When stories of D&AD Award wins are shared, the spotlight naturally shines on the students’ brilliant ideas and the hard work that led the teams to their prize. Yet, behind these triumphant moments lies a critical yet much overlooked driving force – a team of dedicated lecturers.
Leading diploma and degree students from LASALLE’s School of Design to bag three Pencils at this year’s D&AD 2019 Young Blood Awards are Shannon Sim and Felix Sng – veteran lecturers whose extensive experience in the industry has been a boon for their students.
Shannon was an award-winning copywriter who currently lectures in the BA(Hons) Fashion Media and Industries programme, while Felix is an adjunct lecturer at the College as well as an award-winning designer who runs his own design firm SWELL.
Referring themselves as their students’ ‘last team member’, Shannon and Felix act as vital mentors and sounding boards for their students’ ideas. Years of teaching, research and understanding of industry benchmarks have honed their intuition for identifying ideas that resonate at an international level.
“By guiding our students through their research and reviewing case studies, a lot of the work that was selected and sent for competitions have had a high success rate,” adds Shannon.
Lessons from the field
Approaching a brief for an international competition such as D&AD is no mean feat for a young designer. Students have to conduct intensive research, grapple with numerous ideas and ultimately decide on a big idea to execute.
Writing their own creative brief is a critical step in the process. Shannon and Felix spend a whole semester with their students refining ideas and research into a coherent and compelling brief. “We made writing the creative brief a key requirement,” says Felix, “It’s important that students can identify and organise their research into a palatable format.”
Shannon concurs, “We want our students to dissect the brief. When they are able to do it, then they have truly understood the brief’s requirement. The creative brief becomes a blueprint for them to execute their ideas.”
Shannon also advocates the power of research to inform ideas and drive breakthroughs in the creative process. She says, “As I’ve grown in the industry, I begin to appreciate the importance of empathy and putting the end user as the core of your whole process.”
Encouraging students to understand what’s happening in the world and think about the issues they wish to tackle is another key focus for both lecturers. “As an aspiring designer, if you read and expose yourself to the world, that naturally shapes your thinking and becomes outwardly expressed through your personality and design,” says Felix.
A winning streak
These guiding principles have helped propel three teams from LASALLE’s School of Design to bag three Pencils at the D&AD 2019 New Blood Awards.
Change for Trans, which won a Wood Pencil, responded to the brief from Monotype to create a typeface inspired by the students’ community of choice. The team took up the challenge to address one of today’s most sensitive communities – transgender individuals. Informed by the insight that transgender individuals are transitioning between genders, the project creatively applied the idea of pattern-making to devise a fashion-inspired typeface applied in a retail environment.
Also bagging a Wood Pencil, Virgin Go! responded to the brief from Virgin Atlantic to create an exciting sub-brand for holidaymakers. The project was ingeniously executed in just a week. “The idea for this project didn’t come in the earlier phase,” shares Shannon, “Along the way, the students discovered a compelling copy-led direction and ultimately, they made the decision to change course a week before the deadline. They had our support as we recognise that such experiences are part and parcel of real-life industry practice.”
Bagging a Graphite Pencil, #Freedomtodance – in response to the brief by Rexona – was sparked by the students’ engagement with broader societal issues of conflict and social barriers. Reflecting on Rexona’s brand values encouraging individuals to be comfortable in their own skin, they saw an opportunity to adapt the idea of dance as a universal language to break down social walls between people. This led to the creation of a global campaign for Rexona, showcasing people around the world dancing with each other through interactive billboards.
For Shannon and Felix, a creative environment that allows the free flow of ideas is a crucible for these breakthrough ideas. Felix looks back to his own experience as a design student at LASALLE, “From a student to being a lecturer guiding others today, it’s come full circle for me. Through these experiences, I’ve seen how LASALLE’s culture empowers our students to not only freely create and express but also grow.”
Shannon agrees, “The beauty of the creative process is the struggle. For young students to be tackling briefs of such international standards is really commendable. These struggles have made them grow as designers.”