Transforming Transformed

Daniel SharpeWork

After six months of hard work the Kaplan International College’s (KIC) Transforming Futures prospectus has finally hit the shelves.

In brief KIC works with universities all around the UK to help international students progress into British universities. In essence this brochure is a catalog of all the UK partners and courses they offer, as well as an essential piece of brand building for Kaplan. I intend to do a full write up and take some better photos soon for my portfolio section, but wanted to share it ASAP having only arrived in my eager hands Friday.

Transforming Futures 2016-17

Some of the keys areas we focused on to push it on from last years brochure were creating a stronger photographic style. This involved going on nine photoshoots around the UK as we wanted the improvement to be reflected across the 11 universities’ individual prospectuses too. We also tried to refine some of the successful elements from last year, such as the course finder and more inspirational pages. Lastly we wanted to work in some new design elements to push the brand on further, in this 2016-17 edition we have introduced illustration and new layout devices.

Overall I personally think it’s a great improvement upon last year and it (in the brief time it’s been in other people’s hand) has received hugely positive feedback. I hope you all think the same!

Transforming Futures 2016-17

Transforming Futures 2016-17

Transforming Futures 2016-17

Transforming Futures 2016-17

Transforming Futures 2016-17

Transforming Futures 2016-17

Transforming Futures 2016-17

Transforming Futures 2016-17

A Cross Section of Hometown Icons

Daniel SharpeFlag, Photography, Project

I recently went back home to visit my family so took the opportunity to have a scout around the city centre and scope out what logos and icons I could see actually being used. As I’ve explained in previous posts, a very widely used symbol is the crossed keys of Saint Peter. However, as can be seen by the slider below, there is no consistency in how they’re drawn or the field colour on which they appear.

Another symbol that kept cropping up was the crossed swords which is the logo of the cathedral. The Cathedral is actually named in honour of Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Andrew and crossed swords are the symbol of Saint Paul (and the Dean Chapter), while Saint Andrew’s is a plain X cross (i.e. the Scottish flag).

Then of course there is the city’s coat of arms which appeared on much of the street furniture things including a flag. Breaking at least three of the rules of good flag design (keep it simple, use two to three basic colours and use no lettering or seals).

The reason for choosing Peterborough as the focus for this project is because I know the city well, so I wasn’t expecting any huge surprises. However the large usage of the crossed swords was something I hadn’t been aware of. In terms of symbols on the flag I feel there are a couple of solid options. The next stage is to think about the other things represented on the flag and how it sits amongst of civic flags.

Magical Lights in Dark

Daniel SharpePhotography, Review

Magical Lantern Peacock

This Sunday London was alive, not only to young and old couples celebrating their love for each other on the yearly rose massacre that is Valentine’s Day, but also the sights and sounds of the Far East with the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of the People’s Republic.

The main parade which trailed its way through the heart of London from Charing Cross to Shaftesbury Avenue attracted thousands. However I was not nearly brave enough to try to tackle a crowd of that magnitude. So in my own little homage to Chinese New Year (and a joint Valentine’s treat) me and my girlfriend instead tackled the much more manageable crowds visiting Chiswick House after sunset to see the Magical Lantern Festival. Being the romantic that I am, I decided to break out the old camera and I want to some of my favourite photos from the night.

Now the key question, was it magical? I’d have to say yes it was. Some might say that £16 is a bit steep for a few shaped light boxes. While that’s right in essence, I would say that the level of skill and time that goes into making something like a 60 metre long dragon lantern is worth it. Not only that, but organisers have curated it brilliantly, with the subject of the lanterns flowing seamlessly from one set to another. There were only a couple of instances towards the end when a few random installations clanged a bit with their neighbouring ones. Logistically Chiswick House have to take a lot of credit, the route was very clear with plenty of staff on hand. We took one of the later entries and there were next to no bottlenecks (the biggest was probably at the grilled marshmallow stand halfway round). A high point for me was relatively early on, where from the vantage point of the bridge you could see a great line of lanterns reflecting back up from the gardens still pond. We ended up spending over an hour and a half there and would have definitely stayed longer had it not been for the chill of a Great British February. Chinese New Year or not, that still bites through the thermals.

