Kingston Graphic Design degree show

Typographic mini golf, a flash suit and a life-size swan made of discarded polystyrene cups – the ideas come thick and fast at Kingston’s Graphics show

Typographic mini golf, a flash suit and a life-size swan made of discarded polystyrene cups – the ideas come thick and fast at Kingston’s Graphics show

As we trawl around the degree shows it’s always interesting to see the different approaches colleges and their graduates take to the presentation of their work. Some shows – Norwich, for example – take a very ‘portfolio-led’ approach, with each student displaying three or four projects on boards. Kingston, in contrast, is usually a much more ‘conceptual’ show, with each student displaying one project. It’s a higher-risk strategy, relying on the strength of the project to prompt the visitor to be curious enough to want to discover more about its designer. But it does make for a visually enticing and varied show.

Tucked away under the arches near Hoxton station, Work Out2013 is very much in this conceptual tradition. One of the stand-out projects is Charles Anderson’s RSA Student Award-winning work on improving water environments. Anderson looked at the way in which discarded polystyrene affects wildlife, both when eaten directly and as a result of pollutants which are released as the material breaks down. “This project is about reducing waste polystyrene down to a managable size. The current size to weight ratio targets mean that local councils can’t recycle it. I have designed a process that meets these targets,” he says.

Anderson worked with the School of Pharmacy and Chemistry at Kingston to come up with a concept called Dump in Polystyrene. Using this process, polystyrene could be put into a recycling bin containing a solvent to break it down. The solution would then pass through a mesh filter and down a circular funnel to be collected in a drum before being able to be reused in new products such as flower pots.

On the Kingston website, Anderson explains more: “”The process was designed to tackle the main problem that councils face trying to deal with this waste – its size and the sheer amount thrown out. At the moment, it ends up going straight to landfill where it seeps slowly in to the soil. This process of degradation can take up to 1,000 years. My approach would mean it could be collected as a liquid, transported and recycled much more quickly and easily.”

To demonstrate the process, Anderson made a life-size model of a swan (shown above) using the material derived from recycling 1,400 polystyrene cups.


On the wall opposite Anderson’s work, Tom Biddulph‘s took on a challenge for any graduate – getting noticed. The material used to make his reflective suit (3M Scotchlite) ensures that anyone wearing it who is photographed with a flash will be hard to miss.


Regular readers might remember Kingston students’ tube-themed projects from earlier this year. Some of those were on show here, including Rachel Singer and Oliver St John’s armpit tube map


And Clare Newsam‘s roundel seat


Rachel Singer also showed a seating idea, Your Turn, a chair which relies on those seated to supply the legs


The largest piece on show was Ollie Willis‘s Typographic Golf: “A playable alphabet that can be created into a 26 hole mini golf course”.


Another sport-related project was Pong Ping by Andrew Barker and Matthew Hill , with a table that could be reconfigured to create some challenging new ways to play the game


Also from Barker was Treasure the Process, a drawing machine using different-sized wooden cogs to create different patterns


While Hill showed Signatures, a machine which was printing out the 100 most popular names of 2012 to demonstrate its ability  “to portray personality through ‘handwritten’ signatures”.


Elsewhere, I really liked Jackie Dermawan‘s bike cover made from Sainsbury’s carrier bags


And Matthew Osborne had a novel way of displaying the volume of water needed to produce different types of food, with an image of each foodstuff behind a jar containing the relevant amount of water, the image being distorted by the water in front of it


Elvind Reibo Jentoft was one of the few students to show a ‘traditional’ graphic design project with his entry for the DA&D student brief to brand a range of ‘sustainable’ cars from Nissan


While Chris Holt’s Sound & Object project used “4D modelling software to react to the sound that particular object makes. Each object’s sound wave is linked to a shape de-former which drives the manipulation of the object. As the object’s sound is played, different parameters such as the sounds length, sharpness and volume manipulate the objects form. Creating a visual representation of the audio of each object.”


I liked Irmak Osman‘s feather jewellery pieces, encouraging us to find beauty in that most unloved of birds, the pigeon


Liam Campbell‘s Multistool – “Exploring the links between furniture and its environment”  was fun


as was Get The Right Cut, Jack Mercer‘s translation of the different clipper grades at a barber’s into a series of numberd brushes with different length bristles


And You’ll Grow Into It, Fiona Casey‘s proposal for children’s clothing which could expand as the child grows


Finally, on a more serious note, I was intrigued by Grace Jenkins‘ project on Honeycomb Lung, a condition which marks “the end stage of many different degenerative lung diseases”


See all the students’ work at the Work Out 2013 website here


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The July issue of Creative Review is a type special, with features on the Hamilton Wood Type Museum, the new Whitney identity and the resurgence of type-only design. Plus the Logo Lounge Trend Report, how Ideas Foundation is encouraging diversity in advertising and more

  • Absolutley brilliant, currently a student interning in shoreditch so definitley gonna pop down.

