The graphic design course blog for
HND Visual Communication at Edinburgh College

Sprint Friday in Berlin

12 February 2018

Traditionally as part of our annual Berlin study trip in February we arrange a studio visit. In past years this has included the generosity of Saatchi, TLGG and Eden Spiekermann. This year we were lucky enough to visit Axel Springer, one of the world's largest publishers, on the Wednesday (which we'll report on in a separate post) and AJ&Smart, one of the foremost exponents of the 'Design Sprint' ethos in modern visual communication, on the Friday.

The AJ&Smart studio is located in East Berlin, close to the East Side Gallery (one of the few intact parts of the Berlin Wall). The studio was founded by Aussie Michael Smart and Irishman Jonathan Courtney, and includes employees from the UK, Finland, Brazil, Russia, Poland, and of course Germany.  We were lucky enough to meet Michael when our group - all 40 students - arrived just before 4pm on Friday.

Huge glyphs on a wall right opposite the AJ&Smart office on Kopernicker Strasse.

Our students are all set to hear from the lovely folks at AJ&Smart

Venla Hakunti and Rob Hamblen, both wearing some cosy-looking AJ&Smart slippers, put together a great welcome and a fantastic presentation to the students.  The presentation focussed on the company's 4-day sprint process, itself based on the original 5-day model devised by Jake Knapp, a design partner at Google Ventures and the author of the best-selling book 'Sprint'.

Rob introduced some of AJ&Smart's clients - who have included Air BNB, Slack, and Europe's biggest retailer MOVMNT - and talked about their approach to design thinking and how the studio selects and manages its projects.  He then explained the typical sprint process at AJ&Smart - ideation, sketching/storyboarding, prototyping and testing - then demo'd some awesome sprint products, including a really cool mobile app for Red Bull and a (prototype) real bar of chocolate.

Something AJ&Smart build up plenty of during a Design Sprint

Rob explaining the four day sprint model.

As well as reeling off too many great quotes to list here, Rob, himself an HND graduate in Graphic Design, then gave a great Q&A, and our students asked some really sharp questions about generating ideas, dealing with clients, planning, timescales and process.

The AJ&Smart experience also included some nice refreshments and a general natter at the very end, and all of our students were clearly buzzing after the talk. It's always amazing when busy organisations take the time to host talks to students, and everyone agreed this was a big highlight of the 2018 Berlin trip.  Massive thanks to Venla, Rob and also to Danny Holtschke for making this all happen.  Hopefully we will visit again next year!

We left AJ&Smart a heartfelt message.

They even do Design Sprints in the AJ&Smart toilet!

Leith Cycle Co - Rebrand

5 February 2018

Our NC Graphics class have just completed a new brand communication project. The brief was to rebrand the Leith Cycle Co. - a small independent cycle shop based in Leith, self-labelled as the 'small shop with a big heart'.  For this project the class had to extract five core values from their research of the client, and then develop a new logo. A second requirement was for them to choose suitable typography and create a new colour palette, and then design sample pieces including direct mail, a website landing page and outdoor.

Here are three interesting examples of the process development from the first part of the project - to design the new mark.

Marta Winogrodzka - 

Ida Bukantyte - 

Zoe Leung -

Mini Maker - One Week 11

6 December 2017

Tomorrow the team from Edinburgh Science Festival will be coming along to the Granton Campus to announce the winning team from our recent One Week project. This was to create a campaign to promote the Mini Maker Faire as part of the 2018 Edinburgh Science Festival.

Our HNC and HND students worked alongside Edinburgh agencies Lewis, The Gate, Neish, Whitespace, Campfire and Skyscanner.  We'll post the winning entry later this week but here is a sneak peak of some of the creative from each team.

Team Whitespace - Maker X

Team Campfire - Expect The Unexpected

Team Neish - F Word

Team Skyscanner - Meet The Makers

Team Lewis - Co-Lab

Team The gate - UnZip

You can find out how the project went over on our One Week 11 Storify - here.

DC Living Lab 2017

14 November 2017

During the first week of November, Edinburgh College design tutor Helena Good and HND graphic design students Niamh Curran and Aga Pomaranska attended DC Living Lab 2017 and Creativity World Forum, in Aarhus, Denmark.  The HND class had all submitted written statements about what they might achieve at DC Living Lab, and Niamh and Aga's responses gained them their places on the trip.

DC Living Lab brought together creative students from different regions, countries and disciplines to work together on a project,  and the Creativity World Forum is an annual worldwide two-day conference on creativity, design thinking and ideas.

The Lab consisted of intensive work on three topics -

PEOPLE : How to cultivate and nurture your creative spirit?
ENTERPRISE: How to make room for skills and competencies?
CITY: How to transform city heritage into a city of opportunity?

Danish creative agency USE co-ordinated the workshops, and on Day 1 this featured the brief, research and ideation, with the students organised into small groups.  Day 2 covered feedback, development and prototyping.  The final resolved ideas were then presented on Friday.

Ideas, day 1.

Aga Pomaranska working hard.

Niamh's team brainstorming.

You can check out the full program at www.dclivinglab.com/program

Wednesday and Thursday saw a series of conference talks with high-profile speakers including Stefan Sagmeister, Steve Vranakis and Vivienne Ming.  Tutor Helena Good said - "We had an amazing week. This was such an inspiring event for our students to be part of, and it was great having USE (a creative agency based in Aarhus) co-ordinating the workshops.  The talks were fantastic as well, and it was brilliant to be part of such a worthwhile event that promoted design education."

Huge crowd to hear the speakers at Creativity Forum.

Steve Vranakis slide

Steve Vranakis interview

Stefan Sagmeister in full flow during his talk.

Vivienne Ming talking design education and learning.

All photos by Helena.


9 October 2017

The HND Graphic Design students have completed a short experimental project to kick off their final year. For this brief they selected a favourite glyph or letter, then explored its usage, provenance and geometry, before designing an A2 print piece celebrating it.  Some nice samples -

Aga Pomaranska

Paulina Wassik

Beth Draper

Holly McNie

Ewan Morris

Aleks Derda

More examples of these pieces are on our Pinterest boards.

Class of 2017

28 September 2017

Some of our graduands from the Class of 2017 who attended the ceremony today at the Usher Hall. Always a great occasion, well done all, we are very proud of you all.