New talent: Central Saint Martins Graphic Design degree show 2014

Nick Carson selects nine stand-out students from CSM’s impressive crop of design talent

If you're looking for exciting new graduates for your studio or agency, don't miss Computer Arts' New Talent special, issue 230, featuring our handpicked selection of the UK's best graduates – on sale 24 July.

There's a good reason that Central Saint Martins (CSM) is included in all the lists of the world's top design institutions, and it's always well worth finding an hour or two during the frenzy of graduate show season to do it justice.

2014 was no different, and CSM's distinctive purpose-built premises behind King's Cross Station – its home since 2011 – was packed to the rafters with great illustration, design, animation and more.

Picking highlights was therefore a tough ask, but we'll give it a go. Here are our nine stand-out students from the 2014 crop...

Kat Gilbert

Vienna branding by Kat Gilbert

The project combines legible typography with brightly coloured pictograms, lucid maps and a brand new logo

One project that attracted the admiration of the whole CA team was Kat Gilbert's branding solution for Vienna, which was executed to such a professional standard that it could almost be dropped onto the city streets as it is.

Vienna branding by Kat Gilbert

Gilbert's logo for Vienna integrates the German and English name for the city, but can also be separated if required

Spurred into action by the poor way-finding system currently in use by the Austrian capital, Gilbert decided to develop a stylish graphic solution that would do justice to the city's creative heritage as well as helping tourists find their way.

"Vienna has such beautiful public lettering available; it should take advantage of its applied art history and produce signage that would go well with the old as well as the contemporary parts of the city," explains the graphic design graduate.

Vienna branding by Kat Gilbert

Kat Gilbert's way-finding system in action - combining pictograms, colour-coding and clear, legible typography

The palette references many of the city's iconic landmarks, including the gold of the Secession Building; the green featured on the Otto Wagner train stations; the blue commonly used in Jugendstil works, such as Wiener Werkstätte; and Austria's national colours, red and white.

"These last two colours not only dominate the identity, but are also visible on the side of the 'signage monoliths' - a touch that would set this signage apart from similar mapping systems in other cities," explains Garner. "With the playful pictograms, it isn't as conservative as its counterparts in New York or London, so reminds people of Vienna's individuality."

Kat Garner

The Jungle Book by Kat Garner

Combining screenprinted illustration and coloured photographic film, Garner's design masks out the cover's background images

Another piece that stood out for both its vibrant use of colour and its original perspective on well-trodden subject matter was Kat Garner's Jungle Book. What began as a purely visual cover design brief developed into something considerably more thought-provoking.

The Jungle Book by Kat Garner

Garner experimented with heat- and light-reactive inks, with prototypes made from acetate, polyfilm, coloured acrylic and more

"I began to examine the role of the author, and how their views can shape a reader's perception of other cultures," reveals Garner. "In this case, I wanted to encourage a dialogue about the rarely acknowledged presence of colonialism in Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book."

"At first, all the viewer sees is the recognisable animal characters," she explains. "However, on closer inspection we realise the background of the British Empire was present all along, represented by icons such as the crest of the East India Trading Company, the 1893 rupee showing Queen Victoria, and hats issued to British soldiers serving in India."

"The biggest challenge was facing up to such an ugly part of British history," she admits. "It'd be much easier to ignore how colonialism influenced The Jungle Book, but I think that we have an opportunity as designers to frame issues such as these in a way that can make people consider them in new ways."

Donghyun Rick Kim

MOIM Magazine by Rick Kim

MOIM Magazine is a vehicle to bring together UAL's Korean community

An ambitious project spanning six colleges of the University of the Arts London - including CSM, of course - MOIM Magazine collates stories, experiences and advice from the city's Korean student community.

MOIM Magazine by Rick Kim

In a stylish twist, the magazine features a smaller booklet mounted on the cover that neatly aligns with its grid

Donghyun Rick Kim opted to communicate elements of his native culture implicitly through all aspects of the magazine, from the name and logo through to the page layout, concept and graphic language that ties it all together.

