Northumbria University Design is a daring attitude

We had a fantastic workshop with the first year students of Northumbria University in Newcastle. The first year of their course concentrates on introducing the students to conceptual thinking in relationship to all aspects of Graphic Design, including Typography, Branding, Identity, Editorial Design, Publishing, Illustration, and Photography. So we thought the best way to contribute to their design conceptual thinking was to introduce them to the Lava way of thinking. Our point was that ideas can take many forms and design is bigger than visual identities. We've shown them case studies where we used a context as an open source for dynamic solutions that go beyond design and involve people and places.

Design is a daring attitude

But to put this approach into practice as a designer you have to dare. By sharing our bold manifesto on “Design is a daring attitude” we tried to illustrate how to use mistakes and failures as a springboard to the next idea. This way we hoped to encourage students on how important it is to have their own design principles. Something they will be working on later in their course program at Northumbria University.

Because Lava is turning 25 years next year, we had students pitch for our future strategy as part of our hands on learning session. Lava became the client and the students the design studio. The assignment involved thinking solutions for our new building, new people, new visual identity, new services and new big idea. The group that won the pitch with the theme:After 25 years of a volcanic eruption it is time to do something with the ashes... gave us a very visionary approach based on what they thought distinguished us: passion.

Armed with nothing more than pens and paper the students came out with amazing solutions! They had only been six weeks into their course but it was remarkable how quickly they generated group dynamics that lead into strong concepts. This illustrated them how important it is to get away from a computer before starting and how collaborative working is when you reach the right balance between knowing when to reach consensus or when not to compromise too early. Hopefully we had contributed to reinforce the fact that design is as big as the ideas that bring it to life and they can take many shapes and forms but they need an overarching concept to align them all.