King George V may have been reflecting popular opinion when he uttered the words ‘Bugger Bognor’ on his deathbed – he was advised to spend time in the south coast resort to aid his recovery – but notions of the town as a cheap and tacky destination could soon be redressed.
An ambitious £500m regeneration programme will, from September, feed a pioneering new graphic design foundation course with live briefs for students to cut their teeth on.
Conceived by Wayne Hemingway and John McFaul, the graphic design foundation course will see about 25 students a year taken on to tackle live industry briefs, including those generated by the regeneration programme.
Students will learn disciplines including illustration, animation, Web design and typography in a simulated studio environment designed by Hemingway and McFaul, complete with a sound system, sofas and a chill-out zone.
‘This course is going to be treated as a business. This is a life-like work environment, not an educational bubble,’ says illustrator and graphic designer McFaul, who works in Chichester. ‘Instead of rows of Apple Macs and desks, we wanted to create something as much a studio as an academic space.’
Hosted by nearby Chichester University and located at its Bognor Regis campus, this is reputedly the first design degree course in the country conceived by a regional designers’ forum – in this instance, the South Coast Design Forum, a loose network of designers living and working in towns and villages from Portsmouth to Brighton.
The south coast’s proximity to London has bestowed it with an impressive roll-call of names, which the course organisers claim they will use to provide support and inspiration as well as projects and live briefs to students. McFaul describes course leader Mark Wigan Williams who designed the BA and MA illustration courses at Camberwell College of Art, as taking the role of ‘studio manager, or boss, more than lecturer’.
Williams says, ‘This is going to be a hothouse studio environment where, from day one, students on the foundation course will collaborate in teams on live industry briefs.’ They will be paid according to existing university guidelines on work placement payments for students.
However, so far the only brief to have been secured is a community mural for Bognor Regis’ regeneration project.
Williams is unconcerned.’I am not starting work on preparing this course for another couple of weeks yet, but Hemingway’s big concern is regeneration and sustainable development, so I would like to see him coming in and setting projects, and I will be pulling in work from my national and international clients,’ he says.
There are plans for students to be able to graduate straight into a consultancy when they complete the foundation course. According to McFaul, this would be linked to the university, but Williams reckons it is more likely to be tied up with the SCDF.
Elsewhere in the UK, some local design groups have complained when university design departments have set up their own working consultancies, protesting that it takes work away from established groups and that the poor quality of the resulting work damages the reputation of the design sector.
‘This is not going to be an average university-based business,’ counters McFaul. ‘Yes, the university consultancies often offer services that are mediocre, but this will be a high-end design service. That is the way I foresee it going.’
‘We would not want to tread on anyone’s toes,’ adds Williams.
A university challenge
May 2006 – South Coast Design Forum established
September 2008 – Chichester University two-year foundation graphic design course launches at Bognor Regis campus, conceived by Wayne Hemingway and John McFaul
September 2009 – Chichester University graphic design BA Honours course to launch, designed and led by Mark Wigan Williams. Design consultancy set-up by either the university or the SCDF, into which foundation students may graduate
2010 and beyond – Chichester University to open design school offering multidisciplinary courses at its Bognor Regis campus