MOIM Magazine by Rick Kim

The page layout within MOIM is designed to reflect the South Korean flag

"MOIM is a Korean word meaning gathering, unit, group and together," reveals Kim. "Secondly, the editorial layout is based on the Korean national flag: the title, sub-title, caption, page numbers and text are arranged in the flag layout."

The toughest part was creating all the content: Kim pulled together a team spanning various UAL colleges. "Team work is always a big challenge, but if roles and responsibilities are determined clearly, it helps things go smoothly," he insists.

Rose Pilkington

Rose Pilkington

Rose Pilkington developed her abstract motion work in experimental directions, producing large-format prints such as this one
  • Course: BA (Hons) Graphic Design (Moving Image pathway)
  • Website: www.rosepilkington.com
  • Projects: Auroratone and Visual Illusion

In a dark side room filled with flickering monitors showcasing CSM's motion graphics work we discovered Rose Pilkington, whose skilful grasp of abstract form and colour made for a mesmerising and at times surreal viewing experience.

"Writing my dissertation on the effect of colour within the environment was the catalyst for a journey of experimentation with optical trickery and visual perception," she explains.

"Despite being on the Moving Image pathway, I moved slightly away from video-based outcomes to large format prints, GIFs and screenprints, which 'move' in a different kind of way. Setting myself my own briefs on subjects I felt excited to be doing was a great feeling."

Kiki Ljung

Birds, Birds, Birds by Kiki Ljung

Kiki Ljung's criteria for her final piece included being large, colourful and imposing, and Birds, Birds, Birds certainly delivers
  • Course: BA (Hons) Graphic Design
  • Website: www.kikiljung.com
  • Project: Birds, Birds, Birds

Everyone loves a wall covered with brightly-coloured wooden creatures, and Kiki Ljung's aptly named Birds, Birds, Birds project draws together her twin passions: ornithology and illustration.

Birds, Birds, Birds by Kiki Ljung

The illustrated background features harsh-contrasting 2D shadows that interact with the real shadows cast by the wooden birds

"I used to draw birds obsessively, and have a large collection of old bird-watching books and guides," she enthuses. "I'm fascinated by how there can be so many of them, all differing in size, colour and shape, like postage stamps or butterflies."

Most of Ljung's work is digital or printed, but she opted for something more engaging for her final show, making use of CSM's woodworking facilities. "I sought to give life to my bird illustrations in a three-dimensional physical form. I designed 100 unique bird characters, 20 of which were made into objects and exhibited in the installation."

Each bird comprises a series of different sized, rotated half circles. "By the 50th bird it was hard to find new interesting combinations," admits Ljung. "I started seeing half circles everywhere I looked. The only thing to do was to push on and keep experimenting until I was happy."

Joe Want and Andrea de la Concha

ChairAXJ01 by Joe Want and Andrea de la Concha

Want and de la Concha explored everything from floating ping-pong balls to seat-operated musical instruments before opting to pare things back

Nothing sticks in the memory quite like an Arduino-powered chair that enables you to sketch abstract geometric designs in Processing, purely by wiggling your bum around. That's the basic premise behind this, ahem, cheeky project from Joe Want and Andrea de la Concha.

It all started with a workshop that challenged students to combine two existing objects to create a third. "I brought a keyboard and Andrea brought a chair, then we started to see what ideas came from this," smiles Want.

ChairAXJ01 by Joe Want and Andrea de la Concha

With ChairAXJ01, you can design using only your physical movements - leaning forward and back, left and right

"We realised that the chair was one of the most basic analogue objects, and the keyboard is pretty much the most basic digital tool," he goes on. "We started looking at what analogue and digital meant within the subject of graphic design. With the increasing use of digital image-making within graphic design, how do analogue techniques survive?"

