One identity for all and all for one
Each year, the identity for the degree shows is designed by our BA Graphic Communication Design students. Here we catch up with 2019’s team whose scheme paid tribute to every graduating students’ part to play in a collective whole.
During the autumn term, third year students on BA Graphic Communication Design are presented with challenging brief. It asks them to devise an identity that can represent – and differentiate between – the College’s three end-of-year shows. Not just that, but across wayfinding, digital and print and with hundreds of assets, the winning design has to say something to the external world about the experience of graduating from Central Saint Martins.
This year’s winning team was made up of Gina Crighton, José Tiago Morgado Soares, Jonathan Quaade and Sapir Ziv. The four began with the college statement. “An identity needs a message otherwise it’s just picked out of the air,” says Crighton, “we started looking at the mission statement of Central Saint Martins to check against our own experience. It talks about diversity and the number of practices going on and reflecting that energy. As students here, you’re always seeing people of all types working on different projects and that variety was a big part of what we wanted to show.”
Their design proposed the degree shows as points in the college calendar when individual components come together to present a whole. It used shapes to build the typography of the degree show titles: a triangle for the Foundation Show, a circle for Show One: Art and a square for Show Two: Design. In a satisfying perversity, while the intention was to represent the diversity of the community, each component is identical, every one equal and intrinsic, and never more important than the next.
“That animation was the key to the entire identity, beginning with single shapes and moving out to reveal the larger scale emphasising energy and collaboration… It’s the only moment in the identity that shows the entire journey, from the individual student coming into the university to becoming part of this community,” says Ziv.
The subsequent challenge was how to translate that design onto static elements in print. “That was the hardest thing,” says Quaade, “You see the animations and know the identity would work across anything that’s moving! But then, you realise there are hundreds of printed assets that need to be clear and communicative. The big challenge was to somehow express the concept of coming together in static form.”
To make connections between the static print and the digital animations, the designers focused on moments in the building that move. Lift doors and motion-sensor sliding doors became integrated in the scheme with applied vinyls.
Throughout the project, the students delivered all facets of the design, responding to queries and issues from staff across the College. One recurring question was whether the three shows should be differentiated using colour, though the student team were keen to defend the use of black and white across their identity. “It was a good experience of working with a client,” says Ziv, “we had done the testing around colour but we just didn’t know how to communicate that we’d done it and had seen the value in our decision. We had to learn how to communicate it.”
“Just because we think it’s the right decision doesn’t mean everyone else does.” Jonathan Quaade
“Sometimes you have to trust the other people. They are making the most informed decisions because they’re living it every day and it doesn’t make sense for us to jump in. Giving feedback is important but so is trusting.” Ziv Sapir
The identity is a huge piece of work for students to take on alongside their own final-year projects. But it’s also an opportunity for them to see their work in the real world and at a large scale. Crighton, Quaade, Soares and Ziv each have their favourite moments from the project but it is invariably seeing something go from a design to a live asset: the vinyl installation across windows or crowds of visitors carrying wayfinding leaflets. “It feels very rewarding when work so closely connects with your visitors. Seeing the tickets in the hands of parents and friends... there is a huge responsibility there as the first contact point between the show and the public. It's great when design challenges like that pay off,” says Crighton.
As they head into their degree show and beyond, the only question is what are their future plans? “I’m keen on working in a studio initially,” says Quaade, “I’ve had five amazing years of education and I think going to a studio will be the next step, working alongside others for one goal."
"The course puts a huge emphasis on critical thought. I’m excited to see how each of us will use this voice in work that is live and public upon graduating, especially how these independent perspectives can be of help in larger studio spaces.” Gina Crighton