Some fantastic new work from the current first years

The current first years successfully completed their first project on BA (Hons) Graphic Branding & Identity last term. The students’ challenge was to develop a ‘brand book’ that captured the ethos, attitude and personality of a particular brand. As part of the project students had to develop personas for their audience so they could understand who the brand was speaking to. The imaginary brands they were working with included ‘Geek Buddy’, a global student study app; ‘Piffle’ an anti-social social networking app for people who write really boring status updates; ‘Smoosh’ an all natural smoothie delivery company; and, ‘Pit Stop’, a sleep pod company. They also had to develop a brand manifesto and a set of brand values, as well as logotype and colour palette. They produced a range of beautiful and creative solutions, of which just a few are shown here.

Student work shown (from top): Izzy Zangarini, Giada Periopan, Natalia Shirokova

Museum of Brands: First year trip

A couple of weeks ago the first years visited the Museum of Brands. The museum laid on an introductory talk and students were given the opportunity to look at objects in the collection with the museum’s learning team. Students also took part in a fast and furious ‘Brand Evolution Challenge’ workshop, in which they analysed the development of supermarket brands from Victorian times to present day, and after undertaking research from the Museum’s collection, they devised their own brand iterations and presented their ideas in relation to current marketing trends and consumer habits. This resulted in some really creative outcomes. The students were then also able to explore the Time Tunnel exhibition area which offered a great research opportunity for their current packaging project.

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Visiting Practitioner: Robbie Bates

The second years are currently working on a live brief with four really exciting organisations within in Lambeth: The Brixton Pound, The Brixton People’s Kitchen, The Remakery and the West Norwood Community Shop. Supporting them on this project is Robbie Bates, a member of Uscreates a design group who use design thinking and participatory methods to develop both communication and service design solutions to problems relating to health and wellbeing in communities and organisations. Robbie has been able to share the tools Uscreates use both with clients and within their studios. This has given the students an invaluable insight into a way of working that is becoming increasingly utilised within both the design and business sectors.

 

Sketchbooks: Where the best ideas usually begin…

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At open days we often get asked how ‘digital’ the course is and of course these days students do need to graduate with a range of technical skills that will allow them to resolve their ideas in an appropriate and professional way. Technology isn’t going away and is probably developing faster than at any point previously. Predicting what new programme or App might emerge next is probably impossible, and sometimes things appear and disappear very quickly. Look at Vine—the short video sharing app—it was only launched in 2012 and yet has already been shut down four years later. So, as young creatives in turbulent digital times, students have to develop a proactive, agile attitude that will enable them to confidently engage with new technologies as they develop. However, what doesn’t ever change is the importance of the idea or story that drives a piece of work.

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When we talk to our industry partners, they say the same—you can teach a graduate to use a particular new piece of software, but you can’t teach them to have great ideas, and that is what is really sought after. The concept is still king, and the initial development for that starts in a sketchbook. The Canadian designer Bruce Mau, in his Incomplete Manifesto for Growth, has written a series of quirky mantras for designers and several apply to this approach to idea development:

Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.

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The computer sets you up with a series of defaults which immediately restrict your decision making. By starting in the sketchbook, you remove these constraints. Letting your ideas develop from your research, your understanding of audience, and the inspiration from the world around you is far more likely to lead to an unexpected outcome.

Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

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Often students worry about getting things wrong, but all designers need to act as ‘reflective practitioners’, which means being able to stand back and assess the work in order to see where things could be changed. In that respect you can often learn a lot more from a ‘failure’ as you can identify what needs to be changed and why. Quick idea generation in the sketchbook is a key part of this experimental attitude and process.

Avoid software. The problem with software is that everyone has it.

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Well, don’t avoid it completely, but don’t expect it to necessarily give you something different. No matter how cool that Photoshop filter looks, everyone has access to it and everyone can apply it with one click of a mouse.

Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device–dependent.

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The software can’t generate the idea or story, and that is usually where the difference lies. Powering up your Mac offers you an amazing tool to generate beautiful end products, but powering up your mind is always the starting point. So, sketchbooks will always be important to build the bridges between the brief and outcome and whilst our graduates will ultimately resolve their ideas digitally, the development always starts on paper.

 

Guest lecture: Michael Johnson

 

Yesterday, first and second year students attended a special guest lecture from Michael Johnson—one of the founders of Johnson Banks. Michael talked about his new book ‘Branding in in Five and a Half Steps‘ and the process Johnson Banks take when approaching a client brief. One of the projects he highlighted was their current work for Mozilla which everyone can see and comment on as it progresses, as Mozilla specifically asked for the work to be done under their open source principles.

Over the years Johnson Banks have done some great work, for companies such as Virgin AtlanticThe Science Museum, Cambridge University, and, more recently Action Against Hunger—a project that took over two years to come to fruition. For students to hear from someone who is at the forefront at the industry, and has been for the last twenty four year, was a great opportunity. Michael is also keen to continue to develop his relationship with the course and has agreed to set a brief for students in the near future, so watch this space!

G F Smith papers

The first years received a great talk this week from Alyson Hurst, paper consultant at GF Smith. The company were established in 1885 are one of the key paper stock resources for designers in the UK. Alyson brought loads of amazing samples in for the students to get their hands on and experience close up the huge range of papers and print processes that can really bring a design to life. For branding, everything that forms part of the design adds to the overall tone of voice, so for print based work the paper stock is a key component. Whether its colour, texture, weight or the type of paper, all elements can add to the overall communication generated by the design. We’re lucky to have a great relationship with GF Smith at LCC, with students able to order free samples direct from the company and get a discount on larger orders. With the rise of digital media, it was suggested that print would die. In some ways the reverse has happened, with print gaining a new lease of life, and designers enjoying the tactile, sensory dimensions of paper that aren’t available on screen.

Guest lecture: Studio PSK

Patrick from Studio PSK gave a great guest lecture to second year students this week, starting with the advice to always ‘start with the story’. Studio PSK is an award winning communication design practice based in Peckham, South East London. They work with brands, companies and galleries to tell stories through interactive objects, spaces, installations and graphics. Recent clients have included Vans, Nike, Ogilvy, Tate Modern, Microsoft and Selfridges. Their polyphonic playground installation is currently being shown in various locations worldwide, but will be up in Leeds in the UK before Christmas.

They follow a design approach based on using real world insights about the organisations and people they work with, which helps them create unique, authentic outcomes that resonate with brands, employees and audiences alike. Their studio is multidisciplinary and they work across all types of analogue and digital 2D and 3D media. A core ethos in the Studio is making ‘Work That Works’. Prototyping and design exploration is a big part of their process. They believe that with a strong sense of curiosity, and desire to constantly improve, they will deliver exciting work surpassing the expectations of those they work with. This is the kind of approach and resourceful attitude that will serve graduates of BA GB&I really well, and the lecture was an amazing insight into how Studio PSK develop and execute their ideas.