We spoke to BA Graphic Design student Stefan Abrahams who creates publications, the bigger the better. Stefan’s projects challenge our perceptions of the world. Using materials ranging from used chewing gum and London’s shadows, he employs graphic design to channel his interest in architecture, fashion, theatre and social observation. Watch out for updates when we talk to Stefan again nearer to the start of the show.
What have you been working on since we last spoke?
Stefan: I’ve been developing the Apollo Blinks exhibition idea which was an archive of shadows and light reflections around London. That was quite a 2D project and the difficulty with the exhibition is that you have to come up with something that is a bit more interactive and intriguing. I’ve been trying to design a watch that allows you to create your own light reflections. I want to make it a more playful and intimate experience but also take elements of the ideas behind the exhibition.
How did you manage to narrow it down to the Apollo Blinks exhibition out of your other projects?
Stefan: We had a day where industry professionals came to look at our portfolios and we could talk through our work with them. The two projects that I got the best response from were the museum idea about redesigning a space for the V & A, and the Apollo Blinks exhibition. They said that these projects offered a different way of thinking about graphic design because they focused on spatial design, an area that is really developing at the minute. To be honest, I also just really liked the project!
How are you feeling now that everything is handed in and Show Two is only a couple of weeks away?
Stefan: I am really excited but actually having a finished body of work that is being marked as your degree is very bizarre. There are also some very mixed emotions, the moment we handed in felt like I had totally finished and then about an hour later I had the realisation that I have got to actually make something else that is bigger and better than anything I have done because it is going to be shown to the public.
How far have you got with developing this project for Show Two?
Stefan: At the moment I am drawing it out and trying to make the plans really detailed and clear so that I can take it to the technicians. I am still working through the technicalities of it but I hope to have this finished within a week. Then I am working on how to display the projections of the shadows and light reflections in the space I have.
Do you have any recommendations of work that people should go and see at Show Two?
Stefan: I am always really impressed with jewellery and I am really excited to see what they’ve done. I think that they really push the boundaries with their designs; people should definitely have a look at their work!
Tell us about your project and what inspired your brief.
Stefan: I’ve been working on several projects during the build-up to the show. The first one, Museum 2030, is about redesigning a museum for the future. I wanted to question the perception of historical objects, draw more attention to the processes behind them and create a more interesting museum experience.
Hacking the Dead is another project based on taking a dead process and reviving it. I started with the idea of terra incognita which is the Latin term for the age of discovery. I made an atlas of the world using chewing gum from the King’s Road, illustrating them as Islands and pairing them with quotes from Marco Polo’s descriptions of the world. It’s meant to make you change your immediate opinion of your environment and start looking at and discovering things in a new way.
I’ve created a publication entitled ‘Lens4’ with Eleanor Hyland-Stanbrook which is aimed at young designers to show the importance of research in informing design. It’s a very tactile magazine and the issue that we focused on was austerity, responding to the cuts to the arts.
What about your processes behind the build-up to the Degree Show?
Stefan: Because I’ve worked on so many individual projects my processes have differed a lot. Usually I create a mood board of all the visuals I like after doing research into a particular topic. The more research I do and the more making I do, the more ideas I have. I start at one place and end up at a totally different one by trying to narrow down my ideas and focus on the practicalities of how the final product might manifest itself. I then create a series of prototypes based on those ideas; I would normally make three or four different examples. Then it’s really a process of receiving feedback, developing those ideas further and going through the logistical aspects like printing and binding.
How are you currently preparing for the show?
Stefan: I am in the middle of working on another project that may feature in the Degree Show. Around Christmas time I went to Japan and took a lot of photographs, developing a project that I had done last year with my father. A man on the street said that Japan is like a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an enigma and I’ve taken that as a basis for a story that I am trying to tell through a publication. I am also working on some wearable paper garments that are based on the traditional Japanese packaging techniques, folding and aesthetics that will be embedded in the publication.
More broadly I am trying to narrow down exactly what I want to exhibit in the show, and I am really focusing on the final touches for my finishing pieces, everything is happening at the same time!
What is the feeling in your programme towards the Degree Show right now?
Stefan: It’s all very mixed at the minute. I think everyone is excited to finish but also sad and incredibly stressed. I think overall it’s very exciting. We’ve branded our show now and we’ve been working on the publication, so things are really starting to come together.
What aspect of the show are you most looking forward to?
Stefan: I studied foundation here so I’ve been at CSM for four years and I’ve loved it, but it I am also ready to finish. It’s really a celebration and that’s what I am really excited about.
What are your post-Degree Show plans?
Stefan: I want to do an MA but I haven’t decided in what, I might do something totally different. I am going to take a year out of education to really explore different ideas. I’ve been offered an internship at Conde Nast, which is exciting, and it’ll be very interesting. I’ll be moving around their different publications as a digital designer for two months and then I’ll be working with a specific magazine for the final month. I am really looking forward to it.