The young ones

The last batch of design students to come of age officially in the 20th century must bear a certain sense of responsibility. It is they who will see the industry through the first half of the next century. As they enter a brave new world, industry leaders will be looking to them for guidance on how to communicate the vast changes which will no doubt occur in society.

For the second year, those bright sparks have had the chance to showcase their work in the Student Design Yearbook. Endorsed by Department of Culture, Media and Sport minister Janet Anderson, the 240-page colour volume shows work selected by judges including The Guardian’s media business correspondent Chris Barrie, Monotype head of typography Robin Nicholas and Image Bank production manager Mark Turner.

All seem impressed by the standard of work. The enthusiasm is understandable, despite evidence of the stereotypical student fascination with sex. But the phenomenon of end-of-millennium students being incredibly career-minded when compared to their forebears is reinforced by the relative absence of references to drinks and drugs. Campuses must be very dull these days.

The book is divided into categories including photography, multimedia, editorial/typography, packaging and stationery/corporate identity/direct mail and packaging. The latter seems to allow the widest scope for innovation, with packaging made of various materials taking novel forms. Moë Yamamoto of University of Wales College, Newport, has created an interesting and alternative shoe box, while a brief to create a range of Penguin Teas produces an entertaining solution from Kate Marlow of Somerset College of Arts & Technology.

For my money, the most entertaining shot in the book is a project by Alice Jones of the University of Brighton. From a project brief to identify an unnoticed trend and raise public awareness of it, Jones has chosen commuter misery. Her solution is a sticker, placed in the space between train-users legs, proclaiming a simple message: I eat my own ear wax.

If you find yourself staring at the space between somebody’s legs and laughing, leave the train and make a run for safety.

Student Design Yearbook 1999 is available from design bookshops or from Basement Publishing, priced £40 (£25 concessions)

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