Learn how the 2018 Thesis Festival branding came together from the students who conceived of, designed, and implemented it.
What does it take to develop a brand for a graduate school festival? Then-second-year students Azucena Romá and Nour Malaeb designed this year's Thesis Festival branding, and we asked them a few questions about their motivations, methods, and how it all went.
Where did you come up with the concept?
What was your process in creating the design?
We discussed different approaches, and Azu mocked up some preliminary designs. We then shared several design directions with our classmates so they could vote on a typographic style with gradient elements.
Azu was looking for a quirky, linear, neo-grotesque typeface that would work well on a grid system and remembered Px Grotesk from Optimo, which she’s had a crush on for years. Px Grotesk’s design was inspired by the way typographic curves get pixelated on screens, so it seemed fitting for interaction design projects by the class, which were a mix of the physical and digital.
Though the initial design direction featured flat gradients, we still wanted something more expressive to really capture the idea of a state of flux. Nour had been playing around with 3D modeling software at the time and wanted to see if he could make an alternative to the flat gradients. Blobby was born. We really like the way the strong type sat atop the soft colored, undulating blob and moved forward with it.
What tools did you use?
The type was laid out using Adobe Illustrator, and Blobby was created using Blender 3D, an open source 3D modeling and rendering package.
How was it seeing it live?
We were really delighted with how Blobby translated onto the big screen for the festival and social media gifs. Getting the design right for print and the gallery vinyl took some trial and error, and Blobby turned out to not work as well in a static state, but still came out pretty good in the end.
Glenda Capdeville and Paula Daneze were the then-first-year students tasked with implementing and installing the Thesis Festival designs. They talked to us about the process and what they learned given their own thesis show will be in 2019.
Tell us what you did for the Thesis Show this year? Designing and printing? Anything else?
We designed the graphics in the thesis catalog, keynote presentations, and the presentation schedule posters for the SVA Theatre. We also designed the wayfinding and brand applications for the gallery space. Our most important goal as designers was to translate the brand identity concepts that the Class of 2018 created to all the graphic design elements in each part of the show and to manage the deadline.
Describe the whole process? How you went about achieving your tasks?
The first step was to understand the brand concept and which values we should apply. The second step was to create a study of a grid and typography size as well as other elements — in other words, designing layouts and defining a graphic project that reflected the core values.
We both come from a graphic design background, in which we usually don’t involve the client into the design process; instead we get feedback at the end of the process, by showing a few versions of the finished designs. What was exciting and new to us in this process, was that we, as interaction design students, applied our new skills of talking to our users by getting feedback throughout the process. We printed out different mockups for the catalog layout and shared them with the Class of 2018 to vote on and comment what they liked or didn't like.
What tools did you use?
InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Google Drive, and Google Sheets.
What did you learn from working on the Thesis Show this year? Was it helpful knowing it will be your thesis next year?
We learned the process of printing on vinyl and applying it for the first time. It was fun to learn and allowed us to use our hands, moving away from a computer screen. Special thanks to Nour and the staff at the VFL for helping us. We also learned that the printing process can take time and has its limitations. We did several print tests to achieve the results we wanted, and that included having to spend more time printing than we initially anticipated.
Besides that, we learned the importance of having a system and staying organized when working with several stakeholders. When we shared the thesis catalog with the Class of 2018 for review, we received several messages in Slack of revisions requests from several students, which was very confusing and stressful on our end to apply and keep track of all these changes. Glenda had the genius idea of creating a Google spreadsheet that we shared with the students so they could add the changes they wanted there, and we could keep track of those changes.
Visiting the gallery space was also very helpful, especially thanks to Azu who shared with us her previous experience from last year's show. Working with the Class of 2018 helped us to prepare and understand the steps necessary for organizing and pulling off a thesis show.
Thanks for sharing the process with us. Congratulations on a successful campaign!