"We think design shouldn't be too serious, and using it in a humorous and inviting manner enables engagement on a more free and personal level," adds de la Concha.

Sabba Keynejad

Conductor by Sabba Keynejad

Computer Arts' Julia Sagar, Jo Gulliver and Rich Carter partake in a bit of limb waving to put Conductor through its paces

With bum-wiggling shenanigans at one end of the exhibition space, visitors could be seen at the other end waving limbs frantically in the air to engage with the CSM Graphic Design show's other big interactive design taking point: Sabba Keynejad's Conductor.

Inspired by the unique power of music to bring people together, Keynejad developed a motion-capture system to enable users to create and interact with digital sculptures.

"It's important to explore possibilities in design and communication using technology in new ways," adds Keynejad. "Witnessing random people interacting with my work, jumping around, taking pictures and showing their friends brings a big smile to my face."

Jack Bedford

Alain de Botton: The Collective Works by Jack Bedford

Jack Bedford's graphic tribute to Alain de Botton makes use of a very striking fluoro green and black colour palette
  • Course: BA (Hons) Graphic Design
  • Website: www.jackbedford.co.uk
  • Project: Alain de Botton: The Collective Works

Back in more familiar graphic design territory, Jack Bedford's graphic exploration of three of Alain de Botton's most prestigious works - The Architecture of Happiness, Status Anxiety, and Religion for Atheists - explores the writer/philosopher's ideas through design.

Alain De Botton: The Collective Works by Jack Bedford

Inside, de Botton's complex thoughts and ideas are conveyed in simple graphic terms, with text set in simple, force-justified blocks

"The aim was to present a new way to interact with De Botton's work, exploring a minimalist approach to illustration and expressive typographic layout," reveals Bedford, who underwent an intensive period of research in order to translate serious, academic texts into something more dynamic, fun and playful.

Käthrine Yan

Wellbeing by Käthrine Yan

Since the traditional origami crane is already designed to flap, it was a logical progression to make it 'fly' to order using a motor
  • Course: BA (Hons) Graphic Design (Design & Interaction pathway)
  • Website: www.dotelidot.com
  • Project: Wellbeing

Last but definitely not least, Käthrine Yan's Wellbeing project continues the bird theme set by Kiki Ljung earlier, but in a more soothing, origami-inspired manner.

It started with a brief to design a wall installation that could help calm hospital patients. Conscious of the various cultural backgrounds that such as piece must engage with, Yan opted to combine tradition with novelty value - with both analogue paper and electronic components.

Wellbeing by Käthrine Yan

Some younger visitors to the show were particularly fascinated by Käthrine Yan's gently flapping paper birds

"I'd bought an Arduino kit for some fun, but realised that blinking LEDs did not actually excite me very much. I looked for other things that I had at hand, and origami became a rather natural choice: all you need is a single sheet of paper to make a three-dimensional object."

Gently flapping cranes - symbols of peace, happiness and longevity in East Asia - were the perfect catalyst for a chilled environment. But it took plenty of trial-and-error to get things working: "The paper had to be sturdy enough to endure repetitive pulling, but thin and flexible enough to fold and hold a crease evenly," she points out.

Her favourite part? The satisfaction of watching people mesmerised by her creation. "We live in an environment of instant stimulation, so to see people's eyes drawn to small paper birds stretching their wings accompanied by the whirring sound of a tiny motor was a very pleasant surprise," she smiles.

Half-price CA subscription offer!

We know it isn't always easy being a recent graduate. So to celebrate the 2014 degree show season, we're offering an incredible 50% off an annual subscription to Computer Arts magazine. For just £39 you'll receive an entire year of industry insight, opinion and inspiration, delivered directly to your door.

Plus: sign up by 10th July and you'll receive our New Talent issue, featuring our guide to 2014's most outstanding design graduates - and a very special cover designed in response to a joint brief with D&AD New Blood.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nick Carson is editor of Computer Arts magazine.