University event proposes better links with industry

The University of Huddersfield says it hopes its inaugural Brilliant Design event will lead to a more symbiotic relationship between Government, industry and education.

The event last week saw a panel of designers including Jason Bruges and Poke co-founder Nik Roope join illustrator Mr Bingo and compere and D&AD deputy president Simon ’Sanky’ Sankarayya for a day-long series of lectures.

The event was proposed by Dom Goodrum, who graduated from the University of Huddersfield in 2004 and went on to work for Navyblue and Poke, before joining the New York-based Barbarian group; Joe Turner, a 2006 graduate now working for Digit as creative strategist; and final-year student Chris Boardman who is studying multimedia design development. The proposal was submitted to the university last June and accepted in December 2009.

Joseph McCullagh, head of arts at the university, says that a symbiotic relationship has been forged between parties involved at the event. He adds, ’Alumni and students have worked with the university to bring companies in,’ a process that Emma Hunt, dean of art, design and architecture at Huddersfield, is calling the ’Huddersfield creative chain’.

Sankarayya says that there is only a ’perceived barrier’ between industry and education, and that students need to ’talk to people, like those here today’.

Recommending ’more sociable events’ like New Blood over standard portfolio clinics, Sankarayya also cites the advice of Wieden & Kennedy’s Iain Tate, formerly of Poke, who says, ’Do some detective work on the people you want to work for – a bit of “light stalking”.’

Sankarayya says that when negotiating support between Government, industry and education institutions to host such events, there needs to be an even-handed approach. ’The problem is,’ he asks, ’how will the interests of each institution be equally cared for?’

On the subject of graduates, Sankarayya – who is also founder of All of Us – says, ’I wouldn’t expect them to be able to sell stuff in. We’re interested if they can design, not if they can be stuck in front of a client – that comes through experience and interning.’

This is a sentiment partly echoed by Bruges, who says, ’Graduates come out of college without any real experience – although some do sandwich and industrial design courses which are a bit more vocational.’ Bruges admits he is more likely to take students with experience and advises doing personal projects or working for friends at cost price or for free. ’You don’t need a client,’ he says.

’We train and expose them to logistics,’ adds Bruges. ’But it’s a two-way process and they need to show tenacity and the ability to initiate their own products.’

Over the course of the day-long Brilliant Design event, each speaker lectured in three ten-minute slots across three rounds of a gameshow-inspired format. Past project work was introduced in the I Made This section, before a This Inspired Me talk and a New To Me section, reflecting on the panel’s continued learning experiences.

Spanish design studio Serial Cut used a 3D-modelling technique to create the gameshow-inspired typographic identity (pictured), which references a ’graduate Wheel of Fortune’ used on stage to field questions from the audience.

Brilliant Design

  • Organisers say students need speakers to break down the creative processes behind their work, talk about how they’ve taken risks and share inspirations
  • This is built on the understanding that students need ’tangible’ advice which can be applied to their own work, not showreels
  • Pitched at students across disciplines, the event is designed to encourage collaboration across courses and departments


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