  • Tom

    Is “Shoreditch” a design company now?

    Anyway, Kingston should really just change the name from “BA (Hons) Graphic Design” to “BA (Hons) DoWhateverTheFuckYouWantToDo”.

  • Pierre

    An incredibly sluggish show – full of empty one-liners with no depth or substance. Incredibly disappointing!

  • Paul J N


    Or perhaps “BA (Hons) DoSomethingWithBroaderScope&RelevanceThanMostDesignRelatedDegreeCoursesThatWillJustTeachYouHowToUseAdobePrograms&ContinuePollutingTheWorldWithUselessCrap”

    The majority of Kingston students show cultural, environmental and social awareness and aren’t concerned with a wholly 2-dimensional and trend orientated design process. We should be encouraging innovation and exploration, not denouncing it…

  • James

    @Paul J N

    Conceptual is great, and is useful a the initial stages of a project, what worries me more is that whilst this degree show looks interesting it has far more in common with Fine Art than Design. There is nothing shown here that suggest any of the students would be useful as graphic designers, where’s the exploration of typography, UI, digital and traditional graphics? For the majority of students here I feel as if their tutors have let them down and completely unprepared them for the commercial world, they are going to struggle to find jobs against the more accomplished students shown on the other Degree show reviews, unless they are aiming for work in art, where I might add a few of them would probably succeed very well as the work shown here is far more interesting than many fine art degree shows.

  • Anon


    To the contrary, I graduated from Kingston last year from the same course and myself and the vast majority of my course mates are working/freelancing/interning in some of the best studios in London.

    The graphic design course at Kingston of course teaches you the things you have mentioned, the students just realise these projects don’t make for the most interesting show pieces.

  • James

    @ Anon

    its not that Kingston student lack ideas, they have good ones I know I already have 3 ex Kingston students working as designers. The problem is ideas aren’t enough. Degree course should equip you for the professional world as well as developing your conceptual thinking and I haven’t seen any real evidence that Kingston, or most other graphic design courses teaches that. Its the main reason we take on interns (paid) just to see how much extra training they will need to become a working designer.

  • Tom

    @ James

    Would you have preferred 40+ examples of how well the students can use Adobe software?
    Judging someone’s entire creative talent after seeing one piece of work is hardly a fair way to look at it.

    The fact that Kingston doesn’t just churn out graduates that immediately present themselves as ‘useful graphic designers’ is what makes the course so interesting. University is supposed to be three years where you can take risks and experiment, something which Kingston is extremely good at, so why shouldn’t the degree show reflect that? I would be severely disappointed if any student chose to display a certain piece of work in their degree show because it made them look more employable. The degree show is supposed to be a celebration of the students’ three year journey, not a cattle market for employers.

    The fact that the course is called Graphic Design doesn’t mean that all the graduates have to become graphic designers; but even if they do, why does their graphic design have to look like graphic design?

    Each piece in the Kingston show highlighted an aspect of the student far more valuable than their technical skills: their personality.

    P.S. one of the most recent posts on the CR blog is a music video for the world-renowned band Travis, which was directed by two Kingston graduates, so they can’t all be that bad, eh?

  • Tom

    I should point out that the Tom (me) that posted the previous comment, is a different Tom to the one that posted the second comment on this article, such is the curse of having a common name.

  • Tom 1

    YES, actual discussion. Far too much “graduate bumming” goes on.

  • James

    @ Tom from the Previous comment.
    I didn’t say they need 40+ examples of how good they are at adobe software, what I said was that the ideas show a far closer relationship to fine art than design, and I did say I thought the ideas were good. Neither was I disparaging about their creative talents if I thought the school was complete rubbish I wouldn’t have employed 8 ex Kingston students in the past 5 years :-)

  • Maxworth

    This is great. That pitch-fork Stool is a brilliant idea and well execute, a honest homage to Abram Games’ war posters. You see, it is graphic design after all.

  • Josh

    @ James

    Ideas. Are. Everything.

  • Matt

    ^All of the above comments are relevant (well most of them!) – however the ones who will be successful in their careers are those who have the right balance^

    Good luck to them all :-)

  • Ethan

    How many of these graduates will later on suffer from an identity crisis and wind up at the RCA ?