Let the battle commence!

Five years ago, I too was at the Old Truman Brewery, Shoreditch London for the Free Range Design Show, competing with thousands of other graduate designers to celebrate and showcase my work. So, I can fully relate to the myriad of emotions – pride, excitement, nerves – that come with being part of this prestigious event; knowing that every other exhibitor was a potential competitor for employment opportunities was a daunting prospect.

Fact: Free Range Design Show – is the largest creative graduate showcase in Europe.

Fast forward five years… I was back again, this time representing Green Room Design, and accompanied by our Amsterdam studio Creative Director, Paul Silcox. Our mission was to visit both Free Range (interior design/Architecture university courses), and D&AD New Blood (graphic communication university courses) to establish links with UK universities, with the view to building a business-wide intern programme that ensured we were offering opportunities and experiences to some of the most promising talent available.

Fact: Paul was on the D&AD judging panel for the Adidas ‘Play A Good Game’ brief.

Free range design show


Divide and conquer!

With literally hundreds of projects to study across the two different events, there was only one viable course of action; starting with D&AD New blood, we split up, and went in. Here are my thoughts on the show:

I personally found navigating the exhibition easy because there was uniformity of university stand signage and layout; individual establishments could be spotted from a distance.

Recognition of ‘Best Stand’ was clearly marked, but the decision as to why it had been given was absent! Even the students on that stand were ‘in the dark’! I, along with everyone else, would have benefitted from some written explanation.

d&ad best stand

I really liked that the winners of each D&AD brief were recognised on their university stand with a sticker, as this helped link back to my pre-show online research where I had seen the students’ response to the brief. It was lovely to meet the winner, put a face to the work and hear a first-hand explanation behind the project thinking.

Winners deserve recognition; D&AD New Blood had allocated a specific zone – ‘winners showcase’ – where all winning projects could be viewed together – brilliant! However, shout about it! I didn’t feel that the area was obvious enough and its physical presence was underwhelming.

d&ad award winners

Fact: There were 17 real world briefs set by some of the biggest brands. These spanned from branding and board game design to copywriting, content and campaigns.

Creative chaos!

Free Range Show offers each university a chance to really showcase their personality, every stand design is unique and the visitor isn’t quite sure what they will find as they move from one university to another.

I thought this was great! I loved that the considered 3D form of the stand was unique, it reflected the creative spatial thinking encompassed on the course.

However, stand design combined with the nature of detailed, complex 3D rendered visuals can accumulate into a potential ‘assault on the senses’. Students work should always be the focus and the stands sometimes became a distraction.

Talking to students and tutors throughout the day across the two shows gave a great insight into course curriculums, innovative briefs and fresh thinking towards creative outcomes. We hope to harness these attributes and in return offer insights into industry experience within the Green Room studios.

Free range design show

Watch this space…

Our time in London provided valuable connections and the beginning of working relationships between Green Room and several universities. We’re commitmed to enriching lives and in doing so, creating fantastic experiences and opportunities for people like us – maybe like you – with any luck, our next intern maybe the one writing this blog for next year’s event.



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