Design undergraduates shine in 2010 D&AD Student Awards

This year’s D&AD Student Awards have once again punched a window into the world of design undergraduate talent. The 2010 awards saw students answer briefs set by sponsors including Ikea, Channel 4 and Nokia, with a UK team bagging the top Student of the Year accolade.

Kingston University’s Jessica Reynolds and Serena Wise won the top award for their open-brief project for Ikea. According to D&AD education chairman Greg Quinton, the project came out on top for ’throwing convention out of the window, making the product the hero and challenging the norm’. Reynolds and Wise’s Ikea Spectrum idea rearranges Ikea’s product catalogue by colour, producing a Web-based interactive colourwheel of furnishings and homewares that the pair also applied to print and advertising.

Quinton points out that this year’s awards programme has seen ’a lot of understandable enthusiasm towards digital disciplines’. University College Falmouth student and graphic design/interactive design First winner Matt Turnbull also observed an increase in digital categories this year, which he says divided his class. He says, ’I found a lot of my year weren’t impressed by the briefs, since they included more obscure disciplines like mobile and ambient, whereas previously they were more print-based.’ Turnbull embraced the opportunity to create a mobile application concept for Nokia that helps diagnose illnesses and makes doctors’ appointments for the user. ’It was great that we could pitch the app in the future, allowing it to be conceptual,’ he says.

At the opposite end of the scale is the product design category First winner, the hard-wearing Optimist toaster, designed for sponsor DIY Kyoto. Created and cast in aluminium by Royal College of Art students Adam Paterson, Matthew Laws and Richard Gilbert, the Optimist is one of Quinton’s favourites from this year’s crop of projects. ’I love it,’ he says. ’They made the toaster themselves, it is proper, heavy engineering, and you just know it is going to last a million years. It is about longevity and modern luxury.’

The D&AD Student Awards projects occasionally get picked up by the sponsors and brief-setters. In 2006 MTV took Klaas Diersmann and Sakurako Haino’s Student of the Year-winning MTV ident, showing it across Europe and giving Diersmann a job.

On such occasions, D&AD acts as an ’advocate’ or intermediary between students and clients. ’Students retain intellectual property rights, and clients must pay them for work they take on – they cannot haggle free work out of the students,’ says a D&AD spokeswoman.

So, is Ikea interested in Spectrum? Ikea UK and Ireland head of external communications and D&AD Student Awards judge Geri Stewart is impressed. ’[Reynolds and Wise] identified the emotive link that people have to colour and mood… they managed to turn on its head how we could represent our range,’ she says. While Ikea will not be integrating the design duo’s ’brilliance’ into its next catalogue, it has offered them a three-month placement at its advertising agency, Mother.

Along with illustration category First winner Chris Howker from Stockport College, who was honoured for his subtle and subversive Resist project for Don’t Panic, and Northampton University student Tim Keay’s typography First for Lost Boys International, all the winning work can be seen at

The results were announced yesterday at London’s Spitalfields Market.

The Optimist toaster
Ikea Spectrum concept, by Jessica Reynolds and Serena Wise of Kingston University

Advice from this year’s winners

Be ambitious. ’If you get a commendation, that’s really good – but if you get a Yellow Pencil or Student of the Year, people really start to become interested in you.’
Tim Keay, Northampton University, typography First winner

Don’t bite off more than you can chew, and listen to your tutor. ’Initially I was going to create an entire new interface for Nokia mobile, but luckily my tutor shot me down. Take advantage of your tutor’s knowledge and get their feedback as much as possible.’
Matt Turnbull, University College Falmouth, graphic design/interactive design First winner

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