Design education goes down the toilet

To support and improve design education in the UK, Parker Design is committed to providing creative learning opportunities for the next generation of great designers.

Whether it’s going back to college, or sending our designers to speak with University students about the creative process, we love working with talented young people who are eager to expand their design skills.

Recently, we invited 17 design students from The Grange School in Hartford to our Cheshire office to kick off an 8-week programme that will result in them creating and presenting an infographic to one of our long-standing clients, United Utilities.

United Utilities has found that people “across the North West are throwing millions of pounds down the drain by flushing the wrong things down the loo. One in 10 people has suffered from blocked toilets and drains by flushing items such as baby wipes, make-up wipes, sanitary products and cotton buds. A staggering £88m p.a. is spent across the UK on plumbing repairs.”*

Though there was a fair amount of toilet humour, our Creative Director, Mark Bowers, and Graphic Designer, Nicola Vernon-Smith, successfully outlined why this was a problem for both our client and the customer. In addition to explaining how design could play a role in changing perceptions and behaviours, they showed examples of previous work we had done with the client to address this issue, including the experiential exhibition stand we launched at the Arndale Centre in Manchester last autumn.

Our team also gave a briefing session on what makes a successful infographic and why it’s so effective at communicating information and helping audiences break down misconceptions. This includes:

  • Delivering key facts in a fun and eye-catching way.
  • Combining words, images and graphics to pull readers in and make information easier to understand.
  • Providing a resource that is ideal for sharing online via websites, blogs and social media.

Mark Bowers said “It was particularly encouraging to see so many teenagers eager to get involved, not just in a real design agency brief but in one that tackles an issue that affects so many people in the community, and our natural resources as a whole.”

Nicola added: “Being relatively new to Parker Design, it was really good to join Mark and share my industry knowledge with the students. It’s exciting to see that we “practise what we preach”, and we really do care about design education and developing young talent. As one of the newest members of the team, being asked to participate is also further proof that everyone in the creative team has a voice.”

We also showed students a video we created by one of our designers to demonstrate the issue and how it’s not possible to dissolve wipes with water.

Mark also gave examples of infographics that have had a particular impact, such as the London Underground map, which the students found very interesting.

The students will have 8 weeks to create and submit an infographic of their own to answer the brief. Several finalists will be selected from the entries to present their designs to our team. So… good luck to all the students! We really can’t wait to see their ideas and we’ll keep you posted on who makes the final cut. The winner will then be offered the opportunity to do work experience at our office in Cheshire.

And if you’re interested in learning more about the subject, here are some additional infographic design examples you can take a look at.

(*) – source United Utilities