Meet the best graduates from two corners of the UK

It's that time of year again: up and down the country universities are putting on showcases of their best graphic design work. Here, we bring you some of the most talented graduates from two corners of the UK: Edinburgh and Falmouth...

Edinburgh Napier's showcase runs from 19-28 May and promises to be More Than A Degree Show. As you'd expect, the calibre of work coming out of Edinburgh Napier's talented final year graphic design students is high. Exploring themes such as isolation and how humans interact with machines, this year's showcase is packed with thought-provoking and inspiring projects.

If you haven't had a chance to attend, there's still a week left to head over and soak up all the amazing designs and installations. Can't make it in person? Don't worry: we've rounded up six fantastic projects to give you a taste of what to expect.

01. Jenny Taylor

  • Course: BDes (Hons) Graphic Design
  • Project: Stigmata

Jenny Taylor's project Stigmata explores her dad's epilepsy and aims to clear up the misunderstanding that often clouds the condition.

"In the UK, over 50 million people live with long-term conditions, facing their own daily battles, and yet talking about them still seems like a taboo subject," Taylor explains. "By exploring the overlooked day-to-day hurdles of long-term illnesses, this project aimed to change how we approached these conditions, using my dad’s experiences as my main inspiration."

The interactive exhibition resembles a doctor's surgery packed with hidden information that visitors have to work to uncover. Pairing traditional typography and bold illustrations with digital designs has lead to Stigmata scooping the StudioLR Graduate Prize, so make sure you check it out.

02. Hannah Dougan

  • Course: BDes (Hons) Graphic Design
  • Project: The Haze

Hannah Dougan's project looks at how we use technology and criticises how it has changed the way we behave. Set in a future designed around technology, the Haze imagines a language that simplifies communication between humans and machines.

"This new efficient language is faster, smoother and more expansive than any language before it," explains Dougan. "It allows complete communication between humans and machines without the need for programming languages. By using binary code, the Haze emits clouds of binary numbers to portray information."

In this future, 95 per cent of all jobs have been eliminated by artificial intelligence. With work now valued as a commodity, the Haze enables people to compete with AI by changing their brain chemistry, making them more focused, creative and smarter. It might sound like a nightmarish vision, but the concept is executed impressively – and Haze has picked up the Best in Show award from Whitespace's design director Matt Weaver.

03. Scott Dawson

  • Course: BDes (Hons) Graphic Design
  • Project: We Are EK

Most of Scott Dawson's final year was devoted to his We Are EK project, a piece that brings together designers and Scottish football clubs.

The idea was put into practice when he worked with East Kilbride FC, a new club that was struggling to attract local support, even though they'd had a couple of highly successful seasons. To tackle this, Dawson illustrated stories and memories of the town within a triangular bunting shape. One day these will be collated to make a unique community bunting, which will bring the town's population together.

Since running online, the project has seen some real engagement among the town's locals. It's also given East Kilbride FC at platform from which they can start engaging with the community.

04. Fiona Winchester

  • Course: BDes (Hons) Graphic Design
  • Project: Life in Plastic

The impact of plastic on wildlife has long been a topic of concern. In Fiona Winchester's project Life in Plastic, the implications of plastic digesting bacteria are explored. Could such an organism lead to a whole new ecosystem that lives on islands covered in our discarded plastic?

"I wanted to explore what this ecosystem could look like, how life would adapt, and how human beings might react to plastic – a huge part of our current lifestyle – being able to rot," Winchester reveals.

The interactive exhibition includes 3D models, illustrations, animations and graphics. "The book to accompany the project has built in mp3 players for narration and pop-up pages," Winchester adds. "I wanted to reflect this idea of the inanimate (plastic) becoming animate through my design, and encourage people to figure out the story for themselves by exploring all the different elements."

05. Gianinna Pawlyn

Canary in the Coalmine details the plight of the bee population

Canary in the Coalmine details the plight of the bee population
  • Course: BDes (Hons) Graphic Design
  • Project: Canary in the Coalmine

Named after the caged canaries taken into mines to give workers advance warning of invisible dangers, Gianinna Pawlyn's project updates the image by using bees.

"Today, we have a multitude of factors damaging our environment, and the bee population is rapidly decreasing," says Pawlyn. "This project aims to show that these problems have happened so quickly that we’re not able to see the damaging results fast enough, and to recognise their implications.

"Unfortunately we have come to the point where we have another canary in the mine – bees – they have become the modern day canary in a coal mine, but are we able to stop our destruction and save them and get out of this terrible situation before it's too late?"

Realised with beautiful honeycomb artwork and obituaries scattered with dead bees, Pawlyn's project is a powerful reminder of the fragility of our ecosystem.

06. Georgia Burnside

Georgia took her life-size isolation box to the streets of Edinburgh

Georgia took her life-size isolation box to the streets of Edinburgh
  • Course: BDes (Hons) Graphic Design
  • Project: Only the Lonely

Social isolation is an issue that impacts people of all ages, and it's only getting worse. Georgia Burnside's Only the Lonely project studies the lack of connections between individuals in large crowds in a creative way, and is backed up with findings from individual responses gathered as part of a public campaign.

"I created a physical life-size isolation box, which was taken out into public spaces, allowing individuals to stand inside and give answers to the questions found inside each panel via a recording device," Burnside explains. "Through using this box as a vehicle to gather information, I was able to expand my project to create several graphic outcomes."

"I began by displaying the box as a series of supporting visuals, followed by an experimental typographic book bringing the vocal recordings to life in a creative and innovating way. The book was divided into sections of loneliness, including shyness, insecurities and aloneness. I chose to further expand on two of the most powerful quotes found in the book and develop this in to a series of posters."

Throughout the study, Burnside realised how few of us take the time to get to know our neighbours. She decided to run with this observation and went to interview flat residents in Edinburgh Square about how many of their neighbours they actually speak to. From her findings, she created an infographic sculpture of the block of flats, with each door containing unique responses from her research.

During this project, Burnside incorporated a great deal of community engagement via a local Edinburgh charity called Vintage Vibes. Their aim is to tackle loneliness and social isolation, in particular with elderly people. You can see how they helped Burnside on the Vintage Vibes site.

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Julia Sagar
Editor-in-chief retail

Julia is editor-in-chief, retail at Future Ltd, where she works in e-commerce across a number of consumer lifestyle brands. A former editor of design website Creative Bloq, she’s also worked on a variety of print titles, and was part of the team that launched consumer tech website TechRadar. She's been writing about art, design and technology for over 15 years.