Design for Good Summer School: From Falmouth with Love
29 June 2022
The Design for Good Summer School gave sixteen final year BA Graphic Design students the opportunity to apply their specialist design practice to live charitable briefs, with support from Falmouth alumni designers.
Sasha Dobrota (lecturer & Springbord Studios producer), Steve House (Senior lecturer and year leader) and Dion Star (Senior lecturer), co-designed the week-long Design for Good Summer School with their students. The idea came from a shared aspiration to give back to the local Falmouth and Penryn community – to use their skills to support local charities, while also gaining professional experience and strengthening their industry networks.
The project was an overwhelming success, with Steve House commenting that it supported students to feel highly confident in moving into industry. “Working collaboratively encouraged our students to apply all the skills they have been building across their three years of degree study. Supported by the mentorship of our alumni, students were able to build a focused and effective approach, much like they would experience in a junior role in industry."
The local charities involved included Sea Sanctuary, which provides blue-space therapy for patients with acute and clinical health needs; Kevrenna Records, an innovative youth music initiative which is part of the Music Education Hub; Falmouth Food Co-Op Kitchen, which provides healthy and locally grown food and meals to people in need, and the Flicka Foundation Donkey Sanctuary, which provides a safe home for over 100 rescue donkeys and horses.
The challenge for Kevrenna is that we aim to improve both the wellbeing of young people and pathways into music, and the students successfully articulated both without compromising either.
The summer school took place once students had completed their final hand-in, so they were free from the pressure of being assessed. Working under the guidance of four BA Graphic Design alumni – Jonah Horne, Jocelyn Affleck, Ben White and Harry Taylor – the students collaborated in studio teams as part of a one-week ‘design sprint’. They started by establishing the context and needs of the local community organisations. They then produced design content to raise awareness and support, in innovative ways the charities would never have imagined.
The alumni team all graduated from Falmouth University in 2017 and have since been making their names in the creative industry working at studios including WiedemannLampe, Roundtable Studio, Charlie Smith Design, Snask, Construct and Peter Anderson Studio. By leading students to produce work in a fast and focused environment, the alumni acted both as mentors and creative directors for their studio teams, while also offering professional advice and access to wider industry networks.
It has boosted my personal and professional confidence, helped me network with industry and developed my portfolio of work with real clients.
Students produced a wide range of design outputs including brand identities, digital content, posters, illustrations, publications, merchandise, soundscapes, social media campaigns and motion graphics. All assets are now being used by the organisations to connect to wider audiences, increasing their support and awareness.
On the final afternoon of the design sprint, the students presented their design work back to the charities in front of an invited audience of students, lecturers and designers. The presentations took place at Princess Pavilions, which also played host to the end of project celebrations.
Asked about how valuable the project was for their future after university, one student said, “Design for Good gave us the opportunity to work collaboratively and experimentally in an uplifting studio setting, alongside an alumni mentor who has first-hand experience in the design industry. It was a live brief and was such a great way to finish university, leaving a legacy with local charities. This made for an incredibly rewarding and impactful experience for both me and the local community, as there was a real sense of collective achievement. It has boosted my personal and professional confidence, helped me network with industry and developed my portfolio of work with real clients.”
Ryan from Kevrenna Records said that the experience was very beneficial for them too. “Previous work I have commissioned from professional designers has tended to be generic. The students, however, really invested the time needed to fully understand and comprehend the initiative. It was evident that every design decision was thoroughly considered and related back to music and wellbeing for young people,” he explains.
“This in turn led to the strong concept driven approach. The challenge for Kevrenna is that we aim to improve both the wellbeing of young people and pathways into music, and the students successfully articulated both without compromising either. The design concepts work for young people as well as advocating for the impact of the project, which is a real achievement.”
I’m confident they’ll benefit greatly from the experience of both working on ‘real world’ projects and by working collaboratively with their peers, as they might in a commercial agency environment.
Martin Nixon, founder of Cornwall and London based design studio Nixon, and a guest at the Princess Pavillion event, said he was “very impressed by the way the teams firstly established strategic communication goals for the various organisations taking part, and how they then developed distinctive and appropriate design solutions, demonstrating their presentation skills in outlining each approach.
“I’m confident they’ll benefit greatly from the experience of both working on ‘real world’ projects and by working collaboratively with their peers, as they might in a commercial agency environment.”
The summer school was part of Falmouth University’s Springboard Studio. Funded by the European Social Funded project and part of Health Works Cornwall, the programme is using non-assessed and process-led creative programmes and live-briefs to support Falmouth University students to transition from university into employment by improving mental health and well-being and professional confidence.
Sasha Dobrota, the Springboard Studios Producer, summarised the collaboration: “Working with Steve and Dion, the students and the charities was an incredibly rewarding experience for all involved, and we are continuing creative conversations about future collaborations. There has been some critical learning that will inform future initiatives, including the importance of co-designing initiatives with students, embedding the five steps to wellbeing in projects, the role of collaborating with relatable alumni to support that transition into work and using design thinking from the start.”