort showing an obvious partiality to minimalist and dark colour pallets, it is by no means any less impressive. Many students have opted to undertake an ISTD (The International society of Typographic Designers) brief, wherein one designs a typographic visual (usually a book or a poster) to communicate an idea or piece of information. All of the work exhibits an enviable knowledge of the systems of typography. There are also as many successful projects that answer briefs set by the RSA Student Design Awards and the D&AD New Blood Awards, and these sit alongside students’ personal tasks.
Two ISTD projects that stand out are by Rowan Campbell and Kenny Meek. In answer to the ISTD’s assignment, “And the Winner is…”, Campbell explores the bestowing of the Nobel Prize and the difficulties that come with it. Analysing the lives of Carl Von Ossietzky, Aung San Suu Kyi and Liu Xiaobo, Campbell dissects and displays their journeys through dramatic photographs and bold type. The book contains overlays, juxtaposed type forms and is peppered with a signature orange that highlights important information, or gives flair when needed. The piece is named “Peaceful Resistance” and is beautifully put together, right down to the binding.
Another standout ISTD brief, this time answered by Kenny Meek, is “Eye Witness”. His project, “An Optical Tour Through Braille and the Senses”, seeks to help the public better understand “braille, the blind and their respective histories” through an exhibition that would tour the UK. By way of clean and minimalist posters that utilize muted background colours, Meek is able to convey a clinical sensibility that reflects the medical side to blindness. This minimal style coupled with the more personable monotone photographs make for an interesting dialogue between the perception of blindness and what it is like to experience it. The book Meek has produced is formed of three different sizes of pages, is bound with bolts (a modern trend in the design world), and filled with acetate overlays and dynamic grids. This is definitely a book for the design-minded.
Personal projects have also been engaging and refreshing this year. Andrew Simpson’s project, ”A Personal Manifesto”, brands “Create Thoughtfully a design community and festival that’s core values are about thoughtful design and collaboration. The festival’s branding is simple, fun and bright; Simpson uses a slightly muted blue, red, and yellow to create a modern, youthful and up-to-date feel. Complete with a website that showcases Simpson’s motion graphic skills through quirky animated gifs, “Create Thoughtfully” is a good example of a modern-day design festival. It even has its own t-shirts!
Lastly, the RSA Design Award entry by Alice McConnell is another effective example in branding. Answering the assignment “Waste Not, Want Not”, which seeks to encourage the public to waste less food, McConnell created ”Square Meal”, a company that produces food boxes that are exactly one portion. The contrast between the clean logo and rustic food photography on the promotional posters achieves a professional finish and a believable brand. The differently coloured food boxes, all neatly packaged, coordinate well together under the overarching brand; the use of greens, reds and oranges conjure an earthy and homely yet urban feel. It is such a convincing brand that you would be forgiven if you thought that “Square Meal” and its products were real.
Once again, the Degree Show showcases talented graphic design students. With the quality of work on display, it would come as no surprise that most become successful designers who can thrive in and improve the design industry after graduation. Maybe in ten years time they’ll come back to the DJCAD Degree Show and remember where it all started.