Saint Peter’s Borough

Daniel SharpeFlag, Project

In order to kick-start my new flag for Peterborough project I thought it would be best to share a little bit of information with you about my hometown, so that as I develop my ideas, those that are not familiar with the city will have at least a little grounding.

Peterborough is a relatively small city of just over 190,000 inhabitants at the last count. Sitting in the most north-western corner of East Anglia within the county of Cambridgeshire, the city shares its borders with the counties of Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland. It sits on the River Nene, one of the longest rivers in England and on the edge of The Fens (historically a marshy expanse of land, what with the aid of an expansive drainage network is some of the most fertile agricultural land in the UK) meaning that Peterborough is a very, very flat city.

There has been some sort of a population in the area for centuries, with Longthorpe Tower dating back to the 14th century. Despite a long history, there aren’t actually many legends or tales connected to the city. Apart from loose ties to Hereward the Wake and royalty around the time of Henry VIII, stories involving Peterborough are few and far between.

Peterborough Cathedral

Peterborough Cathedral by me

By far and away the most impressive building in the city is the cathedral, named after Saint Peter (as is the city itself), architecturally it is a hugely significant norman cathedral and call me biased but I think it has one of the most impressive west face of any British church. This video shows you a bit more of the building and includes some quite strange shots and EPIC music.

I more recent history, Peterborough was at the heart of the UK’s brick production in the early 1900s, as well as having sugar and engine producing industries based there. However these industries dwindled and local employment nowadays is largely in the service industry. Due to its proximity and fast road and rail connections to London, it has become somewhat of a commuter town. In recent years, there has been a push locally to make Peterborough the ‘UK’s Environment Capital’ at least that’s what the signs that welcome you to the city say.

Image from Woodford Recycling

Image from Woodford Recycling

As an honest appraisal, Peterborough is a city with a quite pretty, although quite small city centre, which like most places is getting surrounded by more and more generic housing estates (but now that I think of it, it’s probably quite fitting considering it was the largest producer of generic bricks for so many years). Realistically it is never going to be one of the most desirable places to live in the country, but nor will it be one of the least (and actually due to the large amount of public green space it is probably one of the better places for a young families). However it does have an image problem, there is very little lure for new people to move to the city and of residence already there, very few of them are proud Peterborians. I believe this is down to a few factors:

Proximity to London: this means a lot of the people that do move to Peterborough are commuters so aren’t necessarily invested in the local community.

Geographically in no-man’s land: not really the Midlands, not really East Anglia not part of the Fens there is a bit of an geographic identity crisis.

Lack of further education: meaning bright young minds need to leave to go to university and once you’ve left you don’t necessarily want to come back.

Anyway my opinions aside, while having a flag probably isn’t the solution, perhaps creating an a icon that local people can identify with could help foster a little more pride for the area and maybe create a greater sense of community, which eventually could lead to it becoming one of the most desirable places to live. Well at least that’s what I can hope for.

What’s in a flag

Daniel SharpeFlag, Project, Share, Video

I am a huge fan of flags, I love how the majority of them are constructed from the same basic of colours and shapes. Yet with only slight variations the results are drastically different. Results which not only create a symbol for the country, but quite often symbolise something of the country (I hope that sentence makes sense). This can often regionalise a flag, so for example you can easily recognise a flag from Scandinavian due to the presence of the Nordic Cross, or a West African nation because of the choice of colour. Obviously prior knowledge is often required to understand the choice of symbolism, but the symbol it creates can be something that people want to identify with.

Croatian Flag

The Croatian flag with its coat of arms in the centre and three bands of colour representing its three kingdoms.

So it was no surprise that when I finally got around to catching up on some TED Talks I really enjoyed Roman Mars’s talk ‘Why city flags may be the worst designed thing you’ve never noticed’. Which I’d recommend watching whether you’re into flags or not, because the principles he describes are relevant to any designer, plus it’s quite entertaining.

[ted id=2253]

My plan is to accept Roman’s challenge and try and design my home city of Peterborough, UK a city flag (not Peterborough in Canada, which actually has an awesome one). As to the best of my knowledge and with a little research doesn’t already have a city flag. The aim is to make regular blog posts as I develop my research and ideas and hopefully create something relevant to the city that also complies with the 5 basic principles of flag design.