Central Saint Martins’ grad show is still considered the most prestigious in the UK – a showcase of work of the best and brightest creative graduates, some of whom will go onto become industry leaders.
I’ll reserve judgement on that until we get a chance to see a wider selection of this year’s work at the forthcoming D&AD New Blood and New Designers exhibitions – but the standard is high, and on a par with the last few years. What’s changed is the work itself and the way it was presented. Split by theme rather than discipline – which is a good move considering most students are encouraged to work across forms – it’s the digital work that stands out.
I saw a limited amount of the kind of traditional illustration and graphic design work that permeated previous years – and no-one who’s going to be an instant hit like 2013’s Edward Carvalho-Monaghan. Instead, the most obvious breakout work was an interactive project by duo Ben Silvertown and Sidney Lim (here left and right respectively), aka Double Dare. Their Surge project for a D&AD-supplied BBC brief saw them create a Buzzfeed-style site presenting Auntie Beeb’s stories in a way that’s stimulating and accessible for millennials.
The project has already got them a D&AD Student Award and job offers from the likes of the BBC – though the two are wisely considering their options.
Read on for more design, digital and illustration work from the CSM 2015 grad show.
There was some traditional illustration of note. Oleksanda Diulgerova’s Tale of the City is a series of narrative illustrations about ’a story that could have happened in any country'.
Oleksanda’s use of colour and texture – and the expressions she’s captured in her characters – sets this apart from the rest.
Louis Grosperrin’s Ündertaker combines a Heath Robinson marble-driven machine that incorporates an animated film (above) that’s a brilliant parody of IKEA.
Even typography and type design was more about digital than print at this year’s CSM grad show. Florence Meunier’s Honest typeface is purposefully inoffensive – even automatically replacing words like ‘horror’ with less powerful ones like ‘emotional distress’.
You can play with Honest online here.
This may be seen as censorship, as trying to create a saccharine version of the world – but Florence's actual aim is to tone down the overuse of overly dramatic phrases by tabloids and blogs desperate to get you to click.
Madeline Lim’s Bl’nk project replaces punctuation with graphics that show the cognitive processing that’s going on as someone speaks and pauses.
Arjun Harrison-Mann's Kershaw Daylight III is a delightful mix of vintage and modern technology. Arjun has connected an old slide projector to an Arduino that communicates with Twitter to attempt to discover the origins of the projector, which he found on Brick Lane with a manual covered with hand-scribbled notes.
The projector contacts anyone who tweets about addresses or people mentioned in the notes, and the replies control the movement of the slides. You can follow the projector's progress at @kershawd3.
Sweet Tooth is a horror film about overindulging in sugar by Etienne Leung and Georgia Allen. For it, they've created a selection of wonderfully retro promotional items harking back to the era of video nasties.
The fake VHS cassette box is a near-perfect pastiche.
The chocolate bars are pretty funny too.
Also in a gothic theme, this work was dramatically presented - and smelled incredible. But the film wasn't working when I went past - a bit of a failure for the graduate (who shall remain nameless to spare their blushes).
Also by a graduate who will remain nameless, this is the kind of crudely handled attempts to shock that we used to see more off and thought had died out.
I'm certainly not against projects than aim to shock, just those that do it badly. Much more interesting was Ying Wang's Nobody Is Watching, an gleefully offensive animated film about what happens behind closed doors - and comprised of hand-drawn elements.
You can watch below Nobody Is Watching - but be aware this is strong stuff.
Unlike previous years, almost all of the graduates had business cards with websites containing their portfolio - and updated with the work they were displaying (less common that you'd think).
Jonny Drewek trumped these with a branded takeaway item that I'm assuming is designed reflects his work's persona - the humble cigarette lighter being both incendary and a symbol of rebellion in these health-obsessed times. His portfolio's well worth checking out too.