In April this year the Michon team collaborated with tutors at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), to develop and present a live brief for their second-year graphic design students.
Carole, Beth and I set the brief and decided to have some fun with it – encouraging the students to think laterally and see where their creativity could take them. We called our brief ‘changing perceptions’ and for the winning student we offered a summer placement in our studio.
The first challenge we set the students was to go to a charity shop and choose a seemingly worthless, outdated or uninteresting object. The next task was to think about how they could use marketing and design to change someone’s perception of their object – or use their object to change people’s perceptions of a larger issue. We wanted to give the students as open a brief as possible, so that they could make it as creative as they wished to. By not restricting them in any direction we knew we’d receive some interesting responses.
Setting the challenge
We visited NTU and presented our brief to a lecture theatre packed full of second-year graphic design students. As a graduate of NTU myself, I interned for Michon following a response to a live brief, and was given a full-time position here as a result. So it was a pleasure to be invited back to my old university, meet the students and be a part of their course.
Having been sat in that lecture theatre myself four years prior, I remember design agencies coming in and doing similar presentations, it felt a little nerve-racking to be on the other side of the room facing the crowd. Going back to the same buildings at NTU and seeing familiar tutors felt as though time had never really passed. I felt very humbled to stand in that room and explain to the students that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that the hard work does pay off.
It was a pleasure to be invited back to my old university, meet the students and be a part of their course.
We had a number of students excited to take on the brief, and they really embraced the spirit of it. We held interim tutorials on campus to help the students hone their ideas and to help them decide what they were going to take forward to be their finished submission. We were surprised and pleased from the outset. Absolutely every idea and object they’d found was unique and the responses varied. There was a great mix of branding, packaging, illustration and editorial projects. We loved each object they’d chosen and how it had been interpreted into a creative project.
We gave the students individual advice and feedback on their work and the following week we returned to watch each of them present their final work. All the entrants were really impressive, which made our job that much harder to narrow ten students down to a shortlist of just four. The final four were invited to visit our studio and present to our wider team.
Arriane found an old radio and developed a brand and environment design for a café you could visit to repair and recycle old or broken electrical objects. Olivia devised her concept of a pick-n-mix health food store from a set of coloured melamine beakers. Sophie somehow got from two pairs of trouser braces she’d found…to an editorial on twins. Her workbooks were a real creative journey! And Jay found a vintage 70s Disney book about the future which inspired him to come up with an identity for a space tourism company.
They were all a pleasure to work with and what we were most impressed by was the infectious enthusiasm and creative journey each of the students went on to get from their initial object to their finished pieces.
We understood the benefits each student would receive from having real industry experience on their CVs.
We then presented the ideas to the senior management team. It was a very difficult decision to make, but we agreed that Jay should be rewarded the two-month placement for his ‘Lunar Tours’ project. He has a great eye for design and commercial awareness in his work.
Ultimately however, we simply couldn’t ignore the great work from all four finalists and we understood the benefits each student would receive from having real industry experience on their CVs. So we also offered two-week placements to Arriane, Olivia and Sophie!
It was great to see the journeys the students had been on from the initial tutorials to showing us their final work and we were proud to see that they all felt accomplished in what they had achieved.
We have already had the pleasure of having Arriane and Jay here with us and also look forward to Sophie and Olivia joining us soon. We’ve loved working with NTU this year, and hope to be back with another brief next year and continuing to work with and nurture developing talent at NTU.