Design Week’s favourite projects from graduate season so far

The Class of 2020 has had an unprecedented end to their university careers but the work from this year’s grad shows impresses all the same – here’s our favourites so far.

Ellalute Shamwana, BA Graphic Design, University of Brighton


As Ellalute Shamwana tells Design Week, EJS is based on the arrest of her grandfather, Edward Jack Shamwana on 23 October 1980. A prominent lawyer in Zambia, he was detained “upon accusations of a coup plot to overthrow Kenneth Kaunda’s Government”. During his time in incarceration he recorded the experience in journals, the contents of which Shamwana has used in the piece. The aim was to use family artefacts to tell the story as one cohesive narrative, she says, using the journals, newspaper clippings, interviews and her grandmother’s letters. The outcomes of the project are a video, book and framed prints. The book follows the narrative of the events of his 10-year imprisonment through four key perspectives: Edward himself, his wife Stella, his four sons, and the media, and uses Shamwana’s favoured technique of juxtaposition to “contrast bold colours and textures with clean layout design”.

Watch the video for EJS here. Learn more about the project here.

Contact Ellalute: @e.shamwanadesign (instagram); [email protected]

Zoe Barrett, BA Illustration, University for the Creative Arts Farnham

Solitude magazine

In her final project, Zoe Barrett chose to look into the theme of isolation in crowded spaces, specifically the feeling of loneliness in London. Illustrations allow the publication to explore loneliness as a topic and its many forms, with examples including not having close relationships with neighbours, feeling alone at work, and even travelling on crowded public transport. According to Barrett: “Being alone in a crowd, especially one that is the size of a city, is a very overwhelming feeling. This magazine aims to shine a light on people living with the feeling of loneliness and bring awareness to a subject that is more often than not kept behind closed doors.”

Access the full magazine here.

Contact Zoe: @zoe.illustrations (instagram);

BA Motion Graphics students, Ravensbourne University London

Alternative graduate show

Working with W1 Curates, motion graphics graduates brought their final projects to the digital exterior façade of Flannels, a luxury clothing retailer on Oxford Street, London. The showcase was initiated by the students themselves, and serves as a replacement for their physical degree show, which was cancelled earlier this year. The unusual exhibition featured disciplines including 2D animation, film, infographics, title sequences and typography experiments, according to the university.

Learn more about the exhibition here.

Olivia Kellerman, BA Fashion Journalism, University for the Creative Arts Epsom

The Blacklist magazine

As described by graduate Olivia Kellerman, The Blacklist magazine is a platform for Black creatives in the UK to engage with one another and share their work. It is influenced by Kellerman’s own childhood and aims to show the reality of living within the Black British Diaspora – rather than “the media’s portrayal of it”. The editorial design of the magazine is deliberately minimal, but its aim to provide education on both past and present events and issues also gives it a scrapbook-like quality.

Access The Blacklist website here.

Contact Olivia:

BA Graphic Design and Illustration students, Belfast School of Art


Alongside an official website to showcase their work developed by the university, Belfast School of Art graphic design and illustration students have separately created their own platform. The project, and the wider coronavirus-induced lockdown, represents “a creative opportunity”, according to the students. The site, fully decked out in the RGB spectrum, is interactive and animated – with the intention of showing the graduates’ “visions for 2020”, even if times feel uncertain now.

Access the website, and view the work from the graduates, here.

Siobhan Abbott, BA Graphic Design and Illustration, Liverpool School of Art and Design


“Easy is the future of packaging,” so says Siobhan Abbott. The motivation behind the project is to ensure packaging is inclusive, so that everyone can use it regardless of age, gender and ability. Easy-open techniques mean the contents of packaging are easy to access, she explains, while the concept’s type specifications and colour palette also cater to those who are partially sighted and colour blind.

View the project in more detail here.

Contact Siobhan:

BA Graphic Design Students, University of West England

C.E.O.s: Climate Evolution Optimists

Each year, final-year graphic design students at UWE are tasked with working collaboratively to generate content for, edit and design a publication around a theme they feel is important. This year’s theme devised by the students was climate change. Work began on the publication in the form of zine workshops based around the theme of “Solastalgia” (emotional or existential distress caused by environmental change). Throughout the project, the members of the surrounding Bristol community were involved, with the aim of engaging people who felt disenfranchised by the 24/7 media cycle and help them re-enter conversations, debates and action around climate crisis. (Also pictured in the page banner.)

View the project in more detail, and contact the students involved, here.

BA Art and Design students, Birmingham City University

BAAAD Annual

The students of Birmingham City University’s art and design course would usually celebrate their final year with a degree show – this year’s lockdown has instead prompted the cohort to create BAAAD Annual 2020, a collaborative, student-led “virtual portal”. On the platform, which was developed with help from An Endless Supply, allows students to display and explore their research. On the topic of the showcase, students Alarna Lawley and Polly Brant say: In the face of losing so much we came together to make sure we would still have a student publication,  show, public programme, opportunity to present our work and to celebrate our peers.

“This edition of the BAAAD annual was to become a venture into the world of the internet and finding new ways to connect despite being apart physically.”

View the showcase online, and contact the students involved, here.

Hide Comments (3)Show Comments (3)
  • Ted Leonhardt June 25, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    I love seeing the focus on message in much of the graduates work. I find the lack of apparent computer manipulation refreshing. The use of what appears to be newsprint paper in the printed books along with the simple color palette enhances the message. Well done!

  • Jonas Gerard June 26, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    Why hasn’t any of Living Arts College student work been shown here?

  • Alessia Oliveri July 2, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    NTU Degree Show at is worth having a look at! They have a virtual exhibition to replace the physical degree show, as well as student profiles, design process videos and industry feedback.

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