UID degree exhibition 2009

Client work 2009.

The ‘milk bowl’

The ‘milk bowl’

Back in early April 2009 I received quite the exhilarating email. I was offered a double assignment by the Umeå Institute of Design (UID)—the institution at which I am currently studying at—to be in charge of the visual identity of the new UID Design Talks visual identity and website as a first phase. The second phase would consist in creating yet another, entirely different visual identity for the ‘degree exhibition’, short for UID’s graduating students thesis project exhibition. Or at least that was the initial brief…

After quite a few discussions, the committee in charge of these two independent but closely related events and myself came to realize that considering the amount of time (before I could even start working on the project it was already ‘behind’) and resources, the idea of me creating two distinct, easily deployable and scalable visual identities was at best wishful thinking (after all, the two-day UID Design Talks symposium was going to be held during the first two days of the exhibition).

The visual identity for the 2009 edition of the degree exhibition and UID Design Talks symposium.

For this year’s edition of the degree exhibition—and as explained above, for UID Design Talks, as well—the School’s committee in charge of organizing the events envisioned the theme of ‘Design for the future—the future of design’ for it. An explanation of that theme can be read by clicking the link below:

Show text.

Design future design.

The first step in, I believe, the right direction that I took with this project was to considerably shorten its theme from Design for the future—the future of design to simply design future design.

design future design.

At first, this might appear like quite the benign affair to some, but as a designer, it’s graphically much more interesting to play with a three word phrase rather than a sentence as a title for an event. —Not to mention that it conveys a more concise, engaging, and efficient message to the viewer as opposed to something lengthier.

At that stage of the project, I still hadn’t come up with a proper visual concept. I knew I wanted to work with typographic-based photography, but I hadn’t yet figured out how. And that’s when I came up with the idea of the white-red-white-red colour sequence.

However, this was obviously not enough to convince anyone that it would be communicative of anything meaningful or even related to the ‘Design for the future—the future of design’ theme. So I wrote a piece of text (see link below this paragraph) to explain the concept and the æsthetics I was envisioning to the committee. By no means is it great prose, and by all means is it far fetched at times, but it worked to convince them to let me develop that idea.

After trying out the initial idea of taking a photograph of the three words ‘design future design.’ being laser-cutted with each a different thickness, the concept proved to be interesting conceptually, but not really graphically. Another, more graphical and easily (graphically) deployable solution had to be found.

Design meal.

A newer, perhaps more abstract concept came to my mind after reflecting upon it for some time. I was thinking that designers—any genre of designer (product, interaction, graphic, etc.)—all basically have the same processes, the same ‘struggles’.

We’re all in the same bowl. We might all have different opinions regarding design and designers, but in the end, we all are designers and all (hopefully) want to make this planet a better place to live.

How it relates to the Design for the future—the future of design theme.

The reference to food here is quite obvious. But why food one might wonder/question?

Well, for one thing, food is probably the most ubiquitous ‘thing’ that we all (at least in the Western world) consume each day of our lives. In the past 5–10 years, people have massively started to be aware of all the (not so sustainable, ethical) processes that are involved with food agriculture and consumption. Here I refer mostly to global economy and sustainability, and to a certain extent, catastrophes too.

Through a seemingly not-so-conceptual graphic profile, if one stops to think about it for a few moments, one can find all sorts of meanings to it. (…) The red letters will be floating in white milk and the photo will be taken in a photo studio on a perfectly white background (laboratory reference, kind of).

Below are two preliminary images.


First ‘sketch’ of the visual concept. Laser-cutted letters (red painted acrylic) on a piece of paper scrappily put on top of a red bowl.

how it was done.

Shot taken prior to the pouring of one liter of tasty Norrland swedish milk.

The photoshoot.

Below are a few images pulled from the photoshoot that I have made to create the visuals. And yes, it is actual milk.

Deployment of the visual concept.

Even though the visuals created for the first installment of the UID Design Talks and the degree show exhibition were unified as one visual theme, their deployment were going to be quite different. The UID Design Talks visuals were going to be promoted solely through digital-based mediums, namely the web and email. The purpose of the UID Design Talks promotionnal materials was to attract—and entice—people from outside the small city of Umeå whereas the visuals for the exhibition itself were mostly to attract local people, and also to create physical objects of memorabilia.

Printed matters.

Almost—if not all—promotional materials for the degree exhibition materialized under the form of printed matters. Here’s a few images showing what I designed both for external and internal promotion.

Poster to promote the event to the city of Umeå’s citizens.

Umea poster

Offset printing on coated stock. Dimensions: 50mm X 70mm.

Umea poster

Pyramidal folded leaflet showcasing all projects by the graduating students.


Degree exhibition catalogue.

catalogue front.

Dimensions (closed): 148mm X 148mm. Each student has one spread. 92 pages (inside).

catalogue top.

An interesting feature of this catalogue was the red strips that resided on the outer edges of both the introductory texts of the programmes and on the student portrait pages. As you can see above, they create quite subtle markers in visually separating the different sections of the catalogue.

The above catalogue showcases the thesis projects of all of UID’s graduating students (bachelors and all three masters programs for a total of 36 students/projects).

Most unfortunately, the catalogue was very poorly printed and even more poorly bound (it can’t be opened too wide because pages fall off really easily). The worst thing is that the printer actually printed 500 copies of it (the entire run was of 500) and it was already quite awful, so they actually reprinted/re-bounded the whole thing and still it came out horrible. Kind of depressing to see when you’ve spent lots of hours trying to make a good looking object and it comes back literally flat.

Anyway, enough complaining. Below are a few images of some spreads pulled from the catalogue.

An ad was featured in Nojesmagasinet, a weekly local cultural newspaper, but sadly I couldn’t get a decent photograph of. Various other e-flyers were made—all featuring the ‘milk bowl’ on them— to promote the event.

The UID Design Talks + degree exhibition assignment combo, even though it represented a lot of extra work (this assignment ran in parallel with my Various degrees of extrapolation project), it was incredibly fun, stimulating and rewarding to get the chance to handle for the first time a proper graphic identity program (mostly) on my own.

Finally, I would like to thank the degree exhibition committee—and especially Fredrik Nilsson who was the main coordinator of the event—for trusting me and letting me do my thing with this whole assignment.