Every year D&AD (Design & Art Direction), the behemoth of design associations, run their New Blood programme to celebrate the graduating students and university courses that supply the talent that keeps the industry fresh and innovative.

In visiting the 2016 exhibition this week, hosted at the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, I was looking forward to being inspired by what is surely one of the biggest displays of design talent in the world and I wasn’t disappointed.

Here’s a selection of my top ten highlights in no particular order – graduates, stands and specific projects all mixed in together!*

*Oh, and with my links to students at Plymouth University and Plymouth College of Art I thought it’d be best to not include any of those guys, for fear of offending or excluding anyone! They’re all great too – check them out!

Various Brochures

I loved seeing the attention to detail and print techniques used for some of the course brochures. Having a beautifully produced book of graduates, work samples and contact details for visitors to take away made it really easy to get a full, inspiring overview and take some of the pressure off collecting everyone’s details there and then. Courses that didn’t do this missed out, in my opinion.

Philipp Engel, Middlesex University

Wow, this guy is deep. A philosopher as much as a designer, German student Phillip really blew me away with his thought process and confidence. His type layout work was a great mix of classic and modern style, and his ideas were bold and creative. A job in book and publication design beckons.

Confusion is a Dialogue – Philipp Engel

Harry Burgess, University of Central Lancashire

I’ll admit I hadn’t known much about UCLAN’s design credentials but they had some really smart work and creative thinkers on their stand. Harry’s projects happened to be the two that really stood out and that he’s already got a job lined up at a prominent agency The Chase came as no surprise.

Harry Burgess

Kim Meech, Falmouth University

Kim caught me picking up her card as I admired her hand-written logo! An illustrator with a designer’s mind, her work was a really good mix of hand-rendered textures and computer generated compositing – commercially viable and grounded but fantastically creative with it.

Kim Meech

University of Huddersfield

The Huddersfield stand was brilliantly impactful – rows and rows of bold, intriguing posters and bound work. The only problem was interpreting whose work was whose – the information was hard to distinguish and there was no ‘takeaway’ brochure to help. That aside, the work looked sharp and creative with some great execution.

‘Gravity’ stand, University of Westminster

One of the most elaborate visual effects at the show, the BA Hons Illustration & Graphic Communication degree stand the University of Westminster constructed a striking bar scene with 3D lit lettering spelling the word Gravity. A great impact (not sure I can work out the relevance though – maybe I should have asked…).

Khrongkhwan Kongprasert, University of Leeds

Graphic & Communication Design student Khrongkhwan’s vibrant illustration celebrating her home country of Thailand caught my eye – a piece that shows a real editorial inclination and creative flair.

Khrongkhwan Kongprasert

Stand, Duncan of Jordanstone College, Dundee

This college tends to produce some great designers and this year was no different. It’s hard to pick out one particular individual as there were several stand-out pieces. Work shown here includes work by Rowan Campbell, Alice McConnell (I didn’t note who produced the Artisan Coffehouse branding, sorry!).

Bronwyn Stubbs, University of Huddersfield

Stood next to the rows of poster designs mentioned earlier was a large wall with an expressively but monotone painted scene – a window with curtains (revealing a TV screen), a cardboard lamp and a large switch. When the switch was touched the lamp turned on and the TV started playing! Conductive paint, apparently – mixed by Bronwyn herself. A bit of a scientist in there I think.

Plymouth Sound stand, Plymouth University, BA Illustration

I know, I said I wouldn’t use Plymouth stands or individuals but I have no ties with the illustration course and this stand really did have a great concept. Designed like a record store with the illustrators’ work consistently presented in vinyl sleeve format. And ‘Plymouth Sound’ – nice name!

Best of the rest…

Some other great pieces that deserve honourable mentions…

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