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My 4 Favourite Design School Projects

My 4 Favourite Design School Projects


As you might already know from my constant talking about it, I finished my degree! After 4 long years filled with learning, long nights, life lessons and lots of tea, I finally made it. I can’t officially say that I’m a qualified designer yet because we don’t graduate until May next year, but I’m gonna claim it anyway! I’ve had the chance to work on so many different projects over the course of my degree, but I some have definitely been better than others! Some were amazing, some I liked just okay, and some we will never speak of again but today, I’m just going to share 4 of my favourites with you. Enjoy!


Design Research Project - Amplify

The first project is actually my most recent, and while it is my favourite, it may also be my least favourite at the same time. The design research project was the most stressful and challenging paper I ever worked on, but in all the best ways. This paper followed on from the Research & Development paper in semester one, effectively creating one, year-long project where you spent the first semester researching and exploring ideas, and the second semester implementing those ideas into a full design project. This is how the honours year as a Massey Bachelor of Design student works and it’s a lot of hard work, but so worth it in the end. I ended up designing a cross-platform application called AMPLIFY which allows creatives around the world to easily give and receive helpful, real-time feedback on their work. Alongside designing the app for mobile, tablet and desktop, I also designed branding, a website, posters, stickers and social media content, all of which I love and make the whole process so worth it. Amongst all of the breakdowns, random topic changes and moments of panic were triumphs, crazy ideas and incredible moments of breakthrough. I am so proud of the progress that I made in this project and how much it developed and improved from the first day of the year. I designed a product that I would actually love to use, and the entire process has transformed me as a designer so much.

You can find out more about AMPLIFY by watching the promo video here.


Information Visualisation - Erebus

This paper was done in my third year and focused on using typography to visualise information (as you might have guessed by the paper title!) We were using the briefs from the International Society of Typographic Design (ISTD) as the aim of the paper was to submit the resulting work to their awards and the brief that we were given was “Milestones.” We were asked to create an editorial piece based on something related to New Zealand and present the milestones related to that thing through type. I chose to create a book about the Erebus plane crash in 1979, exploring and uncovering what really happened. Erebus is a visual representation of key findings of the two reports that were published about the causes of the accident on Mt Erebus in 1979. It presents the shallow conclusions of Ron Chippendale, versus the deeper investigations of Peter Mahon, in order to inform the reader about the controversy surrounding this event and the truth about who was at fault. The crash, the two reports, and the aftermath of the reports, as well as the topics within the reports themselves, make up the milestones in the investigation of the Erebus disaster. I am obsessed with typography so I loved having the opportunity to really delve into a typographic project and obsess over all the little details. It had to be pretty close to perfect to receive an award so it required a lot of painstaking, meticulous hard work and was easily the most technically difficult project I’ve done so far, however, like AMPLIFY, it was all worth it in the end. I finished the book and along with several other members of my class, was awarded ISTD with Merit!

You can view the Erebus book here.


Interpretive Typography - Spread the Word

Interpretive typography was another editorial paper, this time done in the first semester of my final year as one of my two electives. It was another paper which gave students the opportunity to enter ISTD, but since I had already achieved this, it was just loads of fun. This time we were given the option of two briefs: Frutiger or Death. I chose death, and after lots of brainstorming and ideation, decided to focus on the Black Plague, and in particular, the linguistic impact of the plague. Spread the Word is an interactive print which typographically presents the etymology of several words, phrases and songs all used today which emerged from a plague throughout history. It provides both the historical origins of each item, alongside examples of its contemporary use, in order to inform the reader of the true meaning of these words and phrases they may use in their everyday language. Spread the Word is a fold-out poster which spreads outwards from the centre to reveal different language elements which originated from the plague. This literal spreading of the poster represents the spreading of the plague and the resulting spread of language. The completed piece can be presented in the folded format, or as a poster on either side. I had so much fun making this piece of work because I pushed myself to try something different. I had never made an editorial piece in this format before, and working out how to get all of the text to make sense even when it was folded and as it folded out was such a mission. Thankfully, I got there in the end and I got a cool piece from it!

You can check it out here.


Contemporary Letterpress - Zero Hero

I love typography in general, but I have a soft spot for analogue typography. I love all of the history and exploring how they used to do it, and letterpress is one of my favourite artforms of all time. I had done printmaking and letterpress papers before, but this paper is the fourth year elective and is more advanced than the others. For this, the brief was to explore upcoming trends for 2016 that we could represent through letterpress, and I chose to focus on the trend of Zero Waste kitchens. Zero Waste has been around for a long time, but the trend towards restaurants and homeowners becoming completely zero waste in the kitchen was more recent. In my work, I presented the statistics of zero waste to shock the viewer into thinking about their own contribution to the issue. Plastic bags, which are notorious for having a huge impact on the environment, have formed the base of these works. The inked transfer of the plastic bags, combined with the green colour which is generally associated with Zero Waste and other environmental movements, creates an organic texture, highlighting the ability to make something beautiful from something which you would usually throw away, and the transformative impact of reusing waste items. For this project, I created a promotional poster, a food wrap and a series of jar lids. I loved the change of pace from the digital world I’m so used to, and it was fun working on a project about something I’d never really researched that much into before. I love the green colour of the work, and the big, bold type speaks to my minimalist soul.

View Zero Hero here.


So those are the favourite projects I got to work on during my time as a design student. I'd love to hear what your favourite projects have been and why, or what you think of the ones that I've done! You can let me know in the comments below, on Twitter, or via email at holliearnettdesign@gmail.com!

Much Love, Hollie :D x

Shifting Perspectives: Reflecting Positively on 2016

Shifting Perspectives: Reflecting Positively on 2016

The AMPLIFY Manifesto

The AMPLIFY Manifesto